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Agree – that CP article is an excellent read.
The CovidPlanB team have a new post today on the NZ re-lockdown which captures many things quite nicely, here: https://www.covidplanb.co.nz/category/our-posts/
As the re-lockdown has restricted gatherings to 100 people, they’ve moved their symposium next Monday online and will be live streaming it, so anyone interested can watch: https://www.covidplanb.co.nz/event/
I’ve been wondering whether some of the low rates of Covid in tropical countries such as Thailand, Vietnam etc are due to the prophylactic effects of some of these drugs when prescribed for other illnesses (eg malaria).
I dropped my research into this as hydroxychloroquine seems to have been widely abandoned as an anti-malarial due to reduced efficacy from exposure/tolerance by mosquitoes. But if doxycycline and other similar drugs also demonstrate efficacy against SARS-Cov-2, do you think this might be an avenue worth investigating further?
Gorgeous moon photo..
“Mostly for the doctors amongst us (let’s hear you!), but a bit of good news for everyone”
I’ll see your good news and raise you some gloomy news..
Queen Covid – she of the illustrious teeth, who shall be revered across the world as an example of leadership – has just announced Auckland will be going back into Level 3 restrictions tomorrow (schools closed etc), and the rest of NZ into Level 2..
Yep, we have cases! All four of them. Who’d have predicted that maintaining pristine isolation of NZ from the rest of the world couldn’t be maintained forever?! Announced at 9PM tonight and enacted by midday tomorrow. Precisely and exactly as bizarre and arbitrary as the recent flip-flops in UK policy.
Of course, this is totally sustainable (not) – executive governance by fiat and whim, with an entire country primed to pivot on a dime in response to the latest executive command. My phone just shrieked at me like there was an impending tsunami.. national emergency response!! Read the latest missive and panic everyone..
With the NZ election 6 weeks out, this will go one of two ways. Either a brief window of opportunity where worried people feeling the reasonable “what, again?” response are open to questioning, or double-down on the sheepdog compliance. I’m not betting either way.. I just can’t tell.
Next Monday is supposed to be the conference with international speakers like Sunetra Gupta, convened by the NZ Covid PlanB group which I was (am?) very much looking forward to. The way things are headed, a gathering of 150 people will be far too many, and the government will be “forced” to prevent it proceeding.
What utter, utter, utter, utter incompetence. Yay Jacinda……………
There’s a few of us here have expressed the same sort of frustrated rage at the way things have played out this year, and the potential bleakness for the future, so I have sympathy for your view.
Thing is, what’re ya gonna do? The majority of people are in deep denial and are absolutely immune to any “real” conversation. For preppers, there’s only so much prepping you can do. After that, it’s a matter of waiting for things to kick off to have anything to respond to, or to wake up a few sleepers such that they’ll be in any way receptive.
CJ Hopkins has a good column up today: https://off-guardian.org/2020/08/10/invasion-of-the-new-normals/
I’m open to any good ideas on what we could be doing, but it feels just like a zombie movie out there, and I don’t see what can be be usefully done right now.
A chunk of that is indeed true. But..
– the race riots are as much the fault of the predominantly Democratic-run states (something like 17 of the worst 20 from memory).
– the Nordstream-2 sanctions are off the back of relentless pressure by the dems to antagonise Russia at all costs, or validate their relentless Russophobic accusations
– the decline of the US as a world power has been baked in for a couple of decades now via hubris and corruption
– Trumps lies are indeed coarse and obvious. Obama would have smoothly and glibly avoiding saying anything of substance. If one of those is better than the other, I really can’t see it
And on the positive, despite continuing Obama’s military foray in Syria, Trump has conspicuously not invaded any new countries in the way Bush and Obama/Hillary before him seemed to have no compunctions.
So yeah, coarse and vulgar, and often a dick. And if I were from the US, I’d be embarrassed that he was my elected leader. But in terms of douchery, just one in a party-interchangeable conga line stretching quite a while back… 🙂
I no big fan of Trump, but the fact he’s still standing after all they’ve thrown at him.. well I take my hat off to him on that. OTOH, it’s an excommunication offence amongst half my family and quite a few friends to observe even this tepid praise.
Part of me is curious what he would do in a second term.. a “Trump Unchained” as it were. Quite possibly whatever he pleased, without regard to his successor or to his donors, which he’d have little loyalty to.
No doubt there’s a huge number on both sides of the aisle holding their breath that doesn’t happen.
But… what a spectacle if it does!
“” The one thing we all agree on is no one has consequences. No reward for work, no consequences for failure, lies, theft, or murder.”
This is one of the things i’ve been trying to wrap my head around of late. I can’t figure it out. Talk about a bottomless rabbit hole”
When I’m in a less temperate mood I’m fond of employing the expression “clinically retarded” to describe so much observed behaviour.
