~ Archive for Uncategorized ~

Tesla will run out of orders at the end of 2018?


A friend ordered a Tesla Model 3 five weeks ago. It is ready for delivery in Florida today. If we assume a two-week transit time to get from The Land of Virtue (TM) to The Land of Permanent Alimony, the factory backlog is only three weeks.

This is a “performance” model with an after-tax-credit price of about $70,000 (actually less because she is getting free super charging for life). Maybe Tesla will still have a backlog of orders for the basic Model 3, but I wonder if they will soon simply run out of orders and customers. If they’ve already sold a Tesla to every virtuous American, what then?


  • “The Least Attractive Cars for Sale in 2018” (Car and Driver) puts the Tesla 3 among the ugliest 10, along with the Toyota Prius and Mitsubishi Mirage. “Sure, the Model 3’s headlights and taillights and the shape of its side-window openings vaguely resemble those of the unassailably attractive Model S. Too bad they’re applied to a tall, bulbously shaped body caught somewhere between a car and a crossover. In lieu of a grille, the faceless front end features a grille-shaped scallop in its bumper that resembles a large dent.”

Harvard Law School professor responds to the Brett Kavanaugh catastrophe


Here’s a Facebook post from a friend with a tenured humanities professorship:

From my [Harvard] law prof friend Bruce Hay:

Stop despairing. When we take back control of Congress and the White House we can increase the number of judgeships at all levels of the federal judiciary, to offset the rump appointments of this Putin-puppet regime.

That sounds like a crazy idea now. It won’t in a year or two.

It’s the only way to restore some semblance of democracy to a country ruled by a corrupt oligarchy bent on using the courts to entrench itself.

Having already been defriended by a sufficient quantity of the virtuous this weekend, I decided not to respond with “Since you speak Russian, would you mind calling up Putin and finding out which judge he will select to be the next Supreme Court nominee?”

[What was the source of the weekend defriending? I noticed that a bunch of my proudly feminist (male) friends had singled out Senator Susan Collins as a “blowhard,” “traitor,” or “idiot.” The male senators who voted to confirm the convicted-by-Facebook rapist did not spark their ire. To these woke guys’ complaints regarding Senator Collins, I responded with “You are suggesting that she needs a man to tell her how to think and talk?”]

Separately, having grown up in the D.C. area, eventually it transpired that we had a family friend who had gone to Yale Law School and worked on the law review (Yale Law Journal) with Kavanaugh. Though a moderately virtuous Democrat, this person and Yale-grad spouse had nothing but praise for the reviled Kavanaugh and thought that he would do a great job as a Justice. They didn’t recognize the gang rape party organizer portrait of him that Julie Swetnick painted, for example.

I’m still kind of confused as to why Democrats are against the idea of a conservative federal government-limiting Supreme Court. Now that Democrats have mostly sorted themselves into Democrat-governed states, such as California and New York, why wouldn’t they be happy with a smaller role for the evil Trump-led Federal government? It would be a shame, perhaps, for the handful of virtuous Democrats remaining in Georgia or Texas, that the Great Father in Washington wouldn’t swoop in and save them from their Republican overlords. But residents of California would be able to enjoy Democrat-organized government programs to their hearts’ content.

What are ordinary folks (not law school professors) saying on Facebook? Here are a few from my feed:

… while this moral circus plunges American politics to new lows, climate change and global biodiversity loss during this critical moment continued to be thrust into the background. Honestly, at what point should there be a revolt? How bad do things need to get??

Maybe this is the final insult, after decades (centuries!) of injustice that wakes enough people up to the reality of how we are living? … maybe, finally enough people will begin to understand that the system is rigged, that injustice is built in, and that you have to take greedy, power hungry fossil fools at their word, and hence they need to be dethroned, not empowered! Down with Kavanaugh, down with Trump, down with every single senator who votes yes for this travesty, and let’s go elect ourselves a brand new congress next month!

We are doomed… I have lost all faith. More really bad stuff is on the way.

