The COVID Event Horizon

How many COVID infections will you have in your lifetime? There's probably a limit.

On May 24, 2022, the CDC, of all places, announced that more than 1 in 5 COVID cases results in Long COVID. This momentous news landed with the overwhelming silence of space trash floating out of Earth orbit. The next day, a study in Nature Medicine revealed that vaccines only reduce the risk of Long COVID by 15%. Not very much. [...]

"If we manage it the way that we manage it now, then most people will get infected with it at least a couple of times a year," virologist at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, Kristian Andersen, says in the New York Times. Doctors are now "seeing kids with [their] 3rd infection in [a] 4 month period. The shortest time between reinfection recorded by the CDC was 23 days.

All of which begs the question: how many SARS-CoV-2 infections can an organism sustain? People don't get the flu 2 or 3 times a year, and if they did that would probably also be bad. But getting a thing that kills your T cells seems not infinitely scalable, right? [...]

COVID degrades your immune system for the next time you encounter the virus, and also makes you more susceptible to infections overall. (Population-level immune dysfunction may go a ways to explaining the emergence of the sudden new characters in our viral cinematic universe -- Monkeypox, Pediatric Hepatitis, et al.) COVID also increases your risk of developing diabetes by 59%, which is then a contributing risk factor for severe COVID, including death. [...]

COVID isn't just an infection, it's an underlying medical condition. By next year we'll have reached the point where people have started having 5 or more reinfections. What happens at 15? Or 25? What is the reinfection event horizon? Like have we tested in animals or something? What is the maximum upper limit of infection above which no mouse survives?

I'm guessing it's not infinity.

Tool's Maynard James Keenan had COVID-19 for the fourth time.

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Three new WordPress plugins

I factored out some of my various WordPress hacks into standalone plugins. Perhaps they will be of use to someone else.

  • WYSIWYG Comments Trix:
    Replaces the standard comment submission form with a WYSIWYG rich-text editor. A bunch of you said this was a bad idea, because 64KB should be enough for anybody.

  • Geolocate Comments:
    Saves and displays (to me) the location of each commenter's IP address. Hello to all my friends in the Russian bot farm industry!

  • Mirror Gravatar:
    Mirrors commenters' Gravatars and serves them locally, rather than loading them from on each page load, thus both speeding things up and eliminating an off-site webbug.

They join in infamy my previous two plugins:

FYI, the other plugins that I still use are:

For a long time I used WP Super Cache, but I decided that it was more trouble than it was worth. It was far too agressive at showing people out-of-date pages, and I think that since I started using CloudFront as a CDN for my images and videos, it's a lot less necessary. I guess we'll find out the next time I say something that makes the techbro hordes invade.

Separating out these plugins made me marvel at how long my wp-content/themes/jwz/functions.php file has gotten over the years, due to the inevitable accretion. What all is in there? Let's conduct an inventory, mostly for my own benefit:

Theme stuff:

  • Colors, scripts, sidebars widgets.
  • A bunch of permalink-canonicalization crud.
  • Hacked the "Archives" sidebar widget to go into "year mode" after a few months, instead of listing 200+ months.
  • Show relative dates on posts and comments.
  • Move the login fields above the text area instead of below (what were they thinking?)

Disable misfeatures:

  • Tear the legs off of "wpautop", "wptexturize", and all the emoji crap.
  • Disable "Gutenberg", "XML-RPC", and "JSON REST".
  • Disable "categories" as much as possible.
  • Search results by date, not some nebulous "relevance".


  • Filters to move images and videos into the CDN.
  • Locally mirror images posted in comments.
  • Auto-generate IMG SRCSETs, dependent upon my image scaler. WordPress kind-of handles this thing internally if you use their built-in image uploader, but I don't, because reasons.

