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. You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page

45 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. JQ, considering this is the Dougherty Institute modelling to get out of pandemic, & a  new initiative, & the obvious connection to economics; 

     – “in 64% of simulations above a willingness to pay of $15 000 per health-adjusted life-years, followed by moderate elimination in 35% of simulations.”.

    … I urge you to consider offering a (peer) review & suggestions relating to economic outcomes included in;


    “What has the least health losses and is the most cost-effective of 4 policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic (aggressive elimination, moderate elimination, tight suppression, and loose suppression) in the state of Victoria, Australia?

    Dr Tony Blakely, et al

    This modelling study determines which of the 4 policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic (aggressive elimination, moderate elimination, tight suppression, and loose suppression) has the least health losses and is the most cost-effective, in the state of Victoria, Australia?

    In this simulation modeling economic evaluation of health losses and costs from COVID-19 policy responses, aggressive elimination was the most cost-effective from a health system perspective in 64% of simulations above a willingness to pay of $15 000 per health-adjusted life-years, followed by moderate elimination in 35% of simulations. Moderate elimination was most cost-effective from a gross domestic product (GDP) perspective (ie, including GDP losses in addition to health expenditure) in half of the simulations, followed by aggressive elimination in a quarter. While there is considerable uncertainty in outcomes for all 4 policy responses, the 2 elimination options (aggressive and moderate) appear to be the most optimal from both health system and health plus GDP perspective.

    “Population Interventions Unit
    The Population Interventions Unit is a research group at the University of Melbourne that investigates health and cost impacts of population interventions.”

    View paper
    First published: Jul 30, 2021

    “ACMI | Australian COVID-19 Modelling Initiative

    “Our purpose is to make COVID-19 
    modelling more transparent and accessible for the public and policy makers

    “Our story
    The Australian COVID-19 Modelling Initiative (ACMI) comprises several research groups. It aims to facilitate rapid access to a collection of COVID-19 modelling studies, in an easy to find and understandable format, for the public and policy makers.

    “Our aims
    – Make COVID-19 modelling more transparent and available for the public and policy makers
    – Facilitate the comparison of modelling approaches and outcomes
    – Collate modelling research from independent academic research groups, across alternative modelling approaches
    – Draw attention to when different modelling approaches agree/disagree, and what this means for further research priorities and policymaking

    “Contributing to the initiative
    The ACMI is a collaborative initiative, and we welcome contributions from academic research groups that actively engage in COVID-19 modelling research. If you are interested in contributing your research to the initiative and satisfy the critera below,we would love to hear from you. Be university-based research group or research institute Published peer-reviewed COVID-19 modelling research papers in the past

    Our contributors
    ● Burnet Institute
    Centre for Complex Systems & Sydney Institute for Infectious Diseases
    (University of Sydney)
    ● Department of Computer Science & Software Engineering
    (University of Western Australia)
    ● Population Interventions Unit
    (University of Melbourne)

  2. Afghanistan falls in five minutes. Those have to be the headlines surely. Twenty years of war and the nation falls in five minutes. Well, five minutes or five days, what’s that in 20 years? The US spent $2.26 trillion on the war according to some sources. That’s not counting “funds that the United States government is obligated to spend on lifetime care for American veterans of this war, nor does it include future interest payments on money borrowed to fund the war”.

    Nation building under conditions of war is a farce. Nor can we force democracy on people by war. The US supported a bunch of criminal war-lords against a coherent ideology and capable military force. A majority of the Afghani population clearly prefer, accept or bow to the Taliban in preference to corrupt war-lords.

    Afghanistan: the place where empires go to die. The only puzzle is why do empires go there? What’s there? The answer is “nothing strategic”. Bin Ladin’s rope-a-dope strategy worked even if he didn’t live to see the denouement. It always his intention to suck the US into a war where they would be sapped, drained and attrited. The US fell for it. US credibility suffers another severe blow from losing another war they never needed to fight. The US people and economy are much damaged by the useless waste.

    What lessons does China draw from this? Will they bring forward their plans to invade and take Taiwan? It’s hard to know. The US look weak and foolish once again. They are making a habit of it. But the US are weak like Russia’s weak. That is to say even China wouldn’t contemplate directly attacking their central interests, let alone homeland. The US alone has enough nuclear weapons to nuclear-winterize the earth about twenty times over and counting only the weapons in service not those mothballed.

    So, what happens to Taiwan, its massive semi-conductor industry and the first island chain? Those are the strategic prizes. Unlike Afghanistan, Taiwan actually is strategic. But ultimately is it worth risking global nuclear war for it? Surely not. But if I was the US I would be cloning Taiwan’s semi-conductor industry deep in the safe heartland of the USA. If they had spent the $2.26 trillion on that, they would already have it and much else besides.

  3. You could have offered to resettle all the people who didn’t line the Taliban and it still would have been cheaper than 20 years of blood and war money. As JQ points out, opportunity cost matters.

  4. Upvote on Taiwan’s semiconductor fabs. It’s not just the American electronics sector that has become dependent on two Taiwanese merchant chip foundries but China’s. This is a very challenging business indeed, and I get the impression that TSMC is now a little ahead of the US champion Intel. There is egg on a lot of faces now.

