Friday Squid Blogging: Squid Can Edit Their Own Genome


Revealing yet another super-power in the skillful squid, scientists have discovered that squid massively edit their own genetic instructions not only within the nucleus of their neurons, but also within the axon—the long, slender neural projections that transmit electrical impulses to other neurons. This is the first time that edits to genetic information have been observed outside of the nucleus of an animal cell.

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven’t covered.

Read my blog posting guidelines here.

Posted on March 27, 2020 at 4:28 PM182 Comments


Scott Forbes March 27, 2020 5:39 PM

Fitbit becomes Flubit

Let’s step into the future and imagine the next pandemic when everyone is wearing a “Flubit”. The technology is in the market today, and it can predict sickness in individuals (Search “Fitbit flu”).

Now combine that with location tracking of you, and everyone else. Perhaps you have been in the vicinity of other humans who are getting sick? Maybe it’s time to quarantine based on real statistical data, even if you aren’t sick yet.

This should be an easy task for our data scientists to correlate– certainly easier than figuring out what movie I want to watch while quarantined.

But who would consent to participate in this global pandemic health tracking? If the Fitbit usage is any guide, probably a lot of people would freely consent. But perhaps the government gets to choose for you, such as a mandatory shelter in place unless wearing a Flubit.

Anybody care to predict which countries might require people to wear such a Flubit in the next pandemic?

MarkH March 27, 2020 6:33 PM

An article which might amuse some readers here:

Please, Let’s Stop the Epidemic of Armchair Epidemiology

It’s about the phenomenon of Very Smart People — who happen to be pig-ignorant about epidemiology — showing great confidence that their own analyses and forecasts of the present pandemic are better than those of people who’ve devoted their careers studying and monitoring infectious disease transmission, and epidemics in particular.

Naturally, such criticism cannot apply to commenters here (including myself!), because we’re Even Smarter People.

Clive Robinson March 27, 2020 8:59 PM

@ MarkH,

Naturally, such criticism cannot apply to commenters here (including myself!), because we’re Even Smarter People.

Maybe 😉 but that’s not the reason, it’s because we are older, thus more likely to be loosers in this particular game, it’s made our pencils a little sharper. But I guess the real reason, although we have political out look differences, most of us have been around the block enough times to be a lot more cynical about politicians.

That said epidemiologists did not start the data modeling game, it was mathmaticians paid by the insurance industry…

As I mentioned on this blog years ago, it was not doctors that came up with the BMI measure, it was the insurance industry a hundred years before. As anyone who has actually looked at the statistics more recently the BMI curve is nolonger a “good fit” to the data, for one thing people are several inches taller.

However the BMI has the convenience of being moderatly accurate but oh so simple to calculate, which is why it’s still around after it’s “Best Before Date”.

Modeling works by “curve fitting” which can be done using a polynomial or series, the trick is to find the best starting point “on a known curve”. The problem engineers and epidemiologists have is they only have an aproximation to a curve and a little data that changes with time.

It’s fairly simple to work out that a new infection will follow a bell like curve. That is the leading edge will be an exponential rise, as the population is fixed eventually this will turn downwards as the number of infected hosts reduces the available host population. Why is fairly easy to see when you accept that “the area under the curve” is proportionaly to the population size and that as the population size is finite at some point the available number of uninfected hosts must reach zero.

I could go on explaining the points, but as I’ve indicated before the size of the population of available hosts is easily changed by various issolation techniques. After all the maximum number of people you can infect is limited to the number of people you come into contact with and the transmissibility of the virus it’s self. From which you can at one end of the line atleast draw some very definate conclusions (ie come in contact with zero available hosts).

However you can also work out other things from available data one of which is the ludicrous idea of letting the virus run free to get herd immunity…

I could go on and for instance explain why the South Korean model is probably the best model to follow, but it starts to draw other non disease related figures into an already overly complicated situation as do many “sweet spot” calculations.

But as I’ve also said it causes issues when you spot people incorrectly explaining simple mathmatical concepts…

Jordan Brown March 27, 2020 9:18 PM

It’s not exactly armchair epidemiology, but what I think is a critical question is the trade-off. If we have a choice between losing 100,000 people and losing a trillion dollars of wealth, what’s the right answer? That’s ten million dollars per person. 100K deaths is probably a low estimate for the worst case, but a trillion dollars is probably also a low estimate.

How much is too much to spend? Would you rather have a 1% chance of dying, or a 90% chance of coming out of the incident penniless and unemployed?

Nobody likes to compare dollars with lives, but it’s clear that the ratio isn’t infinite. Now we’re just haggling over the price.

Clive Robinson March 27, 2020 10:15 PM

@ Jordan Brown,

If we have a choice between losing 100,000 people and losing a trillion dollars of wealth, what’s the right answer?

As it’s the wrong question the answer realy does not matter.

The reason the question is wrong is you have an assumption in there which is,

    losing a trillion dollars of wealth

Fiscal wealth is not real wealth, these days it’s just ones and zeros in a computer or stuff and nonsense like “quantitative easing”.

Unless you’ve been to a place with hyper inflation where a bottle of water goes up in price by 10% or more between the morning and the afternoon you can be forgiven for thinking that the fiscal price you pay has something to do with the real cost in resources of making it.

In effect a “trillion dollars” has no more meaning to day than a “billion dollars” had a hundred years ago, you’ve just better toys to spend it on.

