Monday Message Board

Another Message Board

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

I’ve moved my irregular email news from Mailchimp to Substack. You can read it here. You can also follow me on Mastodon here

I’m also trying out Substack as a blogging platform. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack.

28 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Excess death rates during the covid period:
    Russia is second worst relative to the population. The Ukraine also did far better, so that is unlikely to be the war impact. Eastern Europe in general is doing paritcular bad. High education levels seem to be a poor protection against unfounded vaccination paranoia.
    Odds are a non covid world would also be a world without Russian invasion.

  2. hix said: “High education levels seem to be a poor protection against unfounded vaccination paranoia.”

    The authors below say:
    “These associations, however, may be complicated by broader socioeconomic status, which incorporates both income and educational attainment [24]. Indeed, income and educational attainment were moderately correlated in our sample (r = .39) and lower educational attainment consistently predicted anti-vax attitudes and COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy.”

    “To vax or not to vax: Predictors of anti-vax attitudes and COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy prior to widespread vaccine availability”

    Roberts HA, Clark DA, Kalina C, Sherman C, Brislin S, Heitzeg MM, et al. (2022)

    “Unfortunately, if a significant minority of the population is unwilling to vaccinate (over 30% in our sample),” … “The consequence of this is that the disease continues to circulate within the population,”

    ” The connection between general anti-vax attitudes and hesitancy for a COVID-19 vaccine follows from the principle of the general attitude influencing attitudes about a specific case. Consequently, it is important to reflect on the mean-level of anti-vax attitudes within a society and how that will impact an effective societal response that includes the widespread adoption of vaccines to mitigate and potentially eradicate a disease.

    “Based on our sample estimates, over 60% of Americans do not hold anti-vax attitudes while only 10%-15% endorse anti-vax sentiments. This suggests a relatively low ceiling for anti-vax attitudes, but also a notable minority that are unlikely to accept vaccinations under most circumstances and another 25%-30% of Americans who have mixed opinions on anti-vax attitudes.

    “Unfortunately, if a significant minority of the population is unwilling to vaccinate (over 30% in our sample), this significantly reduces the effectiveness of vaccination as a public health intervention to achieve herd immunity and eradicate a disease like COVID-19.

    “The consequence of this is that the disease continues to circulate within the population, infecting the unvaccinated and allowing time for mutations of the virus to occur that could result in variants that are resistant to medical intervention and vaccines. Similarly, having allowed anti-vax attitudes to persist in American society has created conditions that are now contributing to a vulnerability in effectively fighting this and future pandemics.”

    Citation: Roberts HA, Clark DA, Kalina C, Sherman C, Brislin S, Heitzeg MM, et al. (2022)
    To vax or not to vax: Predictors of anti-vax attitudes and COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy prior to widespread vaccine availability.
    PLoS ONE 17(2): e0264019. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0264019

  3. Those vaccination findings are interesting. The problem is even worse than the findings suggest. They say “if a significant minority of the population is unwilling to vaccinate (over 30% in our sample), this significantly reduces the effectiveness of vaccination as a public health intervention to achieve herd immunity and eradicate a disease like COVID-19.”

    I would suggest the problem is much worse than that. We have a highly contagious virus, and now a very highly contagions evolved virus (SARS-CoV-2 latest variants) which escapes vaccine immunity / natural immunity continuously and reinfects easily. Earlier studies suggested we needed 95% vaccination rates PLUS other measures (TTIQMF) to even eliminate it (rather than to eradicate it which is extinction of the virus and even harder to achieve.

    Because we gave up controlling the virus our position is now 10 to 100 times worse than it was at the start of the pandemic. Worse still, corporate and government minimization of the seriousness of the disease has just emboldened all anti-vaxxers, all FUD merchants and all lazy, selfish, stupid and complacent persons to pretend it’s all nothing. Meanwhile the deaths continue unabated and the virus continues to evolve to greater and greater contagiousness and very likely to greater lethality in the mid-term in this “game” which could be another 10, 20 or 30 years.

    When the elites start dying from it in significant numbers something might happen, although their heirs might not care, not realizing that their chances of living anywhere near as long as their mummies and daddies have seriously nosedived. I am expecting life expectancy to plunge by a decade in a decade, and that’s in the Western world. That’s where we are headed on this course. After that, it will get even worse with climate change leveraging it and multiple other novel zoonoses.

