22 February 2021

Parallax View - part the forty sixth

Another week's up, so here are today's numbers:
  >= 1,000 -   575 
100 to 999 - 1,583
(New) grand total of counties reads at 3,116. While I've not gotten into an argument with the Topo folks over this re-definition of 'affected' counties, it certainly looks like a move to bolster wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024's perpetual lying.

The only news of note is that David Kesslar, on MSNBC, noted that one possible explanation for the cliff dive in infections is that vaccinations of the 75+ cohort has an unexpectedly large impact on transmission. I am not sure I buy that explanation, since, by now, all those travelers/revelers from Turkey Day to New Year's Day would be separated from the congregant settings. As improbable as it seems to me, Herd Mentality, especially in the Red State Axis is a possible explanation for the dive. That axis has shown the greatest shift from red to blue.

In all, I remain suspicious. Here is a report (second sourced, on 6 February)
The number of coronavirus tests administered daily in the United States has been trending downward for more than two weeks. And though experts say the trend is too fresh to set off major alarm bells, the decline raises the possibility that testing has reached a ceiling at a time when scientists say the nation should be conducting millions more tests per day to help stop the spread of the virus.
It is also true, from the NYT Covid page, that hospitalizations have fallen nearly as fast. It is a puzzlement.

20 February 2021

By The Numbers - part the seventh

Just to show how dumb Texans are, here's the official building code frost line:
10 inches
The states with that depth or less are either warmed by the Pacific or the Gulf or the Atlantic. Texas is, and always has been, in the bull's-eye of jet stream incursions, whether from negative NAO or Polar Vortex. Always has been.

Somewhat oddly, one might say, Connecticut and Rhode Island have deeper frost lines than Massachusetts, yet are a tad more southerly and coastal. I'm going to guess that the MA number is an average of Boston area and Western counties. Let's go see. Here's a helpful map, courtesy of the Damn Leftwing Gummint. As can be seen, if you pick a town say Pittsfield, then zoom out, you'll see that frost line does increase as you move from the Boston bay area west.

In engineering, there is the principle of 'margin of safety'; it is everywhere in civil engineering of occupied structures. I recall 'knowing' that elevator cables are required to support more than the designed maximum load, 100% or twice design load is the figure that sticks. Well, here is a 'professional' view
The combined strength of the cables must exceed the weight of the fully loaded car by ten times (safety factor of 10). In most instances, each individual cable will be able to hold more than the car weight, and, oftentimes an elevator may have as many as eight such cables.
So, from an engineering point of view, burying water pipes only to the 'expected' frost depth is a margin of safety of zero. Not insulating gas transport pipes is a margin of safety less than zero. Not winterizing turbines, ditto. Northern Europe, even Greenland, manages to run both just fine in winter. About loss of solar when it is snowing, that one rests at the feet of Mother Nature.

19 February 2021

Of Feuerstein

Adam Feuerstein is something of an enfant terrible (although recently admitted to 53 yoa), but does offer up an interesting tweet every now and again. This recent one is one such. The interesting bit isn't his tweet, but rather one of the comments:
Most small cap PMs are underweight biotech. It only matters when they start losing to the benchmark due to this factor for a period of time. It may be concerning but remember, those who questioned tech's influence on S&P500 in 2017 got burned underweight FAANG.
-- Spreckels_Organ
Two maxims of playing the market
- past performance is no indicator of future results
- never, ever, conflate the performance (past or current) of one sector with the future of another
The reason for those maxims is as simple as the Sun rising in the West: Mr. Market's reactions are to events, not data. The data generating process and the event occurrence process in those sectors are as different as the Sun and the Moon. Tech works from some fundamental and, reasonably, well understood laws from Mother Nature, but bio-pharm? If you ever took science in college, especially chemistry, then you will recall the length and weight of the Organic book vis-avis Inorganic; tech operates in the latter while bio-pharm the former. No to forget that the boundary between chemistry and physics makes bio-pharm heavy in the former while tech is heavy in the latter. Again, the laws of physics are far more regular. Tech is Latin while bio-pharm is American English; one is structure the other is chaos. Throw in a big stinking pile of biology? The 90%+ failure rate and the serendipitous discovery of so many compounds makes predicting, especially the future, so difficult (a tip of the Hatlo Hat to Yogi).

