The Dreaded Second Wave


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Covid19 Bullshit for Dummies

Do you ever wonder how dangerous Covid19 is? If it’s getting better, or worse? If the things we’re being forced to do are helping?

Excellent places to not learn anything are the NYT, WaPo, CNN, MSNBC, FOX, The Atlantic, Slate, Rolling Stone, CBC (sorry), BBC (sorry), political campaigns, the President, The Prime Minister, Dr. Fauci, facebook, google news, Drudge, Twitter, TickTok, Grindr.

The following graphs were all generated from the same dataset ( They were generated to illustrate how easy it is to use data to tell stories, also called lies.

Consider the first graph:

This is the graph I would choose if I wanted to tell a story about how badly the USA has managed the pandemic. And, if I were running for office, I would tell the story about how pathetically the folks in power – at least the ones I don’t like – managed things. If I were in power, or defending the budget of my Dept of Bureaucracy that was in some way supposed to help, I likely wouldn’t choose this graph. Perhaps, if I was attacking a competing Dept of Bureaucracy, it might be a good choice.

Certainly if I was frightened beyond belief of Covid19, I’d be angry about this one.

If I wanted to make the case that the lockdowns were necessary, and useful, I might start with a graph of the growth in “cases” (positive tests), and deaths, windowed for Mar-Apr. I would also use this to show that cases are leading, and proportional indicator of future deaths.

It’s important to note that deaths are on a different scale than cases. Hold that thought.

In Mar we didn’t have much information. We didn’t know when  the infection would stop, or why (we still don’t). We didn’t know that it isn’t deadly to a majority of people. For a worst case scenario one simply had to do a little linear extrapolation on the curves and see that

Very fortunately, the worst case is not what actually happened.

It’s important to note that deaths are on a different scale than cases. Hold that thought.

What actually happened is that cases continued to rise, roughly as predicted, but deaths no longer tracked cases.

Why? Perhaps …

  • Sending infected patients back to nursing homes was a bad idea.
  • Some demographics are highly vulnerable; many are highly resistant, and policy can be adjusted to save lives.
  • Medicine got better, and learned, quickly, how to save lives.
  • Lockdowns, The Grocery Dance, Social Masking, Karens, virgins in volcanoes, etc.
  • The virus seems to slow down dramatically long before the 60-70% immunity we have been told is God’s actual truth.

So, we don’t quite understand why, and maybe we got a bit lucky, but the news is all good.

Even this doesn’t tell the whole story. Let’s remove the scaling on deaths and place them on the same axis as cases. This gives a more accurate visualization of the danger of a positive test.

Now without the text, this graph clearly shows that cases don’t predict deaths. But with the text, it’s even more dramatic. Deaths have remained relatively constant even as the virus traveled geographically (South and West), and impacted as vastly larger population.

Finally, lets remove all scaling and look at cases, deaths, and tests.

One might conclude from this that testing cures Covid19. That is counter-intuitive, and likely asinine, but “supported by the data”.

I’ll leave it as an exercise to form an opinion about how effective the world government’s response has been.

They will do better with your colonoscopy.


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Some Concrete Covid 19 Predictions

This is a follow up to some questions about this, some analysis of these numbers, and (rare for me) some concrete predictions.

The formula for chance of dying from an event is chance of dying, as measured, per unit of exposure (hour, mile, flight, dive) x units of exposure. Skydiving and mountain climbing are fantastically dangerous per unit of exposure, but the average the death toll is tiny because so few people do these things.

Driving is much safer, but the average probability of dying much higher to higher exposure.

The mortality rate – the chance of dying from Covid 19, over the last 8 months has been 0.06%, or 1 in 1833.

That’s 330,000,000 / 180,000. It’s not CFR, or IFR, or a model, or a prediction.

It a backward looking measurement of what actually happened.

Now 1 in 1833 is still a little scary for me. But remember, in March the experts were predicting “up to”3%, (1 in every 34 people) and policy was made based on that.

Globally, if you believe the numbers, which you shouldn’t, the probability of death is 0.013%, or 1 in 8152.

For context, in the USA, over a year, the probability of dying in

Auto accident, 0.01%, or 1 in 9805.

Flu, 0.01% or 1 in 9661 (2018-19).

Cancer, 0.19% or 1 in 551.

