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Joel Kallman, The Heart of APEX, Sadly Gone May 28, 2021

Posted by mwidlake in Uncategorized.

and nothing I say will dent your faith.

As I said, this blog post is not for you, please go back to your chosen view of the world.

Now, for those of you who knew or cared about Joel Kallman please read on….

News is spreading around the Oracle community, and especially the APEX community within it, of the passing of Joel Kallman from Covid-19, at just 54 years old. Joel, along with Mike Hichwa, created APEX in 1999 and since then he has been passionate about using it for the betterment of anyone and anywhere he could find a use for it. But more than that, Joel has been passionate about community. APEX is the technical product he is known for, but everyone who met Joel knew he was, more than anything, passionate about people and doing the best for everyone.

{Important note – if you came to this post from one of the sites that has tried to use Joel’s death to, in a very twisted way, argue that Covid-19 does not exist, or is not harmful, or that vaccinations against it are dangerous or do not work then please, please, just go back to the echo chamber you came from. I’ve blogged about the science of Covid-19 and the vaccines and suggested you look at those posts instead – and NONE OF YOU DID. You are not here for a good reason so just go away now}.

When anyone in our community passes away there are tributes paid. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many and with such depth of feeling as there have been for Joel. Everyone who met him seems to have their own story of what a supportive and kind person he was.

So why add my own, especially as others knew him better and have better memories to share? Because it’s another candle to the shining beacon of remembrance that Joel deserves.

My story of Joel

I didn’t know Joel very well, we had exchanged a few words at various Oracle conferences but never had a proper conversation. However at OOW London 2019 he came over to me, almost jogging through the throng calling me. “Hi Martin, I’ve been looking for you – I’m Joel Kallman”. As we had briefly met a few times and he is so well known I did wonder why he introduced himself. But then I’m not always good with people, but Joel was brilliant with people.

He wanted to write an article for Oracle Scene, the UKOUG magazine. We (well, mostly my predecessor) had asked him a few times in the past but Joel was always really busy. “I know I keep turning you down, but it’s on my list this year to offer you something – would that be OK?” Well hell yes! He’s Mr APEX and I knew he could write well. It would be a feather in our caps to have him write for us. I was actually on my way to meet someone and I suggested to Joel we meet later but he said no, he had no idea when he would get time again, “ Let’s sort it now, I will walk with you”. And he did, for about 10 minutes, away from where he needed to be. And he was not so much interested in talking about the possible article (that took all of a minute), but more in saying really nice things about UKOUG, how he appreciated me taking on being president, saying it was so good that people like us helped the community and asking me how it was going. That 10 minutes made me feel really good.

In the end the article for Oracle Scene did not happen. That’s not unusual, we are all busy and Joel more so than most, authors often let us down at short notice. But the way he handled not being able to do the article was unusual. Joel was blowing us out with only about 2 weeks before copy date (again, not unusual). But he insisted he have a video call with myself and the editor to explain why he could not do the article and to apologise. The irony? Joel had cancelled the article as he had been working 18 hour days, 7 days a week, for weeks to get a prototype app and the supporting infrastructure together to track Covid-19 symptoms and what drugs people were taking (all drugs, for any other illness, to try and spot a correlation and thus a potential drug target and potential treatments). Some of you may remember Oracle making a huge thing of that app. Joel had poured all he could into it as he thought it might help everyone.

To be candid, Joel looked incredibly tired and he said he’d not seen much of his family for a couple of weeks, but he took time out to do this for us and he must have apologised 4 or 5 times. We were saying “Joel! It’s OK! Go get some down time!”.

Such a nice man and such bitter irony that he died from Covid-19, something that he put so much effort into tackling.

Other Stories And Words.

As I said, so many others have wonderful things to say about Joel. Liron Amitzi has a lovely story about Joel going that extra step for his audience. Connor McDonald shares how Joel explained his ethos of raising up those around him and how maybe some good could come from the awfulness of Covid 19, plus a link to an APEX community page we can all leave our stories on.

And Lauren Cohn has put together a really touching video of Joel, including the personal request he made (which Connor quotes), which starts at 1:38) in his last keynote about us all being part of our communities. I think that video might become his unofficial epitaph

{I’ve had a report (thanks Steven) of the above link not working so try https://vimeo.com/556008201 if not}.

I’ve said a few times about my thoughts on community and being there for others. Joel not only said it but did it, and was an example of kindness and his passion for doing the best by everyone. He was certainly someone to look to as an example. I’m wishing I knew him better,.