    This future is still avoidable (just) by declaring a global climate and pandemic emergency and getting completely serious about fighting these natural and man-made / man-catalyzed existential risks.

  4. OPEC+ announced earlier today they intend further crude oil production cuts:

    * Saudi Arabia: _ _ _ _ _ _ -500 thousand barrels per day (kb/d);
    * Iraq: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _-211 kb/d;
    * United Arab Emirates: _-144 kb/d;
    * Kuwait: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _-128 kb/d;
    * Algeria: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ -48 kb/d;
    * Kazakhstan: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ -78 kb/d;
    * Oman: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ -40 kb/d;
    TOTAL: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ -1149 kb/d

    The pledges bring the total volume of cuts by OPEC+, which groups the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries with Russia and other allies, to 3.66 million bpd according to Reuters calculations, equal to 3.7% of global demand.

    Here’s a thought: What if the latest announced OPEC+ oil production quota cuts are happening because OPEC+ cannot meet/sustain the current ones?

  5. The coming Ukrainian offensive

    Establishment Western sources like MoDs continue downplaying the chances of Ukrainian victory and playing up the risk of a WW1 stalemate. They have their reasons. But since they are not sharing any detailed analysis, have been pretty consistently wrong in the past, and may have an infowars agenda – fair enough, deception is legitimate in war – it is reasonable to crosscheck against publicly available information.

    What this shows is:
    – repeated Ukrainian success since the losses of Mariupol and Severodonetsk, in Kharkhiv oblast, Kherson oblast right bank, and foiling the Russian winter offensive in the Donbas, now petering out;
    – growing Ukrainian superiority in weaponry from upgrades in supplies of Western weapons, from antitank missiles before the war to accurate artillery, AFVs including main battle tanks, and medium-range precision weapons (HIMARS, Excalibur, JDAMs, and GLSDBs). Contrast growing Russian deficiencies in equipment and ammunition, and failure to kickstart war production on the needed scale;
    – on manpower, Ukraine has smoothly functioning universal conscription, including women, and high-quality NATO help in training. Contrast with the chaotic Russian mixture of contract, volunteer, mercenary and conscript soldiers stemming from Putin’s refusal to describe his “special military operation” as a full war, leading to poor training;
    – Ukrainian military and civilian morale remains high, under stable and competent leadership, while Russian military morale is low, and complaints from soldiers numerous. The civilian population, living in a propaganda bubble, still offers tepid support for the war;
    – a massive disparity in casualties and equipment losses;
    – superior Ukrainian tactics and command, relying on good satellite and drone intelligence and battlefield communications – Russian “assault groups ” of company strength do not even have tactical radios, and the higher command is hampered by bureaucratic infighting and frequent changes.

    With all this in mind, let’s take a peek at the scenarios for the offensive.

    1. It fails and the Russians hold roughly the current front lines. Putin could offer a ceasefire, demanding recognition of current limited Russian gains. This version of stalemate is extraordinarily unlikely given the public facts cited above. It would require a sudden drop in Ukrainian combat power to Russian levels, for which there is no evidence.

    2. Ukraine makes limited gains, biting off a third significant but limited chunk of territory, probably either in Luhansk or Zaporizhe oblasts. The Russian Army rallies to hold newer, shorter lines, as it did at Sviatove and Kremnina, or the Ukrainian army chooses caution. Politically, this looks acceptable to Putin, who would fight on. It looks a second variant of stalemate. But strategically it’s far from the same. If Russia loses Luhansk, it loses the supply lines running from central Russia to the Donbas, leaving only the route west from Rostov, now within HIMARS range. If it loses Melitopol, the two routes from Crimea over the isthmus are cut, leaving only the damaged Kerch bridge, now within HIMARS range. Ukraine would be sitting pretty, preparing for a second round in the summer.

    This scenario is quite plausible. Two factors count against it. One is the fact that the new Ukrainian forces being trained and equipped by NATO allies are designed for fast-moving mobile warfare, on the Blitzkrieg style of the Gulf wars. They will be less likely to be held up by logistics than those deployed in the Kharkhiv offensive. The other is the intense Ukrainian motivation for getting the job done quickly. Every day that Russians occupy Ukrainian territory is another day in which Ukrainians suffer tortures, murders, deportations, lootings and other cruelties. The Ukrainian forces may be stopped, but not by their own choice.