For instance I bought a house thirty years ago, it’s not changed much, it’s been redecorated and had a new front door fitted and a couple of other minor changes. But in that time it’s price has gone up seven or eight fold. However I can still only grow the same amount of food –weather permitting– this year as I did thirty years ago.

The people who get hurt by this “inflation” are people who can not afford to buy anything other than daily consumables and pay rent to others for the roof over their head. Thus it can be seen that inflation suits the wealthy not the poor as the wealthy can turn their excess income into assets that increase in financial value without any real work being done, better still such assets can be “rented out” such that an income can be earnt without any real work being done, so a double win for the wealthy and a double loss for the poor. Thus all assets over time build up in just a few hands who create inflation rather than real wealth.

This is what the banking and finance sector do, they take money and crrate inflation with it and pocket a percentage for creating the inflation…

The manufacturing industry however take raw materials and by a series of refining and other actions turn the raw materials into other objects in the process adding utility to them. That utility is real value added.

However without a manufacturing industry “adding utility” thus real value to things the likes of the banking and finance industry would not be able to function let alone manufacture inflation.

Thus the real question you should be asking is,

    If we have a choice between losing 100,000 people and losing a 200 million hours of production, what’s the right answer?

Which quickly becomes clear that you need the people to do the production such that the economy keeps functioning. So far the only countries that appear to have grasped this are those that do a lot of manufacturing such as South Korea and Taiwan.

MrC March 27, 2020 11:29 PM

Aha! I figured it out! Clive is really Thomas Piketty in disguise!

Anywho, it’s misleading to characterize the situation as “a choice between losing 100,000 people and losing a trillion dollars of wealth.” If we were to, as you suggest, let the virus rage wild and kill who it will, the rapid loss of that many workers/consumers would inflict economic damage likely as bad as what our efforts to contain the virus will inflict. In other words, we’re going to suffer massive economic damage either way. That’s unavoidable at this point. (I think Clive also drove at this point a bit, but I wanted to make it more explicit. Clive’s also right to distinguish between “paper money” losses versus losses of actual wealth.)

Also, there’s the question of “Who’s ‘we,’ kemosabe?” Perhaps “ten million dollars per person” will be lost, but each person will not lose ten million dollars. I, for instance, don’t have ten million dollars to lose. Of my share, roughly ten million dollars will be borne, not by me, but by some rich bastard about whom I couldn’t care less.

JonKnowsNothing March 28, 2020 1:42 AM

@Jordan Brown @Clive


Now we’re just haggling over the price.

In an addendum to Clive’s excellent dissection of your question (which is not a question) you may also wish to reference the many excellent analysis about versions along the lines of:

“if we stop what we are doing, and we have a catastrophe, and we could have stopped that if we had continued, will you accept the blood on your hands?”

Directly answering you question about “haggling over the price”, you have no worries there, it’s already been done for you and about you.

Insurance, Government and Economic actuaries have been crunching numbers around the world attempting to put a financial number on your life. They do this normally when they sell you Term or Whole Life Policies. Not new. They are also calculating the Min-Max costs of treating you for the 1-10 days during which you will either live or die, somewhere around day 5 is the “sweet spot”.

So there really isn’t any haggling about this aspect. They know what it costs. What they want you to do is die faster, so it costs less.

The presumption about any residual wealth is also included.

My own poor Maths skills calculated the approximate benefit to the “USA Fight For The Economy” as defined by the Lt Gov of Texas Dan Patrick urging Old Folks to Die Fast, so business can resume.

Since he volunteer to go, and one might presume he speaks for his spouse and at least 2 adult offspring, I used 4 as a base. I added in the value of 3 $1,000,000 homes in Texas (surely he is wealthy enough and stuff is El Cheapo in Texas), the value of the 4 Social Security payments using the base amount of $1,000/month (surely he gets a higher rate) but that’s $4,000/month * 12 months and SWAG at 20 years (age 80 if he’s 60 now) running towards $1,000,000 there. Some stocks and bonds maybe thrown in the puddle. His most welcome sacrifice will yield over $4,000,000 to the economy. Maybe if he has a good pile of stocks we can expect him to throw in $10,000,000.

I think Caligula has made an appointment for him…

ht tps://
ht tps://

Actuarial science is the discipline that applies mathematical and statistical methods to assess risk in insurance, finance and other industries and professions. More generally, actuaries apply rigorous mathematics to model matters of uncertainty.

ht tps://
(url fractured to prevent autorun)

JonKnowsNothing March 28, 2020 2:04 AM

@Clive @All

In the USA and some other places, respirators are being ordered from companies that do not do medical manufacturing. One might think that medical manufacturing requires a bit of specialty knowledge and special clean room assembly lines.

Q: Does GM, Elon, Dyson and others have any ability to do this?

They are getting orders and funds, and federal demands to comply (??) to make them. Even if they are given the blueprints and circuit board layouts, I’m not so sure they really can do this and have the respirators actually WAI (Work As Intended).

We got bucket loads of faulty C19 Test Kits rolling around the globe, I don’t really want some oil-stick stuck into my lungs made by a guy who thinks COVID-19 is a media hoax…

Wesley Parish March 28, 2020 2:28 AM

@usual suspects

Re: costs and values

To put it into perspective, in Christchurch, NZ, in the early 2000s, we had a “property boom” in which the cost of property skyrockets, and rents make polevaulters look timid … to wit, the cost of housing went up dramatically.

