Monday Message Board

Back again with another Monday Message Board.

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link


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56 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Decades of the neoliberal plague left most of the West open to a real plague.

    https://www.democracynow.org/2020/7/30/noam_chomsky_coronavirus_trump_response

    My own comment on this. We are at a watershed moment in history. On the other side of this watershed things are all downhill for the West and perhaps even for all human civilization. Some people tried to warn against this ( about limits to growth, climate change, neoliberalism, zoonotic disease risk etc.) They were pilloried and shunned and often sidelined and made poor. Personally, I lost friends and in the end my job for fighting against neoliberalism, generic managerialism, endless growth-ism and climate change. If I had continued I would have caused a family rift. I backed off and gave up at that point, except for anonymous blogging. I knew to a high degree of certainty from that day forward that human race was doomed but also that I could make most of the rest of my life, and those close to me, passable. That’s the path I was forced to choose. The system engineered the political economy to make it unchangeable and thus un-savable except at the cost of ruining one’s own life, unless one had independent wealth or was in a safe sinecure.

    Am I bitter and twisted? Sure. Do I get by passably day to day and still enjoy myself in little ways? Sure. Do I care about the human race beyond my extended family? Yes, but. But they won’t listen. But they can’t be helped. Etc., Etc. They’ve damned themselves to hell on earth and mega-death. So be it, I tried my best within my limits.

  2. An astrophysicist,  a black hole echo-ist, a science philosopher and some wolfram alpha dudes got shoved into Bar Pandemiqué . And produced a covid phase portrait baby. Not sure if Dr Peer Reviewed it yet.

    Such localised covid ‘phase portrait’ were verified and available, and combined with Sth Korea style localised (invasive?) constant text messaging, I’d feel safer and use it often. And treat as a score board in time, as my analogue brain would have grown the ‘covide phase portrail’ weather map. I like it.

    As I am not a astrophysistist, black hole echoist, I’ll colloquialise phase portrait to ‘covid-weather map’.


    Caption: ” This figure shows the phase portrait of COVID-19 epidemic in NYC, plotting Daily vs Total Mortality per population. The green disc shows the “herd immunity threshold” which is the fixed point of the epidemic, at normal social mobility. The red curves are predicted trajectories at normal mobility, while the blue curves are for -42% mobility. The black curve shows the 7-day rolling average of the reported mortality.”

    Paper: “Diverse local epidemics reveal the distinct effects of population density, demographics, climate, depletion of susceptibles, and intervention in the first wave of COVID-19 in the United States”
    https://arxiv.org/abs/2007.00159
    ****

    Wierd finding: covid spreads faster in both hotter and cooler conditions due to humans gathering to cool down or heat up. I wonder why -42? Douglas Adams influence?
    ****

    Blog:-
    “Diverse Drivers of a Pandemic: A Physical Model for COVID-19

    By Niayesh Afshordi
    “… My PhD thesis, back in 2004, was on how we can use subtle correlations of light coming from the big bang with that of galaxies to learn about “The Other 99 Percent”, the dark and mysterious components that dominate the energy of our universe today. Well, we decided to do the same thing with the “Dark Matter of the Disease”! Who are “we”?! Well, my main partner in crime is Ben Holder, a physics professor at Grand Valley State University, who was visiting me on his sabbatical since January. Ben’s most recent research has been on mathematical and computational modeling of infectious disease and viruses, but he had planned to switch to General Relativity and work on Black Hole Echoes, during his sabbatical. Well, let’s just say things didn’t quite go as planned! Along the way, we were joined by Mads Bahrami and Danny Lichtblau from Wolfram Research. Without further ado, here is what we find: ”

    “It turns out that this simple model, with an age-dependent random walk step sizes, gives a much better fit to the dependence of exponential growth rate on driving factors we discussed above.

    “Now we have a predictive model that can be used to forecast where the epidemic can evolve to, depending on the interventions adopted by each community, as well as the intrinsic geography and demography of the community. You can run various possible scenarios for all US counties viaour cloud simulator , which we hope can inform current and future policy decisions using actual scientific evidence-based models.

    “The evolution of epidemic can be visualized via a phase space, showing daily COVID mortality against total COVID mortality. The best-fit model predicts the trajectories in this phase space, depending on social mobility (see below). “…
    https://nafshordi.com/2020/07/02/diverse-drivers-of-a-pandemic-a-physical-model-for-covid-19/

    Our online (in cloud) simulator:
    https://wolfr.am/COVID19Dash
    ****

    Interview w Sabine Hossenfelder on Niayesh’s new model.

    10%-20% for herd immunity? 
    Data driven. 1 model for everwhere. Population Sparsity Index (id never heard of this index) used as well as popn. Proxy for masks via google trends. Data always a problem.

    “A New Model for the Covid Pandemic
    Published on Oct 28, 2020

    Correction: At 5 mins 33 seconds, it should be “around 3100 counties” (not 1300).
    An interview with astrophysicist Niayesh Afshordi from Perimeter Institute about his new pandemic model. Among other things, we talk about herd immunity and the reception of his model by epidemologists. You find more information about Niayesh’s model here: “http://nafshordi.com/covid/ and the paper is here: https://arxiv.org/abs/2007.00159

  3. You are not alone Ikonoclast. I have a friend who grew up in Brisbane in the post war world. He was against most of the things you mentioned (except the zoonotic disease thing).Like you he has little time for most economists- except he is a fan (thanks to me for introducing him) of John Quiggin. His family shunned him back in the 1980s. So much so he took himself off to another country to live. A self imposed exile if you will. As he gets older he gets more bitter about this banishment of sorts from his birthplace. His family back home won’t listen to his rants against their spoiled lives and the future disasters they chose to ignore. I am one of the few sounding boards he has left. If he wasn’t such a great teacher he would be a disillusioned and twisted man today. But he has planted the seeds of his dissention in the minds of some of his students. They are not Australian students but they are the future people of this world. This man of principle refuses to be silenced completely. Even after he realized that not one of his family and workmates were listening to what he had to say. If the older generation won’t listen to the truth then only the young generation can be saved. That seems to be his reason for continuing to teach younger people. i admire his tenancy of the high ground of moral philosophy. Its a pity more people, including economists, do not aspire to such heights anymore.

  4. For those with a nostalgia for things that worked in the past but were sacrificed on the alter of craven greed – The Victorian Government is introducing a container deposit scheme (CDS) to increase beverage container recycling and reduce litter in Victoria. You can put in a submission here https://engage.vic.gov.au/container-deposit-scheme

  5. Not a fan of drink container deposit return, Suburbanite, because the environmental benefit is low compared to what could be achieved. Rather than a 10 cent or whatever deposit on bottles a 10 cent tax that goes towards paying for LGCs would decrease coal generation and be more effective while not increasing the amount of driving between homes and recycling centers.

    Of course, the lollywater industry shouldn’t be the only one to pay.

  6. I don’t doubt the environmental benefits are low. I would advocate a deposit much higher than 10cents. I’m in favour of it as a way of highlighting (a little of the) externalities of the food and beverage industry. The pandemic has probably caused an unfortunate increase in packaging – some of which end up in the ocean.

  7. JQ. Is it of use and or value to you to see your expected utility / prospect theory mapped to the brain? Will the “two distinct reward representations ” change any of your work?

    “These results provide neural indices for the dichotomy of decision utility and experienced utility popularised as Thinking fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman.”

    “Retrospective valuation of experienced outcome encoded in distinct reward representations in the anterior insula and amygdala

    Martin D. Vestergaard and Wolfram Schultz

    Journal of Neuroscience 19 October 2020, JN-RM-2130-19; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2130-19.2020

    …” Moreover, the statistical strength of this neural code can separate efficient decision-makers from suboptimal decision-makers. Optimal decision-makers encode overall value more strongly, and suboptimal decision-makers encode the disincentive markdown more strongly. The separate neural implementation of the two distinct reward representations confirms that suboptimal choice for temporally extended outcomes can be the result of robust neural representation of a displeasing aspect of the experience such as temporary decline.”…
    https://www.jneurosci.org/content/early/2020/10/09/JNEUROSCI.2130-19.2020

  8. Ronald,

    And of course there is a possibility it could get into Australia’s bat populations. People should stop working with bats, even to save them, except for trained professionals with tests and correct protective gear. Some amateur wildlife rescue persons with asymptomatic COVID19 could give it to our bats. That could be a real problem for bats and humans.

  9. Cory Doctorow on why Jack Ma and the largest ipo in world history was stopped. Long article. Lots of juicy links. The CCP don’t like this;
    “Then Ant sells the loans to “investors” (AKA “securitization”). Converting debts into income streams for third parties is the true basis of the finance industry. It’s the means by which socially useless intermediaries extract ever-mounting rents from the productive economy.”, nor thiis “They used cryptocurrency (aka fintech) to evade capital controls, inflating the Bitcoin price-bubble and the Vancouver/Sydney/etc real-estate price bubble as they laundered their money “…

    “Ant, Uber, and the true nature of money 

    “This led to a string of subprime debt crises over the past five years, as regulators crushed these wildcat money-creators as fast as they popped up.
    https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2016-02-17/china-s-600-billion-subprime-crisis-is-already-here

    “China’s 1% fought back. They emigrated:
    https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2012/08/rich-chinese-flee/

    “They used cryptocurrency (aka fintech) to evade capital controls, inflating the Bitcoin price-bubble and the Vancouver/Sydney/etc real-estate price bubble as they laundered their money and stashed it in safe-deposit boxes in the sky:
    https://www.ft.com/content/bad16a88-d6fd-11e6-944b-e7eb37a6aa8e

    “As China’s shadow economy ballooned it also grew in criminality. There was the wave of Chinese debt-kidnappings, which became so widespread that hostage-taking was described as “China’s small claims court.”
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/08/08/chinas-police-think-hostages-arent-their-problem/

    “No wonder regulators fought back.

    “China’s regulators didn’t win a decisive victory, but they retained enormous control over their money-supply, and that really paid off when the pandemic hit and they suspended all debts, rents, and taxes and mothballed the entire productive economy.
    https://pluralistic.net/2020/09/01/cant-pay-wont-pay/#jubilee-now

    Contrast with the US where the finance sector is an industry, not a public utility. Finance flexed its political muscle and diverted nearly the whole stimulus to itself, then crushed the productive economy by demanding debt service and rents.
    https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2020/09/michael-hudson-how-an-act-of-god-pandemic-is-destroying-the-west-the-u-s-is-saving-the-financial-sector-not-the-economy.html

    The ability to use finance as a utility is one of China’s crucial assets, and it defends that asset ferociously. And that’s why the Ant IPO got killed. Ant’s major source of income is short-term, high-interest lending, what Chinese regulators call “pawnbrokering.”

    China’s pawnbrokers are a $43B shadow banking sector, and the country’s regulators have been cracking down on them for the past year.
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-12/china-is-said-to-scrutinize-43-billion-pawn-shop-lending-boom

    “$43B is a drop in the bucket of China’s shadow economy (valued at $9T!), but it has real metastatic potential.

    “Ant’s innovation is to fintechify the pawnbroker industry, by tying it to apps (on the front end) and to a US-style debt-brokerage (on the back end).

    “IOW: Ant’s business model is that desperate people use an app to request and quickly receive high-risk, high-interest loans.

    “Then Ant sells the loans to “investors” (AKA “securitization”). Converting debts into income streams for third parties is the true basis of the finance industry. It’s the means by which socially useless intermediaries extract ever-mounting rents from the productive economy.

    “And as Smith writes in her breakdown, the fact that Chinese finance regulators weren’t going to let Ant explode its mass-scale, app-based payday-lending pawnbrokerage is not a surprise. They’ve been telling Jack Ma this for months, publicly and privately.

    “Ma thought he could simply bull his way past the Chinese regulators – that because he runs Alibaba and its subsidiaries, that they would defer to him. But the whole point of a finance regulator is NOT to let the finance sector write its own rules.

    “That’s because bankers will cheerfully set the whole economy on fire to turn a buck (see, e.g., America).

    Ant was on track for the largest IPO in world history due to investors’ appetite for converting Chinese money from a public utility to a private enrichment vehicle.”…
    https://pluralistic.net/2020/11/05/gotta-be-a-pony-under-there/#jack-ma

  10. Some excess optimism is just human nature. There is no way around this, otherwise you end up in clinical depression. No good in that for anyone. One can manage a bit, not build one’s identity around exaggerated estimates of stupid yardsticks or based on very limited types of measurement. Still at the end, the human brain is just wired to some optimism bias, otherwise it does not work. The excess optimism is not all bad. It compensates for the excessive status quo bias/loss aversion, so we would otherwise often take too few risks. That film is kind of funny, on the one hand it critics aspects of American culture on the other hand it is an outright stereotypical example of a US specific outlook to the world itself. All the doom and gloom about a complete breakdown of society, any order, any norms is a right wing trope in many ways, goes back to the Leviathan. The kind of thing that makes people buy guns. In modern times, it is the core of uncountable US films whose storyline is a little too far out there for just any other market. The most recent example would be the purge for example.

  11. Striking Dutch video of a test marine floating solar installation riding out a storm, with wind gusts up to 144km/hr: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12iRJWw1SPs&feature=youtu.be
    We have not yet seen a full-size pilot installation at sea, but marine solar is moving steadily towards bankability. For countries with plenty of flat dry land like Australia, the extra cost is not likely to be worth it, but there are enough countries where it could work (Netherlands, UK, Korea, Japan, India). The bonus is that you can string the solar array between the towers of an existing offshore wind farm, and use the existing offtake cables.

  12. RE: Marine solar — I don’t think marine solar would make sense for Japan compared to putting PV on roofs and walls, but Japan has shown plenty of times they’re often not too worried about low cost, so they may build giant marine solar farms. Rather than make one in relatively deep water able to survive a typhoon, I think I’d rather just sink it then bring it up again when the storm has passed.

  13. The Biontech/Pfizer vaccine, in all likelihood the first to be released in the western hemisphere claims to reduce corona infection risk by 90%. Stock market reactions suggest it is not a Trump/Musk style claim. Sounds like enough to beat the virus with rather limited additional measures. Just hope we don’t get too many anti vac nutters.

  14. D
    The drug companies resisted Trump pressure to cut corners out of self- interest. Their business mode, across the whole range of pr

  15. Sorry, new phone.
    .. across the whole range of prescription drugs, depends on trust in the science and the regulatory process.

    Pfizer are saying that the timing of their announcement on the covid vaccine, less than a week after the American election, was purely accidental. Hmm. A week earlier and Trump could have won.

    Look at the incentives. Pfizer is a tech company run by scientifically trained managers. It declined to join in Trump’s Warp Speed vaccine initiative, preferring to invest its own money and keep control of the process and the patents. Biontech was founded by a married couple of second- generation Turkish immigrants to Germany. Their opinion of Trump’s racism and misogyny can be guessed. The German government despises Trump. If they did have leeway on the timing, none of them would have used it to help him.

  16. The IEA, following its slow conversion he realism on renewables, now predicts that wind and solar installations will actually grow a little in 2020, unlike their fossil rivals. They now make up 90% of new generating capacity. More normal growth will resume in 2021: they say only 10%, but with Biden plus Pfizer (which their report cold not take into account), it’s reasonable to hope for more. Perhaps much more. The Chinese, Japanese and Korean commitments to net ere are not quite as recent, but can’t have been fly analysed.
    https://www.rechargenews.com/transition/defying-the-difficulties-renewables-set-for-record-run-despite-covid-iea/2-1-909387

  17. A cheerful question. How fast will the plague decline once vaccines are rolled out on any scale? Krugman thinks it won’t be before next autumn, but it’s not his expertise. At first sight, the characteristics of the virus that allowed it to spread so fast also make it very vulnerable to a vaccine. Say you start at R=1 and 5% immunity from past infection. Vaccinate another 25% of the population randomly (for simplicity, all at once). R should fall to 0.7. That means new cases fall by 30% every two weeks. In three months you are down to 8% of your initial rate, without any new vaccinations (which in reality you are continuing). The problem will be to persuade people to get the jab(s) even when cases are rare.

    The fall will be sharper if you target high-risk spreader groups: health workers, teachers, barmen, waiters, clergy, taxi drivers, journalists, politicians. There will be pressure to give the vaccine first to people at greatest risk not of spreading but of of death, ie old people, especially in care homes. Is it better to protect the vulnerable or go for cutting the overall infection rate?

  18. Picking a date at random, let’s say the 20th of January, if the US put in place public health measures as effective as in Melbourne it could cut the daily new infection rate in half every 2 weeks — if there was no acquired immunity. With perhaps 15%+ of Americans with with acquired immunity by then the virus should be eliminated much faster — assuming the US can match Melbourne’s response. But we might have to spot them their acquired immunity because they seem to be bad at this.

    It remains to be seen how effective the vaccine is when given to the recently exposed, but it should help and may be effective. (It’s worth a shot.)

    Health and aged care workers should, of course, be among the first to be vaccinated, followed by the elderly and those whose jobs involve lots of face to face contact. Mobile phone records can be used to determine who should be vaccinated first. By vaccinating the extroverted we can limit the damage they cause.

    As for compliance with vaccination in the US, those who get it or have a good medical reason not to can get free healthcare for life. (Also, those who refuse it can also eventually get free health care, but they definitely won’t be getting a free pony.)

  19. The vaccine they are touting now has to be stored at -70 degrees C. Cue grim laughter. People will have to go to the storage site like a major hospital. It will take many years to roll that out beyond health professionals and a few other groups. And that’s in competent and equitable first world countries which of course excludes the UK and USA.

  20. It seems to me the COVID-19 vaccine that’s being touted by Pfizer still has a long way to go.

    Some examples of expert reactions to the announcement:

    “From the viewpoint of research ethics, press releases do not make for good science. These are exciting preliminary results, but it needs to go through peer-review with all the scrutiny that entails.”
    – Dr Diego Silva, Sydney Health Ethics in the University of Sydney School of Public Health

    “This announcement is very encouraging, however, it will not, on its own, mean that we will be able to resume ‘business as usual’ any time soon. Pfizer has announced that they will be able to produce up to 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021, which would be sufficient to vaccinate 650 million people. This points to the importance of having several vaccines available, in order to ensure that everyone around the world will be protected. An efficacy of 90 percent is encouraging, but, in the situation where there are no restrictions on gatherings or movement, this would mean that around 65 percent of the population would have to be vaccinated in order to stop circulation of the virus (assuming an R0 – reproduction number – of 2.5).

    The vaccine is an mRNA vaccine, and has to be stored at -70°C, and can only be stored at 4°C for 24 hours. This will pose challenges for mass vaccination campaigns. It would be important to test the efficacy of the vaccine in more vulnerable populations, such as the elderly or people with compromised immune systems. If it is found to be very effective in these populations, it could be used to protect these people, with other vaccines with greater stability being used to vaccinate the broader population.”
    – Associate Professor Linda Selvey, public health physician and an infectious diseases epidemiologist at the University of Queensland

    “The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine announcement is very exciting. The 90 percent efficacy they report we presume to mean that of the 94 cases of COVID-19 that were recorded in the trial participants, 84 of those cases were in people who were administered the placebo (so didn’t get the vaccine).

    There is still a long way to go however to determine how effective this vaccine is across the 43,000 participants who were enrolled, as 94 cases is a small proportion of that. Ongoing monitoring will also help determine how long this vaccine is protective for.”
    – Dr Larisa Labzin, IMB Fellow and NHMRC CJ Martin Fellow at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the The University of Queensland

    “The caveat is that this is a press release, and we do need to see the data in a peer reviewed publication to fully evaluate it. We also do not know duration of protection, or how long the protection lasts.”
    – Professor Raina MacIntyre, Head of the Biosecurity Program at the Kirby Institute at the University of NSW
    See: https://www.scimex.org/newsfeed/expert-reaction-pfizer-announces-covid-19-vaccine-is-90-effective

    The reality of the new Pfizer vaccine is much more nuanced than the mainstream media would have you believe. I’d suggest we will not return to ‘normal’ soon – get use to it.

    IMO, in the meantime, for Australia and other similar countries with relatively very low active cases, a policy of virus eradication together with strict quarantine for outsiders entering the ‘virus-free’ control zones is the next best option.

  21. Each dose of the pfizer vaccine needs imo, a data dot – temp logging chip device.

    The ‘fridge’ box developed to transport  from cold chain to dose giver may ONLY be opened for 1 minute to get out next natch of doses say at a doctors surgery. A detail which may be a problem. Pfizer’s will be overtaken by “Another mRNA shot from Moderna requires storage at negative 4deg F”
    ****

    ^1. 
    Planes, trucks and ultracold boxes: 

    “Pfizer preps massive COVID-19 vaccine distribution effort To make that happen, the company designed suitcase-sized shipping containers that will keep its doses at ultracold temperatures for up to 10 days. Each container holds between 1,000 and 5,000 doses, the newspaper reports.

    “The requirements would make standard vaccination in a doctors’ office or pharmacy “very difficult,” SVB Leerink analysts wrote. The vaccinations would instead have to take place at hospitals, labs or other under circumstances, they said.”…
    https://www.fiercepharma.com/manufacturing/pfizer-designed-new-container-and-plans-to-tap-shipping-companies-for-covid-19

    ****

    90% good. 10% doses delivered ineffective is my guess.

    And hyper irony ” ethanol production slumped, and so did the supply of carbon dioxide.”^1. & “All of this leads to another problem: Glass often cracks in extreme cold” ^2. and we are rushing now to develop glass for vials @ -80degC.

    ^2. NYT…
    “As if the challenge weren’t sufficiently daunting, the world is facing a looming shortage of dry ice — an unexpected side effect of the pandemic.

    “Dry ice, the stuff that exudes chilly smoke and enthralls school-age scientists, is made from carbon dioxide, which is most commonly created as a byproduct during the production of ethanol.

    “But ethanol production ebbs and flows based on the demand for gasoline. This spring, as stay-at-home orders went into effect, people began driving less. As a result, ethanol production slumped, and so did the supply of carbon dioxide.”…

    “All of this leads to another problem: Glass often cracks in extreme cold.

    “Early this year, Corning, a 169-year-old glass maker in upstate New York, approached officials at the Department of Health and Human Services with a warning: There wouldn’t be enough cold-resistant glass vials to handle a frozen vaccine, said Brendan Mosher, Corning’s head of pharmaceutical technologies”….

  22. Pfizer vaccine data, markets fall: Pfizer healthy covid-19 spreaders!!

    “…There was a whopping gain of 8.54 per cent for the energy sector, as traders hoped a coronavirus vaccine would later help people to travel more. However health and consumer stocks slipped as the session wore on and finished lower. Investsmart market strategist Evan Lucas said it was a day of two halves. He noted excitement over the Pfizer results came late on US markets, which closed higher, and was followed by the ASX jump. Then came cautious responses from medical experts. Lawrence Young, a professor of molecular oncology at Britain’s University of Warwick, noted Pfizer’s data showed the vaccine keeps people from getting sick but not necessarily from becoming infected. Infected people could still transmit the virus, he said. Mr Lucas believed the warnings led to more selling of health and consumer stocks…” – ASX Market Update, Morningstar, 11 Nov 2020

  23. Svante: “Pfizer’s data showed the vaccine keeps people from getting sick but not necessarily from becoming infected”. They got 85 or so cases with Covid symptoms versus 9 or so in the vaccine group. There is SFIK no evidence to think ratios of asymptomatic to symptomatic cases was any different in the two arms. A priori, you would expect an effective vaccine either to leave the asymptomatic/symptomatic ratio alone, or to improve protection in the former. It does not make sense that it would work better in severe cases.
    Iko: Liquid nitrogen is a standard bulk chemical, and boils at -196C. Designing truck fridges for -80C is a nuisance, and more expensive than a standard -25C commercial freezer, but it’s not a major technical difficulty.

  24. If you snoop around behind hospitals looking for parts with which to build your greatest creation, then you’ll find all large ones have a liquid oxygen storage tank or tanks. That’s at -183 degrees, but apparently that’s too cold for the vaccine. So what is needed for transport is dry ice. There is no real shortage of this. Low natural gas prices mean lots of ammonia production for fertilizer which means lots of CO2 production as a result. If there is a shortage for some reason, we could go without fizzy drinks for a week. Or maybe not. We’d better check that won’t cause more deaths from people throwing themselves under steam rollers in despair and making themselves as flat as their drinks.

  25. James: “A priori, you would expect an effective vaccine either to leave the asymptomatic/symptomatic ratio alone, or to improve protection in the former. It does not make sense that it would work better in severe cases.”

    A priori?

    It’s a novel mRNA vaccine, the data is withheld, it’s a press release (who cleaned up on a market play yesterday?), it’s a novel corona virus, it’s a corona virus… Watch the S&P tomorrow!

  26. Everyone is getting far too excited over daily news. COVID-19 once out of control is really hard to bring back under control. Look at Victoria: a small outbreak by world standards and it took them months of hard lock-down to control. And then, a vaccine that is safe, effective and practical will take a long time to prepare, test and roll out. This pandemic will run at least 5 years in the US, Europe and many other places. Very likely.

    This is a long haul. Everyone is expecting an instant fix. Get real, it ain’t going to happen unless we are very lucky. This is a long, hard slog now but Westerners (me included) have forgotten what hard slog is. We are weak and decadent, disgracefully so. We had better toughen up and smarten up or we will collapse, especially with climate change thrown in. So far, I would give the West’s response 1 out of 10. It’s been an absolutely piss-poor effort except for a few minor countries. Asia has run rings around us. We have to look our gross failures in the face and call them for what they are and then start fixing our broken political economy, broken health system, broken education system, broken political system etc. etc. etc.

  27. Yesterday’s newsy uplift like as to a 747’s. Nay, 8000 needful 747s.. but what goes up….

    Some featuring Prof Lawrence Young observations:

    Pfizer vaccine trial success signals breakthrough in pandemic battle
    https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/reuters/pfizer-vaccine-trial-success-signals-breakthrough-in-pandemic-battle/46150324
    “..Pfizer shares jumped more than 8% to their highest since July last year, while BioNTech’s stock hit a record high. Mizuho Securities analyst Vamil Divan forecast the vaccine may generate sales in excess of $8.5 billion for Pfizer in 2020-2021 alone … Moderna Inc , whose vaccine uses a similar technology as the Pfizer shot, up more than 8%. … MORE DATA NEEDED … Lawrence Young, a professor of molecular oncology at Britain’s University of Warwick, noted that the data may show the vaccine keeps people from getting sick but not necessarily from becoming infected. “And the subtlety there … is if you’re infected then you can still transmit the virus.”

    https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/med/staff/lyoung/

    World’s first Covid-19 vaccine hope is “light at the end of the lockdown tunnel”, says Warwick Medical School professor
    https://rugbyobserver.co.uk/news/worlds-first-covid-19-vaccine-hope-is-light-at-the-end-of-the-lockdown-tunnel-says-warwick-medical-school-professor-25095/
    “A PROFESSOR at Warwick Medical School has tentatively welcomed the new “first-generation” Covid vaccine as “light at the end of the lockdown tunnel”.

    Lawrence Young, a professor of Molecular Oncology and virologist, at the Coventry-based University of Warwick campus describes the news of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine as “very exciting”, but says it is still very early days in the “massive global race” to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.

    …“One US scientist I’ve been speaking to told me to immunise billions of people worldwide you’d need to fill 8,000 Boeing 747s with the vaccine. But he said there’s not enough of the little glass vials to store it.””

  28. Prof Lawrence Young here too, and most of these 19 expert scientists comments express caution
    https://news.yahoo.com/expert-views-pfizer-biontech-covid-122856192.html

    Eg:

    “MARYLYN ADDO, HEAD OF TROPICAL MEDICINE SECTION, UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER EPPENDORF (UKE), HAMBURG, GERMANY

    “These are interesting first signals, but again they are only communicated in press releases. Primary data are not yet available and a peer-reviewed publication is still pending. We still have to wait for the exact data before we can make a final assessment. At present, there are still few details about the exact data, for example regarding different age groups and in which groups the 94 cases occurred exactly.””

  29. It’s all about making money, not saving people. But when all humans are dead how much money and wealth-for-humans will exist on planet earth? Hint, the answer is double-doughnut zeros. Of course, the pandemic won’t kill everyone but combined with everything else, especially climate change, it will.

  30. A dose of vaccine is normally 0.5 ml. This one requires two shots so we’re looking at around 1 ml per person. For 8 billion people that’s 8,000 cubic meters. With a density of 1 that’s 8,000 tonnes without packaging. Tell him to pack his Boeing 747s more carefully.

  31. A little after Pfizer/Biontech, Russia announced that the Sputnik Vaccine is not just 90% but 92% effective :-).

    Regarding the doom and gloom based on expert comments let me put it this way:
    A) Next to the usual complaints (why not publish the data in a journal first etc.), there was also a nice scene with a virologist that smiled and said it was the best news since the beginning of the pandemic.
    B) It looks like my father should already be in line for a shot in January. The same should be true for many of his friends. The 10% non efficient cases might also include cases where the vaccine at least made the ilness less severe. Overall, his covid death risk should be reduced by far more than 90% until the end of February, even when efficiency rates are lower among the elderly. Sounds like damn good personal news to me.
    C) Joke all you want about stock markets, such major reactions have significant information value.

  32. Michael Pascoe: Credibility of bank economists trashed by one of their own
    https://thenewdaily.com.au/finance/2020/11/12/michael-pascoe-bank-economists-credibility-trashed/
    THE NEWDAILY 6:00am, Nov 12, 2020

    …The winners of last year’s Nobel Prize for economics, MIT’s Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, had a passing slash at it in their book, Good Economics for Hard Times.

    “The self-proclaimed economists on TV and in the press – chief economists of Bank X or Firm Y – are, with important exceptions, primarily spokespersons for their firms’ economic interests who often feel free to ignore the weight of the evidence. Moreover, they have a relatively predictable slant toward market optimism at all costs, which is what the public associates with economists in general,” they wrote.

    Just as a real estate agent is likely to say it’s always a good time to buy a property, an economics spokesperson for a bank, merchant bank or accountancy firm is unlikely to ever suggest a government asset or responsibility shouldn’t be privatised.

    …You shouldn’t ask a barber if you need a haircut.

    BTW, it should go without saying at NEWDAILY they look after their own(ers) too. But what is worse – the denizens of the big banker swamp, the big accountancy/auditor swamp, the treasury swamp, the super swamp, the insurer swamp, the corporate board swamp, the investment adviser swamp, the developer swamp, the university swamp, the arms industry swamp, the migration agent swamp, the big Australia swamp, the duopoly political swamp, the globalisation swamp… ? So many big fetid swamps need draining!

  33. hix: “C) Joke all you want about stock markets, such major reactions have significant information value.”

    You don’t mean market euphoria or the ‘correction’ do you?

  34. This almost makes me cry at the blantant unfair share and long term societal implications. Already posted to senior catholic educator who is in rural area who is also being shafted by tricle up to major catholic schools for funding depriving rural catholic schools by – you guessed it – the Catholic education system.

    “Yet public schools educate more than 80% of disadvantaged students and 95% of disadvantaged schools are public schools. 

    “Since 2009, after adjusting for inflation, recurrent funding per student by the Commonwealth and state governments increased by 25% for Independent schools, 21% for Catholic schools and just 3% for public schools. Recurrent funding includes funding for teachers’ salaries, maintenance of school buildings and so on.

    “Government funding increases have favoured privilege over disadvantage.”…
    https://www.michaelwest.com.au/going-going-gonski-public-schools-finally-abandoned-for-the-elite/

  35. Some lighter material for your weekend cogitation.

    Brain teaser weekend strain. If we have a hard time understanding ‘hole’ – we are rooned! 

    Or we need to become topologists.

    Q on Reddit “I asked 1.6k people how many holes certain objects have.”

    Cup – 46% to 53%. Who has a cup w more than 1 hole? ( mug?)

    The letter ‘O’. A; 80% to 18%. Different O? Does any language have an ‘O’ with 2 holes???

    Links in below to sci am, wolfram. Via… whippet via…

    “Q: What Is a Hole? A: We’re Not Sure!
    By Jason Kottke   Nov 11, 2020

    “How many holes does a donut have? That’s pretty easy: one. What about a straw? Two (one at each end) or just one? (Isn’t a straw just an elongated donut?) Does a coffee mug have one hole or two? Does a bowl have a hole? If no, then what about a hole in the ground or a hole in a wall that doesn’t pass all the way through? Does a basketball have a hole? A Reddit user asked 1600 people how many holes were in various objects and the results are fantastically all over the place.”
    https://kottke.org/20/11/q-what-is-a-hole-a-were-not-sure

    We can’t research, and don’t know topology. Rooned.

  36. Yes KT2, but it’s a proof of the wisdom of crowds. Criticising two hole “cup-ers” is only for mugs without a handle on their subject!

    1600 is a fair sized crowd. 71 million is a real crowd!

    The average of random visitor’s guesses one day got the weight of Uluru correct within kilos of the best calculated scientific approximation – was an ABC Catalyst tv episode iirc.

  37. The term “hole” needs a precise definition for the test. The test designers are remiss in not defining the term “hole” unless exposing the vagueness of the term was the whole (pun intended) point. For example, I might say that a cup, except for the handle, has a hollow not a hole. The handle may or may not have a “hole”. If the cup hollow had a hole it would leak like the proverbial bucket. Then again, we often call a deep hollow in the ground a “hole”, especially if it man-made.

    What is a “hole”? Try defining it. It’s not easy. Defining an absence is not easy. It has to be defined circuitously (pun intended) or topographically by what surrounds it. There are other niggles. A rubber band might not have a hole if it’s broken. Is a basketball hole-y or hollow?

    And speak not to me of the wisdom of crowds! Speak rather of prejudices, fashions, mass delusions and myths. Poor education makes for foolish citizens lacking in the capacity for critical thinking and swayed by anti-logical, anti-scientific and anti-humane falsehoods and worse like lunatic conspiracy theories.

  38. Svante, Tish boom! “Criticising two hole “cup-ers” is only for mugs without a handle on their subject!”

    Yet “… random visitor’s guesses one day got the weight of Uluru correct…” is not really in the same set. Yes, we ‘guestimate” weight and arrive at the ‘wosdom of crowds’.

    But a straw? Cup? The letter O! We already have direct – ‘wisdom’ -knowledge of these things. No guessing necessary. Yet Ikon is correct, we need some more defining and education.

    Ikon Tish boom too. “..unless exposing the vagueness of the term was the whole (pun intended) point.”

    Agreed Ikon, and I foolishly thought we did. “The term “hole” needs a precise definition for the test.”. 419 hole words to choose from below. Language is important. 
    ****

    100% security breach hole! 
    “I get hired by companies to hack into their systems and break into their physical facilities to find security holes. Our success rate is 100%; we’ve always found a hole.”
    Kevin Mitnick

    Good advice.
    “It’s easier to poke holes in an idea than think of ways to fill them. And it’s easier to focus on the 100 reasons you shouldn’t do something rather than the one reason you should.” 
    Wendy Kopp

    Different hole.
    “Keyholes are the occasions of more sin and wickedness, than all other holes in this world put together.”
    Laurence Sterne

    Via brainyquote /topics holes-quotes
    ****

    More holes than you can poke a stick at…

    “419 Moby Thesaurus words for “hole”:”…
    http://www.dict.org/bin/Dict?Database=moby-thesaurus&Form=Dict2&Query=hole

    Note. I had not used dict.org search. Check out the many different dictionaries, databases etc to choose to search within or ‘all’. I have bookmarked this site for future word searches. Googl is slowly taking over word searches with extensive top of page before first search hit. Had ro dump ggl for ddgo. Usually the other way round.

