Texas COVID-19 Data Update and Analysis

So, as some of you already know, I started collecting and analyzing the Texas COVID-19 data on my own a while back, largely out of frustration with the way the media (and the state) have been presenting it. There are numbers that stir a sense of fear with no basis for comparison, and there are numbers that can be utilized to compare and contrast in order to make good decisions. Most of us can probably agree that the COVID-19 numbers, in both collecting and reporting, have been dubious at a minimum. We’ve seen questionable death certificate numbers, false positives, false negatives, delayed reporting, and so on. Still, they are the numbers we have, so I wanted to use my background in statistics to at least create a clearer picture of the situation. So here we are…

I decided to include last season’s complete flu data and this season’s YTD flu data as a means of comparison. Yes, the diseases are different, but there has to be come kind of baseline in order to determine how much we need to freak out at any given number. No comparison = no frame of reference = no perspective. I update the YTD flu column weekly as the next report is published by Texas HHS. There are approximately 5 weeks remaining in the current flu season and a 2-3 week lag in the publishing of the reports. I also decided to add a column at the end for the degree of change over the previous 7 days and a directional arrow for quick reference purposes. You might say, “That’s a lot of numbers, nerd! What does this shit even mean?!” That was rude, but I’m still glad you asked! The numbers in the top half of the chart are the raw totals taken directly from the Texas HHS web site. The bottom section is where I earn my pay on this – which is exactly zero dollars. These are the calculations and trends that I believe are the most important. A statistic shown as per 100K people is a great one to follow if percentages and decimal places make your head hurt. It’s an apples to apples way to look at complex data. For example, I have used per 100K people calculations to compare different states as well, since the populations vary so dramatically. I split this out by the overall rate, over the age of 65, and under the age of 65, as a way to slice and dice what is really happening in Texas. I chose 65 because that has been the age category the state uses for flu in recent years, thus making it a quick way to compare all of the data across the rows. The bottom two rows are also good to follow and compare if you like percentages and decimal points. The “Survival Rate/Infection” is the rate of survival if you catch COVID-19 and the “Survival Rate/Population” is your overall survival rate based on the population of the Texas – so it’s your actual chance of dying from it as a resident of the state. That number is currently tracking almost identical to the previous two flu seasons. Even if you (hypothetically) double the number of COVID-19 deaths from the current report, that percentage doesn’t move very much because we have almost 30 million people in the state, which is a good thing when trying to assess severity.

Why did I move this week’s result from my usual Facebook post to my blog site? Well, I normally don’t inject much of my personal opinion into these weekly posts. I like to just present the data that I collect and let folks decide for themselves what it means to them. I still think that is very important because how I assess risk might be different than someone else because everyone’s circumstances are unique. With that being said, I have been crunching these numbers for months now, so I have started to develop my own analysis of the numbers. And that’s why we’re here. I am ready to share some opinions and I needed more paragraphs than what is practical in a Facebook post. Plus, there are probably some folks that don’t really give a shit about my opinion on this but they like to see the numbers, so I added the need to click one more time on Facebook to see this blog post. I’ll still probably post the chart in the comments section when I link to this in Facebook, just in case folks don’t want to see my analysis or opinions.

The Meaty Goodness:

This is not intended to frighten, but perspective is very important. Flu and SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19) are different diseases with some unique situations, but the numbers in my weekly chart still provide some good similarities for comparison purposes. A brand new, fast tracked, SARS-COV-2 vaccine will likely have a similar (or lower) success rate than the flu vaccine that has been around for years and is updated annually, tweaked, and perfected over time. You might also have people getting the new vaccine at a higher rate than the flu vaccine because of the current awareness level, media hype, and social climate. So, what does all of that mean? People will still get sick and there will still be deaths from SARS-COV-2 even after a vaccine is released and widely distributed. That’s just the reality of the situation. There is not a magic bullet and waiting for one is simply unrealistic. Arguably, it is also irresponsible because of the “collateral damage” that we are seeing from depression, suicide, substance abuse, domestic violence, business closures, etc.. Hunkering down to figure out the scope of this disease was the right thing to do. It was new and very unknown. We did need to “flatten the curve” to avoid overwhelming the health system. Now, we are equally obligated to make decisions that minimize the very real collateral damage. New diseases, new types of flu, and new viruses make their way around the planet every year and we mitigate the risk the best we can (wash hands, take vitamins, healthy lifestyle, vaccines, treatments, etc.) in order to carry on with our lives. This disease is no different in that regard. There will be both preventives and therapeutics readily available. Some are available now and some are being vetted out as I write this. Be informed. Look at numbers that matter. Determine your own personal level of risk. Minimize exposure if you are showing symptoms. All of that should be pretty easy because it’s the same thing you would do if we were in the midst of an unusually bad flu season or of there was an uptick in another existing disease in any particular season. Prepare to move on and re-enter the world, maybe not today, but it’s coming. It has to. While there might not be a magic bullet for this new disease, that’s ok! In the grand scheme of things, there isn’t a magic bullet for anything that we encounter in the world, yet we go about our lives and we thrive by making the best decisions possible based on the best information available. We experience the joys and disappointments of life. We celebrate. We win. We lose. Above all, we experience the world around us because that’s what humans do.