Now in 2010 followed by 2011 we had some earthquakes in Christchurch. And in one of those, a minor earthquake technically, a mere aftershock, one of the houses overlooking a cliff was dissected by the earthquake, which chucked a good part of the cliff edge over the cliff. Those houses in that particular spot cost upwards of a million dollars. Those houses were condemned as unlivable after Feb 22 2011.

So much for property investment. One million dollars or more lost in one single afternoon, courtesy of a fault moving suddenly, shallowly.

So much for “property values”. Search your favourite Internet search engine for “CTV Building Christchurch 2011” for the cost of human lives versus the price of rushed, unsafe construction.

During the “Cold War” a lot was said about how the West valued human life, whereas the East did nothing of the sort. Ballyhooed, actually. The CTV building collapse was rather more truthful than all the guff from the West’s propagandists.

Josh March 28, 2020 3:19 AM

@Clive Robinson wrote,

“Thus the real question you should be asking is,”

one crisis leads to another. as the Chinese saying goes, evil doesn’t walk alone…

to this exact question, this nova coronavirus is akin to a weapon of mass destruction in the likes of 2008 subprime crisis. most people wrongly conclude this current economic crisis being worse than 2008, while both are of equivalent scale. in the 2008 crisis, banks derivatized collateral debt into several magnitudes of non-linear fashion which magnified its significance. there is no question the previous crisis better-prepared us to deal with the current one.

there’s no better example of how our fragile society relies on paying debt obligations to the extent that a temporary pause in cash flow can collapse the mothership.

Josh March 28, 2020 3:24 AM

@Wesley Pariah wrote,

“During the “Cold War” a lot was said about how the West valued human life, whereas the East did nothing of the sort.”

That’s probably because we did our carpet bombings over there, far and out of sight.

Josh March 28, 2020 3:32 AM

@Clive Robinson wrote,

“Unless you’ve been to a place with hyper inflation where a bottle of water goes up in price by 10% or more between the morning and the afternoon you can be forgiven for thinking that the fiscal price you pay has something to do with the real cost in resources of making it.”

BTW, you and many others are wrongfuly concluding that we are experiencing inflation when we are facing a massive deflationary spiral starting with the collapse of OPEC/Russian negotiation fiasco. The deflationary spiral had driven up the cost of greenback which is why the fed had to restart easing in order to jump start inflation or atleast put a stop to spiraling down, and this time they did it in a historic manner.

Lawrence March 28, 2020 5:14 AM

@ Josh @Wesley Parish

@Josh wrote

"That's probably because we did our carpet bombings over there, far and out of sight."

I’m with Wesley. In the wider context of 20thC Asian history there are multiple examples of how human life was not valued. Or, as is put in modern times, differently valued.

If you live in the Pacific region, as I do, you would have had exposure to how WWII was conducted in Asia and the different values pursued by the Japanese. And then the Chinese afterwards. “Our” carpet bombing was not an acceptable behaviour (nor overly successful) in that theatre of war, but never the less not of the same ilk.

David Rudling March 28, 2020 5:35 AM

Sorry to be pedantic but I always liked programming in Ada because it helped avoid overflow mistakes. 100,000 lives or $1trillion dollars equates to $10,000 dollars per person using the short scale US measure of a trillion as a thousand million. Only on the older British long scale (not used for dollars) does it work out to 10 million per head.
Fake news anybody?

65535 March 28, 2020 6:41 AM

@ MarkH, Clive Robinson, Jordan Brown and others

[It’s]…the phenomenon of Very Smart People — who happen to be pig-ignorant about epidemiology — showing great confidence that their own analyse”… -MarkH

I don’t disagree.

There is truth to that statement. When TV media and a political season meet facts get bent and twisted for a variety of political and economic reasons.

‘When Medium took down Ginn’s post (it’s since been posted here), the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board framed its removal as an attempt to “stamp out” free debate and “require conformity with the judgment of expert institutions.” The board has a point: We shouldn’t always blindly trust expertise…”-slate

There is one point I can agree upon. I knew the Ginn’s piece would be removed quickly in a political season. That is the power of American politics which cannot be ignored.

As for the rest of the Slate article I really don’t have much more disagreement with – or agreement with. Most publication tend to fall on the two main parties in America and that is a problem of long standing. I don’t trust any general news media during a political season.

ht tps://slate[.]com/technology/2020/03/armchair-epidemiology-coronavirus.html

Take a look at Arstechnia’s piece:

There have been 20 corrections or updates in about 27 days and 5400 comments. The author is in a twist and could hurt or harm people and the reputation of Condé Nast her employer. That is bad.

@ Clive Robinson

“Naturally, such criticism cannot apply to commenters here (including myself!), because we’re Even Smarter People.”- @ MarkH

“Maybe 😉 but that’s not the reason, it’s because we are older, thus more likely to be loosers in this particular game, it’s made our pencils a little sharper.”- Clive R.

I don’t really disagree.

I am sure at your age you are aware of the risk of both regular flu and so called “covid19” which is not a pleasant thought [if there is any difference between the two flu types].

You are in the UK and must know that Prince Charles has been stricken and probably your elderly Queen.

You must know of the situation of police stopping cars and tell drivers to stay home or the police clearing beaches are other popular places of people. This could become a stick to beat citizens or any other type of police force abuse.