    3. Ukraine inflicts a decisive defeat on the Russian army. Unlikely, but not impossible. It may require Putin’s cooperation, recklessly ordering what remains of his army into a counterattack, to be destroyed like the large, but hastily assembled and badly led, Roman army at Cannae. The repeated and suicidal armoured attacks on Vuhledar suggest how this could play out.

    4. The Russian army disintegrates, like the Tsarist one in 1917. This quite often happens locally to an army that has lost a battle, though retreat in good order is more common. Wider collapse is very exceptional. IIRC most of the German army was still a disciplined body in May 1945 when it surrendered, as was the Japanese army in August. However, given the disastrous level of leadership of the Russian army in Ukraine and the very high casualties of its futile offensives, the scenario is possible, though even less likely than the previous scenario.

    Putin’s fate, and that of his personal Bonapartist régime, is tied up with the military situation, but not in any mechanical way. He obviously could not survive scenario 4, and scenario 3 only with great difficulty. A palace coup might even follow scenario 2. The nuclear option will be available to him up to the moment when the Kremlin guards kick in the door. Our protection from this is the sense of self-preservation of his hitherto spineless court.

  6. James,

    Interesting. That’s about the best summary I have seen. I am hoping Russia loses all Ukrainian territory including the Donbas and Crimea. That would be the status quo antebellum from the original seizure of Crimea and Russian backed insurgency in Donbas, IIRC. I greatly hope Putin is toppled too. But Russia should be left intact after that to rebuild. There’s a lot of misery in Russia too for ordinary people. We don’t want to see that continue. It will help nobody.

  7. Don´t like it, don´t like it at all, not even the optimistic (in my mind most likely scenario) of the Ukraine winning relativly decisive and Russia not going nuke crazy after it. The Ukrainian society was already rather dysfunctional before the invasion. After a victory it would be a dysfunctional society full of people with war traumas and lots of well trained/armed soldiers. Nukes and dependency on the west should prevent the worst otherwise thinkable consequences. Still, ugly. Russian society will not get any better either with traumaticed soldiers returning. The military already is a mad place when soldiers face little to no combat in otherwise more functional societies.

  8. It’s a selective quotation of evidence to point out the alcoholism misery in Russia while ignoring the opiate epidemic in the USA (for example) or to point at poverty and inequality in Russia while ignoring the huge numbers in poverty, homeless and imprisoned in the USA. Then we can mention their mass shootings rate. Is that a sign of a healthy society? Australia seems to be heading towards US levels of inequality and homelessness. The alcoholism and incarceration rates among our indigenous people are sky high. We need to look to our own very serious issues which we are failing to address.

    What we have to work out and change is why elite power and wealth systems create unnecessary inequality, poverty and misery all over the world, no matter the claimed type of government. Pointing at Russia’s failures and sneering at it as “a miserable grey society” does not help us honestly address the unnecessary misery being generated in our own societies by neoliberal, market fundamentalist policies which continue unabated.

  9. Ikon said “. .. by neoliberal, market fundamentalist policies which continue unabated.”

    And the models – without asking the horses.

    “Two of these if-I-were-a-horse models reign invisibly and totally over our daily lives: the Congressional Budget Office model and the Penn Wharton Budget model. Every piece of proposed government policy is processed through these models, and woe betide the policy that the model condemns. Thus our entire government is conducted as a giant, semi-secret game of Computer Says No.

    “This week, The American Prospect is conducting a deep, critical dive into these two models, and into the enterprise of modeling itself. The series kicks off today with a pair superb pieces, one from Nobel economics laureate Joseph Stiglitz, the other from Prospect editor-in-chief David Dayen and Rakeen Mabud, chief economist for the Groundwork Collaborative.

    “Let’s start with the Stiglitz piece, “How Models Get the Economy Wrong,” which highlights specific ways in which the hidden assumptions of models have led us to sideline good policy (like increasing spending during recessions) and make bad policy (like cutting taxes on the rich):

    “First, Stiglitz sets out a general critique of…”…

  10. There are good-enough economic models which take into account ethical, practical, social and scientific concerns. The problem is the rich and powerful won’t use them and they refuse to allow anyone else to attempt to use them.

    Influential economists can argue until they are blue in the face and they have done so over whole careers since about 1971. Until the people demand and force change by some method(s), by direct action and/or voting, nothing will change in the political economy structure and space. A lot will change outside this space first. Our societies and economies will continue to proceed on the current path to total collapse.