I checked the feeds of the ones who explicitly said that they were thinking globally. None of them had mentioned the recent tsunami that killed at least 1,600 people and rendered more than 70,000 homeless (see “In case you missed it: Catastrophic Indonesia earthquake, tsunami kill over 1,600”)


  • “The only thing standing between Trump and authoritarianism: the supreme court” (Guardian, February 2017), co-authored by Bruce Hay: “Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation to the US supreme court will deliver the final branch of government into Donald Trump’s grasp, and usher in an era of one-party rule. … If the Democrats in the Senate do not fight tooth and nail the nomination of Neil Gorsuch, they will betray millions of Americans who may be stripped of their equal rights for decades to come.”
  • “Why Democrats Should Oppose Neil Gorsuch” (nytimes, January 31, 2017): “The change is terribly damaging for the country’s political system. … they should associate him with a constitutionally damaging power grab. … The presumption should be that Gorsuch does not deserve confirmation, because the process that led to his nomination was illegitimate.”
  • “Democrats Go to War Over Neil Gorsuch” (Atlantic, March 30, 2017): “Several members of the Judiciary Committee took issue with his performance at his hearings last week, which they found evasive and condescending, if not overly controversial. And others have called for the vote to be put off until the investigations of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia have been completed, warning that a president whose legitimacy might be tainted should not get a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court.”
  • “Harvard Faculty Donate to Democrats by Wide Margin” (Crimson): “Each of Harvard’s schools leaned to the left in the contributions made by their affiliates, many by wide margins. Ninety-six percent of donations in the data set from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which includes Harvard College, supported Democratic efforts. That figure was even higher—nearly 98 percent—at Harvard Law School.”

Vitamin D considered harmful


“Millions of Americans take vitamin D. Most should just stop.” (Vox):

“Something like 40 percent of older adults in the US take vitamin D supplements because they think it’s going to prevent against fractures and falls or cancer,” said Alison Avenell, clinical chair of health services research at the University of Aberdeen and an author on the Lancet study, “and we’re saying the supplements for fractures and falls aren’t going to do that.”

The hype about the vitamin during the last two decades started with early vitamin D science. Before researchers run randomized control trials, they often look for links between health outcomes and exposures in large-scale, population research called observational studies. And early observational research on the benefits of vitamin D uncovered associations between higher levels of vitamin D intake and a range of health benefits.

But the studies could only tell about correlations between vitamin D exposure and disease outcomes, not whether one caused the other. Still, they were enough to fuel media hype. Dr. Oz called the supplement “the number one thing you need more of.” And the vitamin D industry helped create a craze by paying prominent doctors to expound on the benefits of testing and supplementation for everyone.

But more recent randomized trials — that introduce vitamin D to one group and compare that group with a control group — have shown little or unclear benefit for both vitamin D testing and supplementation in the general population

…  testing and supplementation have exploded in the US. Between 2000 and 2010, the amount Medicare spent on vitamin D testing rose 83-fold, making the test Medicare’s fifth most popular after cholesterol. All that screening also led to an explosion in vitamin D supplement use, and millions of Americans now pop daily vitamin D pills.

Another correlation/causation confusion example, with billions of dollars flushed down the toilet!


Medical School 2020, Year 2, Step 1 Exam


From our anonymous insider…

Jane takes Step 1 today. She was tossing and turning most of the night. I wake up at 4:45 am to make pancakes and pack her lunch. She departs at 6:15 am for the 30-minute drive to a Prometric test center for a 7:00 am start time. The average Step 1 score for 2017 was 229 out of 300, with a standard deviation of 20. You must score at least 194 to pass the exam, otherwise you have to take the exam again. If you do pass, however, you are unable to take the $600 exam again. Thus, you’re better off getting a 193 and having the opportunity to retake than you are getting a 194 and being doomed to primary care.

[Editor: What do you call a guy who graduated last in his class at medical school? “Doctor.”]

As was explained to us in Year 2, Week 26, during an eight-hour period there are seven one-hour sections, each with 40 questions. You can use the remaining hour however you like, divided up as breaks between sections. You can snack, look at First Aid, express righteous outrage regarding Donald Trump on Facebook, or call a friend. Out of the 280 questions that we’ve been torturing ourselves regarding, 40 of them don’t count at all. These are experimental questions that might appear on a future exam. Test proctors can view students through a glass window and also through a webcam on every monitor.

