08 December 2021

Cold Covid - part the eighth

A paper in "Nature", dated yesterday offers this support for Constant Power©
Trevor Bedford, an evolutionary biologist at the Fred Hutchinson, says the virus must balance its ability to replicate to high levels in people's airways with the need to keep them healthy enough to infect new hosts. "The virus doesn't want to put someone in bed and make them sick enough that they're not encountering a number of other people"
Or die fast. Of course. SARS and MERS made that mistake. As if they could have figured it out.

On the other hand, is this:
"There's this assumption that something more transmissible becomes less virulent. I don't think that's the position we should take," says Balloux. Variants including Alpha, Beta and Delta have been linked to heightened rates of hospitalization and death — potentially because they grow to such high levels in people's airways. The assertion that viruses evolve to become milder "is a bit of a myth", says Rambaut. "The reality is far more complex."
[my emphasis]
Yet, it's clear from the graphs in the report that Delta, through its transmissibility, dominated both Covid-α and Covid-β and has been less virulent, at least in the USofA to date.

If you read up the Michigan page (which had the greatest Alpha peak) of the NYT Covid data, it's unequivocal that Covid-α deaths (trailing the case peak by weeks as always) trailed ancestral Covid-19 by about half (127 vs. 70 7-day average peak). Hospitalizations, certainly, followed cases above ancestral Covid-19 (proportionately) by a tad; that's to be expected. Yet, the claimed greater transmissibility would lead one to believe that both cases and hospitalizations would be even greater. There's nothing in the data to support the notion that Covid-α was/is more virulent. Recall that Covid-α happened before widespread vaccination.

At the National level, an Alpha peak barely registers in the case and hospitalization graphs, and doesn't register at all in the deaths graph. Delta trails ancestral in all the graphs. So far.

At least in the USofA, Beta barely registered. Referencing the "Nature" graphs, if you look close and squint, you can see a teeny sliver of Beta at about the time of the Alpha peak.

An earlier "Nature" report had this
As the more-transmissible Delta variant spreads, Beta is now fading in many places where it was once dominant, including South Africa and Qatar.
Which is just what one might expect if Darwin and Constant Power© hold. I will concede that both may fail at the margins; that is, a minuscule increase in virulence may appear in a variant with little-to-no difference in transmissibility compared to ancestors. A significant increase in virulence appears impossible to correlate to a significant increase in transmissibility. You can't infect (well, too much) if you can't move and then you just die. SARS and MERS demonstrated that principle.

As to whether Covid-δ is more virulent? At the national level, the three graphs show that ancestral and Covid-δ have proportionately (compared to case level) the same level of hospitalization and death. What Covid-δ is doing differently, so far (a bit), is demonstrating a double peak. Thank you Red States and Counties. Referencing the Michigan page, the Hot Spot map correlates vewy, vewy closely to the Vaccination map; just inversely. To see at the most granular level currently to hand: pull up the Montana page and note the southeast corner of the state. The third column of counties from the eastern border has Rosebud (I can't make this up!), Big Horn, and Treasure counties. Compare the Hot Spot and Vaccination maps; lo and behold Treasure is a pit of Covid and failing vaccination surrounded by not so much. QED. Of course, Tester voted (or will, depending) against the employer vaccine mandate. I guess even he doesn't mind a few more body bags.

I'll go out on a limb (yet again) and offer that Covid-ο is the best defense against Covid-δ just as it was against Covid-β. Which is not to say that Covid will always mutate to more transmission and less virulence (some whackadoodles have gone that route), but that there is A) a limit to the virulence that a virus can impose before it implodes, B) a significantly more virulent virus must necessarily be more localized as it consumes hosts faster than they can spread the virus, and C) a competition between transmissibility and virulence will go the former, at least on the data.

06 December 2021

Cold Covid - part the seventh

Well, that didn't take long. Two reports seen today which lend support to Constant Power©.

First, is not-behind-paywall piece from STATnews.
The South African Medical Research Council posted a report Saturday of the early experiences at several hospitals in Gauteng Province, where Omicron was first spotted in the country. Strikingly, most hospitalized patients who tested positive for Covid did not need supplemental oxygen. Few developed Covid pneumonia, few required high-level care, and fewer still were admitted to intensive care.
Which, no surprise, comes with
It appears that the Omicron variant may be more transmissible than past variants of the virus, potentially even the highly transmissible Delta variant. But it was only identified within the past couple of weeks and still makes up only a tiny fraction of cases worldwide, so drawing conclusions at this point is a risky business.
Sounds like Constant Power© to me. But then, I'm biased.

Next is a CNN report along similar lines.
"The large majority of infectious disease specialists think, and have thought for many months, that SARS-CoV-2 is here to stay," said Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia in the UK.

"Our grandchildren's grandchildren will still be catching (the virus)," he said. But "Covid, the disease, will become part of our history as the infection morphs into just another cause of the common cold." [my emphasis]
Yet again, Constant Power©. But then, I'm biased.

05 December 2021

Cold Covid - part the sixth

Well, held off on the discussion over/after the turkey day usual bad/non-reporting weekend. The data has started to come in again, and the situation, no real surprise, is that the Cold States, Michigan in particular, return/continue to rise. And 'Cold State' condition moves farther South. (Ohio, not previously mentioned, has reached its previous Covid-Δ high. Welcome to the Club.) Is anyone really surprised? Reporting today is that South African Covid-Ο cases quadrupled in just four days. The Cold States are more amenable to transmission, of course. On the other hand, the Fauci's of this world continue to press that Covid-Δ is the immediate problem. But that's pretty much a distinction without a difference. What mitigates for one, does so for the other. Why there wasn't much, if any, flu last winter.

And, not for nothing, the expanding data indicate that Covid-Ο follows the paradigm of Constant Power© forcing Virulence and Transmissibility into being inversely correlated. When one increases, the other must decrease. To some extent, Covid-19 is, on its own, diminishing its impact to a bad cold or easy flu; for those vaccinated. Just don't let DeSantis and Abbott take credit for making it so (apologies to Capt. Picard).

03 December 2021

Power Factor

At some point in your education, it's likely you were exposed to calculus, either Lite or High Test. At the very least, you were introduced to the derivative and the integral (usually, the indefinite version). The real world interpretation and analytic derivation of the derivative (for simple algebraic formulas, at least; no functions embedded) is grasped without much angst. The first derivative of a curve is just the tangent at any point, is just the rate of change of the curve at that point, and is commonly referenced to acceleration. The analytic derivation of such for simple algebraic equations is pretty straightforward; just 'reduce' the power of each constituent serially, and tada, you're done.

The integral tends to be harder to grasp intuitively. The common reference is to 'the area under the curve', but the calculation gets a bit hoary. Not as straightforward as the derivative. That's when you see dy/dx and such with that loopy thingee ∫. But 'area under the curve' can be interpreted as just some multiplication of two values; that is, after all, what a simple area is.

It's also what power is. In electrical terms: Power = Voltage X Current. Some, but not many, scientists and pundits have applied that reasoning to Covid, and I find that a shame, because I find it to be helpful in understanding what's been going on for nigh on to two years. Something that's clear from the history of SARS-Cov-X is that the virus (and I'd wager, all viruses) actually are Darwinian, even though some have offered that a virus isn't even 'alive' in the conventional sense. But Darwinism doesn't care whether the actors on the stage act with forethought or not. Darwinism only says that those who adapt best to the environment prosper. And the adaptation(s) are not determined by forethought, necessarily.

Many of the science and pundit communities have reminded us that while viruses mutate more or less constantly, those changes are random in nature. They ain't no brain in there to make decisions. On the whole, mutations have no impact. Some, occasionally, do change the impact of a virus.

My cogitation on the question of mutations is thus. The Power of a virus is fixed at inception and that the expression of that Power is simply Virulence times Transmission; in other words, if a mutation increases one of those values, the other must of necessity diminish to meet the Power value of the virus. Power in this sense is just some abstract notion not a specific value of specific units, at least so far as I know now. Perhaps some virologist somewhere has already codified this, but I'm not aware of such. And there's ample evidence of this (quasi?) relationship from the history of SARS-CoV-X viruses. Both SARS-CoV-1 and MERS were quickly lethal and barely transmissible. Covid-Β was more lethal than Covid-19 or variants, and it was submerged by Covid-Δ by the latter's superior transmissiblity. Power was maintained. I don't expect a SARS-ish version of Covid-19 to emerge and flourish. Covid-Β didn't, and that makes Darwinian sense: a virus that eliminates hosts too fast enduces herd immunity (by killing efficiently) in the local area.

Oddly enough, in some sense, is that labs like Wuhan (and our Black Ops counterparts) could be on a simple mission: devise viruses with high virulence and high transmissibility, IOW higher Power than any we've encountered from Nature. Whether Darwin permits that to happen is an interesting question. I suspect it's a fool's errand, both in the MAD Cold War point of view and straightforward math of it all.