Case in point – so many of my colleagues in IT are recently installing Alexa-type devices in their homes.
So, cogniscent of the Snowden revelations, and aware of the strictly limited utility in installing a device which will save them the odd minute here and there, they’re spending their own cash to install bugging devices amongst their family, then training the AI to recognise their voices. And this includes people who have exposure to or work directly in IT security!
Holy crap.. they must literally switch off the part of their brains which assesses potential risk to do that. But they can be the very same people who will place an orange cone over a tiny defect in the concrete floor in case someone loses their footing and falls…
The complacency. The mindless idiocy in thought and deed. It’s utterly staggering on so many fronts..
Here’s another good take (and Ilargi – I’m conscious it’s your role to do the link posting.. I’ve posted ones recently that have been from more obscure sources where they’re relevant on the discussion. On the assumption you can’t scour the entire internet alone..): https://streetwiseprofessor.com
A couple of quotes from it that I liked (for those not wanting to read the article):
Noting that Stella Immanuel who promoted a HCQ treatment was vilified by the media:
“I further note that if conservatives had unleashed such a stream of invective against a leftist African American woman the screams of racism and sexism from the very leftists currently imprecating Dr. Immanuel would shake the heavens. But if the left didn’t have double standards, it would have no standards at all.”
“At best the evidence supports the view expressed early in the outbreak (but curiously discarded) that restrictions on social interactions could affect the timing of the progression of the disease, but not its ultimate toll. That is these policies can affect the shape of the curve, but not the integral under the curve.
Why? Because virus gonna virus. A point that I made early on, and many bona fide experts did as well.
Related to this is the interest of the governing class. The Faucis and Kashkaris and Democratic governors and mayors and county executives of the US (and their foreign equivalents) quite like the vast powers that they have arrogated in the name of public health. They have achieved unchecked authorities that they could only have dreamed of in January. Why should they want to stop now? And why should they want to tamp down hysteria, when it has worked out oh-so-well for them? Of course they don’t–hell, they have every incentive to stoke it, and by all evidence they are doing so with a hearty assist from the hopeless media.”
In the spirit of the voting theme today, here’s an interesting article I came across by an ex-Prime Minister of Iceland on his observation of the effects of social media on Icelandic governments over time:
@V Arnold – I had you in mind when I posted it 😉
I did wonder whether the original story was pitched to PETA as a trap with which to embarrass/disgrace them. They do a lot of interesting work in exposing the horrid conditions of factory farmed animals, so I can’t imagine they have many friends amongst the corporate elites.
@Ilargi – great selection of articles today, thank you. And the Trump cap tweet almost had me snorting coffee out my nose. 🙂
May I add one more link as a beautiful example of the MSM fake news cycle: http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2020/08/peta-lies-about-thai-coconuts-exposes.html
Last thought – tactically, we should avoid any discussion on codifying response to a future pandemic until we have good open data/studies on the responses/outcomes to date. I suspect barely 1% of people (if that) have been exposed to the recent studies showing zero correlation between lockdowns and spread/containment.
To begin such discussion now will inevitably lead to politicians prematurely codifying the most extreme of their interventions, based on the misperceptions and residual goodwill (ie relief) of the wider populace.
Much better to kick that can down the road for some time, so that the dissenters have more chance to mobilise. I can’t believe the FB, Twitter, Google et al wall of censorship can’t remain standing for too much longer (though the “market can stay irrational longer than you can stay liquid” maxim may apply).. what happens when they crumbles or is regulated will be interesting.
@Sumac.Carol – thanks, I wasn’t aware of that.. it’s good to know.
The problem is that each new article keeps breathing oxygen into the whole Covid debate vastly out of proportion to it’s relative risk.
From the conversations here and elsewhere, I think most of society is aware – some consciously, some unconsciously – quite how at risk humanity is on a wide variety of fronts.
The problem is that this leads the majority to want to “do something”. And the majority of that something always winds up targeting the powerless, whilst the powerful continue unchallenged.
One of the things we have to avoid if we’re to have any meaningful effect, is having our attention and time diverted from the impactful into the marginally-impactful.
I read the other day that Oxycontin had claimed 500k lives in the US. It’d be vastly more productive in terms of lives to ignore Covid and focus on taking down the Sackler family (and not into bankruptcy..). Or Bush and Blair for the millions of Iraqi lives. Or the Bayer execs, etc etc.
Covid, BLM, they’re all divisive and ultimately meaningless distractions from politics of consequence, hence my animosity to Taleb. The consequences of the Long Tail which make sense in terms of environmental destruction are vanishly unlikely in terms of Covid/pandemic. You can rationally adopt the same outlook and strategy for viewing them as he does, but it’s disingenuous in the extreme not to discuss the relative likelihoods of both. That’s Risk 101.