    People have to figure out for themselves, against all the disinformation, that the current path is leading to total collapse or else they will see it for real.

  11. Perhaps I should have said “high-profile academic economists” above. They are not “influential” in the elite circles which determine modern (neoliberal) economic policy. I have just begun Thomas Piketty’s book “Capital and Ideology” and I am still wading through the over-wordy Introduction.

    Does Macron show any sign of listening to persons like Piketty? I would say not given the policy rammed through to increase the pension age in France. Given the ongoing reduction in longevity from the unchecked COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps we ought to take bets on when reducing life expectancy will meet rising pension age? My slightly hyperbolic point here is that the ground is changing under neoliberal policy in all sorts of ways and they refuse to acknowledge any of it. Full speed ahead enriching the rich and damn reality.

  12. I thought the military textbooks said to avoid urban fighting where possible? Yet Russia and Ukraine fight over non-stategic Bakhmut. Few civilians, maybe 4,000, are left in the city which originally had 70,000-80,000 residents. Many blocks have been reduced to rubble. Urban warfare favors the defenders heavily although enough artillery and heavy bombing can reduce everything. If the Ukraine Army fights a staged retreat and even selective counter-attacks to cover retreats, then they can exact high costs on the attackers. So maybe the Ukrainians know what they are doing.

    The Russians are simply wasting manpower and munitions. They make an advance and unwisely occupy buildings. The Ukrainians have usually mined the buildings with demolition charges or else they reduce them with artillery. Russians and Wagner mercenaries die in the collapse. The Russians shell a front creating a line of rubble and then their infantry try to come over that. It doesn’t work out well for them.

    The Russians appear to keep fighting this war in the stupidest ways possible. Sunk cost fallacy? They should pack up and go home.

  13. Tesla “Master Plan Part 3
    – Sustainable Energy for All of Earth”

    The Tesla Team, April 5, 2023

    Executive Summary
    “On March 1, 2023, Tesla presented Master Plan Part 3 – a proposed path to reach a sustainable global energy economy through end-use electrification and sustainable electricity generation and storage. This paper outlines the assumptions, sources and calculations behind that proposal. Input and conversation are welcome.

    “The analysis has three main components:
    – Electricity Demand Forecast the electricity demand of a fully electrified economy that meets global energy needs without fossil fuels.
    – Electricity Supply Construct a least-cost portfolio of electricity generation and storage resources that satisfies hourly electricity demand.
    – Material Feasibility & Investment Determine the feasibility of material needs for the electric economy and manufacturing investment necessary to enable it.

    Figure 1: Process overview
    Material Feasibility & Investment Determine the feasibility of material needs for the electric economy and manufacturing investment necessary to enable it.
    This paper finds a sustainable energy economy is technically feasible and requires less investment and less material extraction than continuing today’s unsustainable energy economy. While many prior studies have come to a similar conclusion, this study seeks to push the thinking forward related to material intensity, manufacturing capacity, and manufacturing investment required for a transition across all energy sectors worldwide.

    240Tw Storage
    30 TW Renewable Power
    10% 2022 World GDP

    Figure 2: Estimated Resources & Investments Required for Master Plan 3
    $10T Manufacturing Investment
    ZERO Insurmountable Resource Challenges
    0.21% Land Area Required

    Table of Contents
    Executive Summary
    The Current Energy Economy is Wasteful
    The Plan to Eliminate Fossil Fuels
    1. Repower the Existing Grid with Renewables
    2. Switch to Electric Vehicles
    3. Switch to Heat Pumps in Residential, Business & Industry
    4. Electrify High Temperature Heat Delivery and Hydrogen
    5. Sustainably Fuel Planes & Boats
    6. Manufacture the Sustainable Energy Economy
    Modeling The Fully Sustainable Energy Economy
    • Energy Storage Technologies Evaluated
    • Generation Technologies Evaluated
    Model Results
    • US Only Model Results – Meeting New Electrification Demand
    • World Model Results – Meeting New Electrification Demand
    • Batteries for Transportation
    • Vehicles • Ships and Planes
    • World Model Results – Electrification & Batteries for Transportation Investment Required Land Area Required Materials Required
    Appendix • Appendix: Generation and storage allocation to end-uses • Appendix: Build the Sustainable Energy Economy – Energy Intensity

    Click to access Tesla-Master-Plan-Part-3.pdf

    “We are also providing the U.S. fully electrified demand profile used in modeling:
    – US fully electrified demand profile – part 1
    – US fully electrified demand profile – part 2

  14. Ikonoclast (at APRIL 5, 2023 AT 6:52 AM): – “Given the ongoing reduction in longevity from the unchecked COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps we ought to take bets on when reducing life expectancy will meet rising pension age?

