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May 7, 2021

BehindTheMedspeak: Home Covid Tests


They just went on sale over the counter/internet to anyone who wants one — no prescription required.

I bought a kit (actually two kits, each containing two tests, for a total of four tests) online from Walmart, which offers the best price: $20/kit if you buy two kits, with free shipping.

They arrived two days after I ordered.

For comparison, Walgreens and CVS want $24/kit (two tests) with free shipping if you order two kits.


I opened up a kit and was kind of dumbfounded by the length, complexity, and requirements for precision conveyed in the instructions (above and below).


I don't believe one person in a hundred is capable of doing each step as directed without screwing something up.

Which means that there are going to be a lot of false negatives and false positives from the manner of testing, beyond those inherent in the test materials themselves.

These are early days: I expect future over-the-counter Covid tests to be as simple as pregnancy tests.

Me, I'm gonna wait a while and reread the instructions a few more times before giving it a whirl.

Caveat tester.

May 7, 2021 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thinking without words


Lately I've been trying to act before putting the intended action into words.

It's very, very difficult.

So far I have not yet succeeded in bypassing my silent conscious statement of intent.

Nevertheless, I persist.

Try it and let me know what happens.

May 7, 2021 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

When Werner met Cormac

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From Open Culture:

Werner Herzog (L above) and Cormac McCarthy (R above) talk science and culture.

Physicist Lawrence M. Krauss suggests that science and art ask the same fundamental question: Who are we, and what is our place in the universe?

In a 47-minute-long discussion, Krauss is joined in his exploration of this question by Herzog ("Grizzly Man," "Encounters at the End of the World") and 2000 Pulitzer Prize winner McCarthy ("The Crossing," "The Road," "No Country For Old Men").

Much of their discussion revolves around Herzog's documentary film, "The Cave of Forgotten Dreams," but they also address bottleneck theory, complexity science, the history of painting, and the upcoming rise of the machines.

High point: Herzog reads a passage from McCarthy's "All the Pretty Horses" (38:00).

Low point: Herzog asserts that Star Trek lied — human beings will never learn to instantly transport from planet to planet.

Krauss confirms, and Trekkie hearts all over the world break into tiny unbeamable pieces (17:00).

May 7, 2021 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

The size of solar flares


May 7, 2021 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

What is it?

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Answer here this time tomorrow.

Hint: smaller than a bread box.

Another: no moving parts.

A third: plastic.

May 7, 2021 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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