Heart disease, 0.2%, or 1 in 504.

Now averages over large populations have serious limitations. If you are under 20, and in classroom, your chance of dying of Covid 19 is easily less than 1/100’th the average. If you are over 75 and in a New York nursing home under Comrade Cuomo’s regime, it was even money with surviving a firing squad or the Titanic’s maiden voyage as cook.

But consider the year: masks don’t work, masks are the only thing that works, the Grocery Dance, Karen, work from home (“work” from home as I used to say), lockdowns, bankruptcies, a spike in overdoses, suicides, depression, anxiety, debt and fraud on an Old Testament scale.

Was it all worth it? Did we win? What did we win? Are we still winning?

Now, let’s get to the hard stuff. What happens next?

To answer we need to know this:

What is backward looking death rate once infected? Will it remain constant?

How many are infected? How many have recovered? How many have immunity?

How many have to acquire immunity to stop the little bastard dead in it’s tracks?

What are the patterns of spread? Do we have any control over them?

Is a safe and effective vaccine coming, or should we just fly to Russia and mainline some Putin Juice we get on the street? (I have no clue)

Committees of government experts assume the IFR (death rate once one has the disease) will remain constant, that the thing will not ever stop – it is The Terminator – until 70% are infected and recovered.

Now, we’re going to have to use some noisy PCR data, which I’ll note may be mostly noise at this point:

6,600,000 positive test results. Assume this means immunity. That’s 2% of the population. So far, 190,000 have died, and to get to the needed 70% we’ll need another 230,000,000 million people to test positive, which will kill 6,621,000 more people.

Bad news. Fauci’s line is currently in “the millions”.

Is this likely to happen?

Around the world (except in places in the geometric rise phase) we’re seeing positive tests go way up, and deaths in the absolute go down, and deaths/M go way down. What is happening? Perhaps we’re getting better at isolating the vulnerable, or better at treating it, or it’s having a harder time traveling, or it’s exhausting the supply of vulnerable and is a mild illness in everyone else, or maybe the masking et. al. is working. Perhaps the PCR is crap.

Regardless of the cause, the lethality of this thing continues to decline. Sharply. So the 6,000,000 is likely high by maybe 5,500,000 or so.

Now maybe it’s the social masking. It’s hard to prove that it isn’t. But strangely the curves in different countries, with different policies and varying levels of compliance, are nearly identical. And Sweden’s curve, having never masked, barely doing the Grocery Dance, and not closed schools, is also identical.

But maybe masking and dancing and sacrificing virgins to volcanoes works. In which case we’re on track to do it for another decade.

I have often noted the odd “stops at 35%” phenomena. First on cruise ships and navy ships. In fact, there are few populations that have reached 35% outside of small high groups, that have not seem infections fall. Not just deaths, but infections/immunity. It seems – maybe – that herd immunity, or something, stops it long before 70%.

This observation has required some leaps of math, with huge margins of error. There are lots of weak indicators that the infection has already travelled much further than positive test indicate.

But if you trust 1 PCR as positive as 1 immunity, and you believe positive rate numbers tell you if you sample is large enough, then the thing has burned out at 10% infected, or we stopped it with the virgins in volcanoes.

I don’t believe them, and think we’re somewhere in the 25% range.

But this is pulling the magic 35% lower.

So far, in writing about Covid 19, I have not made many predictions. I have observed patterns and tried to model them, and worked on various hypothesis as to what dominant variables might be, hopefully working toward a functional model of what does and does not work in practice. What I have noticed is that committees of government experts are always wrong, always in the same direction, and often by the same magnitude. Indeed, the probability of a committee of government experts being wrong is better than even money. In an odd, unexpected development, banks’ research depts have been consistently doing far better than committees of government experts, or Dr. Fauci, who we honor as a saint of science.

Predictions are dangerous, with a faulty model and noisy data. Throwing caution to the wind:

1. Sturgis will not be a super-spreader event. The death toll will be low.

2. Places that have successfully maintained full suppression will find it increasingly difficult to maintain for another year. The price to be paid will be closed boarders.

3. Places that lost control, and Sweden, that experienced exactly the same 4 month geometric spike, flat top / slow decline and then geometric decline will not see the same magnitude wave again, unless a very important dominant variable changes. A lot.

4. The dominant variables will be population density, local travel patterns, global travel in/out patterns, average age, policy around effectively protecting the vulnerable, healthcare systems.

5. Social Masking, the Grocery Dance, Authoritarian Karenism and restrictions on surfing will not be dominant variables, except if you are effectively implementing full suppression.

6. Once 1% of the population is infected, full suppression cannot be achieved outside of China.

7. Herd immunity will not require 70% infected. I’ve been predicting 35%, but now I think it might be lower.

8. Ten years from now, we will look back at this year as a bizarre synchronized cult-like global mania.

9. A random number generator, seeded with the average time of an eyeblink of 100 random people, randomized by multiple atomic level observations, will be vastly more accurate than anything Neil Ferguson says.

Or I could be wrong. About everything, and might die from an unsanitized credit card reader.


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Covid 19, by the Numbers (Sept 2020)

Technically, a “case” is confirmed, symptomatic infection.

A positive PCR test includes viral loads too low to cause infection, harmless fragments of DNA from previous but now recovered infections, asymptomatic and mild infections that will result in immunity, and symptomatic and life threatening cases.

The large and growing split between PCR positives (“cases” as incorrectly reported in the press), and death rates is a clue here that we’re getting this wrong.

The failure of many models to account for this is either corruption or incompetence.

We now know that, so far, the mortality rate in the USA – the probability that you will die (looking backward over the year) is not 1%, or 3%, as was assumed in Mar, but 0.06%.

If you get virus in the USA (i.e. become infected, including asymptomatic and mild scenarios), the probability that you will die in is 0.2% (CDC, June, with a wide margin of error). Over time, the CDC has been revising this number down.

If you become significantly symptomatic in the USA (the correct definition of a “case”), the probability that you will die is 3%.

The vast majority of people who become infected do not develop significant symptoms.

All of these numbers are averages across the entire population. If you break them down by age, the vast majority of cases and deaths are in the 60+ age demographic. The numbers for folks in their 30s are roughly an order of magnitude more favorable.


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Most people are conscious of propaganda and authoritarianism as tools to control thought and action. People, when subjected to overt threats to their  life and liberty, threatened with imprisonment or worse, will as a survival tool pretend to believe what those in power want them to believe. But at some basic level, they will understand they are being coerced. And, while they may not succeed in escaping this system, they will often try.

There are more effective ways to control thought and action, and to restrict freedom. And they can be a little harder to see, especially when you are part of them. But 2020 has been a raw year, and these things are less polished.

Recursive Social Inclusion: Hypothetically, if were to speak or write now of the importance of wearing a mask, I would be rewarded with agreement, likes, and other positive reinforcement. If anyone did not agree with me, other people would immediately give them the outgroup treatment, or simply attack them. Taking the accepted side of an issue is rewarded in ways that make you feel wise, informed, thoughtful and generally helpful. Taking the not-approved side of an issue results in isolation.

The reward loop and social “graph” results in a large number of people converging on a thought pattern quickly. Once stable, that group tends to reject new information quickly, and without thought.

A curious quality of this effect is that it is obvious when observed in others when they are an outgroup, but nearly invisible when you agree and bond with an ingroup. Those on left see Christians doing this, but not themselves on the issues of sex change operations, gun control, global warming, public health care, the pay gap between men and women, and many other issues. It’s pretty obvious when the Branch Davidians or Scientologists do it. Less so when Muslims do. Steve Jobs did it. Microsoft HR does it. Entire societies do this during times of war, and right now, with Covid 19

Note that the underlying belief being echoed around isn’t subject to much actual debate, scientific testing, or individual reasoning. The reward cycle drives these things out. And, in time, strongly held beliefs are often proven to be incorrect. Remember the Population Bomb / Global Famine, the Oil Crisis, the coming Ice Age, Repressed Satanic Abuse Memories, 20 foot sea rise, choking deadly pollution, acid rain, DDT, and many others. But formerly strongly held beliefs are forgotten easily, and replaced with new strongly held beliefs.

Another counter-intuitive quality of Recursive Social Inclusion is that highly educated, intelligent people are generally more vulnerable to it.

This is not all just random. The elites of society and the media seed these ideas, and reinforce them, until they become self-sustaining.

