And I'm only talking the US here. When you start looking at the worldwide totals the numbers become even more impossible to visualize.

The total number of deaths worldwide is more than two and a half million–two and one half GIGADEATHS–approaching the population of Kansas. Or, if you prefer, surpassing the population of Namibia.

If an asteroid struck and killed this many people all at once we would be beyond horrified.

Why should statistics on a chart affect us less?

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Ten months ago the US death count hit 20,000. At the time I asked people to visualize the number in terms of a local outdoor music venue with that capacity. I wanted to give a visceral sense of scale to what is otherwise just a number. A statistic.

Well, here's a new number for you: 500,000. One half a million people dead. This time, instead of an amphitheater, imagine an entire city the size of Miami or Oakland.

An entire city, gone. An unimaginable disaster.

Trump, McConnell, Stupid 

Meanwhile, Trump has excoriated McConnell for McConnell saying what he actually thought after going to great lengths to protect Trump from his own words and actions.

> Trump Blasts McConnell And His Leadership In Lengthy Response To Recent Criticism.

I swear, Trump is such a flaming asshole. Not that McConnell isn't, but two wrongs don't make a right. (However, three lefts do.)

In any case, I send a hearty 'Fuck You!' to both of them.

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That first tweet of mine was actually a short thread.

I was posting a *lot* about the pandemic back then, because I felt people weren't paying proper attention to a serious problem. Some other posts from March 2020 include my noticing all the birdsite bots claiming it was no worse than the flu (and debunking it) and a couple of predictions of low expectations that entirely came true.

It's been a year since we had our first indications was a local problem and not just something happening to other people 'over there'. After all, the first USA cases were reported right here in Washington State.

I went through the Rusted Neuron archives and found my first post using the hashtag was March 1, but I know I was posting about it before that.

I think we can expect a lot of pandemic retrospectives in coming weeks. Let us not forget the toll in lives.

Now, you can save some Delta-V with aerobraking. However it can be a dangerous maneuver and requires a heavier and more highly engineered spacecraft.

Moreover, once you've reached the asteroid belt the Delta-V for inter-asteroid transfer is essentially free.

Finally, access to raw materials and energy is significantly easier and cheaper. Once again, no gravity to deal with (to speak of) and no atmosphere or day/night cycle interrupting solar power.

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RE gravity wells: the attached image is a Delta-V map of the solar system, allowing you to calculate the energy required to visit different planets and moons.

The Delta-V for reaching the asteroid belt is essentially the same as required for Earth/Mars Transfer, but without the added Delta-V for landing on Mars and returning from Mars. Calculated (one way):

* Earth/Mars Transfer – 13

* Earth/Mars Landing – 19

As you can see, you save about one third Delta-V by avoiding Mars altogether.

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Politics, Trump, Polls 

Oh? Also, Pew Research's new poll shows this recent approval drop is largely made up of Republicans…

> New poll shows Trump’s support dropping sharply among Republicans. Many Republicans are fed up with Trump as impeachment looms.

So, yeah, Trump has his delusional fanatics. But he doesn't have the regular people with more than a tenuous connection to reality. No matter *what* team they're on.

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Politics, Trump, Polls 

If you've checked FiveThirtyEight's Trump approval poll tracker lately, you've noticed his approval rating when into freefall after the DC Riot.

It SERIOUSLY hockey-sticked, dropping ten points from the low forties in only a few days. Disapproval numbers have increased by 10 points in the same period.

Note that these *are not* trump's worst numbers during his presidency. During his first year his approval numbers dropped slightly below today's.

Finally, could we be reality-based on some subjects and fantasy-driven on others – and not know it? Even those of us who firmly believe we are Realists?

Among other things, this would help explain Dunning-Kruger and an awful lot of bad decisions made by people who should know better…

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Related, there are clearly reality-based individuals in every cross-section of politics you might want to inspect; meaning you can honestly look at the same reality as another person and still form a different opinion about it. And it's clear there are those who are reality-based on some subjects, but fantasy-driven on others.

To what extent does this explain the (somewhat valid) 'political compass' and are what are the distributions of reality-based and fantasy-driven thinking across it?

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I'm beginning to think the human race has *always* been separated into 'Reality-Based' and 'Fantasy-Driven' ways of looking at the world. Moreover, the 'Reality-Based' community (as opposed to a few 'Reality-Based' individuals) may be an extremely recent development in human history and very much in the minority.

If the goal of the demagogue is to play to populist fantasies about how things work, what is the goal of the 'Reality-Based' politician? And how can they compete?

Hopefully today is the last time I feel the need to repost this timeline of the Nazi takeover of Germany.

The point isn't what they did, so much as how fast a constitutional democracy can become a dictatorship.

In the Nazi's case? Less than two months from Hitler winning the Chancellorship in a political operation to concentration camps and suspending the constitution.

By nature I'm both a realist and a pessimist; I believe there is an objective reality and, most of the time, that reality sucks.

And here's the thing: I've now seen 63 new years and this is just about the worse one I can remember. Worse even than the year my first marriage fell apart. At least that year my divorce was final on New Year's Eve; giving me a fresh start the next day.

Whereas 2020 is spilling over into 2021. So, I don't want to harsh your half-fulllness – but brace yourselves…

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Terrorism in Nashville – Picture of the RV/Bomb 

Update: Police have released a picture of the RV/Bomb and are asking for tips.

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Anyway, groceries are put away, wood stove is re-stoked, and I have Internet – for the moment.

And – of course – it's now snowing outside… (Current radar image attached.)

I wonder if I will have significant accumulation by morning? Outside temp is 36f and dropping, so some snow on the ground seems likely.

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When you check the weather radar and it looks like this…

(I'm guessing my Satellite Internet is going to go down soon. And probably stay that way for hours. My big concern is if I'll lose power as well.)

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