On Societal Risk There’s a big difference between risks that simply lead to different outcomes and risks of ruin, particularly on the systemic level. We should be worrying about multiplicative risks — such as pandemics.
I swear to G_d Taleb gets less and less relevant with everything he writes. Yeah everyone had thrown two kitchen sinks at this Covid thing from Day 1 we wouldn’t be where we are now. Oh, and by the way, we should all do that every single time an unknown pathogen that kills 1000 people arises.
What happened to a portfolio view of risk? If pandemics are systemic risks of this nature, what about accumulation of biotoxins in the environment from modern farming practices? hey it’s BAU on that front.. has been for decades. The risk of widespread irrecoverable environmental destruction carries the same catastrophic risks to humanity, but with a much more plausible path to that outcome because of the potential number of vectors to it.
If the threat of pandemics warrant the responses he advocates, then these other risks warrant the same effort x10, or x100. And there are many other risks, without even considering the inevitable costs of his proposed interventions.
When I look at him, I see someone hooked up to precisely the same gravy trains of prestige, pontificating and book promoting that he (accurately) decries amongst the WHO bureaucrats. What a shame he has seemingly no self-awareness.
I know that feeling too. Psychology studies have demonstrated that depressives are more in tune with reality than happy bunny types. Political reality in particular is insanely depressing.
I believe that feeling arises from being honest about how little political agency we truly have in the face of the world. And that the counter-narratives that something is coming down the line to save us, be it “awakening consciousness” or Jesus or BLM or the Democrats, are just the psychological defense mechanisms of people who can’t/won’t front to the truth of a society in (likely terminal) decline.
But.. once you’ve accepted the truth of that, why wouldn’t you do exactly what you are doing – making the most of your small corner of the world?
Puts me in mind of that Baz Luhrman “Sunscreen Song” track from the 90s:
“Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as
effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum
The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that
never crossed your worried mindthe kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday”
As a people we need to face the fact that we actually know very little about this virus. Yes, most people will survive it — but we do not yet know at what cost — we do not know what the long-term effects may be.
Even if that were true, here’s my problem with the Covid response:
Massive worldwide environmental degradation is also true. Invasive and increasing tech censorship is also true. Fabricated pretexts for wars (both cold and hot) is also true. A significant number of people will have died due to the emissions cheating actions of the major car manufacturers. Also true. Inadequate access to healthcare in the US is also true. Pharmaceutical companies extorting the public over the price of drugs, and juicing the safety research is also true. And on and on.. we know all this.
And for all of those real issues which have persisted since seemingly forever, governments seem completely unwilling or powerless to do anything. And yet when this virus comes along, governments are suddenly empowering themselves to take remarkably coercive actions, including suspending people’s liberties, mandating mask wearing etc. Even if all those measures were all absolutely effective and warranted, the way they’ve been applied is extraordinary – incredible, even.
It’s a nasty virus virus that does kill people, but the bubonic plague it certainly isn’t. Yet governments have been almost embarrassingly willing to intervene most forcibly in the lives of their populaces.. destroying jobs and economies in the process.
When they can be so utterly and completely ineffectual at tackling the massive and longstanding problems of the world, and yet so full of energy and enthusiasm for the Covid interventions, something extremely weird is happening. I find it completely impossible to believe this unity and positive togetherness in pursuit of avoiding deaths is all just a wonderful coincidence. I’ve lived too long, and the complete cynicism of the age is upon me.
Covid is real, but the way it has mesmerised the world is not.
You’re suggestion a proportion, targeted response? Good grief.
How would the media continue it’s binary, tribal, dualistic narrative of good vs bad? Masks vs no masks? Lockdown vs no lockdown? killing vs rescuing? vaccine vs herd immunity? Sweden vs USA?
No, it’s much better that we keep things simple for the masses – chocolate or vanilla. TINA.
Good Zerohedge link here on the seen/measured vs the unseen/unmeasured: https://www.zerohedge.com/political/covid-panic-lesson-using-statistics-get-your-way-politics It coulda been written by our resident site contrarian..
“Team New Zealand isolated early and is “winning” and bigly at that.”
Team NZ ain’t winning.. we’ve locked ourselves in a deep, dark hole (along with Australia), with our fingers in our ears and no viable plan to emerge, repeating endlessly “we will not get the virus, we will not get the virus..” as if denial of reality were a strategy.
On the positive news front, I heard yesterday from a law professor associated with the PlanB contrarian NZ scientists (who’ve proven almost entirely correct in hindsight) – they are in the NZ High Court next week with a judicial review around the legality of NZ’s lockdown, which pretzelled a law intended for quarantine of an individual or small affected population into a country-wide shutdown.