I don’t know what to make of your medical system in the UK which tends to test and treat Prince Charles yet denies the very same tests and treatments to other lower level citizens.

And, yes I know of extended family members in the UK who feel the situation is unsafe and unfair.

@ Jordan Brown

“It’s not exactly armchair epidemiology, but what I think is a critical question is the trade-off. If we have a choice between losing 100,000 people and losing a trillion dollars of wealth, what’s the right answer?” -Jordan Brown

That is a important thought.

I notice most people making comments in the TV news media are in secured job with fairly high salaries. Others are entrench government officials, rock solid Tenured processors and well educated in secure jobs.

That is a long way from the average food preparation chef or a waitress who make minimum wage and depends heavily on her tips and the number of hours she works. It is extraordinarily hard on the poor people or business people are the edge of making a profit or incurring a loss and possible losing their personal abode. At some point economics will play a huge role.

Worse, anybody of Asian descent knows that they will ultimately probably be blamed for all hardships during his so called epidemic. That could lead to violence in some parts of the USA.

Returning to some unanswered questions are the actual death rate for covid19 and the actual death rate for the regular flu and immunity rate, Arstechnia baffled but sputters around with little useful information:

“…Most cases of COVID-19 are mild and may feel similar to the seasonal flu before a person recovers. ..Though the case fatality rate is not yet clear for COVID-19… SARS-CoV-2 is not thought to be transmitted in air, according to available data… UPDATE 3/20/2020… While the question of immunity remains an open one, some new data suggests that people do develop immunity. A non-peer-reviewed, unpublished study involving four rhesus macaques found that after an initial infection with SARS-CoV-2, the monkey developed an adapted, strong immune responses to the virus. After researchers attempted to re-infect two of the monkeys, neither developed disease…” -Arstechnia

ht tps://arstechnica[.]com/science/2020/03/dont-panic-the-comprehensive-ars-technica-guide-to-the-coronavirus/

ht tps://arstechnica[.]com/science/2020/03/dont-panic-the-comprehensive-ars-technica-guide-to-the-coronavirus/2/#h1

It’s clear that Artechnia with a wide range of resources and doctors to contact is contradictory in many ways regarding the actual deaths caused by the regular flu and the actual covid19 which now is called SARS-coV-2.

Arstechnia probably should not be giving medical advice or medical information to readers [this can be said for other news outlets]. Further, the “picture” of the covid19 virus ball is computer generated by a graphics artist of unknown quality.

If the USA CDC cannot differentiate between the seasonal flu and Covid19 in terms of death rate, spreading between people and immunity rates almost all of their medical information up to the third month of 2020 is of little to no use – except for political and monetary gain.

I would be suspect of all TV news items, politicians, and players who make money from this so called “pandemic” to a high degree.

Clive Robinson March 28, 2020 6:51 AM

@ Josh,

there’s no better example of how our fragile society relies on paying debt obligations to the extent that a temporary pause in cash flow can collapse the mothership.

How avout the recent examole of a pause in food supply?

What is going to happen when crops that need to be planted now are not planted, and if as is expected we will be in another lockdown come harvest time there is nobody to do the harvesting? and transportation to processe it? nothing to put the processed results into? A no method to send it from country to country, or from state to state in federations?

It’s highly likely there is going to be a food shortage in a month or two at the most simply because there is no product packing made available… So If you can stock up on foods in cans and masson jars if you know how to bottle produce, because another clock is ticking down which is energy… When that goes other things go like the pumps used in getting clean water to your tap and human waste away again, keep those synthetic cloths clean, etc… Oh and whilst we have the summer comming that is generaly followed by that seasonal down turn autumn followed by that low called winter, where most homes require energy to keep warm. I remember back a half century when it was common even for middle class people to only warm one “faimily room” and duvets etc were not a thing, thus having three or more blankets on the bed was common.

As for,

BTW, you and many others are wrongfuly concluding that we are experiencing inflation

I’m doing no such thing, you are trying to project your views into a comment that I made about an example in the past tense about how some make the mistake of believing monetary values have any meaning when compared to real goods sitting on a shelf for a few scant hours.

But as for,

we are facing a massive deflationary spiral

That is by no means certain.

As for the oil tiff that has happened in the past and similar will continue to do so in other areas at some point in the future, it’s actually a “manufactured crisis” not a real crisis. That is it’s not a shortage of supply issue it’s a case of “Peter trying to begger Paul” a game that happens over and over every day in one way or another.

But if we did have “deflation” would it actually matter?

The answer is no probably not after an initial jumpyness in fiscal values. Most of us on this blog actually work in a deflationary market and it appears to function well enough.

The fear mongering about deflation occures from the “rent seekers” not those who “add utility”. For five or more decades the electronics industry has been deflationary, that is you get more for your dollar the longer you keep it in your bank earning interest, in the cookie jar in the closset, or even in your pocket. The simple fact is that a computer costs about the same as it did a decade and a half ago, however according to those that measure such things what you get has gone up by 2^(15/1.5) or about a thousand times in power. Not that you would realy notice, because the bottle neck is the HCI and we are still on “human 1.0” after 2^10 decades. But likewise you could look at the price of radios, they have not just gone up considerably in utility they have actually dropped in “fiscal price” considerably. The point is that since the end of WWII the electronics market has been deflationary, yet it has become one of the biggest markets in the world in the same time…

When you actually think about it you will realise that inflation is an artificial construct, there for deflation must likewise be an artificial construct. You then need to examine who the winners and loosers are in both games, and way more importantly why.