Jane powers through four sections in a row, then takes a 30-minute snack-and-bathroom break, and finally chugs the last three sections. She finished before any other classmate I’ve talked to. “There were so many questions I had no idea about. I would look them up afterwards and still have no idea. They are not even on the internet.” She adds: “Some questions have this essay long prompt, and I when I get to the end, I would literally mouth, ‘What the hell?’ The test proctor must have been laughing watching the webcam feed: ‘Look at this girl. She is really struggling.'” Doctors need not be numerate: “I practiced so many statistics questions, but on the exam itself  I used the calculator only once.”

We celebrate her finish by going downtown for $5 happy hour martinis at a fancy patio bar.. Asked how she thought she’d done, Jane stuck to “I plan to use the mature defense mechanism of suppression until my score comes. Nothing to do but wait.” (She will get her score in three weeks.) Regarding the celebration: “This is such a finisher prize. I probably failed.”

I slept well the night before my exam, two weeks later. Jane packs me a large lunch. Every computer is filled at the test center. Some of my classmates are taking a mock Step 1 exam in the test center for $80. The software format and some questions are nearly identical to UWorld’s. Example: What part of the urethra gets injured in pelvic trauma? Membranous urethra.

I do three blocks with no break, then take a 30-minute break for lunch. I power through four in a row, with a 1-minute breather break in my computer chair in between blocks.

I nearly ran out of time on two blocks. Several questions have three-paragraph prompts even if the question only requires the last two sentences, e.g., What is the mechanism of a mentioned drug? I had to rush through perhaps ten questions total. Overall, I do not think studying more would have changed much. I should’ve completed more UWorld questions, but this might have affected only a few borderline questions. I did about 50-60 percent of the 2200 available questions. Advice: Start studying UWorld in September, reset it at the beginning of the study period, and try to get through all 2200 again.

I was surprised at the number of questions on the immune system. They asked about various inflammatory mediators: What causes swelling after a sprained joint? Histamine or C3a (complement factor). Which of the following growth factors stops proliferation? PDGF, TGF beta.

When I return, Jane has mojitos prepared from our organically grown mint plant. We went downtown and I avoided talking about the experience, use of the mature defense mechanism of suppression: consciously ignoring information. Jane: “Are you sure you’re not repressing this information?” (a reference to the immature defense mechanism of unconsciously ignoring bad news.)

Jane gets her score back the next day. She scored 248. That should be one standard deviation above the mean or roughly the 85th percentile, a great achievement considering her four weeks of study. Wow!

Nobody expressed complete confidence in his or her performance. Mischievous Mary:  “I convinced myself every question that I got wrong is a mock test question.” Geezer George: “Unbelievable, those questions. I had to take solemn walks after each section.” Gigolo Giorgio: “I just had to laugh at some questions. It was a tragic comedy.”

Jane and I relax before she departs for boot camp. We go on hikes, organize the house, and do yard-work before she departs. Although she will be required to do a residency at a military hospital, they are advertising residencies to her for specialities on which the military is current short. One powerpoint for a psych residency features beach-front facades of Hawaii and an ocean photo with a resident quoted as saying, “This is our view from our conference room, fyi.”

Pinterest Penelope’s two exam delays shortened the trip to Thailand with her M4 boyfriend to only one week. They post photos of themselves drinking oversized fruit-and-booze concoctions next to elephants on the beach. Type-A Anita, meanwhile, is more interested in the white elephants of Washington, D.C. On a resignation from the Supreme Court: “Fuck that cowardly limp dick Justice Kennedy.” Later she shares a post regarding an ICE checkpoint on a Manhattan subway train. I didn’t ask her how many of her Facebook friends she thinks might be undocumented immigrants and therefore able to use this information.

We’ll all be back in July for M3 clerkships (informally known as “rotations”).

More: http://fifthchance.com/MedicalSchool2020

Our local public school weighs in on the Supreme Court question


The father of a Seventh Grader in our local public school told me over lunch about his daughter reporting that her Social Studies teacher has been wearing an “I Believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford” button. (What could his basis for this be? He himself once assaulted a woman in a similar fashion? Even if that were true, how would it enable him to know anything about what happened in a private room 36 years ago?)