  5. Morrison in the face of an IPCC report neither he nor his Ministers will have even read offers up his preferred pre-prepared and already worn thin slogan – technology, not taxes… meaning diverting the taxes that already exist to support technology we don’t have and that are least likely to work… making them cheapest emissions reductions of all? Well, no. It looks more like taxes for clean energy getting diverted to fossil fuel companies for the technologies that can (supposedly) make fossil fuels into clean energy – but with no requirement that they actually reduce emissions. Which deprives funding for things that do already exist and already work and can be made to work a lot better.

    (I remain deeply sceptical of CCS and all that depends on CCS to be low emissions – like Hydrogen from fossil fuels and more gas power plants. The only places it even approaches “cost effective” is where the boreholes come pre-drilled (for the purpose of extracting fossil fuels) and the most cost effective of all is using CO2 injection to increase fossil fuel production. If you have to drill the holes and capture the CO2 at power plants and you don’t get more oil or gas to sell it isn’t cost effective – and 3 tons of CO2 per ton of gas burned just ensures it never will be cost effective.)

    Of course Morrison can blame China – and why not? Very popular to blame China at the moment but it is kindergarten level logic – Australia won’t do more emissions reductions unless everyone else does first, so it is their fault we are doing ours last… or not at all. Except for the renewable growth that is unstoppable despite stacking the AEMC and inventing the ESB for the purpose of stopping it, whilst simultaneously taking credit for what they haven’t stopped, as if they supported it.

    When the next election comes around the partisan commercial media will forget all Morrison’s transgressions and focus their relentless criticisms on Labor – not promoting the LNP as good but criticising Labor as much worse.

  6. “A majority of the Afghani population clearly prefer, accept or bow to the Taliban in preference to corrupt war-lords”.

    Maybe or is it just that most people in Afghanistan are terrified by this rather small medieval gang of terrorists supported by the Pakistan military. Trump was foolish to pre-announce a withdrawal date for US troops and Biden very poorly implemented the withdrawal.

    Another chance for the US-haters to celebrate. The poor people of Afghanistan.

  7. Helicopter money. Why are Bunnings still open? It was half full carpark this morning with confirmed covid positives in central west nsw town. 6 hr wait for test. Coppers directing traffic – no face masks.

    Booked jab 4th Aug, still 2wks wait for jab appt 30th Aug. Not happy Jan.

    “A lot of the people we speak to are poor. So even if they’ve been symptomatic, they’ve kept working because they’ve needed to feed their families and feed themselves. That’s sad. It’s not a reason to judge.”

    “What it’s like as a contact tracer to tell someone they have Covid – and what happens next

    By Anonymous

    “When people learn they have coronavirus, they feel shocked and guilty, but most have been doing the right thing

  8. Major – worst / best Australian government failure – Pandemic response.

    Baffling, ultimate breach showing lack of ‘duty of care’, highlighting  major failure of Australian Government …
    – leaving for dead, those Afgahni’s who helped our military.

    Ikon said ” Twenty years of war and the nation falls in five minutes. Well, five minutes or five days, what’s that in 20 years? “.

    I have to reset all my ‘war’ heuristics. 

    “The US spent $2.26 trillion on the war according to some sources. That’s not counting “funds that the United States government is obligated to spend on lifetime care for American veterans of this war, nor does it include future interest payments on money borrowed to fund the war”.”

    $365.2m / day + veterans in cost. 

    As I said above, may as well have just dropped $365m per day like rain. Just as effective it would seem.

    +1 Harry Clarke said “Maybe or is it just that most people in Afghanistan are terrified by this rather small medieval gang of terrorists supported by the Pakistan military. Trump was foolish to pre-announce a withdrawal date for US troops and Biden very poorly implemented the withdrawal.

    Another chance for the US-haters to celebrate. The poor people of Afghanistan.”

  9. Afghanistan not strategic?

    The yanks used it to kill the USSR rather more swiftly and effectively than anything else tried on during 40 years of cold war. What was started there still dogs Russia.

    “Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; Who rules the Heartland commands the World Island; Who rules the World Island commands the World.” – Halford Mackinder

    Afghanistan is a link in the Inner Marginal Crescent of land surrounding the Heartland of the World Island.

    Apart from the mineral resources there, that China is already accessing, Afghanistan presents an overland route for China to access gulf oil, Iran, the wider Middle East, Africa, and alternate routes to east and west Europe than those through or near Russia that could be at some time more problematic.
    Living with Price Above Value – By Michael Hudson, Tuesday, July 13, 2021

    “…Jussi: Could you tell us something about the Belt and Road initiative, because quite a lot is written in Swedish media about it, but it’s never like any deep understanding.

    Hudson: The basic principle at work when you’re developing ports and other shipping, railroads and basic infrastructure for trade and exchange is whether you are going to do this for profit or for overall economic development? Neoliberals have criticized China for the Belt and Road initiative by noting that the first investors in the Panama Canal all lost their money. The company went bankrupt. The world needs a Panama Canal, but it cost more than early revenues brought in. The same thing happened with the Suez Canal. It was a financial disaster and helped ruin Egypt financially.

    China’s response is that it’s not building canals and ports to make money off them as such. They are building these ports in order to develop the economy and create an exchange so that the overall economy will be more prosperous. There will be a shared prosperity from China spreading out along the length of the Belt and Road to Europe, developing the economies there instead of lending like the World Bank would do – which would be lending for plantation agriculture and for very expensive American engineering firms.

    China is looking at the economy as a broad system, not for quick profit-making. They’re looking at the economy as a mixed public and private economy. How do ports and the other infrastructure investment that that China is developing actually help the country.

    Obviously, countries receiving this investment in ports have to pay something for it. But the prosperity created by ports and other infrastructure is what enables them to pay.

    …It’s okay for people to pay the cost of construction, building a house or producing a commodity. But if you have to pay interest and all sorts of financial charges and rent extraction on top of this, that’s not value, that’s empty price, that’s price without value. That’s what economic rent is. So that really should be the key focus of economic reform and for thinking about how economies work.

    How China is following the classical development policy of industrial capitalism and socialism

    Jussi: Okay, thanks. Is there any country today that builds its economy differently or more according to the classical economics view?

    Hudson: The closest is China, which is following pretty much the same industrial logic that Britain, Germany and the United States followed in the 19th century. It’s protecting its industry. It is trying to prevent a financial oligarchy from emerging and gaining power. So it’s doing what everybody thought industrial capitalism was evolving toward before World War I. China’s really the kind of society that people expected Europe and the United States to evolve into before they were sidetracked by financialization.

    China has kept banking in the public domain through the Peoples’ Bank of China. It can decide what to create credit for – and it’s creating credit largely to build more factories, to build infrastructure for the Belt and Road initiative, to minimize military spending as much as possible and simply to add to economic efficiency, to provide education freely and provide health care. And not to turn labor into commodity, not to make health care a commodity but a public right, not to make money a commodity but as a public utility…”

  10. Harry Clarke,

    To support your theory, you have explain why the entire Afghan army and all the people supposedly against the Taliban did not fight? Why did they not fight? Are they all cowards? Highly unlikely. Did the US puppet government of criminal war-lords actually have much less popular support than the Taliban? The Taliban seem to have extensive popular support. Either that or Pakistan orchestrated the whole thing. I think it’s much more likely that the Taliban enjoy extensive support inside Afghanistan.

    This is none of the West’s business. It was never our business. When will we learn not to intervene in other people’s civil wars? It never works and it increases causalities. Most Afghans hated us and our troops because we were mainly killing soft target, non-Taliban civilians on the ground.

    The US has lost another war they didn’t need to fight. Their standard practice since WW2. I don’t hate the USA. I just wish they would acquire some geostrategic wisdom and offensive/defensive realism. Everyone in the world would be safer if they did so. I doubt they will though. They have all the hallmarks of a collapsing empire addicted to imperial and strategic overreach and totally unable to change.

  11. Noah Smith may be eccentrically obsessed with rabbits, but a lot of his takes seem to me have a fair bit of common sense about them. Here he is, arguing:

    “Military occupations are much less able to transform countries than Americans tend to think. In particular, we should never go into a war expecting the outcome to look like post-WW2 Japan.”

  12. A tweet by David Spratt a few hours ago includes:

    Financial regulators want to stress-test Australian companies against 4C of #climate warming, but they miss the point. At 4C, bank customers will be dead on the streets, not shopping. Our new @Breathroughccr report explains why.

  13. Geoff, they’ve all drank deeply of the Nordhaus kool-aid, eg: 6 degrees warming ok, 4 degrees ideal!

  14. The IPCC also drank very deeply of the Nordhaus kool-aid pseudo-scientific economics poison, and laundered all their work in it. They may have just begun detox and recovery now. They seem to have realised at least what they’ve been doing is a problem – first step. However, they may relapse in November as Glasgow with it’s heavy industry and drinking reputation will be swamped by big kool-aid drinkers and heavy industrial launderers from all over.

  15. Not sure how well this table will post. But it’s worth a try.

    From Reddit page:

    Note: Note: Wild = Partially isolated + Infectious in community + unknown

    Day Wild Cases (7 day rolling average)
    Sun Aug 15 298.0
    Sat Aug 14 268.9
    Fri Aug 13 245.6
    Thu Aug 12 215.7
    Wed Aug 11 202.6
    Tue Aug 10 191.6
    Mon Aug 9 183.0
    Sun Aug 8 165.1
    Sat Aug 7 156.7
    Fri Aug 6 154.3
    Thu Aug 5 150.1
    Wed Aug 4 136.6
    Tue Aug 3 137.4
    Mon Aug 2 135.9
    Sun Aug 1 133.3
    Sat Jul 31 128.9
    Fri Jul 30 117.0
    Thu Jul 29 108.1
    Wed Jul 28 105.0
    Tue Jul 27 94.9
    Mon Jul 26 86.7
    Sun Jul 25 76.7
    Sat Jul 24 70.6
    Fri Jul 23 64.9
    Thu Jul 22 58.0
    Wed Jul 21 53.4
    Tue Jul 20 46.1
    Mon Jul 19 41.0

    These very dangerous wild cases are increasing exponentially. NSW is NOT bringing this outbreak under control. What is required is a hard statewide NSW lock-down backed by curfews and a fully effective state of emergency declaration for NSW. If wild cases reach 500, NSW and Australia are probably “lost”, “Lost” in this case means outcomes and scenes as in the UK perhaps at the height of their outbreaks. There possibly will be people regularly dying in their homes and on the streets outside hospitals. Hospitals and hospital staff will be completely overwhelmed. 25,000 to 50,000 deaths is easily possible nationwide.

  16. Add one limo driver, ignored by NSW govt and you get:

    Excellent graphic / map on cases, spreaders and growth. Enlarge to see covid transfers.

    Covid cartographer

    “NSW Bondi outbreak and interstate spread 16th June – 11th August”

  17. Ikonoclast says: AUGUST 16, 2021 AT 8:47 AM
    Harry Clarke says: AUGUST 16, 2021 AT 11:52 AM
    ““A majority of the Afghani population clearly prefer, accept or bow to the Taliban in preference to corrupt war-lords”.


    3min:55sec, Catch 22, Sep 13, 2006, geeflat,
    The “shameless opportunist” scene from the Mike Nichols film, “Catch 22”

    1:43, Catch-22 (9/10) Movie CLIP – Shameful Opportunist (1970) HD, Nov 23, 2011, Movieclips,

    4:08, Catch-22 Why Italy is Great, Oct 2, 2011, Maylar,

  18. Boring solar news item
    “Chinese PV module maker JinkoSolar began work on a $500 million ingot and wafer manufacturing facility in the coastal economic zone of Vietnam’s Quang Ninh province in the second quarter of this year. The facility is expected to begin manufacturing activities within six months ….The manufacturer said planning on the 7 GW factory started in late 2020, with the Vietnamese government giving the approval for the project in March 2021. The investment decision was made in the second half of last year – -”

    So a Chinese company can build a big factory for the highest-tech part of the solar production chain, in a prickly foreign country with two millennia of remittance to Chinese imperialism, in about one year. It is true that since Vietnam is an efficient Leninist oligarchy, Jinko did not have to worry about NIMBY opposition from locals, but on the other hand they will be closely watched and are unlikely to be cutting corners. In some places Jinko could do it quicker, in others slower, but the Vietnam project can be taken as pretty representative for Asia.

    The current global growth rate of PV solar is around 20%. That will see off coal soon enough, but it’s far short of what’s technically feasible on a war footing.

    Footnote: US production of military aircraft, all types,1940: 3,611; 1944: 96,270 (+2,566%). This included a considerable increase in average size and complexity, culminating in the huge long-range B29 bomber, twice the empty weight of the earlier B17.

  19. From the taliban’s mouth.

    Female CNN reporter yesterday, asked to mive as “woman”, on the streets of Afganistan.

    7mins. Thomas Friedman comment also.

    Niqabs anyone?

    CNN reporter presses Taliban fighter on treatment of women

  20. Making America great again. Smelter or power station closing? We will take it over to mine cryptocurrency!

    Texas Crypto – “It’s intentionally inefficient.”.

    “So at capacity, this facility will have 750 megawatts of electricity flowing through it. Enough to power 150,000 Texas homes during peak demand.”

    “Inside the Largest Bitcoin Mine in The U.S.

    “Bitcoin hit 1 trillion market cap this year. This has inspired some bitcoin operations to expand. The ban on mining in China has caused a mass exodus, and some mining operations are moving their facilities to the United States. 

    “We go to Rockland, Texas to a look inside the largest bitcoin mine in North America. Operated by Whinstone U.S., is this large mine one of the first of many?


    “It’s intentionally inefficient.

    Each building is a hundred megawatts.

    For each hundred megawatt building, you can fit 30,000 new ASIC miners in it.

    In a Bitcoin mine, the consumption is basically taken by the miners

    Each miner has about 3000 Watts that it’s pulling.

    In older miner, in older generation, The S9, which was released in September, 2017, was only pulling 1350.

    The miners now are at 3000 [Watts].

    [Narrator] So at capacity, this facility will have 750 megawatts of electricity flowing through it.

    Enough to power 150,000 Texas homes during peak demand.

    That’s a lot of juice.

    How do they manage to keep all those miners cool? Our ideal goal is to keep the ambient temperature around 81 degrees

    There’s a lake about a mile from here.

    And so, underground, we have a eight inch line with a thousand GPM pump where we pump literally the water through this mile long pipe into the facility, and it actually goes into holding tanks that then recirculate the water and it pumps it back into these evaporative cooling walls that are 12 feet tall.

    Water is actually dripping down the wall of that evaporative cooling cell, and then as the air comes through it.

    The miners have fans, they have intake fans and there’s thousands of those fans running.

    And they actually suck all the ambient air through the miner, and then there’s an exhaust fan, it actually pushes the air through the chips and into the heat aisle, as it goes through the miner, it then heats up because the chips, that’s a processing, so it gets really hot.

    And then we capture the heat on the inside of the heat wall.

    And then it is evacuated out of the building through a quote-unquote chimney like environment.

    [Narrator] Inside the heat aisle, it literally feels like an oven.

    One Whinstone employee estimates that it can get as hot as 140 degrees Fahrenheit in here.

    So the S9 has a hash rate of 13.5 terahash, the new S19s are 110 terahash.

    [Narrator] hash rate measures how many computations a miner can do, usually in a second.

    So how much money can each miner potentially make each day?

    Currently, A S19 with 110 terahash, the profitability every day for one machine is 30 USD.

    [Narrator] Okay, so 30 bucks, times 30,000 miners, times two big buildings, nearly $2 million a day for a facility this size.

    [Chad] We have a full staff of 120 employees.
    We work 24 hours a day, three shifts…”

    Inside the Largest Bitcoin Mine in The U.S. | WIRED


    Ethereum’s Greenwash?

    “Bye-Bye, Miners! How Ethereum’s Big Change Will Work

    “Along with being greener and faster, proponents say the switch, now planned to be phased in by early 2022, will illustrate another difference between Ethereum and Bitcoin: A willingness to change, and to see the network as a product of community as much as code. ”

  21. James Hansen and Makiko Sato posted their July update on Aug 13.

    Figure 2 shows a graph of the global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 average, for 12-month running mean (blue curve), 132-month running mean (red curve), and best linear fit for 1970-2015 (green line, 0.18 °C/decade). Figure 2 includes global mean warming (12-month average) in three of the last five years were above +1.2°C.

    The IPCC’s recent AR6 WG1 report indicating a global mean warming at 1.09 °C (relative to 1850-1900) is a 20-year average. A 20-year average will always be lower than the most recent few years on a rising trend.

    Following Figure 3, showing the annual growth of GHG climate forcing (red is trace gases, mainly CFCs), Hansen/Sata stated:

    None of the measured forcings can account for the global warming acceleration. The growth rate of climate forcing by well-mixed greenhouse gases (GHGs) is near the 40-year mean (Fig. 3). Solar irradiance is just beginning to rise from the recent solar minimum; it is still below the average over the last few solar cycles.

    It follows that the global warming acceleration is due to the one huge climate forcing that we have chosen not to measure: the forcing caused by imposed changes of atmospheric aerosols.

    But apparently the aerosol climate forcing isn’t being adequately measured, so we/humanity still don’t have the full climate picture. Per Hansen/Sato:

    It’s a shame that we are not measuring the aerosol climate forcing to take advantage of this vast geophysical experiment to improve our understanding. The human-made aerosol forcing is almost as large as the CO2 forcing, but it is of the opposite sign, i.e., aerosols cause cooling.

    The Hansen/Sato update ends with:

    The Faustian payment that we noted in 1990[7] and is discussed in detail elsewhere[8] is now due. Dr. Faust had to pay the debt himself. We have willed it to our children and grandchildren.

    How much worse do we want it to get?

    I think the vast majority of the media still don’t get how bad the situation is and will get – a “psychology of denial” and “the failure of the collective imagination of many bright people“.

  22. NSW has lost control of their COVID-19 Delta outbreak. There are 633 new cases. The source of infection for 475 cases is still under investigation. COVID-19 fragments are being found in sewerage water throughout much of NSW. Basically, the virus is everywhere in NSW and the ACT. They and we (the rest of Australia) are now in diabolical trouble. I expect it to be across the border into Qld within a week. Very likely it is here now. A zero daily count with Delta is no guarantee that it hasn’t already been in your state for up to two weeks. Even Victoria with a hard, early lock-down is going backwards. It’s almost the case that by the time you hear a number, any number, for your state, it’s already too late.

    If Delta isn’t the Doomsday variant, the next one is. People were warned from February 2020 that this pandemic could be extremely serious but they refused to heed the warnings. Now, we reap the results of this blindness to catastrophic possibilities.

    My citizenly advice, is lock yourself down right now if you can. Go into full lock-down before any official lock-down, if you in anyway can. Don’t go anywhere that is not totally essential. This really applies even if you are vaccinated. The nation’s situation is desperately serious.

  23. Trump was foolish to pre-announce a withdrawal date for US troops and Biden very poorly implemented the withdrawal.

    How would it be possible to keep the withdrawal date secret? Wouldn’t a leak be inevitable?

  24. Re Ikonoclast, et al, the thing so fast that even your comments are old hat.

    Today the numbers crossed not the five hundred mark, but the six hundred mark, heading for the thousand mark- and likely to stay that way for a time.

    The stresses have led to reports of cabinet in-fighting as the hard right now pursue even Bin Chicken’s (relative) moderates to end some of the saner measures involving lockdown, this for open slather and the unproven theories of herd immunity regardless of whether vax theorising and implementation has been worked through adequately enough.

    U.S. chip start-up says its work with UK’s biggest plant came to a ‘screeching halt’ after Chinese takeover PUBLISHED FRI, AUG 13 UPDATED FRI, AUG 13 2021
    “…China is putting semiconductors at the heart of its industrial strategy.”
    China mocks Australia as it cuts steel exports – August 18
    “..Data from Lange Steel showed that Australia’s steel imports from China account for 30 percent of its total steel imports, while Australia only acconts for less than 1 percent of China’s steel shipment.”

  26. As far as I know the theory is that Covid should get weaker over time until becomes just another strain of the flu. Often pandemics kill 20 – 30 % of people before that happens .Using vaccines we are hoping to bypass the death toll. I am wondering if Covid might be different . It might end up being so transmissible that it is ever present and mutating often – vaccines or not. What problems could that cause ? ,long Covid . One day might everyone just have Covid all the time ? There are thousands of bugs that have hitched a ride with us over the millenia that now live in us all the time .Some of them we depend on to be healthy .Could this open up opportunity for other bugs .This could be a permanent change in what it means to be human .Is it just that Covid is of the type of bug that normally weakens and blends in with the flu ?

  27. Evolutionary theory suggests COVID-19 is only likely to become more mild in humans in the long term and perhaps only even in the very long term. In other words, it could take anywhere from about the point at which half of all humans globally are infected and/or vaccinated until a point in time in the future measured in human generations. That is not to say it couldn’t become milder sooner. It’s only say it may be rather unlikely to become milder in the next five to ten years.

    Why does evolutionary theory suggest this? It is simply the case that there is not yet much, if any, selective pressure for the virus to become milder. There is clearly selective pressure for it to become more infectious and to be more infectious in the asymptomatic phase. All other factors being equal (and they may or may not be) such a variant would be more dangerous, infecting more people and thus, at the same serious disease and lethality percentages, making more people seriously ill or deceased.

    By a lucky fluke (for us), a very mild, highly infectious strain could arise and dominate. But there doesn’t seem to be much selective pressure in that direction from what I have read. There are simply too many people in the world who are still COVID-19 naive and un-vaccinated. There is too much evolutionary space for more infectious strains and even more lethal strains, if capable of early asymptomatic spread, to run wild through the global population of humans. COVID-19 is not going to run out of COVID-19 naive and un-vaccinated humans for a long time even if it indiscriminately kills hosts at a high rate.

    It’s really no good hoping for mythical herd immunity (pretty much doesn’t happen with rapidly mutating virises) or hoping for a short-term, long-shot mild virus to arise. Every effort, meaning vaccinations and NPIs including continued lock-downs, tracing, distancing, quarantines, isolation, masks, hand washing etc. etc. have to be continuously and relentlessly applied, The virus will not relent so neither can we. Rinse and repeat continuously into the future.

    Gee, it would have been so much easier and less costly to eradicate this at the start, would it not? But since some of us, plus most of our elites, have been far too foolish and greedy to do this, now we have to do it the hard way, the very hard way. This has become a long-term war of attrition. Are we smart enough and tough enough to see it through?

  28. The Lifeline guy said suicides were 7% down from normal in Victoria last year .Nationally calls are at a huge high at the moment ,there is less government support and faith in government now and the tone of calls is noticeably more angry .He also said much of the distress is at the realisation that Covid is here now and we will all get it soon .There is also other bad news such as climate collapse and Afghanistan adding to the distress.

  29. Gladys Berejiklian’s statements that we will have to “learn to live with” COVID-19 are the height of idiocy, irresponsibility and mixed messaging. She stated that “As the Doherty report says, once you get to 80 per cent double dose and you have to open up, everyone will have to learn to live with Delta.”

    Berejiklian is mischaracterizing and misquoting the Doherty report:

    “An expert who helped develop the modelling underpinning Australia’s four-stage plan to transition away from lockdowns says virus case numbers in NSW need to drop for the high vaccination rates outlined in the plan to be effective.” – ABC News.

    Clearly Berejiklian’s heart has never been in the battle to suppress the virus. The same goes for Morrison and his government. I strongly suspect their unconscious and possibly even secret conscious motivations have been to allow and even to facilitate the virus to spread. They see the opening up of the economy to enable profit flows to businesses and the rich as they only possible solution to the pandemic. If people have to die along the way, they just don’t care.

    Note the completely prescriptive wording without any caveats at all:

    “… once you get to 80 per cent double dose and you HAVE to open up, everyone will HAVE to learn to live with Delta.” (emphasis added).

    Actually, according to the Doherty expert we HAVE to have 80% double vaccinated AND we HAVE to have virus numbers dropped (from current levels) at that point. Without both of these conditions being met we will have an ongoing disaster from that point on. As I say, I can’t believe the rank idiocy and immorality of Berejiklian and Morrison and I believe their secret motive is to permit spread.

    Imagine if we extended this reasoning to other serious diseases. Let’s permit dengue fever, malaria, TB, Zika, Ebola, Rabies and Cholera to all rage through our society. Hell, while we are at it let’s permit bubonic plague, smallpox and polio to all stage a comeback. After all, we HAVE to live with lethal disease don’t we? Why we HAVE to do this I am not sure but according to Gladys we just “HAVE to”. So let’s be consistent. Let’s let them all back and live with all of them. (That’s sarcasm obviously.)

  30. Ikonoclast: – “Gladys Berejiklian’s statements that we will have to “learn to live with” COVID-19 are the height of idiocy, irresponsibility and mixed messaging.”

    A ScienceMag article headlined A grim warning from Israel: Vaccination blunts, but does not defeat Delta, dated Aug 16, begins with:

    “Now is a critical time,” Israeli Minister of Health Nitzan Horowitz said as the 56-year-old got a COVID-19 booster shot on 13 August, the day his country became the first nation to offer a third dose of vaccine to people as young as age 50. “We’re in a race against the pandemic.”

    His message was meant for his fellow Israelis, but it is a warning to the world. Israel has among the world’s highest levels of vaccination for COVID-19, with 78% of those 12 and older fully vaccinated, the vast majority with the Pfizer vaccine. Yet the country is now logging one of the world’s highest infection rates, with nearly 650 new cases daily per million people. More than half are in fully vaccinated people, underscoring the extraordinary transmissibility of the Delta variant and stoking concerns that the benefits of vaccination ebb over time.

    The sheer number of vaccinated Israelis means some breakthrough infections were inevitable, and the unvaccinated are still far more likely to end up in the hospital or die. But Israel’s experience is forcing the booster issue onto the radar for other nations, suggesting as it does that even the best vaccinated countries will face a Delta surge.

    Gladys would do well to learn the lessons from what is now happening in Israel.

    A stark warning from the article: Do not think that the boosters are the solution.

  31. Some good news. Tell those uppity kids your …

    “Key mental abilities can actually improve during aging

    “The components they studied are the brain networks involved in alerting, orienting, and executive inhibition. Each has different characteristics and relies on different brain areas and different neurochemicals and genes. Therefore, Ullman and Veríssimo reasoned, the networks may also show different aging patterns.

    “Alerting is characterized by a state of enhanced vigilance and preparedness in order to respond to incoming information. Orienting involves shifting brain resources to a particular location in space. Theexecutive network inhibits distracting or conflicting information, allowing us to focus on what’s important.

    “We use all three processes constantly,” Veríssimo explains. “For example, when you are driving a car,alerting is your increased preparedness when you approach an intersection. Orienting occurs when you shift your attention to an unexpected movement, such as a pedestrian. And executive function allows you to inhibit distractions such as birds or billboards so you can stay focused on driving.”

    “The study found that only alerting abilities declined with age. In contrast, both orienting and executive inhibition actually improved.

    “The researchers hypothesize that because orienting and inhibition are simply skills that allow people to selectively attend to objects, these skills can improve with lifelong practice. The gains from this practice can be large enough to outweigh the underlying neural declines, Ullman and Veríssimo suggest. In contrast, they believe that alerting declines because this basic state of vigilance and preparedness cannot improve with practice.”
    . ..

  32. More small cheer from industrial heat pumps. “A Norwegian consortium has built an industrial heat pump that can reach a temperature of up to 180 degrees Celsius. The machine can be used with different industrial processes that rely on steam as an energy carrier and can reduce a facility’s energy consumption by between 40% and 70%, as it enables the recovery of low-temperature waste heat.”.

    From Norwegians, this looks credible. A lot of industries like food processing use this sort of medium process heat. If it’s initially from gas, you could get a substantial cut in emissions directly; if from electricity, the cut depends on the grid mix. Any non-myopic business aiming to cut emissions for reasons of conscience, reputation, regulation or activist pressure will find the costs of doing so have gone down.

  33. The report Geoff Miell linked to basically clinches the case. Data out of Israel show that immunity from Pfizer vaccine (one of the best) wanes very quickly and by 6 months after the 2nd vaccination, a booster really is needed. This is devastating news. SARSCoV2 is evolving for rapid vaccine escape against even the best vaccines. AstraZeneca is not even best. It is about third best after Moderna and Pfizer and AZ even now is only providing about 66% protection against hospitalization or death against Delta variant.

    This means that what Berejiklian and Morrison are telling us right now about opening up, in an implied safe manner, at 70% or 80% vaccination rates, for 16 y.o. and over, is a set of complete lies. It won’t be safe at all. It will be nowhere near safe. Many thousands of people will die and our hospitals will be completely overwhelmed.

    We will need to vaccinate to 90% plus of persons over 5 y.o., provide boosters every six months AND do hard lock-down to eradication. That is the only possible safe course. Any other course will lead to a massive national disaster. Same as with climate change, our business leaders and politicians have no idea of the factors and forces they are failing to deal with. They will never learn. But will the people learn? That is the big question.

  34. Thanks Ikon for Honsest Gov Ads.

    1 in 44 breached hotel quarantine.

    How does Scomo get away with it!

  35. The national debate on COVID-19 and lock-downs has degenerated to the level of scientific illiteracy in quarters where we would expect something better. I notice that even the profession of epidemiology has a splinter group better termed political epidemiologists rather than epidemiologists per se. They are led by our chief political epidemiologists, Scott Morrison and Gladys Berijikilian who of course completely lack the epidemiology part of that qualification. The political epidemiologists say things like –

    (a) We have to learn to live with the virus.
    (b) We have to open up at 70% or 80% of adults vaccinated.
    (c) We need to coexist with Delta.
    (d) We can’t live in our bubble forever.

    Living with COVID-19 is a lie for many people. Many people die from COVID-19, especially but not only the obviously vulnerable people. So while neoliberals claim they care about vulnerable people, they clearly don’t. When it becomes necessary to throw people to a deadly virus to keep business as usual running, they do so without apology. Make no mistake, COVID-19 has killed a lot of people.

    The best guide to the change made to a “let-it-rip” society is to look at the chart of excess deaths for the USA in the COVID-19 pandemic period. Find the “Excess mortality P-scores” graph in this link and then use the check-boxes to view US only.

    At the Dec ’20 – Jan ’21 peak in the USA excess mortality was up just over 50%.

    Now Australia’s path was and will be different. First we seriously attempted to suppress or eradicate, or at least the Premiers did except for Gladys Berijikilian. But federally we failed to set up quarantine properly and failed to get in vaccines early enough. Now S.M. and G,B. are pushing for opening up solely on the basis of vaccination of adults to 70% and then 80%. That will still leave a huge vulnerable population including younger cohorts and children who may have preconditions in many cases not yet diagnosed. Some will simply have atypical immune systems which respond badly or fail to respond effectively to this totally new disease: a factor which should not surprise us.

    What these new plans fail to take heed of is that COVID-19 is a constantly moving target. By this I mean of course a constantly mutating target. They assume that Delta is the last word and worst of the mutations. “We need to coexist with Delta.” Actually, it is almost certain that by the time we reach 80% adults vaccinated against Delta, with imperfect efficacy as we already know, newer and worse variants will have arisen. We quite likely will not be “existing” with Delta by then. We will be existing with, or rather dying with, Delta Plus or Lambda or some other variant not yet even arisen.

    The whole story of COVID-19 now is of rapid mutation, rapid infectivity enhancement, rising serious disease in younger people, rising immune escape and rising vaccine escape. The latter is so marked that the US President, via the US Surgeon General, is recommending boosters at just 8 months after the second dose. This indicates that a horror-go-round of a disease needing multiple, repeated boosters is ahead of us. Letting cases rise by any sort of opening up strategy while we have cases is a recipe for disaster.

    Now for the realism bit. We will make the mistake of opening up and spreading the disease everywhere. Both the neoliberals, the lumpenlibertarians and the lumpenproleteaians all want this. They will get what they wish for and find out it is what the rest of us feared, a disaster. It appears Western society has given up on 150 years of public health progress and is now opting for public health regress and collapse. I guess a society that can’t see the reality of climate change certainly could never be expected to see the reality of the need for pandemic control. A society made so stupid by ideology it doesn’t know how to survive.

    I guess some of us hoped that people would eventually wise up when they saw enough evidence of what is happening. That seems a forlorn hope in this society. The general movement is towards continually doubling down on the denial of reality and science. That’s a strong terminal decline indicator. It seems pretty clear we are in terminal decline.

  36. Per a University of Sydney news article headlined Australian data answers key questions about COVID-19 mortality, dated Jun 25, key findings include:

    The study analysed age-specific data on over 800 deaths and 20,000 diagnoses in Victoria. The data were in the public domain from the Department of Health and Human Services of the Victoria state government.

    Overall population-wide risk of death after the diagnosis of a COVID-19 infection was 4 percent
    However, this overall mortality risk hides wide disparities in age groups:

    COVID-19 mortality risk was 40 percent for the elderly (90+), which was 10 times the population-wide risk

    32 percent COVID-19 mortality risk for people in their 80s
    14 percent COVID-19 mortality risk for people in their 70s
    3 percent COVID-19 mortality risk for people in their 60s
    Less than 1 percent COVID-19 mortality risk for people in their 50s or younger.

    But the ‘game’ has now changed with the so-called ‘delta’ variant. Per The Conversation piece headlined Younger adults can get very sick and die from COVID too. Here’s what the data tell us, it concludes:

    The take home message, though, is that nobody is safe from COVID-19. Serious infection, and even death, can occur at any age; we can’t predict this.

    Until we’ve vaccinated enough people in Australia we will need to take care and follow the public health advice, such as social distancing and wearing a mask. This is just as important if you’re 20 as it is if you’re 80.

  37. The modern contract with government requires that it maintains order in the public square but suffering that happens out of public view is not their business. This is one reason that the public will tolerate the proliferation of anti democratic terror laws and practice even when there is the prospect of only a handful of victims. It is also why government can ignore domestic violence or the damage done by high sugar foods – far bigger problems .Government desperately wants to convert Covid from the former to the latter kind of problem. No one wants to live in a society where the health system is overrun but vaccination may allow us to live with Covid.

    Also anti terror fits the Conservative politics of fear where Covid only makes problems for their ideology because the society they have made in their image cannot cope with pandemics at all.

    Imagine if the government said ‘Keeping terrorists out is bad for business so we will give up , there will be open borders and no more security checks ,surveillance, or controls on weapons or bomb making materials etc. This means that sooner or later somewhere like the MCG is sure to get blown up and 100,000 people will die . But its the only choice – we have to live with this ‘.

    Surely the cost to our health system and lockdowns would be less than just building proper quarantine facilities .I fear lockdown fatigue might foil our effort to eliminate Delta again here in Victoria, Whats the point if it will just keep coming across the river from nsw ? .If we could get from over 700 to zero last year we can get from 65 to zero now .Delta is not 10 times more contagious.

    As I write parliament is on the radio. A bill is being discussed – ‘the declared areas bill’ .Alarming language abounds but ‘the terror threat is elevated’ and the current ‘threat environment’ must be constantly attended to. ‘ it is critical that these powers not be allowed to sunset as ‘our way of life is under threat’ .Rest assured that these measures are only used when ‘absolutely necessary’ and there are many checks and balances constantly in use. When savages threaten our innocent women and children there is nothing the government wont do to protect us.

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