I’m almost certain the review will side with the government, as have similar UK and Irish legal actions, and tbh I don’t care about the outcome so much as it buoys me to witness a few individuals remaining true to their professions, ethics and sworn fealty (eg to uphold the law) and who are willing to challenge the herd in ways like this.
This is regardless of the efficacy or otherwise of lockdowns, just simply standing for the basic principle that a government must act within the law, and where it cannot that it must legislate (and allow the citizens input into that legislation) to change the law if necessary.
Pandemic planning has been around for years (decades perhaps). There were months elapsed between Covid emerging and lockdowns being enacted. There remains no excuse for the fact lockdowns were enacted fait accompli and without adequate debate.
“He concludes that we’re all going to get it, it’s no use resisting, there will never be a vaccine and herd immunity is all we have left to hope for.”
Yup.. and the consequences of getting it – given the increase in understanding and in treatment protocols – are going to be minor for the vast majority of us.
The story of Covid parallels the 2002 WMD BS – politically-driven narrative, overwhelming hysteria, echoed and amplified by a fully homogenous MSM. Dissenting voices marginalised to the point of being almost invisible. A large number of rational people swept up in the tide of emotion and one-sided narrative.
If you can set aside your emotional investment in your previous position, take a few minutes to set down the facts as we now understand them:
– there is almost zero correlation between states and countries that locked down vs outcome (vs individual countries can be selectively chosen to justify one’s preexisting bias, but in considering all countries in aggregate there is negligible correlation
– due to non-linear spreading (eg “super-spreaders”) herd immunity is achievable at much lower levels than the 80% predicated (possibly as low as 20%). Many countries already have exposure to this level
– the initial projections and modelling from IC were ludicrously overstated, as were historical projections from this same organisation. Yet these were the sole figures widely quoted by governments and media at the outset, and served to terrify the populations
– the terrified population have become overwhelming passive and compliant, accepting suspension of basic liberties with nary a whimper
– meanwhile race riots are being fomented, tech giants are escalating and extending heavy-handed censorship of dissenting (primarily conservative) voices
Taken together, I just can’t accept this as “coincidence theory”. The virus is real, but a huge number of things we’ve been taught about it are not. Most importantly (as Dr D keeps reiterating), there is a critical distinction between the consequences of the virus, and the consequences of the actions that were taken ostensibly to manage the virus. Implosion of the global economies was a consequence of political choices, not an inevitability.
One of the things I admire about Tucker Carlson is his willingness to say “yeah I supported the invasion of Iraq. I was wrong, and I’ve learned from it”. Hopefully we’ll hear more people say the same over Covid, though by then the ship will have well sailed, and the political outcomes will have been realised by those who are pushing them.
Re left vs right, I like the four quadrant model model with Liberal vs Conservative on the horizontal axis and Individualist vs collectivist on the vertical axis. It makes it easier to distinguish for example between anarchist (individualist) leftist vs socialist, and similar within the conservative spectrum between rugged individualists vs, say religious collectivist conservatives.
Caitlin Johnstone made an interesting assertion recently that I’ve been reflecting on: if you want more of something, the best model is capitalism. If you want less of something, then socialism is better. Her example is health care, where the overarching goal should be less ill-health, but the capitalist model in the US is hell-bent on expanding it’s services and profits, and thus winds up extremely expensive. It’s an interesting thought that I want to reflect more on the applicability of.
I just spotted this in an NZ Government press release.. it appears they’ve imbibed fully of the entire vaccination kool-aid:
“A further $23 million will be used to develop a National Immunisation Solution, so that when a COVID-19 vaccine is developed we are ready to roll out a mass vaccination programme. This builds on an earlier investment of $15 million.
“We can’t afford to wait for a vaccine to be available – we need to start work now to replace the current National Immunisation Register, which simply could not cope with the scale and complexity of a mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
Best wishes for Jenny’s speedy recovery.
Re 9/11, I went backwards and forwards on it for a long time, and for the same reasons. Mike Ruppert’s work (RIP) was what finally convinced me. In the last few weeks the AE911 truth folks have got behind the recent Uni of Alaska modelling of WTC7 collapse to push for a new enquiry. I don’t like their chances but admire their tenacity, and the report itself is well worth reading for anyone still on the fence.
One of Ruppert’s key points which resonates with the Covid situation is that legitimate “exercises” of public institutions (eg military, medical) are typically conducted in parallel with the “real” situation for the purpose of obfuscation/confusion. Hence two military exercises (Vigilant Guardian, Vigilant Warrior) simulating plane highjackings were in progress on 9/11, along with the actual events. It’s hard to ignore the proximity of international pandemic drills to the Covid events for the same reason.