Of course, if it should happen that a variant emerges that increases the virulence of Covid and maintains or increases transmissibility, thereby increasing Power, then this has all been a pipe dream. But I don't think so. We also already know that coronaviruses exist for the common cold; not virulent (unless you were a Pre-Columbian resident of the Western Hemisphere, of course) and highly transmissible.

The implication from a policy standpoint is to do what was done from the start: take the necessary steps to prevent the healthcare infrastructure, which is by definition local, from being overwhelmed. I expect that Covid-Ο will be found to be less virulent, given that the information is that it is more transmissible. Power must be maintained. Covid may well, over some years, devolve into another type of common cold coronavirus. I sure can't wait for that. While it made no sense two years ago, the Right Wingnut governors laissez-faire may not be as bonkers now. It all depends on Covid-Δ cresting over (don't know yet, as the turkey day non-reporting is starting to straggle in and the Cold States just might be continuing up), and whether Covid-Ο replaces it as Covid-Δ did to Covid-Β. Whichever way the situation works out, Covid-19 remains a pandemic among the unvaccinated. The question remains whether the Right Wingnuts will be the only ones paying a price for stupidity and arrogance. Yet another Right Wingnut Christian vaccine denier died.

30 November 2021

About That Pill - part the second

My Lordy! That was quick. Now, I consume the NYT in the dead trees version. Can't do a crossword other than pen/paper, so there's no reason to go just digital. Which means what I found this morning appeared earlier (29 November). Didn't see it. What matters, naturally, is that the piece includes lots of confirming quotes from famous experts.
At times, especially in the summer and fall of 2020, getting tested for the virus has required an hourslong wait in line, followed by a weeklong wait for results.
The real problem, other than cost: is it even possible to get tested with results within the 3 to 5 day window?
In clinical trials, which enrolled only unvaccinated people at high risk for serious disease, Merck's regimen reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by about 30 percent when given within the first five days of symptoms, while Pfizer's cut those risks by 89 percent when given within the first three days of symptoms.

Replicating these results in the real world will require people to act swiftly, perhaps at the first sign of the sniffle.
[my emphasis]
Of course, it helps if testing is easy and rapid:
"In the United Kingdom, you can go to a pharmacy and get a box of seven antigen tests for free," Dr. Bilinski said. "In the U.S., you have to be refreshing Walmart's website to hopefully get BinaxNOW tests during the 15 minutes that they're in stock."
Those Shithole Countries can't do anything right. Right? Here in the grand USofA, however:
"It is not unheard-of for people to have wait times of five days," Dr. Bilinski said. That delay alone could put patients at the edge of the prescription window, even if they got tested the moment they first felt symptoms.
Just as at the beginning of this epic, when test/contact/isolate was the regime of necessity, the USofA just doesn't do the test thing with gusto. I guess that frontier meme still persists in many American lower brain stems. "Can't and won't let the Damn Gummint tell me what to do!"

29 November 2021

About That Pill

Not behind a paywall (they've said all Covid reporting wouldn't be, but some has been), STAT has reporting on the latest data on Merck's anti-viral, molnupiravir, which indicates lower effectiveness than initial reports.

Curiously, not this nor any of the other reports on mab's and anti-viral's I've seen (which doesn't mean all) discuss the effect on transmission by these 'alternatives' to vaccination. Moreover, the Merck pill must be started within 3 to 5 days from symptoms. We know that Covid-Δ (and Covid-Ο is worse based on initial data) is transmissible during that time, and for much longer for the asymps. We know, fur shur, that transmission of all Covid is driven (largely?) by the asymp population. We should be paying much attention, through aggressive testing; but that's another episode. What happens if Covid-Ο has at least Covid-Δ's asymp precentage and Covid-Β's lethality?? Can we say "Ta ta" to the Red States deniers? One can only hope. From one perspective, accepting that free-loading by the deniers is just OK, this is the worst-case scenario.

IOW, the Covid Morons are hanging their hats on clearly sub-optimal drugs. And, moreover, this is yet another variant to come from a wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024-ian Shithole Country, Beta being much earlier. It turned out that Covid-Δ out Darwin-ed Beta, and this fact was praised as a Good Thing, relatively speaking, because Beta is much worse.
The Beta variant was at the top of people's concerns at the beginning of the year because it was the best at escaping the immune system. But in the end it was the faster-spreading Delta that took over the world.
And, it turns out, based on current data, that Covid-Ο bears mutations with Beta. That is not Good Eats.
"The recently described Omicron variant includes mutations seen in the Delta variant that are believed to increase transmissibility and mutations seen in the Beta and Delta variants that are believed to promote immune escape. The combination of mutations represents a significant potential risk to accelerate the waning of natural and vaccine-induced immunity," Moderna said Friday in a news release.
I told y'all it was coming. Now, one possible future is that Covid-Ο does a Covid-Α, invading Canada and only (mostly) Michigan. Michigan isn't handling Covid-Δ all that well, but then most of the Cold States aren't either. Do you expect Covid-Δ to trundle South this winter??? Does a bear shit in the woods? The sunnier scenario is that the Delta mutations dominate, rather than the Beta, and Covid-Ο is kept in check by existing vaccines. That won't help the Red States, of course. But, at this point in the proceedings, Fuck Them. Die motherfuckers!!!

27 November 2021

Cold Covid - part the fifth

Well, these missives mostly got it right. That does not warm the cockles of my heart. Back when Covid-Δ was beginning to wane, at least some places, it was postulated that further mutations would be nicer. Gulp.
One framework is that there's likely an upper limit to how bad the virus can get. It probably can't get worse and worse forever.
Well Covid-Ο blows that notion out of the water. At least, today.

It's also worth remembering that SARS-CoV and MERS both were so virulent that they both killed so quickly that they were easily contained. Transmissibility has been lower in these virulent viruses. If Covid-Ο is closer to either of those, it will likely be as self-limiting. What made Covid-Δ successful was that it allowed hosts to carry on their lives while mindlessly infecting their neighbors. Esp. in Red States that banned masks and distancing and such. So, the conclusion so far is that virulence and transmissibility can't both increase during mutation. Let's hope that continues to be true.

24 November 2021

Tribal Council

It should be well known, by now, that the failure of the Left, as manifest by the Democratic Party, is the inability to respond to Right Wingnut tribalism with likewise. This is not a new problem, it goes back at least as far as FDR, and may be Teddy. The Left says, and does, seek to better the lives of those less fortunate. But, being catholic (original meaning) in these efforts, they still reward those who seek to oust them from administration. The rednecks like the free goodies, but they continue to elect, at all levels, Right Wingnuts who care only to scavange the poor to support the rich.

Well, Sleepy Joe's knuckleheads are doing it again.
[Department of Health and Human Services] is doling out $7.5 billion to more than 40,000 health care providers in every state and six U.S. territories through the American Rescue Plan, a sprawling relief bill that Congress passed in March. The infusion of funds will help offset increased expenses and revenue losses among rural physicians during the pandemic, the agency said.
Of course, those rural healthcare providers are mostly in states that either don't 1) directly support such services and/or 2) refused to accept expansion of Medicaid to support such services. Passive aggression, along with overt violence, is among the tools the Right Wingnuts employ. "We ain't gonna waste money on white trash and Negros. No how, no way. If the Feds wanna, OK by us, but we'll continue to scavange our poor folk, yes sirree, Bob! We know they're too stupid to vote us out; they believe us when we crow that WE got them the support."

A bit more tribalism would be a good thing. The Dems could start by always, always hammering home the fact of who actually is looking out for the betterment of Joe Sixpack. Telling the white trash that they're naturally superior to Negros too is a bit of problem. Work on it.

23 November 2021

Cold Covid - part the fourth

Leonhardt's column today attempts to backpedal and shift blame for his egregious nonsense in early October. One of the hallmarks of the current situation is the, overall, lower slope of the case count graph. But let's see. These missives have postulated that the explanation is simple: the current infections are, almost completely, within the unvaccinated, which are both more sparse (from a national perspective) and more concentrated (in, mostly, the Red States; and, naturally, the Red enclaves of the Blue States). Thus we should find the lower sloping graphs in higher vaccinated states, and higher sloping graphs in lower vaccinated states. And we do.
The bad news about the virus's unpredictability is that surges can sneak up on us: The lack of a Covid increase across most of northern North America a month ago was not as reassuring as it may have seemed.
Of course, as I said on 8 October, there was, at that time, no such thing as a "lack of a Covid increase". It was plain in the NYT's own maps and graphs. You just had to look.

Well, lookie here. By one measure, West Virginia (not yet a Cold State, but still...) has the lowest full vaccination rate at 41%. In that same data set, Connecticut is at 71%.