    You may be onto something. Earlier today the Actuaries Institute’s COVID-19 Mortality Working Group’s published their latest analysis of excess deaths in Australia:

    In summary:

    * Total excess mortality for the full year 2022 is 12% (+20,200 deaths) i.e. there were over 20,000 more deaths in 2022 than would have been expected if the pandemic had not happened. This is slightly more than we had projected based on data to November.
    * Just over half of the expected excess mortality for 2022 is due to deaths from COVID-19 (+10,300 deaths), with another +2,900 COVID-19 related deaths, and the remaining excess of +7,000 had no mention of COVID-19 on the death certificate.
    * While most of the excess deaths are in older age groups (i.e. 65+ years), excess mortality was at least 5% in all age groups in 2022, with the excess for females higher than for males.
    * Most states and territories have had broadly similar levels of excess mortality in 2022, but the delayed re-opening of WA’s borders is reflected in a delayed uplift in mortality.
    * COVID-19 is the third leading cause of death in 2022, behind ischaemic heart disease and dementia.
    * The much higher than predicted number of deaths from ischaemic heart disease has meant that it has retained its position as the leading cause of death, despite continued growth in the number of deaths from dementia.

    As I’ve said before: If we allow it, COVID-19 will significantly erode human life expectancy.

  15. Meanwhile, there was a tweet on Apr 3 by infectious diseases physician & microbiologist Peter Collignon:

    But your risk of death if you get infected is now 20 to 30 times lower than in 2020 (pre vaccination).
    Omicron likely less virulent, but main protection against death is immunity.
    More than 90% now have been infected, so very high levels of hybrid immunity here.

    Followed by a response from Prof Kathy Eagar

    Sooner or later variants will evolve that will likely bust through hybrid immunity. And then there’s the inconvenient 10+% risk of debilitating ‘long-COVID’, whether vaccinated or not.

  16. The Russian military textbook probably says we got more bodies, more disregard for human life, maybe more simple ammunition. Regarding the prison “volunteers” who knows if Russia even considers high mortality rates as a bonus. Albeit those do not seem to be a major part of the current wave of new bodies. The pictures from Bachmut again look like they could be from WW2. All very surreal.

  17. Why have scientific and medical “experts” thought it okay to unleash, on the whole of society , a dangerous new BSL 3 pathogen (SARS2) of unknown characteristics and potential, by omitting fully feasible and cost-effective control measures? This is the key question. A number of so-called experts have been at the forefront of the process of facilitating the progress of this disease throughout our whole society. “Necessary and inevitable” were words used to flag the removal of most controls and most testing in order to promote the subsequent spread of this disease as an outcome that would yield so-called hybrid immunity. When has it been “necessary” to infect your whole nation with a new and dangerous disease? Under late stage neoliberalism apparently.

    “Experts” are not experts if they have failed the practical, empirical test of preventing and controlling a preventable and controllable disease when that was their professional brief. They have also failed their brief of advocating for their patients and for public health and disease prevention in general. Instead, they have sung from the song-sheet of neoliberal business interests: business above all else, even above the health of the people and the nation.

    “Hybrid immunity” is a medical and scientific non sequitur: an inference and conclusion which does not follow from the premises of preventative medicine nor from all the known science and evidence. It has never before been the policy in modern medicine to deliberately and chaotically permit the infection of any and all of the people with a live, wild, unattenuated, mutating and dangerous viral pathogen in a vain attempt to achieve individual or herd immunity. Inoculation (vaccination) has always been achieved, properly and effectively, with attenuated virus or with viral sub-components and adjuvents to stimulate the immune system. Any time this failed, in rare situations, and an unattenuated virus got going again (improperly attenuated or self re-constituted from viral recombination as with some polio outbreaks) it was regarded as a tragic and unacceptable accident which must not occur again.