JonKnowsNothing March 28, 2020 10:34 AM


I found the answer to my question (above) about competence of folks like Elon, Dyson, GM, et al to make respirators: That answer is NO.

A detailed and sobering interview (in English):

Drägerwerk is a world leader in the production of ventilators.

DER SPIEGEL: Car manufacturers and other firms have announced that they can manufacture ventilator components. Is that purely a PR move or is it actually helpful?

Dräger: There is little point in adapting unused production capacity to manufacture respiratory aids. I spoke with Daimler over the weekend. They would also like to help. But it’s unfortunately not so simple. We can’t build cars either.

we should focus on getting devices that are sitting around in a basement somewhere back into working order

Looks like asking the Big TechBros is a “LOOK! Over There!” theater exercise.

Also of interest is a supply chain problem made worse by the “US FIRST” thinking. Since parts for these things come from all over and different manufacturing facilities, the “US FIRST” creates a huge self-inflicted blockade.

ht tps://
(url fractured to prevent autorun)

JonKnowsNothing March 28, 2020 10:52 AM

As there is certainly going to be a push on AI/ML in more medical and critical areas, it seems that some serious skepticism is in order. Not that too many reading this blog wouldn’t already have that “hinky” sensation about such claims.

A tech report about the validity of claims that “AI algorithms are just as good as, or even better, than human doctors at diagnosing diseases from medical images.” indicates these are very poorly designed studies and the results skewed.

A group of researchers, led by Imperial College London, studied 91 peer-reviewed papers that applied deep-learning algorithms, mostly convolutional neural networks, to look through people’s medical records for common signs and symptoms of various illnesses from cancer to glaucoma.

The Imperial College researchers reckon that around two thirds of the 81 studies were likely highly biased.

Some of the problems:

  • sample sizes used to train and test the models are often small
  • fake data is generated for use
  • very difficult to replicate
  • 81 were purely academic
  • 10 studies were based on physical trials
  • 69 boasted about AI having superior or at least comparable performance to clinicians
  • 2 admitted doctors were better than the machines
  • data sets were self compilations and selections.
  • 6 were applied on real patient data in clinical settings

The list went on, just more fodder for the stock market pump…

ht tps://
ht tps://
(url fractured to prevent autorun)

Sed Contra March 28, 2020 11:09 AM

Re: squids edit genome

Of course they use EMACS, the one true Epigenetic Modifier Application for Cephalopod Species.

Pity those poor other marine lifeforms that use vi.

Sed Contra March 28, 2020 11:27 AM


Re: talking armchair heads

It’s pretty clear that many of the experts (no need to put experts in quotes, it’s self-quoting) themselves are in this category. Plus que ça change etc. paintings over centuries of well-robed and capped physicians with pretentious air of authority, surrounding the desperate prostrated patient. Egregiissimi doctores discordant. If you could just pay me my fee …

Jordan Brown March 28, 2020 12:09 PM

@David Rudling: A trillion in the US scale is a million million, 1012. A thousand million is a billion. 100,000 is 105. 1012 ÷ 105 = 107 = 10 million. I did double check my math before I wrote.

@Clive and others: I don’t know what “wealth” truly means. When I try to truly understand a modern economy my head starts spinning; it’s either a giant shell game or a giant Ponzi scheme. But my retirement savings have dropped considerably, and that’s money I won’t be spending on food, cars, televisions, et cetera. Does a bartender generate wealth? Heck if I know. But bartenders in California are all out of work and spending down what savings they have. The economic engine of the world is in danger of stalling. I think the technical term the economists use for that is “bad”.

“if we stop what we are doing, and we have a catastrophe, and we could have stopped that if we had continued, will you accept the blood on your hands?”

Yes, I am. We, all of us, make that sort of decision every day. We all make decisions that favor some other metric over life. What kind of car do you drive? Is it the safest possible car on the road? If not, you’ve prioritized price or style or performance or size over your life and your passengers’ lives. Do you drive to the movies, or other non-essential trips? You’re prioritizing your entertainment over the risk of an accident that kills a random pedestrian. People will die. There is always something that you could have done to prevent it, if you’re willing to accept the cost of prevention. If you build a million miles of road, 10 workers are going to die. Joe is going to get run over, or have a crane fall on him, or fall off a scaffolding. If you were just a little bit more careful in that one case, he would have lived. Of course, you can’t know when that one case is, so you’d have to be a little more careful in every case, and there’s a cost associated with that. Now your million miles of road costs 10% more, and only 9 workers die. Add another 20%, and only 8 workers die. Et cetera. To drive that number to zero will drive the price to infinity, and you won’t have any roads. So, yes, somebody decides that they’ve spent “enough” on safety, and accepts that somewhere, somehow, there will be a number of deaths, and that’s part of the price of having roads.

The question is only how much you’re willing to spend, in money or person-hours or whatever commodity you choose, to prevent one death.

Ross Snider March 28, 2020 12:20 PM

Re: The talk about armchair epidemiology.

I think this problem is manifest because the politics are deeply intertwined with the science (e.g. climate change).

Science must inherently be interpreted and applied as an aspect of creating a political position. So who gets to do that and who has access to the science and the scientists?