17 February 2021

Hubris - part the second

A sometime catch phrase around these parts: 'Party like it's 1829!!' Well, Texas, especially for those who follow macro interests, is well known for having its own 'power grid'. This is not news. The utter failure to account for low temperatures is due to an unregulated market; there's no penalty for failure. The wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024 approach, 'so sue me!!' is of only marginal use, since there's no requirement that a bidnezz escrow sufficient funds to cover such penalties. The cupboard is bare, so the CxO class just takes its moolah and goes home, leaving those who sue with nothing for the effort. Much the same with PG&E and California wildfires. On this point, Adam Smith was completely out to lunch. An ounce of prevention not only is worth a pound of cure, it is likely the only way to avoid needing that pound which will never be forthcoming.

The excuse for such engineering stupidity is that it makes for cheaper power. Tell that when failure leads to 10,000% higher power bills.

All of the power generators that failed do not fail in this manner when sited north of the Mason-Dixon line. The canard that wind turbines are now proven to be unreliable is another Big Lie: they simply need to be winterized. Much of northern Europe, Germany in particular (with nearly twice the output of number two), does just fine 12 months out of the year. Texas power generators simply chose to forgo that form of 'insurance'. Why wouldn't they? There'll be no penalty.

Justice ignored is justice denied.

15 February 2021

Parallax View - part the forty fifth

Another week's up, so here are today's numbers:
  >= 1,000 -   665
100 to 999 - 1,666
(New) grand total of counties reads at 3,120. While I've not gotten into an argument with the Topo folks over this re-definition of 'affected' counties, it certainly looks like a move to bolster wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024's perpetual lying.

8 Feb. - 1,000+ is 775
9 Feb. - 1,000+ is 957

Still smells putrid in Denmark.

What explains the cliff dive of infection? Recall that past peaks where followed by gradual declines to a plateau a bit below the peak. Why is this peak different? You see this with the NYT graph (13 Feb.). Mon Dieu!! Could we have reached wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024's Herd Mentality already?? His elves will soon make the claim, you betcha.

Often what we see is a sort of cyclical pattern where things worsen and so people stay home more. They are more vigilant about wearing masks. They skip the restaurants or the get-togethers. But as things improve people relax a little bit and incorporate some of those risky behaviors again and things can again accelerate. -- Caitlin Rivers/21 January 2021
The National Law Review has a gold mine of event based information, in particular a 'complete' chronological listing of mitigation efforts by state, headed by a section of new efforts. Of some interest is that there are no significant mitigation efforts in the latest report. Is this a real plummet, or Nero fiddling? Enquiring minds need to know.

Why then does Osterholm say this?
The next 14 weeks I think will be the worst of the pandemic.
It's a puzzlement.


There appears to be an inherent contradiction, at least in the memes, regarding Covid.

On the one hand, it's almost entirely geezers who die, and would soon die anyway, so why's the concern with shutting down? Let the real Americans go about their business; Covid doesn't affect real Americans.
The median age of patients was 68 years (IQR 52-82) for COVID-19 and 71 years (34-84) for influenza. Patients with COVID-19 were more frequently obese or overweight, and more frequently had diabetes, hypertension, and dyslipidaemia than patients with influenza, whereas those with influenza more frequently had heart failure, chronic respiratory disease, cirrhosis, and deficiency anaemia.
In-hospital mortality was higher in patients with COVID-19 than in patients with influenza ...
The proportions of patients at the extreme ends of the age categories were significantly greater for influenza (8942 [19·5%] <18 years and 15 366 [33·5%] >80 years) than for COVID-19 (1227 [1·4%] <18 years and 24 242 [27·0%] >80 years)
In-hospital mortality was higher in patients hospitalised for COVID-19 than patients hospitalised for influenza, with a relative risk of death of 2·9 (95% CI 2·8 - 3·0).
NB: relative risk is multiplicative.