Viewing the graphs at the NYT, one can see clearly the difference in infection uptake between the two states, slower/shallower with high vaccination, faster/steeper without. Now there are unexplained anomalies, particularly Vermont, which is at 72%, yet has gone hypersonic. But, there's always a but, Vermont was declining from the recent peak... until 1 November when cases took off. Cold Covid, indeed. Of particular note is the 'Hot Spots' map which doesn't show Burlingtono's county as one. The two really hot spots are Essex and Rutland counties; the former a pretty much empty county, while Rutland not so much. Rural redneck deniers are everywhere.

Another state, which has (finally) garnered some ink in the Fake News press, is Michigan. A cold state, especially the UP, it was increasing at the shallow rate one would expect (vaccination at 54%; not great but not horrid) of a pandemic of the unvaccinated, then skyrocketed from the end of October. In this case, not surprisingly, the hot spot counties match quite nicely to the vaccination (or, lack thereof) map. Who wooda thunk it?

So, are we headed the way of Austria? Or may be Brazil? Only the Shadow knows.

20 November 2021

Thought For The Day - 20 November 2021

Are you as irritated by the new adverts for the iPhone 13 units as I am? In particular, the set that feature some 20-something delivery boy on a moped and $1,000 13? As if this makes any sense? Another sign of the destruction of Western Civilization.

16 November 2021

Cold Covid - part the third

If you're in the mood for tightening up the old sphincter, take a gander at the Germany page over at the NYT.
Two things to note:
- the warm to cold axis runs west to east, so the Hot Spots map isn't contradictory
- the cases graph is to die for (many will)

Will deaths spike as badly as they did following the case/hospitalization spikes last January? Only the shadow knows. If it does here, proportionately, the Red Cold States are in for a heap of trouble, especially if they drive above last winter's spike as Germany already is.

As of today's graphs/maps, two things are unambiguous: A) the Cold States are, nearly all, either still climbing or plateauing near their latest peaks or recouping recent declines and B) the Cold State census is creeping South (would you believe it?).

It's coming.

13 November 2021

The Tyranny of Average Cost - part the sixteenth

Well, well yet another episode in this continuing series, a paean to the controlling power of amortization. Naturally, Apple is the culprit; of its own designs. Hee, Hee.

Well known, the point of this series is that increasing the capital fraction of a production process reduces the flexibility of production. There's only so much non-amortization (of that capital cost) in the BoM to cut if output has to fall.
Apple also benefited from enormous economies of scale. Because the iPhone is one of the most profitable products ever sold, the company could afford to invest billions in a custom chip operation — and then to repurpose its iPhone chips for the iPad, the Apple TV and now the Mac.

Apple's investments have helped spark a new race in the chip business. Intel is investing $20 billion on new chip-making plants, and other chip manufacturers — Samsung and TSMC, which manufactures processors for Apple — are collectively investing hundreds of billions of dollars to increase capacity.
Even Apple will be caught between a rock and a hard place if iPhone, etc. demand falters even a tad. It would be a gas to be a fly on the wall during negotiations betwixt Apple and TSMC/whoever with regard to chip output; how many units is Apple obligated to suck up no matter what and who is forced to eat the unit amortization cost should demand for Apple products, and thus chips, declines? Welcome to the dilemma of capital. It's also worth noting that the processor architecture wasn't developed by Apple, but by ARM over the last couple of decades. Near as can be determined, Apple has, mostly, just made various hardware manifestations of the sub-units wider/longer/shorter as needed. And it's worth noting that Apple has leveraged the production facilities of others. The fiasco with sapphire is instructive. Would they be bold enough to try such a gambit with a corporation the size of TSMC? Intel, being dogged, didn't take advantage of TSMC/Samsung. Until very recently.

11 November 2021

Black Gold

Joe Manchin, nee Mancini, is only it for his own money. I suppose that's true of many politicians; the difference is that Joe continues to insist he has Joe Sixpack's better welfare at heart. Chief among Joe's assertions is that King Coal must continue to rule. Joe, along with the other Coal Princes, likes to blame the Woke Crowd for seeking to destroy good, hardworking coal workers. As if the decline in coal miner employment were the result of the Woke Crowd since, say, Obama.

Well, they're all full of shit. Coal employment has been on the decline since the before The Great Depression. You might remember that the USofA supplied much, if not most, of the hardware used by the Allies in both theaters of WWII. In order to do that, steel was needed. You make steel from iron ore and coal. There was a minor spike, in the midst of the steady deline. A substantial part of the USofA's endowment of both resources went away during those years.

So, Joe, shut the fuck up. (Note, closely, that the spike in employment from 1973 came with the inclusion of office workers. Nice try.)

the wiki

Cold Covid - part the second

Well, things are heating up, so to speak. Last night gave us a report on the MSNBC night shows that's about time; what you've been finding here for some weeks. The Cold States are getting worse, from Maine to Washington. Surprise, surprise.

Colorado, not in the initial set of Cold States, has been getting more ink, and not in a good way. If you look at the NYT page, one thing stands out, in particular: the slope of the rise is utterly different (much shallower, and thus longer in duration) from earlier cycles, in all the Cold States. This lack of meteoric rise may account for the lack of concern across the Cold States so far, as the difference in slope is common. I first noticed this characteristic in the Michigan graph, which instigated my rant about Leonhardt.

Some other anomalies.
Oregon is on the downslope, but it's falling at a much slower rate than its rise.
Both Dakotas are in plateau mode, at or just below this current infection peak.
Vermont continues to climb, and even beyond the last winter peak, spiking like mad since 1 Nov.
Washington is also displaying a shallower decline than its rise, and the last few days may be a new rise.
Maine has already gotten to within a smidgen of the all-time peak, and is back to rising.

May haps the Red States are well on the way to de-population. Stupid is as stupid does.

09 November 2021

You Make Me Itch

OK, so Rogers is claiming he's 'allergic' to something in the mRNA vaccines. What might that be? Turns out, the only known allergen is polyethylene glycol, aka PEG. Turns out the frequency of reactions is smaller than an RCH.

There have been approximately 5 cases of a severe allergic reaction to these vaccines per 1 million doses administered.
A review of the scientific literature reported 37 cases of an allergic reaction to PEG from 1977 to 2016. However, only 28 of these cases actually met the criteria for a severe allergic reaction (i.e. anaphylaxis).
And, no, there is no test for PEG allergy. In other words, Rogers is full of shit.
There is no commercially available blood test for PEG allergy at this time.

Artificial Intelligence? - part the first

It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.
-- Yogi Berra

Well, Zillow has stepped in it, up to their neck. These endeavors have touched on the folly of AI here and there, but this story is way too juicy to let slide.
Zillow CEO and cofounder Rich Barton explained the shuttering of Zillow Offers by citing "unpredictability in forecasting home prices" that "far exceeds" what the company had expected.
Zillow declined a request for an interview with Krishna Rao, the company's vice president of analytics.
Well, no shit Superman!

The essence of the problem, at least from the point of view of longstanding stat practice (first told by Dr. McElhone, IIRC): "you don't make predictions beyond the range of the data". Some stats do that as a matter of course; generally when the client demands an answer for the demand for widgets five years hence, and the like. Any stat who intends to stay in the business will CYA bigly with "these estimates are likely if the historic trends continues for five years", and such.

If The Great Recession taught us all anything (and, apparently, no one in the suites listened), it is that history doesn't continue smoothly into the future. Data results from events, not the other way round. This sort of AI can be made to work, more or less, in the natural world where the rules of engagement (aka, the laws of physics) remain static in the local space in the near future. IOW, you can predict climate pretty accurately until a black swan, like Mt. Tambora going nucular in 1815 messes up the 'model'.
Summer temperatures in Europe were the coldest on record between the years of 1766-2000. This resulted in major food shortages across the Northern Hemisphere.
When it comes to events driven by human decision making (notoriously volatile), betting on AI to supplant the human brain reading the NYT is a losing bet.

06 November 2021

Thought For The Day - 6 November 2021

More than once, in these endeavors, it has been asserted that vaccinated folks are more important to masking than the idiots in these days of vaccination. The reason has always been obvious: the vaccinated want to think they need take no precautions, so do not. Unfortunately, the vaccinated who do come in contact with infecteds end up asymp; just look at NYT Michigan Vaccination and Hot Spot maps. And we know without question that the asymps are the transmission vector that matters. Get a clue folks. You're smart enough to get the shots. Be smart enough to halt the spread of Covid-Δ.
New science showing fully vaccinated people infected by the delta variant after vaccination can transmit the virus.
If you review the NYT Covid data pages, it's kind of interesting that not only is there a continuing epidemic in the cold states, but that the higher concentration counties tend to be higher concentration vaccination counties. How can that be?

Some of the text is earlier, but the map is current.

The CDC words
Current evidence indicates that fully vaccinated people without immunocompromising conditions are able to engage in most activities with low risk of acquiring or transmitting SARS-CoV-2, with additional prevention measures (e.g. masking) where transmission is substantial or high.
Don't be a DeSantis.

04 November 2021

Table of Covid

The BBC has a very useful table display of Covid data. The default, not surprising, is Europe where we see that the Shithole Countries (aka, Eastern Europe, aka Former USSR stans) have the worst per capita mortality numbers. Kind of like our Red Cold States. It's coming.

03 November 2021

Place Your Bets - part the second

Just saw the headline, Kaine blaming House and Senate Dems for McAuliffe's loss. Well, two in particular, but not by name, that I've read.

So, here's the bet. In three parts.

Part 1 - Youngkin immediately drops the facade and goes all in on MAGA, MVGA (sounds like a vomit sound, doesn't it?)
Part 2 - He ends up pissing off those Northern VA (well, all (sub)urban) soccer moms that he conned into believing he was the 'kinder, gentler' wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024 who would make their lives better.
Part 3 - The VA legislature gets the message and gets rid of him before 2022 because they don't want a repeat of 2018.

I'll just say 1 & 2 are dead cert, and 3 is 50-50. Now, if the Barrett court really does a job on Roe, let the blood roll through the streets.

02 November 2021

Cold Covid [update]

Well, it's been about three weeks since Leonhardt trigger me, so let's go see how the cold states are doing.

Here's the state of the cold states back then:

These states have either yet to fall over (case counts, not deaths), or have just started to (start, peak)
Alaska - 1 July, 27 September: 3 months so far, still above previous maximum
Hawaii - 1 July, 2 September: 2 months so far, still above previous maximum
Idaho - 4 July, 13 September: 2 1/2 months so far, oscillating just below peak
Michigan - 1 July, none: still climbing
Missouri - 4 June, 7 August: but is in gradual decline, not precipitous
Montana - 6 July, 23 September: oscillating just below peak
North Dakota - 28 June, none: still climbing
South Dakota - 1 July, 14 September: but is in gradual decline, not precipitous
Utah - 2 June, 13 September: was in gradual decline, now climbing
Wisconsin - 2 July, 21 September: was in gradual decline, now climbing
Wyoming - 5 July, 13 September: oscillating just below peak

This is their status as of the 2 November update
Alaska - not fully fallen over, oscillating near peak
Hawaii - fallen over, but still three times minimum
Idaho - falling, but only a third down from peak
Michigan - was falling from peak, but now headed back up
Missouri - very broad decline, still three times minimum
Montana - starting to fall, but a long way from minimum
North Dakota - was declining from peak, but headed back up past week
South Dakota - in long decline, but still 30 times minimum
Utah - broad plateau below peak with oscillations
Wisconsin - broad decline with oscillations, well above minimum
Wyoming - slowish decline from peak, well above minimum

In sum then, Covid-Δ ain't over. None of the decliners is within spitting distance of their June/July minimum. Whether the rest of the lower 48 are in for a nasty winter is up in the air. If past is prologue, of course, we'll see yet another pandemic within the unvaccinated. And we know what states those are.

Well, lookie here. The USofA isn't the only country with its more northern states (northern hemisphere division) that are experiencing outbreaks.
There's Germany (wintertime for Hitler?)
Lothar Wieler, president of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) -- the German federal government agency for disease control and prevention -- told the same press conference, "If we don't act now, this fourth wave will still bring a lot of suffering. Many people will become seriously ill and die, and the health care system will be heavily burdened."
If you visit the wiki and the NYT Covid graphs, you'll see someting interesting. Temperature differences among the states of Germany aren't as clearly north/south as here. The difference is driven by the distance from the sea; remnants of the Gulf Stream keep western parts of Germany warmer. What you'll also see is that both the low vaccination and Covid-Δ increases fit like a glove on the climate map. Gee whiz?

Now, today, we find that China is experiencing a 'surge'. As the reporting says, the absolute numbers are minuscule compared to the USofA and Europe, but there are two buts. One is that the Chinese government has the Olympics to worry about. The other is the government's stated intention to be 'zero-Covid'.
The ongoing outbreak began on October 16, when infections were detected among a tour group of fully vaccinated senior citizens from Shanghai traveling in northern China. Cases quickly ballooned and spread across northern provinces; by the following week, officials from the National Health Commission warned of "multiple scattered local outbreaks" in the north and northwest that were "expanding rapidly."
The Right Wingnuts are going to kill quite some of their citizens this winter, if the temperature correlation remains in place. And why wouldn't it? It always has so far. Look at the Brazil NYT graphs: upside down to us, but then summer there is winter here.

28 October 2021

Shit, Piss, and Corruption

So, DST ends on the first Sunday in November now, and has since 2005. This year that's the seventh, the latest it can be. Got me to wondering whether it's always the same number of days across all years, given that both the start and end days float (not including leap years, of course). Not wanting to calculate it out, I went to the innterTubes. Didn't find the answer, but did find this on the wiki
The 2005 extension was motivated in part by lobbyists from the candy industry, seeking to increase profits by including Halloween (October 31) within the daylight saving time period.
Another genuflection to Big Bidnezz by Dubya. Who wooda thunk it?

25 October 2021

Stupid Is As Stupid Does - part the third

There might well be a beneficial side-effect from the anti-vaxxer movement. Here's a recent report on these folks. Idiots, one and all. It's kind of a Darwin Award analogue: get rid of the idiots in these professions. Especially cops.
In interviews, New Yorkers who have given up their livelihoods spoke of their opposition to the vaccines as rooted in fear or in a deeply held conviction — resistance to vaccination as a principle to live by, one they put above any health, job or financial consideration.

It is this alternative worldview, resistant to carrot or stick, that helps explain why 21 percent of eligible adults in the country have not gotten a single vaccine dose, threatening a nationwide goal of containing the pandemic.

24 October 2021

Death of an Island - part the eighth

It's been a while since the last installment of this thread of interest. Both Bermuda and Block Island have been the 'island' of interest. Today is, once again, Block Island's day.

Last week was our annual pilgrimage to the island. Weather turned out to be the nicest in recent trips; most days high temp in the 70s and clear, though rather windy. When we arrived, there was a posting in the lobby, advising that the town had instituted an indoor mask mandate effective 3 September. Say, what? I had been tracking both islands' Covid experience earlier in the year, but then both reported diminishing cases, and I focused elsewhere. Rhode Island hasn't been anywhere near the top in Covid-Δ states, either. So, what was going on?

I asked various residents we've come to know, what had been going on? What had not been widely reported, if at all, was that Covid-Δ had run through the service people like a hot knife through butter. As with many other resort places, the lodging and feeding establishments get much of their staff from off-island, even out-of-USofA. And they're lodged in vewy, vewy close quarters. The attentive reader will recall the mess made in meat packing plants in Spring 2020; same thing on Block Island during High Season.

Moreover, it turns out even the resident physician only knows a fraction of the infections
Warcup reported 11 positive cases in the past ten days on Block Island, but noted these were only the cases he knew about. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests that are sent off to the Rhode Island Department of Health from the Fire Barn are not included in the data set. DOH contacts the patients directly and does not contact the Medical Center to share results. PCR tests are the nose swab tests.
One wonders how many other entities don't get PCR results?

It is, still, a bit puzzling that the town would react so late in the game. Closing the barn door after the horses got out. Might it be that replacing sick staff with other lambs from off-island during High Season was more cost effective? Wouldn't want the million dollar cottage dwellers and day trippers to have a service deprived experience. We always have breakfest at Bethany's; there was only one person, beyond Bethany herself, working the front; weekend breakfasts were a bit slow, but during the week when only oddballs such as us were on-island, things went smoothly.

As to that other island, Bermuda's been going through a similar spike. Here's one report of many on the situation.

11 October 2021

Like the Weather

The color of the sky as far as I can see is coal grey.
Lift my head from the pillow and then fall again.
With a shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather.
A quiver in my lips as if I might cry.
-- Natalie Merchant

So, what's up with Michigan? It's still on the climb, denying Leonhardt's two month assertion, moving up on a full four month elevation. Well, if you bring up the rest of the Canadian border states (west of the Great Lakes, at least) you see exactly the same thing; still climbing well past the alleged two month 'surge' (as if the dead recorded on the down-side don't really count). This does not bode well for the rest of the lower 48. These states all bottomed out about 1 July, and are still climbing. Toss in Maine (which may be turning over, from its highest ever peak), the only east of the Lakes state that's as far north, and you can see the future. It ain't pretty.

In a cynical way, further death and destruction in these Ruby Red states may be the best thing that can happen for the Donkey Party. Sleepy Joe and his minions can say, "Look what happens when you ignore the science: more dead people. If that's what you want, vote for the Right Wingnuts, If you don't, vote for the Donkey Party."

08 October 2021

Now I Hate David Leonhardt - part the first

Never thought it would come to this; this title is far less tongue-in-cheek than for Irwin. Leonhardt has gone all wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024 on me. I had such regard for his sanity. Now, gone. He has an e-mail thingee (for subscribers I suppose) which is archived as "The Morning Newsletter" if you want to find it, of uncertain (to my memory) frequency. Today's, carrying the title "The Covid Fable", has this to say:
The best measure of U.S. cases (a seven-day average, adjusted for holiday anomalies) peaked around 166,000 on Sept. 1 — the very day that seemed to augur a new surge. The number of new daily cases has since fallen almost 40 percent. Hospitalizations are down about 30 percent. Deaths, which typically change direction a few weeks after cases, have declined 13 percent since Sept. 20.
Then goes on to chronicle the Bad Things that people think:
- Clutch chokers
- Vaccines and humility
The main determinants of Covid's spread (other than vaccines, which are extremely effective) remain mysterious. Some activities that seem dangerous, like in-person school or crowded outdoor gatherings, may not always be. As unsatisfying as it is, we do not know why cases have recently plunged. The decline is consistent with the fact that Covid surges often last for about two months before receding, but that's merely a description of the data, not a causal explanation.
[my emphasis]
I guess he forgets the Sturgis meets? And the original super-spreader: the DeSantis Spring Breakers? There's absolutely no mystery about spread: masks, distancing, staying away from closed-in areas (and jam packed outdoors, too) all have distinguished areas with high counts and those with low counts. Just go back to the Tectonix map from March 2020 to see the spread. Jeez!!

This all, of course, ignores the data splendidly displayed in his own newspaper. Recall from a few days ago, the post 16 June deaths by county map. Is it too much to ask to accept that this map does show how Covid-Δ has spread? The stupid Red states, which ignore all of the proven (despite Leonhardt's instance that 'proven' is a myth) mitigations, have died expeditiously, while the Blue states which continue to be smart about the situation, aren't. What the hell is this guy thinking? If he is, that is.

As to the rise and fall of Covid strains, yes, one should infer that:
- all strains are more infectious than our lackluster testing regime says
- all strains are more asymp than our lackluster testing regime says
- herd immunity is the only reasonable explanation
- if you're willing to kill tens, if not hundreds, of thousands by doing nothing...
- the two month cycle he asserts is nowhere near true; in many states it's been much longer
- if you view the USofA map, you'll see that 12 Sep. 2020 doesn't peak until 8 Jan.
- if you view the USofA map, you'll see that each cycle had a different span

These states have either yet to fall over (case counts, not deaths), or have just started to (start, peak)
Alaska - 1 July, 27 September: 3 months so far, still above previous maximum
Hawaii - 1 July, 2 September: 2 months so far, still above previous maximum
Idaho - 4 July, 13 September: 2 1/2 months so far, oscillating just below peak
Michigan - 1 July, none: still climbing
Missouri - 4 June, 7 August: but is in gradual decline, not precipitous
Montana - 6 July, 23 September: oscillating just below peak
North Dakota - 28 June, none: still climbing
South Dakota - 1 July, 14 September: but is in gradual decline, not precipitous
Utah - 2 June, 13 September: was in gradual decline, now climbing
Wisconsin - 2 July, 21 September: was in gradual decline, now climbing
Wyoming - 5 July, 13 September: oscillating just below peak

Going through the individual state graphs is a pain. An alternative, with much less detail, is available here, scroll down to see the map groups.

In sum: Leonhardt is just a knucklehead.

06 October 2021

Mrs. Potato Head

This just in from the lamestream press:
[Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice] McGeachin tweeted that she "fixed" [Gov.] Little's executive order banning vaccine passports to include banning schools, colleges, and universities from requiring proof of Covid-19 vaccinations or a negative Covid-19 test.

"I will continue to fight for your individual Liberty!," the lieutenant governor said.
Stupid is as stupid does. Among other things, have a gander at the NYT Idaho page. Idaho isn't unique, but is in the extreme of experience, so far, with Covid and Covid-Δ. Note, especially, the humps in the Hosptalizations graph.
- there are 4 humps in the graph
- each hump is wider than the previous
- each hump is taller than the previous
- the current one has not yet curled over
- the current one is the tallest
Wouldn't want to be in Idaho, especially the Panhandle, which has been inundating Washington state with Covid-Δ patients. Whatever happened to states' rights?
Idaho has been facing its own COVID-19 crisis. Idaho has enacted its "crisis standards of care" after it was hit with a massive COVID-19 surge that overwhelmed hospitals[.]
Stupid people elect stupid people, who, on the whole, seek mainly to grind the citizens under their heel. MAGA

05 October 2021

Thought For The Day - 5 October 2021

Tell me, oh wise ones, how is Facebook different from any other capitalist organization? News just seen that Collins is retiring from NIH. The Right Wingnuts of the MAGA crowd claim that everything in an economy should be run by capitalists, except may be war. That they make lots of Bongo Bucks from the supply of war materiel, is always elided. Daddy Warbucks was a comics character, but he sprang up from reality.

So, would it be a Good Thing if NIH were run like Facebook? Whataya think?

Here's a recent example of that sort of result.
Birx, who was not present, had pulled the plug on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) system for collecting hospital data and turned much of the responsibility over to a private contractor, Pittsburgh-based TeleTracking Technologies Inc., a hospital data management company. The reason: CDC had not met Birx's demand that hospitals report 100% of their COVID-19 data every day.
TeleTracking's majority owner, real estate developer Michael Zamagias, has donated to Republican candidates and has ties to Trump businesses through colleagues, according to an NPR report.
Cyber Ninjas in Arizona?

Of course, Birx is that toady who just sat there when wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024 told us all to inhale bleach to end Covid.

Y'all think I'm kidding, right? In 1988, Reagonomics/Papa Bush Land, OMB wanted to privatize much of NIH. That would have been special.

04 October 2021

Game On

So, here's the headline: "Merck's Covid-19 pill is great news but may not be a game-changer". So, of course I disagree, but not in the obvious way.

The essence of the piece is that any anti-viral isn't the key to stopping the march of Covid.
Effective pills given to outpatients could make a large difference for several distinct groups: for people with mild illness, it could prevent progression to more severe, even life-threatening illness, as the study apparently shows; provide an alternative approach to prevent severe disease in vaccine-refuseniks and vaccine-non-responders (those with severely weakened immune systems); and potentially protect those with recent close exposure to an active case (studies already are underway to examine this last possible use).
And, naturally, therein lies the problems.
- the patient has to have symptoms
- the patient has to get the anti-viral pretty much immediately

As the report says:
Antiviral agents work best when given at first symptoms of disease. Symptoms of early Covid-19 resemble those of countless other viral respiratory infections, such as flu and common colds: sniffles, cough, an upset stomach, a little fever. Nothing specific.
What's the chance that the patient will get this anti-viral soon enough for it to be effective? Kind of like knowing you're pregnant within six weeks. Not much.

And, more importantly, soon enough to render the patient non-infective? Recall: the most important point of the vaccines (alas, apologies to the vaccinated), is to stop transmission. If we all had the DeSantis/Abbott protocol, no one would get either vaccine or anti-viral, and Covid would just run its natural course through the population. God will protect the Godly.

Private Parts

What with the Barrett Court about to topple Roe, it's worth noting what the other intended consequence will be. L&O episodes continue to run on the teeVee, and perhaps as coincidence or not, but just the other day was the episode with Fred Thompson playing DA Branch (in a scene which demanded not a whit of acting) in which, toward the end, McCoy and Southerlyn get into a small spat with Branch over the trial just concluded. Branch argues that they think he's just some reactionary, and he insists he's not. In particular, his objection to the Roe decision is based solely on the fact (and it is) that Roe was decided on the basis of an imputed right to privacy, not one stated in the text or amendments.

Now, in order to overturn Roe, the Barrett Court will have to also scuttle the underpinning of the decision: there is no constitutional right to privacy. From that moment forward, any fascist government or corporation will have carte blanche to spy on all Americans. I wonder how that will go over in the Land of Stupid People?

In The Land of Stupid People

Back to the land of Stupid People.
-- Phil Johnson/1990 [leaving the office for his home in Brockton]

Well, the USofA has many lands of stupid people. In most cases, when I reference some data table or graph, I just have a link for gentle reader to go view as s/he feels compelled. "Well, Tex, this one's differnt!" Here's the death map, June to October, from the NYT.

30 September 2021

Delta Dawn - part the third

It's somewhat widely (if that's not an oxymoron) believed by now that Covid expresses a two/three/four (depending on how you measure) month pathology. It certainly appeared that way back in late January when exponential growth dropped like a rock. Which led/leads the Right Wingnuts of the USofA to push for 'do nothing-ism'. That pattern has, more less, appeared with Covid-Δ in the states. But there remain exceptions: Alaska continues to go nuts, as does West Virginia. Hawaii has now topped over. Idaho appears to be at a plateau, just off its peak which is just off the winter 20-21 peak.

And, of course, Vietnam, which is getting hammered, appears to be on the dropping side of the graph. On the other hand, it's likely to be a much longer pathology (the country is already 4 months in), if the back end of the curve mirrors the front end or worse. And there's no guarantee for that. Much of the infection has been in Ho Chi Minh City, so if Vietnam behaves as the USofA did, Covid-Δ will spread outward from the cities. We'll see.

What appears that we've learned:
1 - the winter of 20-21 peak was more drawn out lower than Covid-Δ
2 - the Covid-Δ peak is much higher and shorter, for most states
3 - mitigation works; Red states fare(d) worse in both bouts

Lambda and Mu and Gamma haven't yet taken the USofA by blitzkrieg. It ain't over til the Fat Lady sings.

26 September 2021

The God's Honest Truth

Here's one report on the insanity of MTG.
You try being a Christian and treat your colleagues decently!
-- Debbie Dingell/(D) Michigan to [MTG]
As it happens, there's been a running thread on today's post about the NYT crossword that's way off topic (for that blog, but perfect for my needs :) ): should adults recall the names and definitions of some trig functions? Some are shocked that adult (well, mostly) crossword solvers haven't a clue that something called arctangent exists, and not know what it means.

Which brings us to another report out today: West Virginia, and other shithole states are being ravaged by Covid-Δ
Less noted is that education rates have also been highly correlated with vaccination rates. Indeed, the states in the top 25 for college-educated adults have on average about 10 points more of their adult population vaccinated compared to the states in the bottom 25 for college-educated adults.
In other words: stupid is as stupid does.

What has always pissed me off is the Christians who get all pious and instantly spout that bit of nonsense, "be fruitful and multiply". The notion that the Prime Being is so stupid as to not understand geometric progression, and to not understand that putting such a stupid idea into a sacred text has to lead to mass deprivation, is more than stupid.

20 September 2021

The China Syndrome - part the sixth

A meaningful factoid, known to the econ crowd for some long time, is that the problem with Evergrande isn't totally of its own making. There's no Blythe to blame; so far as I can find. No, as mentioned in this missive and this report going back nearly as far, housing Ponzi has been ingrained in China for a long time. Eventually, it had to collapse. Whether Evergrande does, and is the failing keystone of the Chinese economy, is the question.

So, we get reporting like this.
Still the ripples were felt across the market. Bond yields fell as prices rose because investors fled to safety. Bitcoin, another risky asset class, also felt some pain and dropped more than 7%.

In the world of commodities, US oil prices fell 2%, while gold prices inched up 0.2%.
As is ever the case: real estate, esp. residential, only makes money on a Ponzi basis. There is no direct productivity from a fancy house or apartment unlike a fancier semi fab. It's value can rise if, and only if, the underlying income of mortgage holders increases. More specifically, incomes of new, prospective, mortgage holders: they're able and willing to pay more per square foot than the last guy. If they can, then the market value of existing properties rises a bit in concert. If not, then all properties devalue. And Blythe saw to it that such a contagion can be country wide (he he).

15 September 2021

Recalling Philip Morris

So, we know that Newsom/Dems wiped Elder's ass. So, again, was it worse than Biden/Trump of 2020? We don't know for sure as I type, in that the latest numbers I find are for 74% of the Recall Vote.

Let's scale up. The NYT results 74%
   Newsom:  5,481,689  64% 
 Trumpism:  3,298,988  36% 
   Newsom:  7,407,688  64%
 Trumpism:  4,458,092  36% 
    delta:  2,949,596 
The 2020 results
Biden: 11,110,250  63% 
Trump:  6,006,429  34%
delta:  5,103,821 
So, Newsom gets a smidgen more percentage than Biden. A big deal? Not likely. The idea that Trumpism would prevail in California is, to quote Mike Pompeo, "fucking moron". That was never going to happen. Larry Elder is no Ahnold.

07 September 2021

I Still Hate Neil Irwin - part the nineteenth

Once again, Mr. Irwin has been reading my musings? Of course, it helps that he has easy access to arcane (for the average citizen) professional/academic research papers. In this case, a Fed regional paper studying the correlation, and likely causative direction, of wealth/income inequality and the 'natural rate of interest'. Both his report, and the reported on paper, reflect what you've read here over the years: scardy cat holders of excess moolah can't and/or won't turn said funds into physical capital, thus we got the Great Recession when a very lot of that moolah decided to chase the nearly (so far as they were concerned and convinced) riskless residential mortgages.

Both he and the reported paper (at least, as reported) ignore two salient facts:
1 - this process he describes is what drove the Great Recession in the first place, the demand for 'riskless' high returns
2 - economists, even the Right Wingnut cabal, have known since Adam Smith (the real one) and raised to importance by Keynes, that the greater one's relative wealth, the less each additional Bongo Buck is spent on goods and services; it's either horded or invested (Jesus saves; Moses invests)
But, here's his take-away
New evidence suggests high inequality is the cause, not the result, of the low interest rates and high asset prices evident in recent years. That is a provocative implication of new research presented on Friday at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City's annual Jackson Hole economic symposium (which was conducted virtually because of the pandemic).
I could have told you that. Wait, I have. More than once. And it didn't cost you anything.

And the reason, as described here a few times, is that those with excess moolah drive the asset markets, and when they are feeling scardy cat, they turn to 'riskless' instruments. When they tired of Treasuries' returns, they convinced themselves that residential mortgages were almost riskless (thanks Blythe!) and they all jumped in feet first. We now know what happened next. As mentioned in a recent missive, banks are so scared they're sucking up Treasuries, too.
It's not that the high earners increased their savings rates. Rather, they were winning a bigger piece of the economic pie; by the researchers' calculations, the share of income going to the top 10 percent of earners rose to more than 45 percent in recent years, up from about 30 percent in the early 1970s.
In other words, if they be necessary, keeping an ever increasing proportion of the GDP in the hands of the 1% leads to an ever larger pile of moolah chasing returns without a change in MPC/MPS of the wealthy class. Fundamental Supply And Demand means that the price of assets will rise and returns on assets will fall. Econ 101.
"These forces pushing down r-star are probably so powerful that the Fed could never fight against them," Professor Sufi said in an email.
Oopsy! Here's a prediction (which won't likely be tested for some time yet): the fiction of Social Security 'investment' in Treasuries will collapse, and SS will be funded directly without all that hand-waving about instruments and imputed returns and other lies.

06 September 2021

Cops (of the world)

With all the finger pointing going on about the Afghan withdrawl, it's worth a minute to review the USofA's other 20 year war: Viet Nam. Yes, most Lamestream Media and Right Wingnut Propaganda date our involvment to the mid-60s. Ain't true.

Here's Phil Ochs' 1966 anthem, "Cops of the World".
Come, get out of the way, boys
Quick, get out of the way
You'd better watch what you say, boys
Better watch what you say

We've rammed in your harbor and tied to your port
And our pistols are hungry and our tempers are short
So bring your daughters around to the port
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys

We're the Cops of the World
We pick and choose as please, boys
Pick and choose as please
You'd best get down on your knees, boys

Best get down on your knees
We're hairy and horny and ready to shack
We don't care if you're yellow or black
Just take off your clothes and lie down on your back

'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World
Our boots are needing a shine, boys
Boots are needing a shine

But our Coca-cola is fine, boys
Coca-cola is fine
We've got to protect all our citizens fair
So we'll send a battalion for everyone there

And maybe we'll leave in a couple of years
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World
Dump the reds in a pile, boys

Dump the reds in a pile
You'd better wipe of that smile, boys
Better wipe off that smile
We'll spit through the streets of the cities we wreck

We'll find you a leader that you can't elect
Those treaties we sighned were a pain in the neck
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World

Clean the johns with a rag, boys
Clean the johns with a rag
If you like you can use your flag, boys
If you like you can use your flag

We've got too much money we're looking for toys
And guns will be guns and boys will be boys
But we'll gladly pay for all we destroy
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys

We're the Cops of the World
Please stay off of the grass, boys
Please stay off of the grass
Here's a kick in the ass, boys

Here's a kick in the ass
We'll smash down your doors, we don't bother to knock
We've done it before, so why all the shock?
We're the biggest and toughest kids on the block

'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World
When we butchered your son, boys
When we butchered your son

Have a stick of our gum, boys
Have a stick of our buble-gum
We own half the world, oh say can you see
The name for our profits is democracy

So, like it or not, you will have to be free
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World
Note that this was years before the real mess started. Note, also, how the USofA treated the Hmong after we high-tailed it out.