1. Harry - June 2, 2021

How can he died from covid when he was vaccinated?

mwidlake - June 5, 2021

I’ll reply to just this one comment asking about how someone can die of Covid-19 after being vaccinated. All the other ones, which seemed to link back to antivax denialists, I’ll continue to delete. I do this because both Joel and myself understand something about science and strongly support vaccination.

Update: It seems (inferring from secondary evidence & corollary, something conspiracy theorists seem to think is more important than fact but scientists flag up as “be careful how you treat this information) it would appear Joel probably became ill so soon after his first covid-19 vaccination that he already had the disease. SARS-CoV-2 has an average incubation period of 8-10 days, a longer period than elapsed between being vaccinated and his absences from social media.

However, that does not alter the below. Some people do still die after full vaccination. It is to be expected.

Vaccination is not 100%. It never is. Very little in medicine or biology is 100%. You can smoke all the cigarettes you want in your life and you may not get lung cancer. But if a group of 1,0000 people smoke 40 cigarettes a day and another of 1,000 people do not smoke at all, then when you check what they died of then many more from the first group will have died of lung cancer (and many other illnesses associated with smoking). *Far fewer* from the second group will die of lung cancer. But probably 1 or 2 will. You are much more likely to die of lung cancer if you smoke, but it is not guaranteed. Similarly you are far less likely to die of lung cancer if you don’t smoke, but it is not guaranteed. Studying it in this way is science. Saying “my uncle smoked 100 a day since he was 15 and died under a truck at 80” is anecdote. An awful lot of anti-vax is anecdote, almost none is science.
All the vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 (the underlying virus that causes Covid-19) vary in how well they work. The best, like Moderna and Pfizer, protect about 90% of people who receive it from showing symptoms of Covid-19, referred to as symptomatic Covid-19. Some of those 90% without symptoms will have covid-19 but suffer no ill effects (and may still spread it a little), but they do not get ill.

If 90% don’t get ill, 10% do.

The vaccine does not just stop a lot of people getting ill at all, it reduces the severity of the disease if you do get it. There is something called the infection fatality rate, how many people who get the disease die, which is now about 0.8% (it used to be higher but medicine has found a few drugs and treatment methods that help reduce death). Being vaccinated pushes that Infection Fatality Rate down further, say from 0.8% to 0.1% *IMPORTANT* I have not looked at scientific studies about how much the vaccines reduce the IFR but my guess here is based on how much more the number of deaths compared to the number of cases have reduced in the UK. And they have, the vaccines do substantially reduce the likelihood of serious disease and death if you still get ill. But they do not 100% remove it.
So the vaccine reduces your chance of getting ill by 90%
It then reduces you chances of dying from 0.8% to 0.1%.
All of this is fantastic – but it leaves a small chance still of people dying. If you take my figures, that works out as 0.1% of 10% which is 0.01%.
Sadly Joel was one of them.
Even a small percentage like 0.01% of a large number like 350 million (number of people in the USA) is 35,000.
If everyone in the USA took a vaccine, up to (note UP TO, possibly fewer) 35,000 people could still die of Covid-19 and I am sure the vaccine denialists would jump on that and scream “But Look! Even that guy who’s telling us it’s fantastic says THIRTY FIVE THOUSAND PEOPLE WILL DIE.
But remember that Infection Fatality Rate? It’s 0.8%. (It used to be higher until science (something Anivaxxers have little time for) reduced it by identifying drugs & treatments proven to work.). Well, that’s how many people will die without vaccines.
In the USA, with a population of 350 million that would be 2.8 million dead. Not up to 35 thousand.

Finally, I don’t know if Joel was diabetic, had high blood pressure, or any of the other things that increase how ill you get from Covid-19. But I respect his family enough not to go bothering them by asking, just to satisfy my curiosity.

2. Marc - June 5, 2021

So I guess he just took the vaccine too late?

mwidlake - June 5, 2021

Sorry Marc, my prior reply was a little wrong so I am correcting, From what I understand, you are probably right. I’m going on correlation not absolute fact so take that in mind. It seems Joel stopped tweeting (he tweeted a lot) a few days after his first jab which suggests he had C-19 before being vaccinated. Incubation time for C-19 varies but on average is about 8-10 days. But as I originally said, almost nothing medical is 100%. I am not a doctor, I don’t know Joel’s medical history.

3. Chelsea B - June 13, 2021

Joel was a man of faith, and he not only was in the business of saving the lives of those living and breathing here on earth. He was an advocate for all life, even life in the womb before birth.
Below is a link where you can find that in lieu of flowers the family asks for a donation to the National Right to Life.

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