Search and social media crud:

  • Add OpenGraph and Twit metadata properly.
  • Remove "users" and "taxonomies" from sitemaps.
  • Keep year and month indexes out of search engines: link to leaf nodes only.
  • Omit sidebars and comments and such from the version of the site seen by search engines. I know they hate that, but it makes the search results better.
  • Auto-crosspost to Twitter and sometimes Instagram.

Other random features:

  • Added an option to hide all comments on particular posts, without actually deleting them.
  • Added an option to mark particular posts as search-engine-noindex.
  • Better HTML-to-plaintext conversion for RSS feeds and multipart/alternative emails. This is useless but it's the principle of the thing.

Relatedly, I also re-organized my hacks/ page for the first time in over a decade.

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"Taking the Win over COVID-19"

If you were wondering where the Biden administration's strategy of just pretending that the pandemic is over came from, here is the market research firm with blood on its hands. Impact Research, founded by Biden's 2020 campaign pollster, sent this strategy memo in February, just before CDC lost its damn mind:

Taking the Win over COVID-19:

Recognize that people are "worn out" and feeling real harm from the years- long restrictions and take their side. Most Americans have personally moved out of crisis mode. Twice as many voters are now more concerned about COVID's effect on the economy (49%) than about someone in their family or someone they know becoming infected with the coronavirus (24%). [...]

The more we talk about the threat of COVID and onerously restrict people's lives because of it, the more we turn them against us and show them we're out of touch with their daily realities. [...]

Don't set "COVID zero" as the victory condition. Americans also don't think victory is COVID Zero. They think the virus is here to stay, and 83% say the pandemic will be over when it's a mild illness like the flu rather than COVID being completely gone, and 55% prefer that COVID should be treated as an endemic disease. [...]

Americans also assume they will get COVID: 77% agree that "it is inevitable that most people in the US will eventually get COVID-19", and 61% of Americans who have never tested positive think they are likely to be infected over the next year. [...]

When 99% of Americans can get vaccinated, we cause more harm than we prevent with voters by going into our third year talking about restrictions. And, if Democrats continue to hold a posture that prioritizes COVID precautions over learning how to live in a world where COVID exists, but does not dominate, they risk paying dearly for it in November.

In other words: facts don't matter, only feelings matter, and what's the point in saving lives if you're just going to lose the midterms anyway?

If people already think they're going to catch a deadly disease, who are we to stand in their way?


Why COVID-19 gaslighting by politicians is so dangerous for democracy:

Western politicians and public health officials have managed to craft a fictional universe in which we have reached endemicity, where infection is now "mild" and getting "milder" by the variant, where COVID-19 is "like the flu," where mass infection builds a "wall of immunity" and where voluntary vaccination alone is our ticket out of the pandemic. [...]

A functioning democracy requires some common ground upon which its citizens can agree. COVID-19 gaslighting erodes that common ground. It erodes trust in government and public health, as well as institutions, like school boards, that follow their cue.

It undermines the public authority of medicine and biomedical science to guide us through the pandemic. Just as climate change has been subjected to "bothsidesism," we now increasingly hear about "both sides" of COVID-19. When politicians encourage us to "move on," COVID denialism becomes a respectable opinion.

"A spokesman at the Health Ministry said that to talk repeatedly about AIDS would cause the public to panic. Touism would certainly be affected."

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The flesh you wear is a lie you tell the world. Apple can see your true face.

US10719692B2 - Vein matching for difficult biometric authentication cases:

Subepidermal images of the user may be used to assess subepidermal features such as blood vessels (e.g., veins) when the device is attempting to authenticate the user. The subepidermal features may be compared to templates of subepidermal features for an authorized (e.g., enrolled) user of the device. Assessment of subepidermal features during the facial recognition authentication process may be useful in distinguishing between users that have closely related facial features (e.g., siblings or twins). In addition, assessment of subepidermal features may be used to prevent unlocking of the device by an unauthorized user wearing a mask or using another face replication method.

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We have been hearing about this shortage of exorcists for some time now.

"Having a ball after receiving the Bread of Life"

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