Should the public engage directly with the science absent politics, with politicians’ interpretations of the science, with scientist’s own political interpretations, or directly with politics absent science? Which is those is legitimate, and the others not?

These conversations also seem to be questioning what we consider as a society to be free speech:

  • If someone has the political belief that we need to institute martial law immediately, should their political belief be protected speech? What if they aren’t a politician?
  • If someone has the scientific belief that 50% of the population will die if strong measures are not taken, should their scientific belief be protected speech? What if they aren’t a scientist?
  • If someone has the belief system that we need to institute martial law immediately because if we do not 50% of the population will die, should their belief system be protected speech? What if they aren’t a politician or a scientist?

We seem to want to pick and choose, but I think this might be a false dichotomy.

Jefferson had an idea of democracy where the political system was believed to have better outcomes when more of its citizens are educated and therefore would be able to directly engage with the science instead of relying on political interpretations imbued with someone else’s interests.

Overall I think there needs to be room in our society for the public to engage directly with the science, and its our government and society’s job to create the kind of culture, education system, and political process where we expect to achieve good political outcomes. I’m skeptical of creating artificial aristocracies.

Bong-Smoking Primitive Monkey-Brained Spook March 28, 2020 1:28 PM

@Jordan Brown:

100,000 is 105. 1012 ÷ 105 = 107 = 10 million. I did double check my math before I wrote.

Ummm… Triple-check, after you wrote!

Wael March 28, 2020 1:54 PM

@Sed Contra,

Of course they use EMACS

Yes, of course!

scientists have discovered that squid massively edit their own genetic instructions

Wait until scientists discover that squid were part of our evolution. They designed us: we came out of squid genetic stock, edited (“emacs and vi” ) by some geek squid.

New cult born 🙂

squilibrato straniero March 28, 2020 2:06 PM

@Jordan Brown @Clive Robinson @@ al

Re: wealth inflation etc

For what it’s worth …

It’s right that wealth is real goods and not money. As the Greeks said, money is not wealth because money does not make money.

Money is just a convention, a notation scheme for recording the relative value of real things.

But inflation (regarding deflation as just inflation with the opposite sign) is real. It is just the change (up or down) of the relative value of things, and this change does happen. A proper grasp of real economics involves understanding these changes, that is, understanding inflation.

One early treatment (whose author designated as for the non-specialist) identified several main species of inflation and demonstrated their usefulness as a rough way of understanding (“taking the temperature “) and intelligently responding to changes in the economy as it affects society and individuals. They were

  • change in value of bonds and other instruments of debt
  • change in value of stocks and other instruments of ownership
  • change in short-term interest rates
  • change in price of general goods and living costs
  • change in total debt relative to wealth
  • change in interest charges relative to income
  • change in living cost relative to income

The first four are forms of price inflation ie value as denominated by the currency and are absolute or general because they affect all the same way. The last three are relative forms of inflation as experienced by the individual and which carry direct human weight.

Any or all of these can occur with any combination of up or down.

The treatment explores ways to estimate these quantities and ways to direct one’s actions in their light.

The author also remarks on the strange volatility of modern economies and offers the suggestion that this is intrinsic (and not just human mistakes), arising from the use of the modern form of debt to finance real ventures. Debt insists on being paid regardless of the venture’s outcome. This is unreal ie anti-natural because real activity is always uncertain. A consequence of this fixity is that the debt holder wants deflation, so the money received will buy more, whereas the debt payer prefers inflation, so his fixed money payment is worth less in real terms. This split in desired outcomes divides what should be united and is a cause of volatility.

Debt could be eliminated if it was recognized that in equity all parties must share in risk ad well as rewards.

This principle applies in all ventures including stocks and wages. They must avoid becoming forms of absolute fixed obligations.

The treatment basically shows that usurious contract, regarded today as a quaint scruple from a less enlightened time, is a real destroyer of wealth. Someone is getting something for nothing and that will eventually swallow the world.

David Rudling March 28, 2020 2:22 PM

@Jordan Brown
My sincere apologies for (wrongly) querying your math. Just wait while I place this gun against my head and blow out my brain which seems to have exceeded its “Best Before” date.

Clive Robinson March 28, 2020 3:34 PM

@ squilibrato straniero,

But inflation (regarding deflation as just inflation with the opposite sign) is real. It is just the change (up or down) of the relative value of things

No inflation/deflation is not real, it’s the result of a “perception” that gives rise to the notion of “relative value” of things.

A ton of coal is a ton of call no matter if I decide it should be 50USD or a 1000USD, and somebody else decides it is worth handing over the “relative value” abstraction “money”.

Money is ultimately a convenience for exchange of labour or as scientists prefer to say “work”. You can then think this back to energy expended against time.

Most things on this planet are “finite” because due to gravity the planet is effectively a physically “bounded” or nearly “closed” environment.

The only thing that comes in or goes out of this planets physically bounded environment in large quantities is energy in the form of EM radiation. It is with this energy that by far the vast majority of things happen on this planet.

Thus if you want to abstract things down, real wealth is the accumulation of the physical, whilst fiscal wealth is an abstraction of the work that can be done to physical objects to increase their utility.

In essence mankinds existance is to do unlimited work to incease the utility of the finite and bounded physical world around him.

Starting from that point you can argue various things that are important but economics misses because it’s base assumptions are not necessarily correct.