    The “hybrid” claim comes from the assertion, essentially and implicitly, that vaccinations plus infection give compounding immunity benefits. This prediction or wishful thinking, for the latter is about all it was, is not borne out by the empirical outcomes. It is becoming clear that people are suffering multiple re-infections of COVID-19 disease. It is also becoming clear that re-infection carries additive and perhaps even compounding dangers of death and morbidity including long-COVID. The entire situation is untenable and unsustainable for the health of persons and of the nation. In the long run we are all dead sooner if we permit endless COVID-19 infections and re-infections of much of the population. I am not sure why people think this is a good idea.

    The new statistics that Geoff Miell refers to are damning. Here is the full thread from Karen Cutter on “The COVID-19 Mortality Working Group of the Actuaries Institute” report:

    Thought of the day:

    “Much of modern medicine is expensive & focused on improving life even for the elderly (and the vulnerable). It contrasts starkly with the failure to implement basic airborne disease prevention FOR THE SAME PATIENTS. Why do we treat them just to infect them with something terrible for their health (COVID-19)?” – Dr Miller.


    My 90 years old plus father-in-law appears to be recovering slowly from COVID-19. He has been quite ill and I for one don’t believe he is “out of the woods” yet. Relapses are possible and frequent and I have no doubt his life will be further shortened now. He is clearly going to have long-COVID. He has self-reported to us his loss of taste. I am almost certain he must have loss of smell and taste. So many staff are off sick too that ill and infirm patients who can still stand and sit (just) are having to shower themselves without any help or supervision. Nobody comes to help them. They are locked up, brought their meals and that is it. Exigencies and infection control require this but the fall risks are obvious. Lack of control in outside society means the vulnerable must suffer the severe controls and isolation necessary when COVID-19 ravages an institution.

    My father-in-law had his 4th C-19 vaccine about 6 months ago. He had been due for his 5th but the actual outbreak intervened. I believe he has received at least one course of anti-virals. Little to no information is coming out of the institution now. They are certainly not meeting their claimed reporting standards to relatives. I think they are overwhelmed with so many patients and staff sick that things are barely holding together, if at all. We can phone but we cannot visit of course.

    Since the governments and mainstream media won’t report any of this, indeed since they deliberately hide all this information as these events reoccur over and over across the nation, I think it is important that citizens keep reporting to each other in any way they can. Our governments, elites, businesses, unions, claimed experts and MSM have all failed us. It is now up to us, the ordinary people, to see that things are reported and actions positive and proactive are finally undertaken to deal with, ameliorate and remedy this horrendous mess. Nobody else will do it for us. Indeed, the elites are actively suppressing and oppressing people and spreading their disinformation far and wide.

  18. The now established strong connection between EBV (Epstein-Barr Virus) and MS (Multiple Sclerosis) ought to give us pause in spreading a still relatively new and poorly understood BSL 3 pathogen, namely the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

    First, the link between EBV and MS was discovered statistically and this was only relatively recently. How long had we been mystified as to the cause of MS? Now, moving on, researches have found a physical mechanism. It is always necessary in the hard sciences to go beyond statistical correlation and find the physical mechanism(s). Then we get close to complete certainty as to what is the cause of a given effect.

    My wife, as a young person and before I met her, had EBV. Thankfully, she does not have MS but she does suffer migraines, episodic dysphagia and gut motility issues. She’s had choking episodes, great pain and an ambulance trip to Emergency. The chances that EBV is implicated in one, some or all of these conditions seem quite high to me as a layperson. Nerve signaling is clearly involved in migraines and also in swallowing and gut motility; in the latter 2 cases the correct sequential firing of nerve signals for peristalsis. Lo and behold, researches have also found things like “Severe ulcerative oesophagitis caused by primary Epstein-Barr virus infection in an immunocompetent individual” and that “Gastric motility problems are closely linked to diseases that either damage nerves or impair the production of hormones involved in peristalsis…” These are areas of ongoing research.

    My point here is that to ignore the seriousness of the BSL 3 SARS-CoV-2 virus, not only in relation to immediate and obvious death and morbidity effects but in terms of possible, serious long term effects, which are as yet undiscovered, is the height of folly. It is a complete abrogation of the precautionary principle. It took a long time and many advances in science to discover the EBV to MS link. It will take time too (though not as long hopefully) to discover the full dangers of COVID-19 disease and all its long term deleterious effects. One can predict already, with a high degree of confidence, from even the current data that these effects will be severe and widespread. The costs, human and economic will grow exponentially and be terrible.