Lovely column by CJ Hopkins at Off-guardian today: https://off-guardian.org/2020/07/21/globocap-uber-alles/
“So, how are you enjoying the “New Normal” so far? Is it paranoid and totalitarian enough for you? If not … well, hold on, because it’s just getting started. There is plenty more totalitarianism and paranoia still to come.
I know, it feels like forever already, but, in fact, it has only been a few months since GloboCap started rolling out the new official narrative. We’re still in the early stages of it. The phase we’re in now is kind of like where we were back in February of 2002, a few months after the 9/11 attacks, when everyone was still in shock, the Patriot Act was just a few months old, and the Department of Homeland Security hadn’t even been created yet.
You remember how it was back then, when GloboCap was introducing the official “War on Terror” narrative, don’t you?
OK, maybe you do and maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re too young to remember, or you were caught up in the excitement of the moment and weren’t paying attention to the details. But some of us remember it clearly.
We remember watching (and futilely protesting) as GloboCap prepared to invade, destabilize, and restructure the entire Middle East, as countries throughout the global capitalist empire implemented “emergency security measures” (which, 18 years later, are still in effect), as the corporate media bombarded us with official propaganda, jacked up The Fear, and otherwise prepared us for the previous “New Normal” … some of us remember all that clearly.
Personally, I remember listening to a liberal academic on NPR calmly speculating that, just hypothetically, at some point in the not-too-distant future, we might need to sacrifice our principles a bit, and torture some people, to “keep America safe.” I recounted this to other Americans at the time, among my many other concerns about where the post-9/11 mass hysteria was heading.
Most of them told me I was just being paranoid, or that they didn’t really care, because we needed to do whatever was “necessary” to protect Americans, and, in any event, “the terrorists deserved it.” Shortly thereafter, I started making plans to get the hell out of the country.
I mention that, not to signal my virtue — leaving the U.S.A. didn’t achieve anything, except for improving my standard of living — but to jog your memory, and maybe prompt you to compare that period to the one we are in now.
The parallels are overwhelming. The “state of emergency.” The propaganda. The mass hysteria. The mob mentality. The exaggeration of the actual threat. The police-state atmosphere. The suppression of dissent. The constant repetition of the new official narrative. The exhortative catchphrases and meaningless slogans. The confusion. The chaos. The existential fear. And so on. It is all so very familiar.”
@ John Day
Re abstract simplification – I completely agree the complexity of the levels, layers and rates of change mean none of us have a snowball-in-hell’s chance of predicting the future, and therefore we resort to our biological strategy of simplification.
I’d argue there’s quite a spread between those at one end relying on MSM information to feed into the simplification engine vs those who read widely and include some history with it. The former spend most of their time trying to avoid rocks – both real and to a great extent imaginary. The latter hopefully have a somewhat better grasp of what an actual rock looks like, whilst having a better grasp on some historical rock-avoiding strategies.
For myself, some of the greatest tension is in allocating energy and attention between improving my family’s position and ability to withstand future shocks (and avoiding rocks) vs remaining engaged in political society and hopefully having some small impact on it. The idea of ceding the public space to mobs of intellectual idiots just grates too much.. 😊
And again – in the context of the overwhelming mire of pressing challenges to humankind, I don’t believe the current “pandemic” would make the top 10 in any half-ways rational analysis. We’re spending so much energy focussed on avoiding that small rock that we’ve screened out the way river drops away in a huge waterfall further downstream. I don’t believe this is accidental. Natural or contrived, a “pandemic” sucking all the attention from the room suits powerful actors very well thank you.
Re green energy – renewables have a place in the energy ecosystem, but for the reasons you’ve outlined they can never replace fossil fuels. Our choice as a species is to reduce our energy usage or to retain a place for fossil fuels. Or most likely, a combination of both. I suspect there’s quite an overlap between overly sanctimonious EV drivers and the “virtuous victim signalling” types as you link to.
The last organisation I worked for are heavily invested in gas production in NZ. Over the years I was there I had all my pre-existing green biases challenged as I learned the nuances of the industry. This week the Maori party of NZ released a campaign promise (the NZ election is in September) to eliminate natural gas production by 2025. I wondered if they’d understood that LPG in NZ is produced as a (largely unwanted) by-product of natural gas production. Eliminate natural gas, and LPG (to fuel all those BBQs and home hot water) disappears as well. The same applies to diesel and heavy oil (to fuel ships, heavy industry etc) vs petrol/gasoline. The further you get into the detail of any market and industry, the more the simplistic ideas fail. Or rather, turning simple ideas into functional reality is a helluva lot more complex than most people care to understand.
Re Thailand – congratulations on having the courage of your convictions to make the move. So many people like to talk about it but never vote with their feet!
I’m struck by the black-and-whiteness of the debate around mask wearing, which is almost solely around efficacy vs risk to the wearer. It strikes me as parallel to the early lockdown debates.
