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Ask the Slot Expert: Unclear and Loathing in Las Vegas

4 August 2021

Question: Good morning, just some commentary on your newsletter just released this morning regarding the emergency commissioners court meeting help yesterday.

First, let me begin by saying I am in Texas and have a trip planned on Monday for a one-week to stay in Vegas. Therefore, I have a lot invested in that commissioners court meeting (I watched entirely) yesterday whether or not my trip will still take place as I refuse to walk around for 12 hours with a diaper on my face any longer.

Once the motion was made and approved to enforce mask requirements on the workers only, my trip will come to fruition. The resounding show of public resentment over forced mandates was very impressive and I sincerely believe that had impact on the commissioner’s final decision as the pro diaper coalition was only three or four people strong verses about 50 or 60 against.

I applaud you for continuing to wear your diaper on your face but also appreciate the consideration for those of us that exercise personal accountability and responsibility for our own well-being.

All the be...

Just a PS. Bear in mind that I am far from a highroller but I will be carrying close to a $10,000 bank roll to your fair city in which a lot of that will be spent on hospitality services, dining, and recreational fun that otherwise would be left in Texas had the commissioners court made a silly overreaching mandate.

Answer: I am pleased to accept your applause for my protecting myself, those around me, my community, and my city by continuing to wear a mask. It's rare that one's contribution to society can be so easy and require so little effort. I've been called for jury duty later this month. That's an inconvenience.

Just a note that the Commissioner's Meeting took place two weeks ago and I received this email the day my article posted. This article was postponed from last week because of the change in the CDC's masking guidance and the ensuing change in Nevada's masking rules.

I watched the entire meeting too. I came away with a different impression. I was disappointed that so many people place so much weight on unproven allegations and ignore the evidence that is all around them.

There were far more speakers against masking than for, but we can't draw any conclusions from a comparison of the numbers. In polling it's called Selection Bias.

The balance of speakers for and against does not represent the balance in the public at large. People who are for or okay with masking were not motivated to attend because they would accept whatever the commission decided and the Southern Nevada Health District had already come out in favor of indoor masking again. Some sort of masking requirement was likely. So we would expect to see an overabundance of anti-masks speakers and they didn't disappoint. There must be trash can filled with tin foil hats outside the meeting room.

One of the first speakers wore a "Sisolak Sucks" T-shirt. He said that cases fell in Florida and Texas when they removed their masks, but cases rose in New York and California when they put theirs on. You have to be careful comparing states because they are in different stages of the pandemic on a given calendar day. Covid was coastal in the beginning before spreading to the rest of the United States.

It's just like the mixed relay races -- or any relay race -- at the Olympics. Different teams put their better performers in different legs. A team that leads now may be behind after the next leg. A team behind now might win the race.

Another speaker said that masks aren't necessary because he was around a lot of unmasked people and he never wore a mask and he never got sick. A sample size of 1. Maybe he wasn't around an infected person. Maybe he was just lucky.

Another said that masks work as well as a wiffle ball bat as a condom. I think he meant to say just "wiffle ball," but I'll still give him points for trying to make an amusing analogy.

There's much discussion about masks blocking or not blocking things, so let's take a look at the sizes of things.

The size of the SARS-CoV-2 virion is 60-140 nanometers. Molecular size of O2 is 0.299 nanometers. "As viruses go the SARS-CoV-2 virus is quite large and much, much larger than an oxygen molecule. An oxygen molecule is simply two oxygen atoms linked together while the virus is many, many atoms linked together to make an RNA molecule which is surrounded by a spike-studded protein coat." A CO2 molecule is also much smaller than the virion. If you say masks don't block the virus, you can't also say that masks block the passage of oxygen or carbon dioxide molecules. (Your Mask Questions, Answered)

Another speaker said that Fauci has said that masks were useless. Sorta true, but it was written in the very early days of the pandemic.

In an email on February 5, 2020, Fauci wrote, "Masks are really for infected people to prevent them from spreading infection to people who are not infected rather than protecting people from acquiring infection. The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through the material." He didn't say masks are useless, just that they are mainly to prevent infected people from spreading the disease.

On March 11, 2020, WHO declared Covid a global pandemic.

On CNN on June 3, Fauci said about the email that his understanding changed as more information became available about asymptomatic transmission of the virus and the effectiveness of masks outside of hospitals. "If we realized all of those things back then, of course, you’re asking the question would you have done something different if you knew what you know now, of course people would have done that. It’s so obvious."

So, yes, Fuaci did say that masks do not block the virus (but I would like to point that masks do block the droplets carrying the virus) and his thinking has changed as we learned more about the virus. (Fact check: Missing context in claim about emails, Fauci's position on masks)

You have to read all of the books in the series to get the complete picture. Many parents now regret naming their daughters Daenerys. And if you never read The Deathly Hallows, you'd never know that Snape was really a good guy all along.

Others said that wearing masks was not healthy. Try telling that to my sister-in-law, Dr. Liz, a retired surgeon, who has spent more time wearing a mask in the operating room than they'll ever spend wearing one in public. Where all the negative health effects on the professionals and office staff in doctor's and dentist's offices where they wear masks all day long? Where are all the negative health effects in the general public for the past year-plus of wearing masks? If wearing masks is so unhealthy, where is the evidence?