For hospitalizations, the 31-50 cohorts were: Covid - 16.8% Flu - 7.0%
For deaths, in-cohort, the 31-50 cohorts were: Covid - 2.1% Flu - 1.8%
So, in other words, Covid sickens and kills more breadwinners than Flu. And some folks wonder why teachers are leery about in-class instruction?

On the other hand, there are fully obvious superspreader events, beginning, at least, with the Covidiots of the DeSantis Spring Break.

So, how can both 'facts' be true? If it's just geezers who are at risk (which the data contradicts the 'common knowledge'), how can there be superspreaders that don't involve them? One might argue that Covidiots provide the vector to the geezers, but said geezers are largely dying in rest homes and nursing homes and such. A significant impedence mismatch is at play.

Further, and most importantly, why did infection subside to a plateau after previous peaks? Yet now we see a cliff dive? What is different? One might expect the wee little critters to continue infecting once established in a population. Why haven't all those meat packing plants in the Northern Plains (well, everywhere) simply been de-populated? They should, since no native immunity is known to exist in the population. Or is the data simply being fiddled? The wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024 Deep State aims to continue, at least until March, 4 when the real next president is inaugurated.

It is a puzzlement. I wish I had an answer that doesn't smell like a conspiracy. But I don't.

The preceding musings were written before today, and today offers some answer, not that I fully believe it:
"It's what we're doing right: staying apart, wearing masks, not traveling, not mixing with others indoors," Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Sunday.
My skepticism is grounded in the simple fact that the Red state Covidiot governments haven't shown significant change in their mitigation requirements. On the other hand, viewing the NYT Covid page, shows that the Blue, high population, coastal states have dropped off the cliff, as well including California. Newsom is in for possible recall over his aggressive approach, well fumbling, too. Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, and all that, but decisions made based on data whose generation process is ambiguous are just as likely to be wrong as right.

10 February 2021

Follow The Money

Now that there is a Democratic Washington, the Right Wingnuts are tres concerned about doling out moolah to the hoi polloi ('it will make them lazy and unwilling to work for our slave wages and may be die of Covid in the bargain. It's not fair to us, the creators!!!') and, of course, inflation. As these missives have been banging the drum about inflation: it has been around since Obama/Right Wingnut rescue began. The distinction is that the inflation is localized; to assets, stocks and bonds in particular. Mr. Market's bloating can only happen if there is excess moolah floating around with no useful purpose. If you have lots of cash you can't spend, then stash it away in hopes of capital gains, and gaining yet more cash you can't find a way to spend. If you are a scardy-cat, buy Treasuries. If you want more vig, Mr. Market has wares available. That is where we've been for at least a decade.

Of course, as with credit default swaps and securitized mortgages, Mr. Market's more devious denizens have created a new way to leverage their ever increasing slice of the income/wealth pie. Hoi polloi, meet SPAC. Today's NYT has a lengthy, well reported discussion. You should read it up.
The economics of running a SPAC are, well, SPAC-tacular. Typically, a SPAC's sponsor — the person putting up the initial capital — invests a nominal amount in return for a 20 percent stake, so long as the SPAC finds a target company and completes a merger. In other words, if a Wall Street executive or celebrity raises $400 million from public investors, that person also gets a stake worth $100 million, regardless of how well the company performs after the merger.
Will they crash either individuals (Robinhood) or the whole economy (CDS)? Only the Shadow knows.
Some have called the SPAC a new, public form of venture capital. That implies big rewards and real risks. Most venture capital deals fail.
The truth is that SPACs are rife with misaligned incentives between the sponsor and other investors, particularly those who come after a merger.
So, like Ponzi, first one in the pool gets the gold medal.

Where did all that money come from? The $2 trillion dollar tax give-away, directly, and the evisceration of the corporate tax rate, indirectly, helped a bit. The rich get richer and the poor have kids; My Pappy said so.

08 February 2021

Parallax View - part the forty fourth

Another week's up, so here are today's numbers:
  >= 1,000 -   775
100 to 999 - 1,682
(New) grand total of counties reads at 3,114. While I've not gotten into an argument with the Topo folks over this re-definition of 'affected' counties, it certainly looks like a move to bolster wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024's perpetual lying.