  19. No comment required on this, from thelatest CoalWire:
    ” In a recent Indian Government coal auction, the Adani Group won four coal concessions, including the North West of Madheri block in Maharashtra. Tender documents state the block could contain up to 200 million tonnes of coal. An Adani Group subsidiary, MH Natural Resources, registered its interest in the block, as did Cavill Mining, the only other bidder. Cavill Mining is also the main promoter of Adicorp Enterprises, a privately held company that Hindenburg Research alleges funnelled funding between Adani Group companies to avoid mandatory related party disclosures. The Indian online news outlet Scroll reported that corporate records indicate that Adicorp and Cavill Mining share the same address and promoter. A rule of India’s coal sale process is that blocks must attract at least two bidders to proceed to auction. The Adani Group, Cavill Mining, and the Ministry of Coal did not respond to questions submitted by Scroll.”

  20. The battle of Bakhmut is a meat grinder. What is each side trying to achieve? Each side can only be calculating that this battle of attrition suits them and will allow them to bleed the other opponent dry. Russia is taking higher losses (I feel fairly confident in saying this) but calculates it has more “chaff” to lose and will successfully bleed Ukraine. Ukraine calculates the loss ratios of men and equipment are enough in its favor that it can bleed Russia successfully.

    This chap seems to give good and militarily objective reports albeit from the Ukrainian side. Apologies for the ad at the end but overall his reports are useful I think, especially since our MSM reports on nothing important. Climate change, COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine are almost non-existent so far as the MSM are concerned.

  21. Yesterday (Apr 8) The Saturday Paper tweeted:

    Quietly, and without much fanfare, Australia’s chief medical officer declared an end to the nation’s latest and most protracted Covid-19 outbreak last week.

    In doing so, he signalled a decisive shift away from crisis mode, writes @coopesdetat

    The Saturday Paper article included:

    While community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 continues apace, and is likely to remain at high levels for at least the next two years, Professor Paul Kelly said Australia had reached a significant milestone in the first few months of 2023: almost every citizen is now immune.

    Hybrid immunity, which refers to the combination, at a population level, of antibodies from either past infection or vaccination against Covid-19, has now reached 99.6 per cent, according to the latest estimates from the Department of Health.

    Umm, it seems to me the evidence/data indicates this so-called “hybrid immunity” is clearly not working.

    It seems NSW COVID-19 hospitalisations are on the rise again, per Matt’s graph in the tweet @crudeoilpeak, for the period 1 Dec 2021 through to 6 Apr 2023:

    Infectious Diseases Dr Noor Bari tweeted a thread yesterday, including:

    Reality. Vaccines were meant to be the safeguard against dying, and transmission prevention was and is needed to keep people *healthy*.

    COVID is a slow poison to otherwise healthy young people, and deadly to many millions of others that are at increased risk.

    – – – – –

    No amount of SARS is safe.

    – – – – –

    We do not have immune systems like bats.

    We can’t handle the chronic inflammation it sets up.

    Chronic inflammation makes you feel horrible, stuffs up your organs (including your brain), and increases your risk of cancer.

    – – – – –

    Hybrid immunity is DANGEROUS.

    Anyone using this as the *plan* is advocating for a certain group of people to die, and the rest to get sick.

    The Actuaries Institute’s COVID-19 Mortality Working Group published their latest analysis of excess deaths in Australia on Apr 6, including indicating COVID-19 is the third leading cause of death in 2022, behind ischaemic heart disease and dementia.

    And the COVID-19 death rate in Australia so far this year (2023), averaging around 30 deaths per day, seems just as bad – no obvious let-up. COVID-19 is not under control!

    Is Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, advocating a DANGEROUS AND MURDEROUS pathway?

  22. Geoff,

    Oh yeah, and I am quietly going to declare an end to gravity’s effects on me alone and float like a splendid butterfly above the world. This sarcasm is of course not aimed at you but at all the people governing, administering and cheering on our current approach to Covid-19. They have abandoned reason for madness. The mid-term to long-term costs of this policy will be horrendous. It’s a complete denial of reality.

    I have direct knowledge of the very bad outbreak of COVID-19 in one large wing or section of the aged care home my father in law is resident in. This is in a place which has previously limited outbreaks to very sporadic single cases before this. The data for COVID-19 aged care system outbreaks is as follows. Cases are on the rise again.