Social Patriotism: Patriotism, or tribalism, is powerful on its own. And often a defensive and offensive tool in wartime. But when combined with Recursive Social Inclusion, as most social democracies have successfully done in support of the established government power structure, it becomes even more powerful. The public health system in Canada is not just a fair, efficient, well run system – indeed over the long term that message would be difficult to defend against actual experience – it is a component of the very essence of being a Canadian. The belief here is different than the rational “fair, efficient, well run system” – it is the belief in the essential goals of the system, and it is robust even as these goals are not met. Social democracies use this often to sustain the regime even as the actual results fail to meet expectations.

Economic Jail: There is an enduring implicit and explicit promise in the social democracies, that in exchange for giving up some of your income, the state will provide for you in times of need or hardship. And there’s lots of debate about if this does or doesn’t work. But folks often fail to notice that once you’re a few generations into this deal, it can’t in practice be reversed. What generation would decide that after paying so much in taxes life to date that they could not save for retirement, that they will now defer benefits because the system is broke.


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Procedure for Disposing of Unordered Seeds from China, A summation of Guidance From the US Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Commerce, Homeland Security, Health and Welfare and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tabaco and Firearms. Aug 1 / 2020

  1. Don an approved mask, gloves and eye protection.
  2. Procure 12-15 campfire sized sticks of dry oak, and 2 buckets of pine sawdust, and 2 bags of bbq charcoal. Soak everything in bbq starter fluid.
  3. Place the unopened seed package in an airtight freezer bag. Close it tightly. Place the tightly closed freezer bag in another airtight freezer bag. Close it tightly. Place the tightly closed freezer bag is a cardboard box and seal with approved acrylic tape. Soak the box in lighter fluid.
  4. Dig a pit, outdoors, 3 feet deep and 3 feet wide. Place the charcoal in the bottom of the pit, and light. Allow to burn for 75 minutes.
  5. Add the pine sawdust and oak to the fire. If it does not ignite, add some bbq starter fluid by spraying it from the can from a distance no less than 11 feet. Do not under any circumstances use Tannerite to relight the fire.
  6. Drop the cardboard box into the hot fire and leave the scene.
  7. No less than 10 hours later, refill the fire pit, and leave an approved sign warning future generations of the danger.


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The Trust Fund Fraud

You might know that more Social Security is collected every year than is paid out. And the extra is “in” a trust fund. You might think it’s a very trusty fund – a lockbox. And when needed, the extra will be paid back in the form of distributions.

None of this is remotely true.

Imagine a society with 10 people working, no children, and 5 people retired.

Each of the 10 pays $100 in income taxes, and $20 dollars in social security taxes.

The government has 10 x $100 = $1000 to spend from income taxes. And 10 x $20 = $200 to spend on social security.

Each retiree gets $20 dollars, or $100 total. The social security fund has an extra $100 to save for the future.

Reasonably, you might think it is deposited into a savings account like thing, and “saved”. A trust fund. A trust fund in a lockbox.

The social security part of the government “invests” the $100 in treasury bills, which are issued by the same government. The $100 is now part of the government general fund, where it is spent. The government spends the $1000 it collected plus the $100 it “borrowed” with a promise to repay later to … itself.

10 years later, let’s say the trust fund is needed. Note that there is no actual money. It’s all been spent. The government either has to pay back the money it owes to itself by defunding something else, or raising new taxes.

Since the government never defunds anything, we should assume new taxes. To pay for money that was collected, and “saved” on our behalf, but was actually spent.

Imagine that.

Sadly this is becoming increasingly unimportant as total US debt and money print rise to levels that no society has survived before.

Perhaps this is why the government would rather you focus on pronouns.


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How Bad Is It?

The last time I wrote about Covid19, Jun 24, we were 5 weeks into a combination of planned reopenings, unplanned race riots and things like masking for show only. To be fair, Nancy Pelosi had been social masking months earlier.

At that time, infections were climbing, but deaths were flat or declining, down by 4X from the peak in April. I speculated that the next few weeks would tell us a lot about the actual effectiveness of mitigations. What I hoped was that the virus would stall out with about 25% infected, but I was prepared to see a wave of deaths following the rise in infections.

So what actually happened?

Looking at the news, things couldn’t be much worse:

“Florida Sets Grim Death Toll Record”

“The US Leads the World – By a Large Margin – In The Number of Covid-18 Deaths and Cases”

“Orange County See Highest Two-Week Coronavirus Death Count”

And so on.

Most worryingly, infections were growing geometrically in the dangerously backward Trump places due to reopening too soon. Fortunately, enlightened and loved progressive leaders like Andrew Cuomo, with a proven track record of success, were willing to offer advice to the ignorant leaders of places like Florida.

Just how bad is it? Let’s look at the numbers:

According to the WHO, the record for daily deaths was set on Friday May 1, at 2909. Since then, deaths have falling, hitting a low in early July at 550, and slowing increasing since then to about 1000. Recently, the rate of growth has slowed.

Infection rates (“cases”) have outpaced the deaths quite dramatically. On the day of peak deaths (May 1), new infections were 30,000. New cases/day stayed flat for 6 weeks, and then started climbing. On Jul 26, it was 62,000. Some of this is explained by increased testing. On May 1st we were running about 20,000 tests/day, and now, about 60,000 test/day. But positive rates also climbed, especially in the states populated by unenlightened people, according to the New York Times.

We got better at managing the disease, resulting in some better outcomes.

The big trend is that for some reason, the disease became less-lethal in the populations it was infecting. Dramatically so. This make intuitive sense if you note the highly selective lethality of the virus.

Somewhat curiously, the rate of growth of new infections was slower in the places that had suffered more in the first wave, than those that seemed to escape. If you live in a place where the infection rate has remained low – for whatever reason – you might want to hold off the press releases for a bit.

So what about that enlightened blue state / backward red state story?

The US has had 141,000 deaths to date. 49,000, or 35% of them have been in New York + New Jersey (population 17,000,000). 12,000 or 8% have been in Texas + Florida (population 50,500,000).

Increasingly, it appears:

Social distancing slows, but does not stop infections.

The virus will infect the general population, eventually.

There is a huge difference in lethality between the vulnerable, and the broader population. Far greater than historical infections.

For a majority of people, it is less lethal than influenza.



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Are you racist? A Journey in Self-Awareness Thanks to BLM

Perhaps you are watching Black Lives Matter protesters on television destroy a statue of an ex-slave and national leader of the Abolitionist Movement, after defacing the statue of a president who freed black slaves in America and was subsequently killed for it. Perhaps, at the same time you are casually browsing facebook and reading in short reposted memes that anything less than 100% uncritical support for BLM means you are racist. Or you are a Hispanic man who is losing his job for unknowingly making a white power symbol, which wasn’t a white power symbol until created by a 4Chan troll last week. Maybe you are late to pick up the kids because white BLM protesters are waving gleefully as they dance and close streets, waving and grinning back isn’t making getting you closer to your destination and you just are not that good a dancer.

Perhaps you are a racist and some introspection is overdue. After all, who wants to be a racist.

As this is complicated, it might be helpful to look more closely at the various factions of BLM, and test yourself against each. This might be helpful if you, like everyone else, are appalled by the death of George Floyd and want the guilty held accountable, and for this to stop. But you are unsure if looting is the best way to achieve this.

The beginning of this protest cycle was triggered by the innocent until proven guilty but suspiciously guilty-looking Derek Chauvin. If you are for the (apparent) murder of George Floyd, then you might be a racist. This event, unlike the events that triggered a previous protest and looting cycles was not a fake like the killing of Michael Brown, or even slightly ambiguous as in the Eric Garner horror.

The George Floyd killing was wrong,  in the not progressive moral relativism sense of right and wrong – this time right means right and wrong means wrong. But the movement has evolved into multiple sub-factions now, which should be evaluated differently:


The Defund faction is perhaps the most intelligent and thoughtful wing of BLM. Defunding police is a concrete action that personally hurts police officers and their families, which is an effective way to get even with Derek Chauvin. The fact that a police presence likely helps law abiding young male blacks – the largest group in this demographic – and also mothers of these same blacks, and many others, must be cast aside to make things easier for the much smaller demographic of violent young black males who commit a disproportionate amount of crime is cost we must bear for the greater good.

No one wants to be a racist. It’s best to be for this.


While it seems odd to look the other way while violent groups of people, most of whom are not black, destroy public and private property, it’s best to be supportive of this lest they come for you next.

No one wants to be a racist.