4 Feb. - 1,000+ is 957
5 Feb. - 1,000+ is 839

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Granted, in the history of Covid, stupid times have led to peaks which eventually diminish, but this just doesn't make much sense. In particular, it's the in the Red Longitude from Texas to North Dakota where the blues have appeared. Somewhat surprisingly, North Dakotans have learned to do the right thing. Who wouda thunk it? We'll see what happens, assuming we get honest data from the Red states, when the UK and SA variants take hold. Some say they already have.
In January 2021, scientists from UK reported evidence that suggests the B.1.1.7 variant may be associated with an increased risk of death compared with other variants.
And, not surpisingly, the AstraZenca/Oxford vaccine appears largely ineffective against the SA strain. Once again, the lesson of other coronaviruses is that they mutate faster than chemistry can keep pace. Which also means, along with the common cold (another coronavirus, to some extent), that we may never have either a stable vaccine or Herd Mentality. Get ready for the Evangelicals to blame it all on gays and Liberals. You know, Sodom and Gomorrah.

05 February 2021

By The Numbers - part the fifth

See, now if wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024 and his minions didn't have, as their main strategy, to punish Blue States, they could have taken a national plan with everything Covid related, but particularly getting vaccine into arms. So now, a few weeks into Sleepy Joe's administration, someone there has finally had a brainstorm, "Hey guys, why not have shots in pharmacies JUST LIKE WE ALWAYS DO FOR FLU SHOTS?"

Well, here's a report
Shipments of Covid-19 vaccines will be headed to pharmacies next week under a federal program that aims to get more people vaccinated quickly.
Of course, when Pfizer was the only game in town, such a plan appeared impossible, given the refrigeration demands of that vaccine. It was in all the fake news media. But there were some reports (this from a month ago) that pharmacies could be locales, but not all.
Once vials of the Pfizer vaccine are put into regular fridges at your local pharmacy, Levi said, "you have about five days to actually use it." Retail chains, therefore, will have to predict how high demand will be at each store so they don't end up wasting doses.
Do you recall all the cat calls, particularly from wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024 zealots that 100 million doses in 100 days was impossible? If you actually know how to plan logistics, and care to do so, it can be done. The next, or perhaps first, step is ramping up supply to exercise the logistics.

01 February 2021

Parallax View - part the forty third

Another week's up, so here are today's numbers:
  >= 1,000 -   913
100 to 999 - 1,686
(New) grand total of counties reads at 3,119. While I've not gotten into an argument with the Topo folks over this re-definition of 'affected' counties, it certainly looks like a move to bolster wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024's perpetual lying.

This decline in infections is going about unchallenged, even by the Snowflake teeVee pundits. I do find it unexplained.
Looking at the epidemic curve, Covid cases will peak in January and we will see cases starting to decline in March. -- Scott Gottlieb/12 November 2020
This ain't March. January, especially North of the Mason-Dixon line, is the coldest, most shut-in month. February ain't much better. While a peak was expected, it was expected to be more of a plateau than short-term spike.

As an alternative, though a bit more laborious to interpret, is the CNN map. It gives you two radio buttons, so you can see (per 100,000) total/current and cases/deaths. If you take total cases, the disaster of the Northern Plains is, well, plain. Dewey county, SD has 23,574 cases to date. That's some serious infection. Whether it justifies saying, "Herd Mentality" or not is a question. West Texas is also pretty dark.

The problem that can't be ignored: if the decline is sustained, and none of the mutants gets a vise grip, wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024 and his minions will Trump-et
- their claim all along that there really are more cases (well, they actually claimed that case count was exaggerated, but who's counting?) than reported - means that we've already reached Herd Mentality just as wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024 said would happen, "It's going to disappear. One day — it's like a miracle — it will disappear." - 27 February 2020
Early on, these missives allowed as how it would be useful to trace the experience with other coronaviruses, to see where Covid-19 would head. Short duration immunity, aka reinfection, and mutation first among equals. So, it seems to be from one of the Novavax trials.
Additionally, 1 in 3 patients was thought to have already had COVID-19, which suggests that reinfection can occur, and that patients who have contracted the original strain of the virus may not be protected against the new variants.