It’s clear from the studies, that if mask wearing has any efficacy, it is strictly limited. And it carries guaranteed and tangible non-medical consequences, including the anti-social aspects of renedering the wearer’s face partially invisible, and of trampling individual choice and liberties by training (via coercion) all individuals to follow a centrally-ordered mandate.
As with the lockdown debates, we have those who focus on the narrow medical benefits ostansibly to be gained by masks vs those with a wider focus who – on balance – value differently.
In a rational world where fear wasn’t being pushed at every corner, and where factions were still able to dialogue, I might wear a mask. As it stands, I judge the benefits less than the cost.
New Zealand has just released it’s “plan” for Covid management in the future, and a key point is “our elimination strategy will continue”. In my mid-50’s for the first time in my life I will be voting “Tory” (or NZ’s equivalent) to oppose the shear ineptitude of this stance.
It’s clear from recent stats (massively escalating presence/spread, ever-decreasing per-case deaths) that Covid was never what we were told it was. It is highly infectious, targets a specific at-risk cohort within the population. We have low-cost treatments that are largely effective. There are multiple lines of bodily defence, including T-cells. Due to assymetric infectivity of indivuals, effective herd immunity is achievable at much lower rate of group exposure (<30%) than initial estimates (80%) projected. The virus mutates over time, such that the likelihood of an effective vaccine on a reasonable timescale is remote.
Looking at that set of facts, Covid is indeed analagous to a strong influenza. It’s not identical, but in any rational world, with the data we now have, we’d be tweaking our standard influenza-management plans and mechanisms and not perpetuating the idea we need bespoke protocols to manage it.
When I see the case numbers going up throughout the world, I’m thinking – great. Every one of those younger, healthier people becoming infected is a step towards herd immunity. Which will never eliminate Covid, but it will decrease the aggregate risk to society of it.
If anyone had said a year ago “hey, we’re going to eliminate the common cold virus” or the influenza virus via aggressive distancing, tracing, testing, isolation, lockdown etc they’d have rightly been called idiotic. Even if it were possible, the cost would always vastly outweigh the benefit.
That the NZ government doesn’t have the courage to admit that with the data now available they need to change strategy – that’s a ghastly indictment on their fitness for purpose. “Be kind” is a wonderful galvanising mantra for tough times, but it doesn’t remotely replace the need to think hard, to debate merits, to consider the long-term effects (such as how you ever get out of a self-imposed elimination strategy), and to change strategy when the facts merit it.
I truly despair of the shallow-thinking, media headline-dominated, herd-following “leaders” we have somehow managed to elect.
Fascinating preprint of a detailed study on the trajectory of Covid deaths across many states/countries by Prof Michael Levitt et al here
They conclude (counterintuitively) that the trajectory of Covid cases does not fit an exponential curve, but is in fact slowly decreasing day-on-day from Day 1. They offer a couple of speculative mechanisms why this may occur, but the paper confines itself mostly to demonstrating a simple function that fits data sets across many countries, and which could usefully be used to predict the trajectory/plateau.
My comments on it:
1. My stats is good enough to understand their reasoning and conclusions, but not strong enough to critique their methodology. I’d like to hear what the real data geeks here make of it
2. The model has the elegance of simplicity, which provides no place to hide behind excessive complexity or a vast number of input variables, as some of the other models are want to do.
3. If the model holds on even modest scrutiny, it is time to discuss the adoption of “champion/challenger” as a method of arbitrating between the merits of competing scientific models. The credibility initially given to the Imperial College model – despite it’s historically wild inaccuracy – was conspicuously weird. One of the only ways of preventing such ghastly models infecting discourse is to establish a base model that tracks observed reality as confirmed “Champion”, and have the Fergusson’s et al tear down and rebuild their models until they can show some historically predictive accuracy.
Of course Levitt has had the advantage of time and the accumulation of data which was not present at the outset, so it’s unfair to criticise IC etc models which didn’t have such data off the back of it.
I think it’s worth setting aside in the short term the policy etc implications if such a simple model proved to be widely-applicable, and establish whether the model is scientifically fit for purpose.
Matt Taibbi has a blinder of a column up today on substack: https://taibbi.substack.com/p/year-zero
Unfortunately he’s just gone subscriber only (which has caused me to subscribe, but you can read an abridged version over on Zerohedge: https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/taibbi-americas-birthday-celebrate-corporate-sponsored-revolution
The comments are enlightening as well, but one in particular stood out for me, observing (I paraphrase) that recent generations have grown up with a consumer culture premised not on “if it’s broken, then fix it” but on “if it’s broke, throw it out and buy a new one”.