[Previously from the teacher:

If you are a feminist, like myself, you are acutely aware that almost all of history was written from men’s perspective. So in this class we will be learning not only HIStory but also HERstory!

(on Labor Day) that women earn 20 percent less for doing the same work

To the latter point, a sadistic child asked “Why wouldn’t evil corporations then hire women exclusively and pocket the 20% increase in profits?” and he “just mumbled something long and incoherent about equal pay for equal work.”]

“Christine Blasey Ford doesn’t want Kavanaugh impeached” (CNN) suggests that one person who wouldn’t wear this button is… Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. If she believes her own story, what would be her objection to an impeachment proceeding against an attempted rapist?

Acura NSX driving experience


Back in 1995 I drove an Acura NSX for a week (review). The two-wheel drive car was $85,000 at the time and it was the best car that I ever drove, before or since (that includes a few Ferraris and also a Tesla X). The BLS calculator says that works out to $142,600 in 2018 mini-dollars. The latest and greatest NSX is about $160,000, so the price has gone up slightly, but now it is four-wheel drive and has a lot more capability.

Old: 270 hp and 3100 lbs. New: 573 hp and 3800 lbs.

I blundered into an Acura event at our local airport, complete with Honda Jet. It is tough to test a supercar in suburban Boston traffic at 4:30 pm on a weekday, but the acceleration, braking, and cornering were awe-inspiring. The Acura folks say that they spend $1 billion in engineering and tooling for this flagship product and it certainly feels like it. Compared to my memory of the 1995 car it is actually louder inside. The engineers seem to have made a choice to direct more of the engine sound into the car so that you’re reminded at all times that you’re driving a true beast. Speaking of engineers, if you despair of America’s inability to engineer and manufacture physical things, the NSX will cheer you up. It is mostly designed and exclusively built in Ohio, then exported to markets around the world.

Legroom is ample for a 6′ tall driver (me), unlike with a friend’s Aston Martin DB9. Except for having to bend to get in and out of a low vehicle, the NSX is comfortable and the visibility in all directions is good.

As with the original NSX, Car and Driver says the latest version offers slightly lower performance that the super-est of supercars, but with a much more compliant ride (I zoomed over some of our typical Massachusetts potholes and it didn’t feel like the car needed to go back to the dealer for a checkup) and a somewhat lower price. Honda/Acura are also not going to charge insane Ferrari-style prices for spare parts as needed (some of our flight school customers with exotic cars tell horror stories of minor bits costing $10,000+).

I was accompanied by a race track instructor, Clete from Seattle, whom Acura provided (if you can get in on one of these events, I highly recommend it!). He told me to hold the wheel at the 9 and 3 positions and adjust the steering wheel somewhat closer for better control…. as we drove to the local gas station to deal with the empty tank. I had Clete take some photos of me filling up the car and then posted a few images on Facebook under “Decided it was time to save the planet with a hybrid car. Still have to make the occasional trip to a gas station:” This is a great way to see how many of your friends think that you’re the kind of douche who would (a) spend the kids’ inheritance on a toy car, and (b) immediately post a bragging photo on Facebook regarding your $160,000 purchase. (Sadly, it seems that I am actually that douche, at least in the eyes of the people who know me best…)

Now that a Honda Accord has the performance of a dream sports car from my youth and simultaneously the roads are far more clogged than ever, I’m not sure why an NSX is necessary. It is a lot of fun, however, and I would be tempted to buy one if (1) we had a garage, and (2) we didn’t have multiple kids. (I think the car hasn’t been selling as well as hoped, so sometimes there are big discounts available off the $160k list price.)


Why didn’t Christine Blasey Ford drive to Manchester, New Hampshire?


One oddity about the Christine Blasey Ford story is that she was so afraid of flying that the Senate hearing at which she testified needed to be delayed for most of a week so that she could drive from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. rather than fly as a Gulfstream or commercial airline passenger. (Also, if she were afraid to fly, why didn’t she take up the Senate committee’s offer to send staff members to her office or home in California, thus eliminating the need to travel at all?)

