Dammit, Jim! I’m Engineer, Which Makes Me a Doctor

The Boy Who Refused to Wear Pants to the Store

December 18, 2020
/ Author: Rick

The Boy Who Refused to Wear Pants to the Store

I’m going to tell you right now: this is a rant. It’s about some young punk kid who — appearing to be fresh out of his first or second year of college, at best — says he’s an “engineer,” which makes him a doctor, I guess. So he doesn’t wear a mask when in a public grocery store.

And, as tempted as I was, I did not put my fist through his blowhole.

Why do I say this? Because he is absolutely convinced that his refusal to wear a mask to cover his blowhole in the grocery store has nothing to do with the transmissibility of respiratory diseases.

Like coronavirus.

“I have my convictions,” he said.

Dude, I only wish you had convictions. Unfortunately, so far we aren’t arresting people for endangering the public health through their refusal to follow the best medical advice for how to deal with the pandemic.

I know, I know. You’re an engineer, which makes you a doctor. But, somehow, the actual real doctors disagree with your claim that “masks do nothing to prevent coronavirus.”

Here’s what the Centers for Disease Control — yeah, actual fucking doctors and medical scientists — say is the best thing to do. It’s “what you need to know.”

  • People age 2 and older should wear masks in public settings and when around people who don’t live in their household.​
  • Masks offer some protection to you and are also meant to protect those around you, in case you are unknowingly infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • A mask is NOT a substitute for social distancing. Masks should still be worn in addition to staying at least 6 feet apart.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol after touching or removing your mask.
  • Masks may not be necessary when you are outside by yourself away from others, or with other people who live in your household. However, some localities may have mask mandates while out in public and these mandates should always be followed.
  • CDC is still studying the effectiveness of different types of masks and will update our recommendations as new scientific evidence becomes available.

— Centers for Disease Control, “Considerations for Wearing Masks” (December 7, 2020)

As you maybe can already guess, I have doubts the guy is an engineer. An engineer would know that just because you can point out that “some masks do no good against coronavirus,” that doesn’t mean “no masks do any good against coronavirus.” Sure, the filtration efficiency of different masks is different. That’s why you need to educate yourself, even if you falsely think that your being an engineer makes you qualified to say that infectious disease doctors who tell people to wear masks are wrong.

I mean, I’m no engineer. But even I know that assuming small things (like wearing a mask) are no big deal is a big engineering mistake.

Cracks can only get bigger and never smaller. This is why cracks, regardless of size, should be given attention by engineers right away, both in a literal and figurative sense.

— GineersNow, “3 Common Mistakes That Engineers Should Never Make at Work” (Possibly Sometime in 2018, But An Engineer Decided That “3 Years Ago” was “Good Enough” as a Date Specification)

And that crack in your face — that blowhole, that misplaced anus — will fuck up those around you, if you don’t do something to fix it.

Seriously, people. How hard is it to wear a goddamn mask? It’s a piece of cloth! You wear large pieces of cloth over your chest, lower body, feet — and most people even wear masks regularly for other activities, including snow-skiing, where you might be exerting yourself, and finding it harder to breathe!

And, yes, some masks are better than others, which is why smart people educate themselves. All you need to do is read. Go to the FDA website to find this:

Q: Do face masks provide protection from coronavirus?
A: Masks may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others. … Wearing a face mask may limit exposure to respiratory droplets and large particles and may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus.

— FDA Website, “Face Masks, Including Surgical Masks, and Respirators for COVID-19” (November 24, 2020)

In particular, this engineer-who-thought-he-was-a-doctor genius asked me if my “cloth” mask provided any protection against coronavirus. My short answer? “Yes.” My longer answer? “Better than your uncovered blowhole does.”

Is a cloth mask as effective as an N-95 mask? No. Is it more effective than a mask that you have hanging around your neck, but not covering either your mouth or your peni—I mean, nose? Yes.

Cloth masks have been used in healthcare and community settings to protect the wearer from respiratory infections. The use of cloth masks during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is under debate. The filtration effectiveness of cloth masks is generally lower than that of medical masks and respirators; however, cloth masks may provide some protection if well designed and used correctly. Multilayer cloth masks, designed to fit around the face and made of water-resistant fabric with a high number of threads and finer weave, may provide reasonable protection.

— Abrar A. Chughtai, Holly Seale, & C. Raina Macintyre, “Effectiveness of Cloth Masks for Protection Against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2” (October 2020)

Maybe, Mr. Asshole-With-His-Blowhole-Exposed, you’re going to survive coronavirus. Maybe you’ll get it; maybe you’ll get lucky. (Luckier than you were to have that beautiful, if woefully ignorant significant other, clearly caring about you, even if her nice, correctly-worn mask showed she knew you were a covidiot. I mean, you might actually also survive.) But the fact is,

Everyone, regardless of health status, has a responsibility to limit the spread to other people, especially to those who may develop deadly complications.

— Amanda Capritto, “How to protect yourself from the coronavirus” (December 8, 2020)

My significant other — who I apparently value more than you value yours — takes nebulizer treatments on a good day.

I don’t want to bring home a coronavirus that your engineering-cum-medical-degree caused you to spread to anyone who came near you in the local grocery store.

So, yeah, people who don’t wear masks might survive the pandemic.

But how many people do they kill along the way who would have lived, if only everyone wore masks until we get through this?

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  1. I’m an engineer and this guy sounds like an idiot. Wear a mask, people!

  2. Good to see you blogging again. Welcome back.

    1. Thanks. Been trying to do a post at least once a week or so for a while now.

      I have a mailing list you can join at https://rhdefense.com/subscribe if you want to get notifications. I’m using Newsletter Glue Pro, so the post will show up right in your email.

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