This neatly parallels the “cancel culture” and “burn it all down” political dialogue we are seeing everywhere. I’ve been commenting elsewhere on the magical thinking inherent in the premise that if we can just destroy the current dominant culture then a better one will spontaneously grow in its place, but I have to say its bee an uphill battle to get that message across.
Taibbi’s previous piece reviewing the book “white fragility” is also an inspired piece of writing – worth a read.
I just can’t get my head around why Maxwell would return to the US. She was safe from extradition living in France. Either she thought she could live without notice or consequence in the US (who in her situation would take that chance?), or else she is so confident of protection from any meaningful consequence (ie she’ll get a short easy sentence like Epstein’s first one, and is then free to live an unrestricted life).
My mind boggles that she could be confident of either of those things. But perhaps there’s enough blackmail evidence in every direction that she can/does feel confident.
Is there some other possibility I’m missing?
For a long time I had the hope and belief that “we” would be able to halt the spread of the coronavirus, if only because that was -and is- the only sensible way to deal with a new pathogen about which very little is known, other than that it is potentially deadly.
I get that (though I’ve often expressed my reaction more intemperately than was perhaps necessary). But halting spread has always seemed a guaranteed losing strategy to me – the world is too interconnected, the costs of containment/elimination too high, and most importantly – from common colds through influenza through to HIV – as far as i’m aware, we’ve never achieved that with a coronavirus before. So I’ve never seen it as possible that “we” could achieve this Sisyphean task given the background of barely-functional politics, economic hyper-fragility and vast media disinformation that pervades.
While overall consumer traffic fell by 60 percentage points, legal restrictions explain only 7 of that. Individual choices were far more important and seem tied to fears of infection.
Even accepting the stats as true at face value (I have no alternates to offer), this statement is misleading. The lockdowns were the extreme (marginally-legal) actions on a continuum underpinned by misinformation and emotive mania. People restrained their movements because they’d been led to believe they were in grave mortal danger. And yes, much was unknown in the early days, but the salient point is that taking decisions with massive consequences driven by an abundance of fear leads to poor-quality decision-making.
A key component of the entire unholy edifice is the seeming inability of the traditional media to set aside shirt-term profits for a short while to play the grand role of “fourth estate” that they love to pose and preen for. I’d argue it is near impossible to build and maintain functional civil society in an atmosphere of constant hysteria.
So to the riots, where I share the concerns of many as to how far the situation could degenerate, and how quickly. One of the key idiocies being repeated in the context of BLM is that if they defund it, or burn it down, or whatever that some magical new civilisation will spring up to replace it. Though I feel for the families of the victims, I’m glad to see the CHOP experiment degenerate so rapidly and publicly.. it’s making it much harder for the fantasists to claim that urban civilisations will remain civil at all without any ability to resort to force.
There’s a bunch of interesting graphs up on this blog today around Covid: https://jbhandleyblog.com/home/2020/6/28/secondwave
I liked the illustration of two points especially:
1. there is negligible correlation between case rate and death rate (the latter rate being the crucial one, whereas the former tracks testing rates)
2. the media line that “rate of decline is declining” is an inversion (but undoubdtedly more sensational) of reporting the crucial fact which is that death rates are heading out into their long tails..
First up, props to Ilargi for publishing this.
One of my constant concerns/themes, has been the extent to which politicians have refused to consider the predictable consequences of their Covid mandates in terms of impact to business and communities. I’ve linked previously to the ministerial advice in NZ, which notable didn’t address any of this.
In NZ, there is quite low population density and relatively high costs in freight and especially rent. Consequently, NZ small businesses typically have gross margins of 30 – 50% when selling goods. Goods are expensive here, but people’s supplier relationships means the businesses are often (marginally) viable. Obviously, Aliexpress et al are eating into some of that over time, but the freight component is still significant, and not the NZ government is collecting GST on offshore purchases, a balance has returned.
As a previous small business owner, I’ve experienced that;
a) customers are loyal as long as the effort of finding another supplier is larger than the marginal cost of buying locally (which Covid-related shutdowns will have impacted significantly)
b) profits are tight enough such that maintaining a war-chest of cash to cover 3 months+ of non-operation is just impossible
What conventional economic theory of supply and demand misses is that ongoing sustainability of any business is not based on the “free market” sale price of a specific item. Sustainable business is much more comparable to an electron orbit model, where a complete orbit at any level is highly stable, whereas, an incomplete shell is inherently unstable. Hence most businesses can sustainably operate at one level, or a significantly bigger or smaller level, but not in the ambiguous regions in between.
Many small businesses who have previously established a stable “shell” are now disrupted – wither because they have incurred significant debt which they must carry, or because their operating model and customer base has been decimated.
A large percentage of those businesses will never survive the next few months. Crucially – there are the businesses owned and run by people willing to take personal risk (in a way most corporate droids are completely unable to). For those who do survive – why would they remain operating a risky business, when the opportunity to sell out to a corporate entity will almost certainly arise?