In some ways more peculiar, however, was her choice to fly from the Delaware/Maryland area up to Manchester, New Hampshire. We know that she did this because she stopped for a period of time at a hotel at the BWI airport for a polygraph test (source). It is only a 7-hour drive from BWI to Manchester compared to perhaps 4 hours to fly, including arriving at the airport early, getting screened by TSA, waiting for summer thunderstorms to clear, etc. Had she been returning to her family’s beach house at Rehoboth Beach (my inside sources tell me that they are actually in adjacent beer-soaked Dewey Beach, which Wikipedia confirms is “a magnet for partygoers in the summer months”), the savings from flying are even more minimal. BWI is a at least a 2.5-hour drive from Rehoboth. With no nearby airport offering commercial service, most Rehoboth residents don’t bother with regional airline flights and simply drive point-to-point instead.

So we are presented with someone who had a fear of flying severe enough to delay her appearance at the Senate and severe enough that she considered driving 6,000 miles round trip rather than endure an airline or Gulfstream ride. At the same time, this person voluntarily got on airliners to (and from?) Manchester, NH in the bumpiest month of the year to shave just a few hours off the door-to-door driving time.


New version of the Boeing 787 announced


NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C., Oct. 5, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Boeing [NYSE:BA] today announces the Christine Blasey Ford Edition 787, for which the launch customer will be United Airlines. The 787 CBFE is equipped with a fainting couch section for Premier 1K members who are terrified of flying.

Due to the weight of the fainting couches, range has been reduced from a class-leading 7,635 nautical miles to 3,500. Kevin McAllister, President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said “The range is still sufficient to fly nonstop from San Francisco to any polygraph location within the continental U.S.”

Since entering service in 2011, the 787 family has flown nearly 280 million passengers while saving an estimated 28.7 billion pounds of fuel. This include United’s 18-hour nonstop L.A.-Singapore route, which has been a popular choice for vacationing aviophobes. “Nothing makes customers who are afraid to fly more comfortable than ETOPS-330 over the Pacific Ocean,” explained Boeing Chief Psychiatry Officer Deborah Swetnick. “They need an escape route, so we put them on an aircraft with two front doors (left and right) and they know that, no matter how long the scheduled flying time, the nearest island with a runway is never more than 330 minutes [5.5 hours] flying time away?”

The company isn’t sure who is paying for what, but hopes that some of the development costs of the 787 CBFE will be defrayed by a GoFundMe campaign.

The novelty of female anger


An engineer posted the following on Facebook a couple of days ago:

They say women can’t show anger…

I predict those words will be recanted shortly.

Her woke friends all clicked “Like”.

My response:

There’s a fairly new play in which a woman shows a bit of anger: Medea.

Readers: Of the women who have been attacking Brett Kavanaugh, which one would be best cast in the role of Medea for an Amazon Prime revival in modern dress?

Icon A5 pilot review


A friend who is a Cirrus SR22-G5 owner recently had the opportunity to fly the Icon A5.

He liked the flight characteristics and described the controls as “coordinated”. On the other hand, the plane was not more fun to yank and bank than the SR22.

He hated the instrumentation (photo). “The prominent altimeter in the cluster goes only to 1,000′ [reading out in height above the ground, I think]. If you want to know your actual altitude you have to redirect your attention to the Garmin GPS in the center.”

What about the angle of attack indicator, intended to keep customers safe even when the aircraft is over-gross (i.e., all the time given the likely buyers and their girth!)? “Useless. You put the nose down and the indicator won’t change for 2 or 3 seconds. There is a huge amount of lag.”

He did not like that the attitude indicator was the smallest instrument (but the thing isn’t legal to take into the clouds anyway).

“There was a lot of vibration,” he said. “It felt like being in a helicopter. Maybe it was buffeting from flying with the doors off.”

He would have bought it at $200,000 if it had conventional instruments. At $390,000 and/or the prices that they’re asking to buy into a partnership, he is not interested.

[He also felt that they had some options to upsell and therefore the real price was over $400,000. Due to his lack of interest in the plane, however, he didn’t get a formal quote.]


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