Quotas for Millionaires

What Satya seems to be saying here, is that the company will make more purchase, hiring, layoff and promotion and pay decisions based on favoritism wrt to skin color. Now it seems foolish to argue the merit of this here, but somehow it’s hard to imagine this is what was on George Floyd’s mind during his final terrible 8 ½ minute of life. It is likely that most people simply don’t care one way or the other about this, as they are not highly paid employee of tech companies, and couldn’t care less what goes on there.

Aunt Jemima

This is part of an ongoing initiative to control what you think, by teaching you to self-censor your own speech. This is a little confusing as many of the things we cannot say or look at are quite obviously not offensive to anyone, but this is not accidental. The more ridiculous the phrase or image being banned, the more explicit the message of control. Indeed, getting serious people and corporations to pretend to be offended by the improper usage of pronouns is immensely powerful.

It has nothing at all to do with racism.


Looking the other way while people steal is one of the remaining obviously racists things still acceptable in society. The message here is clear –  BLM looters cannot be expected to behave in an honest and civil manner, and should not be held to the same standards. Aunt Jemima and Looters and Statues sometimes work together in odd ways, as when public health experts pretend to believe that Covid19 does not spread in race riots, but does when bowling.

Good luck out there.

Don’t be racist.

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Maurice V. Woodworth, Friend

For months we’ve all hoped that Maurice would – somehow – beat the odds and pull through. How does one even begin to thank a recently departed for a lifetime of friendship with only a few words?

I’ve known Maurice for about 40 years. We met during a time when life was not especially easy for me. Maurice helped me with shelter, transportation and friendship. He was generous and didn’t keep score. I’ve always found him willing to help people if he could, and to do so with sincerity and humility. We had fun and got into a little trouble too. We took turns being the mature older brother, something neither of us were all that good at but we worked on it together.

Maurice was never a complainer, and I was too immature and self-absorbed at the time to realize it, but this was also a difficult time in his life too. I don’t think Maurice could ever make his peace with a universe that would snatch his dad away when it did. Like many of us, Maurice feared the pain of loss, or the fear of being the cause of such pain.

We met while working together at a camera store / studio / lab in New Minas, Nova Scotia. The store’s owner hired many eclectic and talented people, and many of them are accomplished photographers practicing to this very day.

Maurice was the best people photographer of the lot of us. He had a rare eye, one with a keen empathy for people. He could make people look the way they wanted to look, at a physical and emotional level. He treated everyone with dignity and decency in his work, even if he had never met them before, or after. Maurice could strike up a conversation with anyone. People sensed and appreciated his sincerity.

Maurice had a few jobs, but only one that might pass as a career. He was creative, and talented – very talented – at many things. He enjoyed building and fixing things. He could operate anything with a wheel or a stick, and loved doing so. Maurice’s approach to jobs, and life, was one of adventure. Adventure could be grand, from flying an airplane or scuba diving, or it could be road trip or even a trip to the coffee shop. He was entrepreneurial in his own way too. If he couldn’t afford adventure, he’d find a way to make himself useful, usually by teaching other people.

What he wasn’t especially good at was doing the same thing, the same way, in the same place all the time. These are skills that are often necessary to become a deeply specialized cog in the machine – an expert. He spoke his mind, sometimes to his own detriment. Unless you are a great politician, and Maurice was way too much of a straight shooter to be one, these things can hold you back.

The film industry was in many ways the ideal workplace for Maurice, and he did well in it. It’s one of the few industries where being good at many things, an out of the box thinker, effective in constantly changing circumstances, and having a bit of an issue with authority are all requirements for success.

Life has a way of pulling friends apart over time, entirely by accident. You get busy. Time passes. In the 30 or so years since Maurice and Lynn moved to the West Coast, they have never missed a Christmas with us. And we’ve logged more than 10,000 miles on our annual motorcycle drive with my daughter and a few other good friends. Wonderful times.

Maurice and Lynn were also here to help after our daughter was born, another wonderful but also difficult time for me.

Over the last 15 years, Maurice has made the odd comment about the film industry taking another friend. And not long after that I’d see an obituary on fb. I noticed that folks were often in their 50s, and died of heart attacks or strokes. As great a opportunity as the industry provided to him, I wonder if asks too much in return.

Goodbye my friend. To say you’ll be missed doesn’t even start to cover it.


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