inessential by Brent Simmons

December 2020

When Are We Back To Normal?

I’m trying to figure out when we’ll be back to something like normal. I’m thinking of a few things:

  • Biden’s goal is 100 million doses in his first 100 days
  • The vaccines require two doses
  • There are 330 million people in the United States
  • Dr. Fauci has said that we’ll achieve herd immunity once we have 70-85% of the population vaccinated

Let’s say we achieve herd immunity, and some kind or normalcy, at around 250 million people vaccinated, which is just over 75%.

Since each person requires two doses, that’s 500 million doses.

The pace Biden is aiming for is 1 million doses per day. If we’re able to achieve and sustain that pace starting late in January — which is not at all a sure thing — we’ll have administered 500 million doses around mid-year 2022.

I keep hearing people talk optimistically about April or May of 2021. Me, I’m hoping to be able to see my family for Thanksgiving and Christmas 2021, but I’m not counting on it as a sure thing.

We’re going to need to go much faster with the vaccines. To reach 75% of the population by, say, Labor Day, in time for kids to go back to school, we’re going to need to administer 500 million doses by mid-August, about seven months after Biden’s inauguration. (Remember that immunity is ramped up about two weeks after the second dose.) To make this happen we’ll need to administer 2-2.5 million doses per day.

I don’t see how we get there by counting on local drug stores to administer most of the doses. I suspect we’re going to need to use parks and high school football fields — big, open spaces where large crowds can line up safely. And we’re going to need to do it day after day, with no days off.

(Is any of my math wrong? There’s no point in being overly-precise here — but please tell me if I’ve made some error that changes things significantly.)

I remember Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as my favorite of the Christmas specials — as the truly great of the genre, as the Superman of Christmas specials.

And then we watched it last night, for probably the first time this century. It was brutal.

The story was pretty rough to start with: mutant child laborer is shunned until the CEO finds a way to exploit his difference, and only then do his peers accept him. And we’re supposed to take that as a happy ending.

But there’s something far, far worse that I had utterly forgotten.

Here’s the scene: the Abominable Snow Monster is threatening Rudolph’s family. Yukon Cornelius causes a boulder to fall on the monster’s head and he passes out. And then — here’s where Sheila and I both gasped — Hermey, the elf who, charmingly, wants to be a dentist, pulls out all of the snow monster’s teeth. The teeth are shown, pulled out by the roots, littered on the snow.

Hermey is a fucking war criminal. We’re shook.

Apple’s SSL Metrics Is Hanging My App

We’ve been getting some reports that NetNewsWire for Mac will hang sometimes. A sample will report something like this:

Dispatch Thread Hard Limit: 512 reached in 1580 of 1580 samples -- too many dispatch threads blocked in synchronous operations

And there will be hundreds of threads labelled

Here’s an example, with sample report, on our bug tracker.

What I think is happening: these Apple metrics reports are happening once per download per feed. So, if you have 1,000 feeds, then there are 1,000 metrics reports for a given download session. If those reports don’t complete quickly enough, then you get this thread explosion.

So… I could slow down our feed downloader so that this is less likely to happen, so that the metrics reports don’t back up so much. I don’t really want to slow down refreshing, though, but I may have no choice.

Luckily, most people don’t have the number of feeds it would take to trigger this. But, still, that’s not good enough — NetNewsWire should never hang for any user.

The Big Sur Sneeze

This has happened to me a few times. As I’m using my 2019 16" MBP, it lets out, at some random moment, a startlingly aggressive “Fehhhhh,” and then it shuts down.

It sounds as if the fan goes to 11 for about a second, and then it turns silent and dark.

To be clear: it’s completely unexpected. This is not happening when I shut down the computer. It happens whenever… it wants? Is bored? Is tired? I dunno.

So far I’ve seen this only on one laptop, and that laptop is running Big Sur. I tweeted about it, and found that I’m not the only person who sees this. James Dempsey calls it “the Big Sur Sneeze.”