Another speaker said, "Renz claims there are 45,000 deaths from the vaccine."

Attorney Thomas Renz filed papers in a federal court alleging that a whistleblower made this claim. Allegations in lawsuits are not proof. (See some 50-odd suits filed about the last Presidential election.)

Another speaker brought up Kary B. Mullis, Nobel-prize winning scientist who developed the PCR test. The speaker said that Mullis said that the PCR test can't detect infectious diseases.

The quote is: "These [PCR] tests cannot detect free infectious viruses at all." The quote is from an article by John Lauritsen in Decemeber 1996 about HIV and AIDS, not Covid-19. The statement appears after a quote from Mullis. It might be a paraphrasing of something he said. It might be the author's conclusion.

The entire paragraph says two things. One, the PCR test can't be used to detect how much of the virus is in a person, only that it is present. Two, it doesn't actually detect the virus itself, but its genetic sequence. (Fact check: Inventor of method used to test for COVID-19 didn’t say it can’t be used in virus detection HAS PROVINCETOWN BECOME PROTEASE TOWN?

An analogy might be how scientists determined where Hannibal crossed the Alps by finding not the remains of the animals themselves, but evidence of their presence. (Preserved Poop Points the Way to General Hannibal's Historic Path)

Another person asked why it was safe to shop at Walmart but not at a non-essential comic book store.

A few reasons why it might be safer (not safe, but safer) to shop in Walmart are the greater volume of air and the lower density of shoppers per square foot.

Another speaker said that the number one killer during the Spanish Flu pandemic was bacterial pneumonia, caused by wearing dirty masks.

Um, yes but no.

The majority of deaths during the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 were not caused by the influenza virus acting alone, report researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. Instead, most victims succumbed to bacterial pneumonia following influenza virus infection. The pneumonia was caused when bacteria that normally inhabit the nose and throat invaded the lungs along a pathway created when the virus destroyed the cells that line the bronchial tubes and lungs.

And if the masks were dirty, the bacteria went from the patient to the mask, not the other way round. Bacterial Pneumonia Caused Most Deaths in 1918 Influenza Pandemic

Another speaker said that "not a single healthy child has died from Covid."

Well, except for Wyatt Gibson, 5, on 7/21/21. Oops. That was after the meeting. There's an unnamed child under 10 in Minnesota in April, 2021. Gigi Morse, 6, in August 2020.

Deaths from Covid in young children are very rare, but far from non-existent.

Another speaker was sponsored by the letter Q. She said that you can go on a website and see what anyone who has had the vaccine is doing, that the vaccine is just a sophisticated tracking system. She also said that people are shedding the vaccine.

Another person said that the government is there to protect our rights, like the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Yeah, that's from the Declaration of Independence, which has no legal authority in the United States government. That's the Constitution. Has anything ever been declared undeclarational?

The D of I was essentially just a giant bird flipped at King George III. And, to slightly misquote a line from 1776, to publish a paper declaring to all the world that an illegal rebellion is, in reality, a legal one.

Another speaker, a regular because the chair called him by his name and he apologized for being late, said that we've overcome other pandemics and we should depend on our immune systems. Yeah, like polio and smallpox and measles and mumps and rubella.

Many people said that it should be their choice whether to wear a mask. You called it "personal accountability and responsibility for our own well-being. "

Asymptomatic infection is the problem. If people have no symptoms, they have no reason to get tested. They don't know whether they have an asymptomatic infection and could be spreading the virus.

You have responsibility for your own well-being. But don't you also have a responsibility for another person's well-being?

Some people made a good point, one that I have never heard from a government official, but I have heard from Bill Maher and Howard Stern. If we were a healthier nation, we'd have fewer serious illnesses and deaths. I don't think anyone in the government ever recommended eating better and getting more exercise along with wearing a mask, physical distancing, and getting vaccinated.

One of the last speakers said, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof."

Carl Sagan first said this in his book Broca's Brain and then in Cosmos in the context of discussing the validity of paranormal phenomena such as levitation, visits to Earth by alien spacecraft and astral projection. It's a catchier rephrasing of Laplace's similar statement that the weight of evidence for an extraordinary claim must be proportioned to its strangeness.

(One of my co-workers at Pan Am graduated from Columbia and had taken a course with Sagan. Surprisingly, in spite of his popularity and charisma as a TV presenter, she said that he was not a very good professor.)

Sagan never defined "extraordinary". In his essay On Miracles, philosopher David Hume defined an extraordinary claim as one that is directly contradicted by a massive amount of existing evidence. (Do Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence?)

The extraordinary claims are not that vaccines work and are very safe, that wearing a mask is safe and can slow the spread of disease, as the speaker said.

No, the extraordinary claims are that there have been tens of thousands of deaths from the vaccines, that the vaccines have tracking devices, that wearing a mask is unhealthy, and that wearing a mask does not slow the spread of disease.

The Clark County positivity rate is up to 15%. The mask mandate is likely to be in force until the county is no longer considered a hot spot, however long that takes.

I bet you're glad that you already made your trip.

Click here for the latest Covid data.

John Robison

John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots