A new sandpit for long side discussions, conspiracy theories, idees fixes and so on.

To be clear, the sandpit is for regular commenters to pursue points that distract from regular discussion, including conspiracy-theoretic takes on the issues at hand. It’s not meant as a forum for visiting conspiracy theorists, or trolls posing as such.

34 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. When various experts state that Omicron seems milder than Delta, they are most likely talking in terms of relative risk of hospitalisation, or ICU, or death. Relative risk is presumably after adjusting for the population of active Omicron cases (i.e. active Omicron cases as the denominator, hospitalisation/ICU/fatality (one of them) in the numerator, to give a fraction of active cases that go on to be hospitalised), and similarly for the active Delta cases. If we look at the Delta variant’s behaviour, it was very infectious, and it invaded multiple organs of the body, as well as the central nervous system, and last but no least, got deep into the lungs and caused major respiratory distress. These are the reasons for it having a relatively high hospitalisation rate. Because of the way Omicron seems to be preferentially invading the upper bronchi and not deep into the lungs, the respiratory aspect of an Omicron infection is probably less severe, all other things being equal, than a Delta infection. This might explain why we seem to have a lower hospitalisation rate for Omicron, as a percentage of active Omicron cases, than what we saw with Delta. And, Omicron seems quite a bit more infectious.

    All of this means that it is still possible for much higher raw numbers of hospitalisation from Omicron, despite it having—perhaps—a lower relative risk of hospitalisation. From a systems perspective, it is the raw number that matters in determining when the catastrophic system failure is imminent.

    As for the notion that Omicron is just compressing the time in which the total number of fatalities caused happen, it is by no means as simple as that, for several reasons. From the point of view of myself, if I catch any form of covid and die, then I lose perhaps another 30 to 40 years of life; I hardly think that I wish to have my life compressed by such an amount! Less flippantly, by causing so many of these deaths in a smaller window of time, we also cause collateral death, i.e. death from other causes, due to the system-level stress that covid has placed upon the health system, bumping other people out of care. As for people with disabilities, if they don’t get covid, they could live a long and enjoyable life. Again, that compression of death is not linear, for the system-level stress acts as a new factor that can cause incidental death. It’s cavalier to talk of simply compressing the total death into a smaller window, because of this extra factor.

    Finally, all the variants are essentially the same virus, in the physical sense of its size and shape; therefore, if an N95 mask was really effective in cutting the spread of Delta, it should also be quite effective against Omicron. It won’t be identical, because once some of the virions make it into your airways, how they behave will reflect which variant you just breathed in. Still, a good mask is good risk reducing device, fairly cheap and only a little annoying to wear. If we had chosen to use good masks, gear up contact tracing, built and used fit-for-purpose quarantine, crank up the quality of ventilation of buildings—especially schools and day care, gyms, etc.—and done a few simple things like that, the Omicron surge would have been slower, and our vaccination program would have gotten further along, again decreasing the risk of hospitalisation from Omicron. By allowing such a massive surge to develop, we have lost that window of time for vaccinating the kids, and for booster doses to the AZ double-dosed generally older people. Again, this is another reason that the surge doesn’t *merely* compress the time in which the total death occurs, for it is actually increasing the likelihood of death from Omicron, as well as decreasing the time before infection occurs. All up, the let ‘er rip action is preposterous and immoral, given that it wasn’t an either/or alternative between it and brutal lockdowns; that’s a false dichotomy.

  2. Am I alone in thinking that this country is being run from the results of real time focus groups? Is Hawke delaying his decision until he gets the word from Crosby Textor?

  3. ‘Worse than a lockdown’: How the Omicron outbreak is smashing NSW”

    “NSW has few COVID-19 restrictions, but Omicron outbreak has sparked a de facto ‘lockdown'”
    By Cecilia Connell and Kevin Nguyen, ABC.

    If this wasn’t so serious I would be enjoying massive amounts schadenfreude and slinging many snarky “I-told-so” jibes at the rank idiots in charge of the NSW and Australian governments. Queensland’s government is no better now. Absolute idiots all of them!

  4. Yeah, Ikon, I read that headline too. While I can’t speak for Sydney, in my CBD area it is dead as a door-knocker. Like, a few people go to the pub, but nothing like the usual numbers; and, a number of businesses that would have capitalised on January, they have just closed up—including the local 24/7 convenience store! This is bloody serious stuff. And so predictable, as in fact it was predicted.

  5. Don,

    Yep, big business and small business lobbies all called for “opening up”. Now, they have got what they wished for. They were warned this would happen. They paid no attention. What I don’t understand is that business people who clearly know how compound interest works on a loan or investment don’t realize how a compounding growth rate works when it is a pandemic affecting humans. It’s a remarkable blind spot when one thinks about it. One would almost be tempted to conclude that business does not care about humans.

  6. Ikonoclast, Harry C & Ernestine, JQ and all, 

    Graeme Innes, ex Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner said yesterday;
    “… the third failure in my view particularly when vulnerable and low income people in Australia are dying at the rate of FOUR to ONE at the moment from Covid … “. my emphasis (^1)

    Ikon, last week you were challenged by HC & EG to tone down the very negative and accusatory assessent of politicians who manage the pandemic. You did so with your formal reclassification which to my mind was succinct and basically accurate. And yesterday you ameliorated your Godwin’s Law transgression, last paragraph….

    This blog – thanks JQ – is mild regarding extreme views and I do not believe Ikon is always extreme, just hyper precautionary and bordering on catastrophising regarding climate change,  neoliberalism and dopey macavellian politicians. I’m sympathetic to your view Ikon, yet lean toward JQ’s eminently sensible policy suggestions.

    Fir me to illustrate via an analogy, imagine we are sailing behind a reef, and in constant and imminent danger of sinking by stiking a ‘bomby’ (big hard coral head) at night, in fog with no sonar or radio (Scary! & I have) , I would have Ikon as the lookout, not Harry Clarke, Ernestine, me nor JQ. I’d ask Harry & Ernestine’s rapid opinion of Ikon yelling “Rocks at 12 o’clock’ and refer to JQ as captain for final decision as to tack port or starboard or stop.

    Yesterday Harry you came down in Ikon in no uncertain terms when he yelled ‘rocks’. And finished with a voyeristic flourish. Close to breacching Godwin’s Law as well imo, watching the train wreck but not intervening. You also said Harry:
    January 12, 2022 at 11:57 am on MMB-539…
    “My question is who exactly does Ikonoclast believe the population should kill. Is it all our democratically-elected leaders, all the business leaders…. or exactly who?” (No one – Benfords Law). Not so useful Harry.

    Ikon was writing in response to another writer at Naked Capitalism saying;
     “2. The ruling class of your country does not want to do what has to be done. In which case that ruling class is guilty of premeditated mass murder on a scale never seen since WWII.”

    And Ikon said;
    “…  But a few “Dr. Mengele” like personalities (there are a few sociopaths in every profession) have become willing enablers and front-persons for the ruling class for this descent into biological class warfare.”

    I do not endorse Ikon’s invokation of Dr Mengele yet I did not react to it, and I DO endorse his last phrase “… for the ruling class for this descent into biological class warfare.”

    Yet I have no chance of proving “descent into biological class warfare.”. I wish I did. Have you Ikon, HC or EG – anyone – ever seen, heard or know of any government convicted of bioligical class warfare recently? How was or is class warfare “proved”? I feel it and see it everyday yet am umable to grasp or prove class warfare. Any assistance appreciated. 

    ^1. Serendipity intervened to assert class warfare last night. It flashed across my TV screen so I stopped to watch The Drum as the great (imo) Graeme Innes, ex Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner, said;
    “… the third failure in my view particularly when vulnerable and low income people in Australia are dying at the rate of FOUR to ONE at the moment from Covid is the fact that these tests [RAT]  aren’t available free on Medicare so we’ve let the marketplace sell them and that is a fail as well, a failure in availability and supply a fail in pricing and yeah planning for this could have been done far far better than it has been. “.
    Time: 8:23 to  10:14
    [care to comment Graeme Innes?]

    I have asserted class warfare. JQ has suggested similar. Ikon stated it with the conversation killer Dr Mengele in response to Naked Capitalism’s;
     “2. … is guilty of premeditated mass murder on a scale never seen since WWII.” and many here subscribe to such a view without being able to “prove it” and being afraid to say it in such strong terms.

    I suggest we focus our efforts on proving class warfare, instead of taking umbrage at Ikonoclast’s response to a clear statement of premeditated mass murder. Think America and you will get it. 

    Australia is way behind America in class warfare but not by an order of magnitude. We DO follow America into actual warfare. Is it is such a stretch to see we also have huge class disparities and closely follow USA?

    Again, this blog, JQ’s writings and any decent human needs to be proving and ameliorating class warfare imo. 

    So my plea is in response to this brouhaha is to get JQ to have a thread where class warfare via pandemic response is fleshed out with vefifiable data and facts, as well as legal and debate winning rhetoric devices. This would bolster JQ in making a submission at some point in a future for the inevitable Royal Commission into The Pandemic Response, providing a solid set of policy recommendations to end class warfare. 

    Not ad hom questioning of Ikon’s negative rhetoric in response to damning fact freel assertions such as Naked Capitalism’s #2 above.

    So Ikonoclast, Harry, Ernestine, JQ – anyone – where DO I find ADMISSABLE FACT in relation to Class Warfare please. Minus anything which falls foul of Godwin’s Law (Ikon!).

    And in the process perhaps prove up the case for female equality too. It  all goes hand in hand. Providing arguments for the future, not some past perceived time such as JQ’s hypothecation of ‘better times’. You may be ‘economically correct’ for the present cycle of government  re hypothecation JQ, yet I liked Ali in the future, not a golden era Bob Menzie’s-esque post wwii past.

    Not do I want another world war to make us realise we need to be fair and reasonable. It would be the last war.

    Einstein said: “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted in important affairs.”

    And ” I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

    Thanks all as always.

  7. I will endeavor to stay cooler. I do get overheated. Yet, we must bear in mind that the force required to change things, and it may simply be moral suasion force, will by generated by logic (and/or rhetoric) multiplied by actuating passion. If the passion is zero, the product is zero. The population will remain passive victims.

    This quote elegantly sums up the central issues.

    “Pandemic ending sooner due to an intrinsically more aggressive and infectious pathogen? No, it becomes more tenacious, evolving and reentrant. Your immunity will be overexuberant and then sag.” – Anthony J Leonardi, PhD, MS.

    It’s really worth unpacking this. Leonardi is saying that deliberately spreading a pandemic pathogen, to a huge population, simply facilitates its evolution to more aggressive and infectious variants. It becomes more tenacious (harder to root out of all human and indeed possibly animal reservoirs), more evolving (total mutations equal average mutation rate per infection times infections) and more reentrant (as new variants arise with some or other fitness advantage and reenter the population to create new pandemic waves).

    People’s immune systems will be over-taxed by recurrent infections and recurrent vaccinations. In some at least, the immune system will become overexuberant which means (I think) more prone to over-inflammatory responses and possibly even to auto-immune disease. I am least confident about this interpretation of terms in the quote. “Sag” seems fairly self-explanatory. A continually over-taxed immune system will “sag” as in “lose effective energy and action”.

    This sounds like a “perfect storm” of bad outcomes. It certainly leads me to predict more disastrous outcomes for humans given the “super-pandemic” spread of Omicron and the dangers likely lie in wait for us after this wave.

  8. KT2, I just think it is nutty to suggest that the pandemic is a product of class warfare in “neo-capitalist” societies and that the ruling class are sacrificing the population for their selfish interests. Absolutely, unconditionally nutty. To claim that we therefore have the right to kill those who seek to kill us takes the nuttiness to another dimension – it is not just nutty but pure evil.

    There main thing we have come to know about Covid-19 is that it is unpredictable. It’s easy to have perfect hindsight and to identify as criminal saboteurs those who didn’t take policy actions that we now recognise as desirable. The shortage of RATs tests and earlier of masks and vaccines were all criticised from the viewpoint of ex post wisdom from those who seek to use any platform to attack the government. The crioticism is boring after a while. We now have plenty of masks and vaccines and, in a few weeks, there will be an abundance of RATs tests as entrepreneurs pursue profitable trades.

    The dramatic positive things that have developed very quickly are vaccines that protect almost everyone from serious illness and improved methods of treatment for those in hospitals. A triumph of capitalist innovation ion the face of an unavoidable pandemic.

    Nearly 1.4 million Australians have had the virus and there are a million active cases (maybe 5X that if you believe the author I cite below). To talk about reinstating shut-down restrictions is nonsense. The cat is out of the bag. That is where we are. Making a virtue of necessity we have no alternative but to “live with the virus”. The way forward is to “live with the virus” well – masks, social distancing etc This is not a policy choice but a fact.

    I’d like to bold this last sentence since so much stems from it. Who really gives a stuff about policy regret when this seems to rely on the impossible option of reversing past history?

    My feeling is that the peak of infections will be reached soon, the hospital system will survive intact and further medical advances will help us deal with Omicron (and the next six variants that arise). People will die for sure – we are in the midst of a dangerous pandemic- but most will survive and those vaccinated will generally experience only mild illnesses. The following article explores these themes:

  9. Harry Clarke,

    Let’s wait and see what happens. I predicted this disaster (the Omicron one) if we opened up. So did a lot of others of course. I predict our hospitals will be overwhelmed in this Omicron wave. I’m open to suggestions for a definition of “overwhelmed” in this context. I can’t settle on a metric yet. I also predict a further wave before the end of this year, in Australia, that is worse than the Omicron wave by death count. If I am wrong on either prediction, I will disappear at that point for ever from this blog as soon as I am proven wrong. We just need an agreed objective definition of “overwhelmed” in this context for part a of the “bet”. I will see what I can some up with. Your suggestions are welcome too.

    This is your chance to rid me from commentary here by setting a high objective bar against my “winning” this “bet”. You need stake nothing nor make any undertakings. I’m not super confident of winning but I am confident that if I lose I will want to disappear and hide under a rock anyway.

    Cheers, and may the best predictor win.

  10. Iko, Why would I gamble against your guess? The prize for me would not be you withdrawing from this blog but in you explaining your arguments. So far all I have seen is unfounded pessimism and illogic.

  11. Harry,

    I’ve tried to explain. I will try again, once more.

    Deliberately spreading a dangerous pandemic pathogen of an RNA based mutagenic nature to a large population simply facilitates its evolution to more aggressive and infectious variants. The virus, specifically its most recently evolved variants of concern, becomes more tenacious meaning harder to root out of all human and possibly animal reservoirs, more mutated (total mutations equal average mutation rate per infection times infections) and more reentrant as new variants arise with a new fitness advantage and reenter other populations to create new pandemic waves.

    Also, people’s immune systems will be over-taxed over time by recurrent infections and recurrent vaccinations. In some persons at least, the immune system will become “overexuberant” and thus likely more prone to over-inflammatory responses possibly even causing more auto-immune disease. In time, a continually over-taxed immune system will “sag” as its loses effective strength and response.

    The further issues you appear to be unaware of are;

    (1) Herd immunity is a myth for this pathogen – Permanent herd immunity is not possible for a rapidly evolving pathogen like an RNA virus utilizing the bronchial infection route, especially when the pathogen needs no lymph or blood life-cycle stage to re-infect. This COVID-19 virus produces major new variants of concern much faster than does influenza. Currently it produces at least two VOCs a year and this is likely to accelerate.

    (2) Vaccine immunity and natural immunity are myths for this pathogen – Nothing like full immunity is conferred, only resistance. Continuing vaccine escape and natural immunity escape mean people can be infected over and over again by new more aggressive and infectious variants. With the advent of Omicron, control of infection and re-infection by vaccination (under robust challenge) is very low, likely to control infection/reinfection in less than 25% of the vaccinated from what I can see anecdotally.

    (3) The vaccines are already failing for infection control and are rapidly becoming less effective for control of serious outcomes. New boosters reconfigured for new variants will assist but currently variants of concern are evolving faster and spreading faster than we can produce reconfigured boosters. We have not yet soon one booster reconfigured for a VOC. The virus is winning the “vaccine race” when it comes to vaccine escape.

    (4) The vaccines on their own are not a silver bullet. They need to be backed by test, trace, isolate, quarantine, targeted lock-downs and NPIs (non pharmaceutical interventions).

    (5) Suppression with the above measures leads to less shut-downs in the long run and less shuttering of the economy overall. It also leads to less avoidable morbidity and mortality. Countries which suppressed the virus did better economically while they did so. They also had better health outcomes. Why you would not want this double win I do not know.

    From personal observation and experience and also from news clips, Queensland is now in a worse health and economic condition than when it had suppressed the virus. This is just like the other states. There is also no certain promised land on the other side of this wave while the disease remains “endemically pandemic”. In all likelihood equal and even worse waves lie ahead of us after this wave. So far your position is just one of blind optimism, market fundamentalist dogma, illogic, ignorance of the basic virological and epidemiological parameters and denial of the evidence that suppression has already led to superior combined health and economic results wherever it was used.

  12. Iko: – “Also, people’s immune systems will be over-taxed over time by recurrent infections and recurrent vaccinations.

    There’s a TV documentary series titled A Short History of Living Longer, with Episode 1 broadcast on SBS last Thursday (Jan 6) and Episode 2 broadcast tonight (Jan 13). Tonight’s episode mentioned “Weathering”.

    A quick search on the topic yielded an article dated 26 Feb 2021, headlined ‘Weathering’: What are the health effects of stress and discrimination?, that includes:

    The wear and tear of the body’s adaptive mechanisms cumulates over a long period of time. In other words, it has very real and quantifiable physiological effects.

    Firstly, in response to stress, the human body releases substances that, when in excessive amounts, can harm health. These substances include hormones and neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine, epinephrine, and cortisol.

    Secondly, repeated releases of these substances in high amounts over time may lead to secondary physiological effects, including high systolic and diastolic blood pressures, high cholesterol levels, high glycated hemoglobin levels, and increased waist-to-hip ratio.

    I’d suggest many people could be experiencing repeated raised stress levels induced by:
    * recurring infections to self and/or worries about recurring infections of family members/friends;
    * recurring sicknesses in workplaces and educational institutions, destabilising/disrupting operations leading to increasing uncertainties about longer-term employment and/or educational prospects;
    * employment/educational/financial uncertainties.

  13. The dangers I refer to, immune-mediated or autoimmune diseases, are real dangers with this COVID-19 pandemic. The issue goes even beyond disease and vaccination as general stressors, though general stressors and “weathering” are real too, as per Geoff Miell’s post above.

    All of this goes to the heart of the issue that suppression and if possible eradication of a dangerous new pathogen with unknown potentials was a policy which dominated all other policies. I say “was” sadly because it seems that that possibility has now been thrown away for all countries except perhaps China and Cuba.

    There is a letter to the editor on NCBI-PMC:

    “Do COVID-19 RNA-based vaccines put at risk of immune-mediated diseases? In reply to “potential antigenic cross-reactivity between SARS-CoV-2 and human tissue with a possible link to an increase in autoimmune diseases”” – Rossella Talotta

    Here is the first paragraph:

    “I read with great interest the article by Vojdani et al. [1], concerning the hypothesis of a molecular mimicry mechanism between the nucleoprotein/spike protein of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and self-antigens. Viruses are notoriously involved in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases [2], and the authors reasonably conclude that such a cross-reactivity might lead to the development of immune-mediated disorders in CoronaVirus Disease-19 (COVID-19) patients in the long term. The authors also suggest that a similar scenario might take place following COVID-19 vaccination.”

    The second paragraph starts:

    “Vaccine-associated autoimmunity is a well-known phenomenon attributed to either the cross-reactivity between antigens or the effect of adjuvant [3]. When coming to COVID-19 vaccine, this matter is further complicated by the nucleic acid formulation and the accelerated development process imposed by the emergency pandemic situation [4].”

    The letter ends:

    “Given the current state of the art, my view is that individuals with a dysfunctional immune response should receive the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine only if the benefits of this approach clearly outweigh any risks and after a careful evaluation case by case.”

    – – –

    None of this advocates or supports a position of anti-vaxxerism. But what it does do is lay a basis for a critique of policies of let the virus rip, accelerate vaccine development and implement vaccinations rapidly en masse. Of course, once you let the virus rip, the next stages are forced upon you and indeed forced upon the populace.

    In a society which glibly proclaims it “celebrates difference”, a mantra of identity politics turned into an advertising jingle by marketing, it is notable that immune system different people are steam-rollered by the en masse vaccination project. People with existing pre-conditions who needed individualized assessment and individualized vaccine protocols did not in the main receive them.

    A further point is that techno-solutions are now promoted over political-economy and social solutions. Paradoxically, without COVID-19 vaccines, Australians were medically safer WHILE and IF strict border controls, quarantine, test, trace and isolate were maintained. How do we know they were safer? There was less morbidity and death than now with the virus rampant and the vaccines widespread. It is simple really:

    (a) no virus around – safest position.
    (b) virus and vaccines – 2nd safest position.
    (c) virus and no vaccines – 3rd safest and actually very unsafe position.

    The claim that suppression was impossible was and is absurd. But that is another argument now as suppression was abandoned or rather never undertaken by the USA, EU and UK as prime notables in the case.

    So, by deliberate policies (which did systemically grow out from the characteristics of capitalism) we have chosen option (b) above for us in the West and option (c) for the third world. Option (c) was chosen for the third world by enforcing vaccine patents and denying vaccine aid on any scale that would make a difference. But in making the third world unsafe we have made ourselves far less safe. The third world/second world is now a giant COVID-19 mutation (manu)factory, very much against the wills and wishes of its inhabitants. Delta came from India and Omicron from South Africa. Oh and Beta (I think it was, I am losing track) came from that other notable second world country, the UK! That’s a joke but not far from the truth any more.

    These great COVID-19 manufactories of the third and second world, which we caused by our policies, will continue to export the latest COVID-19 VOCs direct to us while we remain fully open and we will be entrapped in an escalating vaccine arms race against the virus. I predict much worse to come both in this Omicron wave and in future waves.

    The term “democide” really does have content and meaning in my opinion.

    “Democide is a concept proposed by American political scientist Rudolph Rummel to describe “the intentional killing of an unarmed or disarmed person by government agents acting in their authoritative capacity and pursuant to government policy or high command.”[1][2] According to Rummel, this definition covers a wide range of deaths, including forced labor and concentration camp victims, killings by mercenaries and unofficial private groups, extrajudicial summary killings, and mass deaths due to governmental acts of criminal omission and neglect, such as in deliberate famines, as well as killings by de facto governments, i.e. civil war killings.”

    Note “government acts of omission and neglect”. That could be extended to corporate acts of omission and neglect. The global capitalist response to COVID-19 has been characterized by clear acts of democide via greed, omission and neglect. If people want to start throwing around the word “evil” they would need to attach it to that too. I do support the thorough and revolutionary change of our capitalist system to a system of socialism and democracy. I don’t support violent revolution. I do fear violent breakdowns of our society and global societies and global peace in general if inequality grows much worse. These inequalities are generated and ever ratcheted up by market fundamentalist capitalism. We are near the asymptotes of inequality. That’s a dangerous zone with all sorts of possible breakdowns of order and equilibrium into chaos.

  14. “Harry Clarke says:
    January 13, 2022 at 3:51 pm
    “KT2, I just think it is nutty to suggest that the pandemic is a product of class warfare in “neo-capitalist” societies and that the ruling class are sacrificing the population for their selfish interests. Absolutely, unconditionally nutty. To claim that we therefore have the right to kill those who seek to kill us takes the nuttiness to another dimension – it is not just nutty but pure evil.”

    Harry, I don’t think I said what yiur paragraph above implies. I do not believe Covid is it a result of capitalism. Population pressures maybe.

    I have made NO claims about killing anyone. Ever. Please confirm by return please as your comment is ambiguous.

    But I do believe adherence to Lesson 1 is making The Covid Pandemic worse.

    Clarification please Harry.

  15. Worthwhile read again from Naked Capitalism. Yes, lots of accusations, and much information. 

    Noise defines effective use of air Filtration, much different to studied HEPA filtration. (See Zamfir below re filtration & Ikea).

    And where is my UVC inline disinfectant? For schools, health, and high risk indoor settings. What chance of our federal government applying National Filtratiin Standards?

    And damning re Omicron being “less severe”. One commenter, Tom Stone  at 11:11 am said…
    “I had to stop reading this and take a short walk to get control of my anger.
    I have lived with the long term damage caused by Western Equine Encephalitis for 60 years and it has affected every aspect of my life.
    The damage from long Covid is much worse and we are condemning many Millions of Americans to vastly diminished and frequently shortened lives because Markets….”…

    If this is / were the case for Long Covid, healthcare and personal costs will outweigh anything written or modelled to date imo.

    January 13, 2022 at 10:29 am

    “Somewhat of a tangent, but its personal bugbear. Try not to use “HEPA filter” as a synonym of “good particle filter”. HEPA is a fairly demanding level of filtering, and for most COVID-related situations it is not so useful.

    “For example, for an air circulation system it doesn’t matter if the cleaned flow is 95% cleaned or 99.9% – it will mix with uncleaned air again before you can breath the 99.9% cleaned flow. An 80% filtration rate might even be better: if such a system system circulates 30% more air than a HEPA system would, it creates a better atmosphere “…

    We were able to plan for this. But we didn’t. 

    The smartest hired gun consulting ‘engineers engineers’ I ever worked for, would simply have a monster sliding timeline Gantt chart with EVERY scenario already modelled with math and systems, including upto 50% workforce shortages. And redoing everything as soon as evidence became available. They ran multi billion $ projects successfully. And with comensurate compensation. Cheaper than Scomo & Gen Frewin.

    They would be able to react within 24-72hrs to any change in circumstance. General Frewin, why have you not produced such?

  16. Over here, public adminstration offices already have or are getting good air filtration pretty much everywhere. The type where people with tenure work two in an office, doing work they can and should do from home anyway. Not getting air filtraton are: – Meating spots for the disabled (yes, seriously) – pretty much all schools in poorer regions as well as at least half the schools in richer regions.

  17. No, Harry, it wasn’t a matter of hindsight, for plenty of researchers had made these points ahead of time. And, am I really meant to believe that economists were not capable of understanding the economic consequences of certain public health measures (or lack thereof)?
    That doodles my noggin.

  18. KT2, re your first post, I wrote in response to Ikonoclast’s post that IMO one of his sentences is “a bit over the top”. Ikon didn’t mind, I recall. Harry agreed with this comment but wrote more. I recall that I wrote in response to Harry’s opinion of the said post by Ikon something to the effect that he is at risk of doing the same to Ikon as he is accusing him and I asked for his opinion on the economic content of my post. Nothing followed. To be frank, I don’t remember the sentence that caused my initial comment to Ikon. Ikonoclast, being skilled with words as we know then rewrote his post and asked: Everybody happy now? Surely this is a very civilised outcome, IMO.

    As for your question of ‘admissible evidence’ to establish “class warfare” I can’t assist. The phrase ‘admissible evidence’ is a phrase I associate with lawyers. I am not a lawyer. As for “class warfare”, I suppose with some effort I could write an essay covering topic such as slogans in political reporting or party politics, search for what sociologists have to say, dip into the European History of kings, queens and the nobility. And who knows, I might think of other angles. It wouldn’t answer your question. And I don’t like writing essays.

  19. E.G. , KT2,

    I didn’t mind. One of my sentences was a bit over the top as I tried to make a rhetorical point. I clarified it. As to the class warfare issue, an American billionaire has said:

    “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” – Warren Buffett.

    Buffett was honest enough to call it. As usual, I find Wikipedia plenty good enough as reference for a blog:


    “Class conflict, also referred to as class struggle and class warfare, is the political tension and economic antagonism that exists in society consequent to socio-economic competition among the social classes or between rich and poor.

    The forms of class conflict include direct violence such as wars for resources and cheap labor, assassinations or revolution; indirect violence such as deaths from poverty and starvation, illness and unsafe working conditions; and economic coercion such as the threat of unemployment or the withdrawal of investment capital; or ideologically, by way of political literature. Additionally, political forms of class warfare include: legal and illegal lobbying, and bribery of legislators.

    The social-class conflict can be direct, as in a dispute between labour and management such as an employer’s industrial lockout of their employees in effort to weaken the bargaining power of the corresponding trade union; or indirect such as a workers’ slowdown of production in protest of unfair labor practices like low wages and poor workplace conditions.

    In the political and economic philosophies of Karl Marx and Mikhail Bakunin, class struggle is a central tenet and a practical means for effecting radical social and political changes for the social majority.” – Wikipedia.


    The issue of indirect violence and indirect oppression is important: “indirect violence such as deaths from poverty and starvation, illness and unsafe working conditions; and economic coercion such as the threat of unemployment or the withdrawal of investment capital”. It also includes such things as child labor, wage theft, underpayment, insecure employment, lower wages for women etc. etc.

    The final issue I think is one analogous to self-defence. If all reform attempts are ineffective and especially if the oppression and exploitation is worsening, where is the point where the oppressed are justified in rising up against the exploitation and oppression? Rising up is simply a case of saying, “No. We are not going to play by your rules anymore. We are going to remake the rules, if we can.”

    We know inequality is rising. There are limits. Once inequality gets too great, people can’t live tolerably or at all. They do actually die at greater rates under serious inequality. It is measurable. Then, it is simply a question of where the call for rebellion or revolution is justifiable and finally where it is possible to change things by direct action when all debate and political processes fail. “Direct action” is also a term worth looking up on Wikipedia.

  20. I am having a bit of an intellectual crisis these days. I ask myself “Why endeavor to understand anything, in this society?”. Even if I come to understand a few more things, it can have no equanimity benefit to me and no practical benefit to society. I cannot apply my understanding (such as it is) anywhere and economic fundamentalist society itself seems determined to ignore science and logic. I find these very depressing times to live in. It’s a new age of ignorance IMO, an Age of Agnosis or Endarkenment as it is sometimes called. Don’t worry about me personally. I am fine in health, familial and financial terms. But in terms of where our “civilizational experiment” is going… perhaps it is best for me to say no more.

  21. The trick of standing calmly balanced in the middle of all this, to see it all and not be caught by what is seen, to be moved without moving, to move without being moved from a place of inner calm… I think it’s an acquired skill.

    Before the practical comes the thought and words and before those the line of earlier instances that lead to them. Cause and effect, effect and cause… Any amount of time may pass before thoughts and words are articulated in some way or other in changed practice. The world has succumbed, for one, to the dopey Hollywood comic super hero assembly line of racy plotline empowered change agents precisely because, as you’d know too well, the world doesn’t ever in practice work in similar ways. Aiming to objectively understand and then communicate are the geese that in time may lay golden eggs within the status quo disequilibrium.

  22. Every profession is a conspiracy against the public. This idea is usually attributed to G.B. Shaw as in, “All professions are conspiracies against the laity.” We can extend this and say every corporation is a conspiracy against the public, against democracy and against knowledge. Corporations and all large businesses act against the public’s best interests, subvert and buy politicians with lobbying and donations and finally obstruct knowledge, spread falsehoods and generate FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt).

    Anyone who doubts these propositions need only look at Phillip Morris (tobacco), Ford and GM (see Ralph Nader) and Perdue Pharma (the opioid crisis) to name just three. Perdue’s case is interesting and fairly recent. See “Dopesick”, the hard-hitting and disturbing dramatization of this crisis. What stands out about the Perdue case was the manufacture of faked research, the false claims of non-addictiveness of Oxycontin. the development of new and specious concepts like “breakthrough pain” = increase the dose), the promotion of these new and specious concepts throughout academia and the medical profession and the use of salesperson-influencers coming with gifts and conventions to inveigle doctors into prescribing more and more opiods for minor and moderate pain.

    The progression of the COVID-19 pandemic and our societal responses to it show all the hallmarks of corporate influence to prevent useful non-pharmaceutical interventions occurring and to “open up” no matter what the situation on the ground. Australia opened up at the worst time, when Omicron was known to be highly contagious and was clearly exploding in the UK, Denmark and other countries.

    A statement by Australian peak business bodies that we had “to open up” was followed shortly by the complete collapse of measures against COVID-19 (other than vaccination) including the virtual sabotage of all containment efforts by the NSW and Federal Governments. This in turn was followed by the astonishingly rapid collapse of efforts of the Victorian and Queensland Governments to the “open up and let it rip” agenda. One wonders what pressures were applied behind the scenes. I would guess threats to stop corporate donations to the Labor Party and Federal threats to cut funding to recalcitrant states.

    There has also been an astonishing disinformation and sabotage campaign against TTIQ (test, trace, isolate, quarantine) plus the enablement of protests against same. One suspects some of these groups are front-groups funded or created at some level by rich and corporate players at least in the USA, if not in Australia, especially as related to on-line presence and propaganda. Corporates clearly lobbied for opening up. To believe that they have not resorted to their typical and long-established tactics to push opening up would be naive in the extreme.

    A lot of false narratives, which fly in the face of virology and epidemiological science, have been concocted since the beginning of this pandemic. To think that politicians and public servants themselves came up with all these slogans from “herd immunity” (false for the class of coronaviruses) to “omicron is mild” is to again underestimate the power of corporate think tanks and their propaganda/advertising/influence arms. Again, I suspect these myths and talking points have been fed to the politicians and the public servants by the corporations. Take the Qld CHO’s comments, essentially that COVID-19 “had” to be spread, that it was “necessary” and the only way to immunity other than vaccinations. But complete immunity does not exist and thus suppression is the better path. The CHO’s comments and especially the use of the word “inevitable” are, like all of the sabotage actions, straight out of the neoliberal playbook. Public medicine efforts at control were sabotaged to make the spread inevitable. It wasn’t intrinsically inevitable.

    We have to ask why the coporates wanted the virus spread everywhere? Was it just shortsightedness in thinking that there would be one more wave and then it would all be over? That the vaccines alone were enough? Or is there a deeper, more malicious and malevolent agenda? To think that coporations or their owners or managers are not malicious or a least totally callous and self-interested defies the facts of history. We can see historically the premeditated, callous, sabotaging and destructive actions of the corporations/corporate actors, as I mentioned above.

    There is a kind of deep conspiracy to all this. But in total it is emergent rather than a complete, omniscient plan at the outset. I will write about this concept of emergent conspiracy-like outcomes some time soon. The corporate capitalist system generates these kind of emergent conspiracy-like outcomes structurally and systemically. It’s what this system does and will continue to do so long as it exists.

    To finish on this note, people who decry big government, in a social democratic context, are saying they would rather have corporations rule over them and determine public policy and the very parameters of their existence. It’s a genuflection to corporate rule, even to nascent corporate dictatorship.

  23. Strategically how might we go about replacing this corporate set up with something less psychopathic ikonoclast?

  24. Why I ask this is that from listening to lectures on people like Toynbee and Carroll Quigley it looks like we can’t expect to reform any of these institutions. But rather we need to accept a new dark ages, or have a suite of alternative modes that grow out of the defunct system. Much like a new forest grows on the dead trees of the old.

  25. Willem Pasterkamp,

    I would say the first requirement is to understand what is happening as best we can. I might define “bounded rationality” a little differently from those working academically on behavioral organization theory, behavioral decision theory and political psychology. However, be that as it may, rationality is “too bounded” or too delimited if it is functioning on no data, wrong data or falsified data. The corporate and oligarchic world falsify a lot of data and present false narratives to the public via advertising, lobbying and other propaganda initiatives. In the USA, Fox Broadcasting Company comes to mind and this is not limited to media companies of course.

    How do we de-fang corporates so that they don’t control the information, discourses and narratives of our society? That is the question. At base, the influence of money in social decision making must be reduced and the influence of democratic voting must be increased. Of course, that is a long discussion and then a program going even from political, legal and administrative reform to arguments to more direct actions. See Wikipedia for a definition of “Direct Action”.

    I can’t write more without creating a wall of text too long for a blog. And blog posts don’t change the world, so far as I can see. If anything, the key is narratives. Charles Dickens probably did more for giving impetus to social reform demands than did (picking names almost at random) Bentham and Mills. If people watch “Dopesick” this might will influence their thinking and affect their ideas about excessive and malign corporate influence much more than a book collection of erudite essays on political economy and social psychology.

  26. “How do we de-fang corporates so that they don’t control the information, discourses and narratives of our society?”

    I can’t ever see such reform or defanging happening. The effort in this regard is probably going to get wasted. Some theorists say that there were old forests with giant trees where the trees themselves were of a fungal nature. Imagine if all our trees were sick and then the mushrooms heretofore sticking to the sides of them morphed into a trees shape to take their place. I think we have to have a different type of organisational form, sucking up all the resources from the big corporations.

  27. When you get undeniable realities. Realities that simply cannot deny without being a fool, these are the things that can be built upon. So from the other thread we get:

    1.Underlying these points is a crucial fact in physics/engineering: Any reversible physical process is an energy storage technology.

    2.That’s why concerns about the variability of wind and solar power will come to nothing in the end

    Very important ideas, incontestable, and should be dwelled upon. But there is a problem here. We seem to have locked ourselves in a situation where storage investment is being swamped by renewables investment. We can’t go back in time, and wish this didn’t happen, but its very unfortunate in this highly contested political space.

    If storage investment was always ahead of renewables investment everything would work better. So much more flexibility in the system. So much more resilience would be there in war, peace, and natural disaster. But somehow we got it the other way around. I think we need to face up to this. Or the big corporates and the less thinking conservatives are going to have us for breakfast.

  28. “I see no reason to think that physical interstellar travel by sentient lifeforms is feasible, but fleets of robot explorers certainly are.”

    Its the other way around. Robots maintaining robots maintaining robots is not feasible. But if a society had solved the ageing problem still there would be the need for criminal discipline. So that the travellers would be criminal exiles.

  29. Recently I learned about an electricity exchange system between Norway and northern Germany. Norway generates a lot of electricity with hydro power and wind turbines produce a lot of electricity in northern Germany (along the North Sea primarily). I am not sure whether the exchange system is properly classified as an electricity storage system but it effectively works like one. When northern Germany produces excess electricity it sends it to Norway. Norway reduces the output of hydro power generation and vice versa.

    As an aside, I also learned there is some progress regarding carbon capture, again involving Norway. However, I would interpret the information not as a signal that fossil fuel consumption can therefore continue but rather that the most ambitious EU plans to transform their economies from fossil fuel to sustainable energy by 2050 is not sufficient to avert a climate catastrophe by the end of the century, even if all other regions in this world would follow a similar plan. Alternatively put, the pursuit of carbon capture aims at getting to negative carbon emissions for some time in the not too distant future.

  30. Nothing is easier than carbon capture and storage. But its not something to be done with technology.

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