As I’ve pointed out before the whole notion of competative markets rests on the unstated assumption that “distance costs”. That is the cost of starting up and running a competative business locally has a cost advantage thus market advantage over the production of goods at greater distances.

Which only holds when you do not alow for the chance that the cost of transportation of a “good” over any distance in our bounded physical environment can be negligable or so close to zero as to cost more to calculate than it actually costs.

It’s the reason why the Internet is not a “competative market” in the traditional sense of a choice of –near– identical physical objects. It’s what some call a “Winner takes all” market which significantly favours “The first to market” for reasons to do only with the user/consumer of the service. It is also the primary reason that the ICTsecurity market exists and why we have insurmountable mountains of “technical debt” and in a less direct way a lot of the realy terrible legislation trying to create a “faux market”.

BALR 0,0 March 28, 2020 3:38 PM

This interesting discussion of graphs:

Clive Robinson March 28, 2020 4:30 PM

@ BS PM BS, Jordan Brown,


Well, “The point might not be the point”…

That is the point as used for multiplication can also be the same point but as a full stop.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons March 28, 2020 4:39 PM

Politicizing the U.S. Justice System,
Courts, Administration, Media, and the Intelligentsia

Contribution by Submitter (name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons)

What could be understood as the politicization of the U.S. courts and the
U.S. department of justice by a political party is likely flawed. It is the idealization, as in ideologically, wherein the rationale is formed for those that control the levers of power and literally maintain a death gripe on that power.

This ideological hegemony is based on one primary supposition, wealth. Irrespective of the theological and political alliances, the single driving factor that precludes one from membership is one’s own monetary health.
Errors by the electorate consists of many, but the most costly of those is the misguided delusion that one is part of the operative hegemony exercising power. No, these elites suggest that one might be a part of the group but this is purposeful, it is acquiring the support and votes from the unwitting and ignorant.

A member of the appropriate political party? Check. Belong to the New Evangelical Church of Christ and donate time/money? Check. Belong to the Squeakers Lodge? Check. In the group that holds local power/control? Check. Alumni of the proper University or College? Check. Booster for the local sport team? Check. Hold a board or executive position on the Mega-conglomarate Corp? Yup. Have billions of dollars in assets and stuff? Nope. You are on the outside and will eventfully be looking in wondering what you did wrong.

Those that would align themselves with those in positions of social or criminal justice, cannot reliable understand their position to be secured. The powerful have decided that they, the wealthy, are beyond any issues that might face the general public. Jurists, doctors, lawyers, and other professionals are just as susceptible to the whims of the powerful and wealthy as the general public. There is truly one layer, those of privilege and all others. Holding a position of responsibility is not enough to maintain the ground, anyone not endowed by numerical grandiosity beyond millions is on the same plane as all others.

Privilege has bestowed to itself priority in all matters. Externalities are not to be suffered by the wealthy as is made presumptive in time of normalcy or in crisis. Coddling by individuals or groups of these individuals that exercise their own prerogatives is a fools errand. It should be understood that when the opportunity presents itself, the privileged will act in their own interests, not yours–no matter.

Philanthrope is not usually a selfless act, it is rare to find an individual that indeed diminishs their own position to further others less fortunate. It is why government is the backstop of last resort–when operating properly.

Bong-Smoking Primitive Monkey-Brained Spook March 28, 2020 4:40 PM

@Clive Robinson:

That is the point as used for multiplication can also be the same point but as a full stop.

Indeed. Reader error.

@Jordan Brown:

Apologies, sir. My bad.

@David Rudling:

Just wait while I place this gun against my head and blow out my brain

Can you spare a bullet for me?

Clive Robinson March 28, 2020 4:51 PM

@ Wael,

New cult born 🙂

Throw in some pasta and yeah.

New cult, old dish, tasty to many either way.

Mind you my vote would be for calamarata calamari Capri.

Sancho_P March 28, 2020 4:51 PM

@Clive Robinson

”… it’s a case of “Peter trying to begger Paul””

Man, I’ve spilled my coffee all over the place, have you ever tried to clean an Apple Magic Keyboard?
I enjoy your way to explain the world, but please, I’d need a warning beforehand! 😉

Btw. I concur with the food shortage and production disaster. Too much knowledge and competence will be lost, regardless if we could “decide” a route or not.
A lot of businesses, from small (single) farmers to medium sized companies will lose their head, without any heir, knowledgeable or not.
It’s the speed from feeling ill to death that is frightening.

Wael March 28, 2020 4:53 PM


Please, Let’s Stop the Epidemic of Armchair Epidemiology

Please, let’s not 😉

@BALR 0,0,

This interesting discussion of graphs:

I often watch the 3Blue1Brown channel. The link you referenced reminded me of it. Been a while since I watched it.

@Sed Contra,

(no need to put experts in quotes, it’s self-quoting)

Reminds me of @Ratio’s saying: “A certified expert, I tell ya! snort ;-)”

Sancho_P March 28, 2020 4:54 PM


Well, I’d be cautious to ask Mr. Dräger that question, for obvious reasons.
They can, it’s only a question of time.
Don’t care about air quality, there are people surviving the tar of more than 600.000 cigarettes.