  39. From the BoM horse’s mouth, and for the record…

    “State of the Climate 2020

    “Key points – Australia
    ● Australia’s climate has warmed on average by 1.44 ± 0.24 °C since national records began in 1910, leading to an increase in the frequency of extreme heat events.

    ● There has been a decline of around 16 per cent in April to October rainfall in the southwest of Australia since 1970.
    Across the same region May–July rainfall has seen the largest decrease, by around 20 per cent since 1970.

    ● In the southeast of Australia there has been a decline of around 12 per cent in April to October rainfall since the late 1990s.

    ● There has been a decrease in streamflow at the majority of streamflow gauges across southern Australia since 1975.

    ● Rainfall and streamflow have increased across parts of northern Australia since the 1970s.

    ● There has been an increase in extreme fire weather, and in the length of the fire season, across large parts of the country since the 1950s, especially in southern Australia.”

    http://www.bom.gov.au/state-of-the-climate/index.shtml

  40. Another Covid ‘weather’ map. Europe coded as well as USA. I assume global easily done. Very simple model. Quick tool for decisions.

    I do not think in these terms – a bet with everyone.
    “To calculate it, we multiply the winning probability (1-1/16500) by itself 75,000 times and find that there is approximately a 1% chance that we win every time.”
    ****

    “COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool

    Tutorial tab says;
    …” Let’s start by thinking about just one of them. If 20,000 of the 330 million people in the United States are sick, then each person has a 99.994% chance of being disease-free. In betting terms, the odds are 16,500:1 in our favor. While that sounds good from an individual perspective, the collective risk is very different.

    “In this scenario, the probability that all 75,000 attendees would have entered the stadium disease-free is like placing 75,000 bets each at nearly certain odds. Sure, you’ll win most of the bets. But the probability that you will win every single one of those bets is extremely low. To calculate it, we multiply the winning probability (1-1/16500) by itself 75,000 times and find that there is approximately a 1% chance that we win every time. In other words, the chances that one or more attendees would have arrived infected with SARS-CoV-2 is 99%.

    “The COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool is a collaborative project led by Prof. Joshua Weitz and Prof. Clio Andris at the Georgia Institute of Technology, along with researchers at the Applied Bioinformatics Laboratory and Stanford University, and powered by RStudio. Description of the method and analyses available at Nature Human Behaviour.”
    https://covid19risk.biosci.gatech.edu/

    Article
    https://www.ajc.com/blog/get-schooled/scientists-the-math-show-how-large-events-like-march-madness-could-spread-coronavirus/g1pVdzQgJS5aoPnadBqyXO/

  41. Long story short, the Qld Government is flirting with a super-spreader event by permitting the stadium to be full at Sate of Origin III at Lang Park. Lang Park crowd capacity is 52,500 people. We could add in another 500 for players, staff, ground staff, commercial staff etc. Say 53,000. At a guess, If just 0.01% of attendees (1 in 10,000) are infected and contagious (but symptom free) then there’s about 5% chance of super-spreader event. If 1 in 1,000 are infected and contagious (but symptom free) then 50% chance of a super-spreader event. Are these risks worth taking? Of course, the super-spreader event might be traceable if attendance records are clear. Will they be? Also, test and trace breaks down at a certain point and then a hard lock-down is the only containment and elimination measure possible.

    Of course, the March article is very dated for the US. There are currently 4 million known active cases in the US. It is generally accepted that real active cases about 5 to 10 times higher. Let’s take the more conservative 5 times. That’s 20 million active cases in the U.S. population of 330,000,000 which would count in some of the undocumented residents too. That’s 16.5% of the population. A 75,000 person stadium in the US would have 100% certainty of being a massive super-spreader event.

    Once an epidemic is totally out of control (meaning the disease is now endemic in the study area) then hard lock-down becomes unfeasible and uneconomic unless the disease is very deadly. Certainly with a death rate of 50% or even 5 %, an endemic air and contact transmissible disease would have to be eradicated by hard lock-down and all other measures. But if the death real rate is some low number, say 0.1% or maybe lower like 0.01% then hard lock-down would no longer be feasible after endemic status is reached.

    COVID-19’s death rate hovers in gradated spectrum which strongly suggests hard lock-down early IS the correct strategy. Indeed, that is empirically proven already. However, if you foolishly, incompetently or deliberately let it become endemic in your country then it seems hard lock-down may become no longer socially or economically feasible. That’s my rough theory at this point.

  42. I think my math above is wrong by a factor of 10. Chances of a super-spreader event at Lang Park are ten times higher than I said. So, really bad.

  43. https://www.minnpost.com/second-opinion/2020/05/scientists-warn-against-taking-high-doses-of-vitamin-d-for-covid-19/

    In a sunny country, you can get all the Vitamin D3 you need by working or walking outside, even doing so in a sun-safe manner. Mega doses of Vitamin D3 can be dangerous for people with some preconditions and there is no evidence that they assist fighting viruses beyond normal bodily requirements. Vitamin D deficiency however will cause problems in fighting viruses including Sars-Cov2. Consult your doctor first before taking large or mega Vitamin D3 supplements.

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