Our politicians and government advisers share none of this risk (their plush salaries will continue). We are witnessing the execution of a huge number of businesses by government fiat. And the longer we go on, the more dubious the evidence for what has happened.
Personally, I believe the West (and particularly the US) has reached it’s “soviet moment”. The future is untenable.
What I most fervently hope for is that the nuclear capacity of the US is somehow contained and protected. In retrospect, it seems a miracle that the disintegration of the USSR did not lead to terrorist possession of single nuclear weapon.Looking at BLM, Covid response, CHOP, Trump, Biden etc, it seems almost impossible to believe a similar thing could occur in the US.
“I’m starting to think New Zealand’s success story was based on pure luck.”
Well our response was based heavily on recommendations from Imperial College, which is related to science in the same way a vampire is related to holy water.
So yeah, luck covers it pretty well. 🙂
casamurphy – you never stopped and read that letter did you?
Casamurphy – I call bullshit to your argument.
And for an eloquent and thorough rebuttal (which I can in no way match), take a few minutes to read and digest this open letter:
I love the writer leads with the strength and moral weight of their argument, which is utterly persuasive and compelling, and only at the end says – yeah, and btw I’m of colour. That totally exemplifies what can be achieved by taking responsibility for one’s state in life and getting on with it, rather than playing the perpetual victim.
“This is all going to get so much worse over the next 5 months. All bets are off. Everybody believes only what their preferred media tells them.”
Nope, not everyone. I’ve watched a large number of us here on TAE alter opinions over time as data has emerged. On Covid, you are the outlier here in that regard.
Boogaloo – thanks, your points are true and well observed.
I would counter that elimination is not a prerequisite to any of those strategies, and that releasing the knee from the throat of the virus before it succumbed to elimination would have been essentially as effective, with lower social and economic cost. What NZ did wasn’t bad. It was just very, very expensive for the sake of reaching the remote end of the long tail.
“Some people just don’t care about credibility, and neither does the Nobel committee. What utter nonsense.”
Ilargi – given the guy’s a Nodel Laureat, perhaps you could go further than your own highly confirmed and tripled-down on prejudices and state for us precisely the flaws you find in his modelling?
Doc R – if you look closely at the excess deaths over the Feb/Mar period of 8 weeks there appears to be average of 100 excess deaths per week over that period. So, say 800-ish total, give or take.
Given there were only 22 recorded deaths attributed to Covid in NZ *in total*, I suggest Dr D’s pithy remarks re the impossibility of inferring anything meaningful at all from these stats applies in spades.
Lovely screed Dr D.. amen to all of it.
I visited my GP today for the first time in ages. Sat in the waiting room amidst the remnants of Covid fear-porn posters and the handwashing/distancing theatre. Was very relieved when it became apparent that despite compliance with the official theatre, my GP was a skeptical as I am. We agreed that Covid is primarily compressing a years worth of mortality in susceptible people into a shorter period. And that “eliminating the virus” was always an idiotic goal. So now NZ is going to remain isolated from the world forever? Or hold out for the second coming of a 100% effective vaccine? He observed that we’re unable to have any rational discussion because that must necessarily invoke the spectre of death which our societies and many (most?) individuals within them are simply unable to do.
Yesterday I attended the funeral of work colleague (cancer, 59). He was incredibly talented and well-liked – huge IQ, humble demeanor and great interpersonal warmth. In a normal scenario his funeral would’ve packed out a large venue, and would’ve been a social outpouring that reflected his especially talented life. But under NZ’s Covid-2 restrictions the maximum gathering allowed was 100 people, so they family in their time of grief had to pick and choose a guest list of 100. The Level 2 restrictions were then dropped at 5pm yesterday, so he obviously timed his death poorly.
Each and every one of the OTT cotton-wool interventions has a cost, not only to the economy, but to the social fabric and to the dignity of people within it. Yay NZ – eliminated the virus! *gag reflex*
Has our blog host got himself into precisely the same point as most western governments?
In March, leading every day with the Worldometer stats probably seemed like a good way to galvanise debate.
But now? The stats aren’t remotely insightful.. in fact they just emphasise the debacle that is Covid “management”.
But….. how does one pivot away from the focus of the previous two months?
A rationalist might say – “well it was fascinating, but events have moved on, and so must we”
But here, as with government responses, the sunk-cost fallacy will have it’s way.
Abandoning the mast-head opinion and structure is a felt as loss and not simply as the tide of the time.
Tucker Carlson nailed it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIf2audbX0Q
And yep, I know.. most of you have absorbed from other places that Tucker is a douchebag (racist!) Strange thing is, if you stop long enough to actually listen (don’t have to agree) then, yeah, some well-made points.