As always, regardless of your opinion on this or anything else, don’t be a dick.

Clearing the Air

There are probably 4 or 5 “flavors” of Democrats (or left leaning folks, in general). You have moderates, socialists, “democratic socialists” (not gonna lie, that term gives me a headache), old school Southern Democrats, Wall Street Democrats, and so on. I doubt a moderate Democrat would be too stoked about being called a Marxist or a socialist, right? 

Well, I’m a Republican. I’m not a corporatist Republican nor a religious right Republican nor a Tea Party Republican (whatever that means now) nor a Wall Street Republican. I’m a libertarian leaning Republican. I believe that every individual has the right to pursue their own happiness, whether they are straight, gay, green, blue or purple. I believe that the government needs to leave people alone from a social standpoint, spend as little of our money as possible (and as defined by the Constitution), and stay out of the business of using religion to drive public policy. Believe it or not, most of the younger Republicans I run into feel the same way. Before you say that makes me a Libertarian (with a capital L), it doesn’t. The reality of this country is that we currently have the best chance of advancing an ideology within one of the two major parties. I think my energy is best spent advancing liberty in a similar manner as Rand Paul and the rest of the liberty caucus Republicans. I don’t even align 100% with those guys. I probably don’t align 100% with ANYONE and that’s okay. Note: I was a dues paying Libertarian for almost a year until I realized that’s an entirely different can of worms and it’s not for me. Power to the folks who fight that fight, though. 

The GOP is a hot mess right now. To be fair, the Democrat Party is almost an equal sized dumpster fire, too. That doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed. The old guard needs to go and that’s going to take a long time. We need to survive the Trump Administration and start putting more libertarian minded Republicans in office. This will be a long and slow process, but our government is designed to move slowly in order to avoid the whims of the masses. 

I see all this shit talking and friendships being torn apart because of political affiliation and it’s, quite frankly, stupid. Hell, if I avoided everyone with different views than my own, I’d have an extremely short list of Christmas cards to send out. And if I shunned all the bands that didn’t align with my political beliefs, I’d probably be stuck listening to Nashville country and Michale Graves. I prefer to think that I’m adult enough to hear something I disagree with, process it, and file it away without having a toddler sized tantrum.  

So, with all of that , I’m not going to hide my opinions and I’m not going to be vague about my affiliations any longer, simply because of the mess that the GOP is in right now. I wouldn’t expect you to hide because the Democrat Party is woefully out of touch, arrogant and fractured, either. 
So next time you get all high and mighty about people you “hate” – remember that it’s probably a guy you’ve played in a band with, or watched perform on stage, or turned wrenches with on a hot rod, or stood beside at a punk rock show (and, years ago, crashed into in a pit) or just had a beer with and talked about nothing and laughed a little bit.

So, you can hate and purge your social media accounts all day and that’s perfectly fine with me. I’m gonna have a beer, hang out with my wife, work on my hot rod, and lose what’s left of my hearing at a punk rock show. You might even see me letting my freak flag fly. If you do, feel free to wave yours, too, even if it looks different than mine. 

VIDEO: Eric July Talks Music, Libertarian Politics and Developing a Brand

By: Dave Cox

I had the pleasure of sitting down with singer, MC, political commentator, lecturer, activist and all around Ancap badass, Eric July, in our home neighborhood of Oak Cliff in Dallas, Texas.

Here’s a summary of the things we discussed; from his politics, to the falling out with his old band, to his upcoming record release with his new band, Backwordz, and a LOT more. You’re going to want to watch this video!

Transcript:

Dave: Both major political parties are making a rift in America that continues to grow.

Eric: “Non-Aggression, Voluntarism… We shouldn’t agress upon others just to be doing it – and being positive and being able to change people’s lives. That’s why I’m here”

Dave: Eric July is trying to right the ship in US politics with music and media.

Eric:  “That to me is what it’s about – being able to set that scene and telling you where I came from.”

Eric: “What’s good everybody,  I’m Eric July – frontman for Backwordz… Backwordz is really just everything coming together. Me as a political commentator, me as an MC… loving hardcore growing up, loving punk rock and metal. We’ve also got some hardcore MC-ing going down.”

Dave: Running track in college and running in gangs – those are just a few things July drew inspiration from. You can see it in their new music video for the song, “Be Great.” You also see him fire back at his last group, Fire From the Gods.

Eric: “The idea of what was actually asked of me was that they wanted me to be a ghostwriter.” He couldn’t take a back seat, so he left the band.  “I really just wasn’t comfortable with that considering the type of material that I wrote with Fire.  Those are things that come straight from the heart.”

Dave: But what inspired his tribute to his old band was what they did to the last song he recorded with them, “Eat.”

Eric: “They just, literally, re-recorded the song and plugged cuss words in there, because I don’t cuss in my rhymes, to try to make it a slight lyric change. Top to bottom I wrote that song and they just re-did it without my consent and just put it out there.”

Dave: July’s style isn’t your typical rap metal. He changed the culture of hardcore with his political rhymes. There’s no way his style could be mimicked.

Eric: “Just from a musician’s standpoint, it is the whackest thing that I’ve ever seen – the corniest thing I’ve ever seen – of a musician. Not even up for debate – the corniest thing that I’ve ever seen.”

Dave: Doing band business independently is very important to July.

Eric: “We started getting offers. We straight up got offers and we declined them because Backwordz is a brand and a message that we stand behind.”

Dave: They’re self-releasing their new record in partnership with Stay Sick Recordings 2017.

Eric: “You see the shirt [the shirt says ‘Non-Aggression – Voluntaryism’] – we have an actual message and things that we believe in and music is more so just the driving force.”

Dave: The message in their music will reach a younger audience that may have never before been interested in politics.

Eric: “You’re impressing me when you go do a Fox News interview. You go write an article that got shared around by a lot of people. You go do some public speaking – a lecture or something – and you got your message out there and plant some seeds. That’s what’s impressive to me”

Dave: Cable TV, blogs, magazines – he’s done them all as a political commentator. Speaking his mind is second nature for July, but it hasn’t always been that way.

Eric: “I was both confused and, I ain’t going to lie, a little intimidated to be honest with you, because you have to understand the culture of blacks. Leftists have a political monopoly in these communities. A political monopoly is really what it is. I didn’t know about Libertarianism until I hit college. I had never heard the word – never ever heard the word. I was confused because this stuff is making sense, but how do I tell my family this? How do I tell my family that I came to this realization that government sucks?”

Dave: A punk rock theme many of us grew up with turned into political awareness when July went to college.

Eric: “Policies like minimum wage and a welfare state have… helped destroy black communities and black families.”

Dave: His key message is to NOT rely on the government.

Eric: “You know, it’s confusing because I’ve been led for… 19, 20 years of my life to believe one way.”

Dave: He also gets haters as a black Libertarian.

Eric: “It comes with the territory and you’ve got a target on your back. I get stripped down every day.  I’ll go to my messages right now and someone’s calling me the N word.  Black folks too, saying… ‘He’s an Uncle Tom. He’s a coon – a house nigga,’ is what they say.  They’re calling us all of these different terms not because I’m a Libertarian because I’m not a leftist. You can be a conservative – which I’m not. You can be a Libertarian, but as long as you’re not a leftist, you’re going to get called those names.”

Dave: His unique perspective growing up gangbanging, performing as MC YG Rippa and setting athletic records gives him a gift to open minds.

Eric: “I want somebody to come at me and call me one of those names and I’ll be like, ‘Well, you’re the one worshiping the same entity that you claim is suppressing you. Who’s really the Uncle Tome here?’”

Dave: Now, his words are more powerful than any diss track.

Eric: “If I’m going to claim to be real then I’m going to put it out there. Once I put it out there I got more comfortable and I didn’t get phased by all them folks talking down.”

Dave: One word describes Eric’s music and politics…

Eric: “One word – REAL.  You might not agree with it but you know that it’s us. You know that we’re getting out there – we’re putting this music out. You hear me write a lyric, you hear me lay it down, you know it’s real. You know I’m coming to you and I’m being honest with you. You know what I mean? I’m being for real with you. And THAT’S what it’s about!”

Geography Lessons From Donald Trump [VIDEO]

By: Dave Cox

Donald Trump mentioned several times that Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, was from New Jersey, and then brushed it off and kept plowing away because it’s important to keep moving forward, even when facts get in the way of the narrative.  To bad Chris Christie wasn’t there to help him.

I really only have two questions to ask about this clip:

  1. 18 months ago, would anyone have thought that Donald Trump had a legitimate chance a becoming the President of the United States of America?
  2. Would anyone believe that Donald Trump would only be the SECOND worst candidate running for President in 2016?

Somebody please wake me up when this nightmare is over! Giant Meteor 2016!!