So, when do we demark USofA involvement? Here's the wiki

November 1, 1955 — President Eisenhower deploys the Military Assistance Advisory Group to train the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. This marks the official beginning of American involvement in the war as recognized by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.[14]
By that measure, a 20 year war. Training the 'country's army? Sound familiar? On the other hand, one might start the clock a bit earlier
May 1, 1950 — After the capture of Hainan Island from Chinese Nationalist forces by the Chinese People's Liberation Army, President Truman approves $10 million in military assistance for anti-communist efforts in Indochina. The Defense Attaché Office was established in Saigon in May 1950, a formal recognition of Viet Nam (vice French IndoChina). This was the beginning of formal U.S. military personnel assignments in Viet Nam. U.S. Naval, Army and Air Force personnel established their respective attaches at this time.
The bottom line, so to speak, is that the USofA has been implementing gunboat diplomacy since, at least, Monroe. At least back then, the notion was limited to the New World. So, what's it all about? Natural resources, the mother's milk of Mercantilism; we take the resources for cheap (we prop up a compliant dictator to ensure the price) and sell back, at a nice premium, finished goods. We, and the West generally to spread the blame, only care about shithole countries when there is something in the ground we've decided we need. That's the reason Bush Jr, et seq, have steadfastly ignored the simple fact that 15 of the 19 9/11 perps were Saudis; toss in their UAE brethren and it's 17. Interesting factoid: now that Guinea is in something, looking like our new dictator, whomever 'our' is, Mr. Market is nervous about the supply of raw aluminum ore. It never stops, does it?

02 September 2021

Cliff Diving

It's hard to keep absolute track of the content of these missives, since they're not stored in my beloved RDBMS, but at least by the end of February these missives pondered the odd shape of the Covid infection curve. Why would it look like a witch's hat rather than having a slower decline than rise? What would explain that?

All these months later, David Leonhardt questioned some experts in epidemiology. And guess what? They still don't have an answer yet, either.
We have asked experts about these two-month cycles, and they acknowledged that they could not explain it. "We still are really in the cave ages in terms of understanding how viruses emerge, how they spread, how they start and stop, why they do what they do," Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota, said.
Note that at one point, Osterholm allowed as how the next few weeks would be the worst.

There have been plenty of exceptions to the two-month cycle around the world. In Brazil, caseloads have followed no evident pattern. In Britain, cases did decline about two months after the Delta peak — but only for a couple of weeks. Since early August, cases there have been rising again, with the end of behavior restrictions likely playing a role. (If you haven't yet read this Times dispatch about Britain's willingness to accept rising caseloads, we recommend it.)
Listen up wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024-sters

In a few countries, vaccination rates have apparently risen high enough to break Covid's usual two-month cycle: The virus evidently cannot find enough new people to infect. In both Malta and Singapore, this summer's surge lasted only about two weeks before receding.

31 August 2021

Thought For The Day - 31 August 2021

Another island going down the tubes. I suppose because it's many thousands of miles from Soho, Hawaii doesn't make the headlines. Talk about exponential! Of course, the situation could go in reverse if you're visiting the graph some days later.

On the 29th, the case count is 1,658. That's more or less 10 times the next worse day in all the pandemic. "Death in Paradise".

30 August 2021

I Told You So - 30 August 2021

Many's the times these missives have dissed the scardy cats in the Corner Offices for their demand for for-certain high returns on fiduciary capital. Such, of course, don't exist, so the Corner Offices now load up on Treasuries. We got the Great Recession just because the Corner Office guys gulled themselves (and we civilians) into believing that pell-mell residential housing mortgaging wasn't Just Another Ponzi Scheme. Thanks Blythe!

These days, we get conflicting arguments. Some say Powell will turn off the faucet of Fed Treasury buying: the party's over. The Fed's the reason Treasuries draw historic returns, and not in a pleasant way for the capital rich.
The short answer: Money is essentially free now, thanks to the Fed's double-barrel shotgun approach to economic stimulus — interest rates near zero and a massive investment in bonds that keeps yields near rock-bottom. If the Fed eases off the stimulus pedal, borrowing could grow more expensive, making businesses pay more, which means less profit which means Wall Street is sad.
Of course, that assertion is true IFF Treasury interest rates are solely the result of Fed buying. But what if that's just not true?
Rates on Treasury bonds are still near historically low levels, but banks have been buying government debt like never before. In the second quarter of 2021, banks bought a record of about $150 billion worth of Treasurys, according to a note published this month by JPMorgan analysts.
My my!!! The Smartest Guys In The Room just can't, or won't, find any useful ways to turn fiduciary capital into physical capital. There's the meme, been around for some years: "Software ate the world!" Meaning - real goods making is terminal, and so is most need for significant physical capital. (Of course, that tic again, the glow of AI has dimmed rather a bit in two years.)

It's worth keeping in mind that what Powell/Fed have been engaged in is not just more of Great Recession QE. It looks the same, but the two are separated by some years and events in time. It's arguable that Powell's Fed's action is more necessary than Bernanke's of a decade ago. Why, one might ask? Because Covid is a truly external systemic shock, while the Great Recession was the product of those self-same Smartest Guys fiddling the system.

25 August 2021

Thought For The Day - 25 August 2021

Smack Down!!
[US District Judge Linda] Parker is ordering the lawyers reimburse the attorneys' fees that the city of Detroit and Michigan state officials paid in seeking the sanctions. The lawyers must also take legal education classes, the judge said, and she is referring her decision to the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission, and "the appropriate disciplinary authority for the jurisdiction(s) where each attorney is admitted," for potential disciplinary action.
[my emphasis]

Not Shithole Countries

Recall wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024's lament that the USofA only gets immigrants from 'Shithole countries'?
One of the sources who was briefed on the conversation quoted him as saying: "Why do we want all these people from Africa here? They're shithole countries ... We should have more people from Norway."
The Norwegians replied
Christian Christensen, an American professor of journalism at Stockholm University in neighboring Sweden, tweeted: "Of course people from #Norway would love to move to a country where people are far more likely to be shot, live in poverty, get no healthcare because they're poor, get no paid parental leave or subsidized daycare and see fewer women in political power. #Shithole"
So, what have the Norwegians done recently? How about a human-less, electric cargo ship?
Nearly all of Norway's electricity is generated by hydroelectric power, which is generally considered to have much lower carbon emissions than burning fossil fuels, although it still produces greenhouse gases.
Which means, of course, that Norway isn't simply switching out one source of noxious pollutants from ships to another source, coal fired power plants. Not bad for a Not Shithole Country.

Driver-less tractor-trailer trucks, now cargo ships? How will the marginally educated earn livings? They are the 'Real Americans' after all. They said so on 1/6.

17 August 2021

The Red and The Blue - part the fourth

Here's a long-ish essay, which is what I've written in bits and pieces over the, at least, five wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024-years. You should enjoy.

The crux of the matter (you read this, more or less, many times here)
Sun Belt metro areas like those centered on Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and Phoenix, in fact, are generally among the most dynamic areas anywhere in the nation, soaring not only in population but also in jobs and economic output, and pulling further away from the non-metropolitan areas of their states.
And, the Kryptonite quote
Muro's team at Brookings took a broader look, comparing the population growth of all the metropolitan areas in the key Sun Belt states with the remainder living in smaller places. In Texas, Florida and Georgia, the analysis found, the metropolitan areas accounted for about 99% of the states' increased populations since 2010; in North Carolina, South Carolina and Arizona, the metropolitan areas accounted for more than 100% of the states' growth, meaning that the smaller non-metropolitan places actually lost population over the past decade.
Is it any wonder that the Right Wingnuts are scambling like mad to install a permanent Tyranny of the Minority? Just like a third world dictatorship.

Recall: you can't gerrymander a state; while the Right Wingnuts may win some House seats, the Senate is in the Democrats' crosshairs. wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024 is likely too stupid to understand the numbers (he's innumerate), the RNC isn't. The same can be said for state legislatures. State-wide offices are just that, so the Right Wingnuts are striving to suppress votes in urban districts not just to please wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024's White House ambitions, but to forestall getting tossed out of their own State Houses. May be not 2022, but soon. And sooner if they do take any measure of victory in 22 and install Taliban-ish restrictive regimes. When you come right down to it, the difference between them is more of quantity not quality.

13 August 2021

Am I Blue

You betcha! Born and raised and currently residing in New England. Two pieces of recent news makes clear that the Blue is smarter than the Red. Not to mention that the Blue has been supporting all those Welfare Shitkickers in the Red states for generations. FDR gave them clean water, electricity, roads, and most of the other basic facilities of civilized living, and what do they do? Vote for oligarches whose primary goal is the keep the Shitkickers down. Panty waists like Biden continue to delude themselves into believing that the shithole county folks will actually vote for the politicians who actually seek to make their lives better. They've figured out that the Debbie Dummy Democrats will still lavish support on them, no matter what. Stupid is as stupid does. On both sides.

Y'all must know by now that 95%+ of Covid-δ infections are the unvaccinated in Red states? Boy howdy. So, let's go bail them out of their stupidity!! May be it's time for some Tough Love?

As has been said here more times than most readers need: there are no Blue states and Red states if you look closely enough, just Blue cities and Red shithole counties. The former are where the smart people go to make progress for themselves and the community as a whole. The latter, alas, are the places that the morons stay and bitch that city folk live a much better existence and took away their slaves in The War of Northern Aggression. There's a song from the WWI period (yes, that long ago) which sums up the problem: "How Ya Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm (After They've Seen Paree)?". Yes? It is well documented that shithole counties are getting older, whiter, sicker, and dumber as young folk with any smarts get the hell out as soon as they can. And they go to cities, where their smarts can be put to good use.

Now, we have the results of the wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024 Census. As expected, though not by those who were afraid that wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024's minions could put a fat thumb on the scales, cities continue to grow and shithole counties continue to shrink. Not even Viagra will help all those aggrieved old white men get it up. Every news org has a write up; pick the one you normally read. And media, politics, and data wonks are having at it, too. Some take the positive view that this is yet the next nail in the coffin of the Old Persecuted White Guy network. Others take the pessimistic view that, at least in the near term, Right Wing control in so many states will be able to gerrymander their way out of disaster this time.

For myself, I lean more positive than negative. I find it less likely that gerrymandering will gift seats to the Republicans, and, absent draconian voter suppression working, state-wide races will become ever more dependent on city dwellers. That's good for the thinking individual.

The second bit of news is kind of mind boggling. It's not Cold Fusion (which only manifested as a poor data programming tool), but might be nearly as spectacular
"If you go to a much higher magnetic field, you can go to a much smaller size," said Bob Mumgaard, a plasma physicist who is chief executive of Commonwealth. He said that if it was possible to build a device just one-fiftieth the size of the planned reactor in France — which will be roughly as big as a soccer field — it would be able to generate almost as much power.
Much like the difference between American and Russian nukes in the 1950s: they went for big and easy, we went with small and difficult.
Commonwealth's new magnet, which will be one of the world's most powerful, will be a crucial component in a compact nuclear fusion reactor known as a Tokamak, a design that uses magnetic forces to compress plasma until it is hotter than the sun. The reactor looks like a doughnut-shaped jar surrounded by magnets. Soviet physicists originally envisioned it in the 1950s.
I recall reading up on Tokamak back when I was in college. Kind of a Sputnik experience. While most fusion is built around lasers, these folks are going with mega-magnets. We'll see who's best. I wouldn't bet against MIT, though.

09 August 2021

Bay State

A commenter on a blog I follow got uppity about the whole Red State/Covid-δ debacle, particularly incensed that someone pointed at Florida and Texas as the source of much of Covid-δ's spread. As if this were some Snowflake Fantasy. Said commenter pointed its finger/link at Massachusetts; I suppose to make the point that it's not just Red States. Well, not a strong argument.

Of course, the link was reporting about the P-town issue. The place has a resident population of about 3,000 and a daily summer season count around 60,000 almost all of which aren't from around those parts. The touristy part of town is narrow streets and alleys, and most of the time it's a shoulder-to-shoulder experience in season; the times we've gone is way out of season. Hard to imagine a better petri dish for Covid-δ.

Even more amusing: this argument prompted me to look at the NYT MA page, and lo and behold the only Red part of the state is Nantucket, an even more alien invaded place, second and third home of the rich and famous.
Nantucket is a tourist destination and summer colony. Due to tourists and seasonal residents, the population of the island increases to at least 50,000 during the summer months. The average sale price for a single-family home was $2.3 million in the first quarter of 2018.
-- the wiki

08 August 2021

That Pesky Exponent

The mantra these days: if you're innumerate, you're a danger to society. Ronny VirusSeed© is the number one idiot, with Wheelchair Greg a close second. Covid-δ is the top fuel dragster of disease, going from 0 to 300 mph in a quarter mile (not that they run that far anymore - too dangerous).

From today's news
Behind the country's latest surge is the Delta variant, which now accounts for more than 93% of coronavirus circulating in the US, according to data from the CDC. This includes several sub-lineages of Delta, all of which are classified as variants of concern. The number is even higher in parts of the country including Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, where Delta accounts for more than 98% of circulating virus.

Those numbers show a rapid increase in the variant's prevalence across the US. In late May, the CDC estimated that Delta made up about 3% of new Covid-19 cases.
[my emphasis]
That ain't linear.

07 August 2021

Delta Dawn - part the second

The first episode has some connection to this one, mostly coincidence, but I couldn't let the pun go unpunished.

Among the shibboleths I've run across in my life is the following
The Old World nearly wiped out the New World populations with the simple common cold.
The New World returned the favor, although not as spectacularly, by giving us syphilis.
Today's analogy is somewhat more cynical
American IT gave IIT Freshers all of our compute jobs.
In return, India gave us Covid-δ.
Note a fair trade, but who said life was fair?

And, of course, the latter is undeniable. Within a smidge, it emerged in the USofA beginning of this March. It took a couple of months to gain traction. Now, go look at the NYT country case graph. Note the shape following February, 2020 vis-a-vis May, 2021. Geometric progression can be bad and it can be lots worse. Covid-δ is lots worse. This is a slope worse than last fall. Moreover, if you look at the Bad Red States, FL/AL/LA and such it's the unvaccinated.

Ronny VirusSeed© is the worst of the bunch. Not only is FL rising faster than it did in The Bad Olde Days, daily case counts (which I guarantee are being fiddled minimized) are greatest yet. Good going Idiot.

The issue is easy to see. For some Red State get some case count/date after Covid-δ was detected. Next, slide back to 2020 and that value. Next, take the latest case count number, and slide back to the original infection segment and that case count. Note how long the time is in both situations. In general, what is one month with Covid-δ is three or four months with original Covid. Let that sink in. There are some questions now:
Will Covid-δ find a peak and drop as fast as it climbed the way original Covid did?
Will Covid-δ not stop at a peak similar to original Covid and just keep going?
Since Covid-δ is far more infectious to the unvaccinated, and the unvaccinated are concentrated in Red States, will the peak be OK nationally, but population altering in Red States?
Will Floridians capture Ronny VirusSeed© and hang him by his heels and fillet him with the band playing "The Wicked Witch is Dead"?
Back about March, 2020 the effectiveness of asymp transmission was no longer debated; no one, other than a Right Wingnut Moron, would hang around someone coughing and sneezing and nose dripping, so the asymps had to be driving infection. This time around, the Lamestream Press appears to be ignoring history. We now know that breakthrough infection of the vaccinated, while rare, is likely asymp. It may even be true that the vaccinated, while not infected/asymp, can still transmit Covid-δ that has entered the nose, but doesn't get down into the respiratory tract to cause infection. The jury is still out on that.
[B]ecause Delta reproduces so quickly and efficiently, it appears that the virus can sometimes reach detectable and infectious levels in vaccinated people before the vaccine-mediated immune response kicks in.
[my emphasis]
One hopes it's not so, because this is more insidious than asymp. So The Revenge of the Smart; this time around we'll be killing off the Covidiots!!! Yay!!!

03 August 2021

Parallax View - part the fifty fourth

The last version in these missives (expected to end the title, sigh) was way back in April, 2021. Here is today's map. The map didn't appear to be predictive or illuminating back in April, thus suspension. Guess what? It still doesn't, compared to the version from CNN (about half-way down the page), which shows transmission levels. Now, that's what we need to know.

It's similar in information content to the Tectonix map of the Fort Lauderdale Covidiots, aided and abetted by Ronny VirusSeed© in 2020. Same greedy stupidity, yet again. As I type, Florida reported 38,321 on 27 July and 38,776 on 30 July, new cases. Miraculously, 0 in days since. Ya believe that? Neither do I. Those numbers are way bigger than any over the entire length of the pandemic. and Ronny VirusSeed© continues to gaslight his citizens. And, just as the Lauderdale Covidiots spread Original Covid far and wide, we can expect the same this time. Even just a glance at the transmission map shows that the spread is well underway. The only saving grace is that the infections are nearly 100% among the unvaccinated. Freedom to die.

A week or so ago I mentioned to The Wife that the carrot hasn't been working in getting the cretins vaccinated, thus it's time to employ the stick, which would be that if you end up needing medical care for your Covid infection, neither Medicare, Medicaid, nor health insurers will pay for it. The cost comes out of your pocket. A day or two later, Carville was bloviating on one of the MSNBC nightly chat fests, and went nucular: if you get sick with Covid, and you're not vaccinated, you don't get medical care. No doctor visit, no hospital bed. No nuthin. Boy howdy!! Some people are just too stupid to do the right thing. They all think that 19th century USofA was some kind of Freedom Utopia, when it was in fact mostly deprivation for most citizens most of the time.