    Click to access covid-19-outbreaks-in-australian-residential-aged-care-facilities-6-april-2023.pdf

    This is not over, it is cyclical and chronic: an unmerry-go-round of death and morbidity which will touch and scar all of us in the end,;physically, mentally, socially and/or economically. It will prove in the end to be quite unsustainable at all those levels.

    The latest empirical research on C-19 disease simply provides worse and worse news. I will post on that topic soon.

  23. The unmitigated disaster of rampant COVID-19 infections continues to wash in waves through the our community with significant attendant death rates (3rd highest cause of death in Australia currently) and morbidity rates (illness and then long-Covid after at least 10% of infections/reinfections) . Only those who are scientifically, intellectually and/or morally bankrupt (or who are completely self-interested, or of sadly low intelligence or very easily brainwashed, nudged or manipulated) can possibly support this policy. I make no bones about my opinion on this and no apologies to anyone for holding it. Our current Covid-19 policies are eugenicist, social Darwinist and amount to democide and social murder.

    Henry Madison has posted a link to a (now out of date) “Interim statement on hybrid immunity and increasing population seroprevalence rates” from the WHO and asks if anyone knows if it has been updated. Henry Madison makes a number of telling points in his thread.

    In addition, I will say this, a central concern is that “hybrid immunity” is a hokum concept as applied to SARS-CoV-2 and Covid-19 disease. It was never previous public health practice to deliberately infect the whole population with a dangerous, wild, unattenuated, rapidly mutating pathogen in order to achieve immunity or “hybrid immunity” when both infection and vaccination provide only “leaky” protection. That is madness. That it is madness is demonstrable from the known science to date.

    I don’t have to be a credentialed economist to see that neoliberal economics does not work for the majority of people or for the environment. I have seen this neoliberal disaster unfold empirically for the whole of my adult life; by personal experience and by reading and debating the published data and writings of objective (and humanitarian) economists like John Quiggin, our host on this blog.

    Equally, I don’t have to be a degree carrying virologist, epidemiologist, geneticist, medical doctor or public health expert to see that our current Covid-19 policies are not working. The empirical data are all there; for example in Karen Cutter’s latest reports and the actuarial data they are built on from the Australian actuaries.

    For humanity’s sake people, do something about this or it could easily escalate into the worst pandemic in human history. On current policies, it likely will do so. This is “red queen” evolution (look it up) against a seriously shape-shifting pathogen and humans will not win going toe-to-toe with this BSL 3 Sarbecovirus. We need more “armor” and more “weapons”. Armor is PPE. “Weapons” are the full complement of VTTIQMF (Vaccinate, test, trace, isolate, quarantine, mask and filter indoor air with Hepa filters.

    We lost the first skirmish. “Skirmish” I call it but it killed over a million people in 2020. (“On 30 January 2020 COVID-19 was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) with an official death toll of 171. “By 31 December 2020, this figure stood at 1,813,188. Yet preliminary estimates suggest the total number of global deaths attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 is at least 3 million, representing 1.2 million more deaths than officially reported.” – WHO.)

    Then humanity won one battle (sort of) by developing the mRNA vaccines and delivering them to the developed world (only) and then not to everyone nor to all demographics. Then we got all complacent and went back to making money and amusing ourselves. Meanwhile SARS-CoV-2 went on the full offensive and began generating seemingly endless mutant variants and highly dangerous levels of of infectiousness and immune-escape. We are being driven backwards. We are losing this fight. We are in a tremendous amount of trouble. It’s Time. It’s time to change the strategy.

  24. Kevin Drum reports on a significant planned change in the methodology the US government uses for cost-benefit analysis, to account for the diminishing marginal utility of money. Specifically. “OMB has determined that 1.4 is a reasonable estimate of the income elasticity of marginal utility for use in regulatory analyses.”

    I imagine that the typical reaction of many readers here will be: (a) this looks in principle to be a good thing (b) but how much confidence can we put in the specific number, on the scale from “as reliable as we can reasonably expect” to “pure guess but better than nothing”, and (c) how much difference will the change make in practice? This problem falls squarely within our esteemed host’s professional stock-in-trade, so we would like to hear his views, suitably dumbed down for the mathematically challenged. Also Ernestine’s.

    The full text is here, 91 pages of it.

  25. My instant reaction is that log utility (elasticity of 1) would be a better choice: sanctified by tradition since it was first proposed by Bernouilli, and with loads of intuitively appealing properties. Most obviously, a given percentage increase in incomes has the same value whoever receives it

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