Sancho_P March 28, 2020 4:58 PM

@Jordan Brown

It’s not a question of trade-off (dollars per death) or how much “we” are “willing to spend”, the outcome is a collapse in economy anyway.
The (unknown) difference may be in depth, duration and recovery period.

squilibrato straniero March 28, 2020 5:08 PM

@Clive Robinson

Re: real inflation

I meant changes in relative value in the sense of real good compared to real good, eg how many cans of beans is worth a BMW etc.

La Abeja March 28, 2020 5:12 PM

@Clive Robinson

A ton of coal is a ton of call no matter if I decide it should be 50USD or a 1000USD,

If a pound avoirdupois is 7000 grains or 16 ounces avoirdupois, versus a troy pound of 12 troy ounces or 5760 of the same grains, then you still have to specify a whether you mean a short ton of 20 short hundredweight or 2000 pounds, or a long ton of 2240 pounds or twenty long hundredweight of 112 pounds or 8 stone each.

Or is it a metric ton of 1000kg, of which the standard is a platinum cylinder housed in a glass bell in a museum in Paris, France and weighed in air at standard temperature and pressure?

lurker March 28, 2020 5:17 PM



Apart from the bulk of the article being behind a paywall, 21 million deaths would be blindingly obvious no matter how strong the Chinese built their wall. What’s far more likely is the high number of Chinese who use a pay-as-you-go account, and couldn’t get to their local office to pay in cash as they usually did. Even those who pay via Wepay or the like may have had no income for a month to their account. Chinese telcos are as ruthless as those elsewhere in chopping non-payers.

Clive Robinson March 28, 2020 5:28 PM

@ Anders,

The closing of a few million Chinese phone accounts could be unexceptional.

I’ve no independent back ground numbers to check against. But if you remember the Chinese New Year was at the start of this epidemic and like the South Korean Kimchi making time it’s when quite a few people have spare money in their pocket.

Thus the closing of an account might be balanced by the opening of an account or new contract with a nice new shiny phone. Further due to “state requirments” older non-smart phones and thus their accounts would have to go before March.

But also we don’t know if the closing of the accounts was due to the lockdown and people not paying bills as they had no way to pay the bill as they were “locked down” or worse had no money comming in, and food was seen as more important (we will start seeing similar happening in the UK and US now, with no real support for those at the bottom of the economy and no income because lockdown has started).

Thus we need quite a bit more information before we draw any real conclusions from the 21million accounts closed figure.

The one thing I’m reasonably confident of is that it does not corespond to 21 million deaths. The reason being the energy required to dispose of such a number of bodies would very definitely show up on satellite imagery of the commercial and science variety not just the spy variety and that’s the kind of story that would be way beyond the Chinese Government to control.

Anders March 28, 2020 5:33 PM


As different countries use different scales billion
has no unique meaning and just causes confusion for
different readers.

Maybe to use here SI prefixes we all know from computers so well.
Mega. Giga. Tera. Peta.

La Abeja March 28, 2020 5:52 PM


Maybe to use here SI prefixes we all know from computers so well.
Mega. Giga. Tera. Peta.

Really. They cut hair on those units, too.

There’s the long or binary scale based on powers of 1024, but the MSM in the tech field coöpted those units for a short or decimal scale of powers of 1000, and renamed the units of long scale to Mebi-, Gibi-, etc. or something like that, which wouldn’t be so bad except they charge so much money per any of those units of memory, storage, processing speed, whatnot.

Bong-Smoking Primitive Monkey-Brained Spook March 28, 2020 6:01 PM

@Clive Robinson, @Anders, all:

The reason being the energy required to dispose of such a number of bodies

Yea? I’d hide the bodies inside the Kola ditch, incinerate them and use the energy for blockchain mining. There! Problem solved.

I don’t believe the 21 million figure. It’s too low 😉

gordo March 28, 2020 6:02 PM

@ Jordan Brown,

“if we stop what we are doing, and we have a catastrophe, and we could have stopped that if we had continued, will you accept the blood on your hands?” . . . The question is only how much you’re willing to spend, in money or person-hours or whatever commodity you choose, to prevent one death.

Which cat is my neighbour?
Marika, 7 November 2011

Derrida talked about his cat as a way of talking about the difference between animals and human beings. But it also came up in a discussion he had with John Milbank about the perennial question: ‘Who is my neighbour?’ Derrida argues both that perfect justice is impossible and also that we ought to aim for it anyway. We are always falling short. Milbank suggests that the problem with this is that there’s no way of choosing between the competing demands on us. “Nothing has more weight than anything else.” Why should I feed this cat when there are thousands of starving cats all over the world with no one to feed them? For Milbank, traditional Christian theology gives us permission to treat some cats as more important than others. It’s not just that it’s ok to feed one cat and not the others; we’re morally obliged to feed our cat above other cats. Those who are closer to us have a greater demand on us than those who are further away. The idea that I’m responsible for every cat assumes that I live in a society which has broken down, where if I don’t look after the cat, no one will. And who wants an ethics based on social breakdown?

Derrida responds: it’s not that nothing has more weight than anything else, it’s that no one has more weight than anything else. Of course we feed our cat and not all the other cats. Of course we prefer our cat to the cat next door; of course I prefer my family to others. But our preferences should worry us. If everybody only looked after those who were closest to us, “it would be the ruin of ethics”. I can’t feed every cat, but I shouldn’t have a good conscience about all the other cats who have no one to feed them.

Clive Robinson March 28, 2020 6:02 PM


Can you spare a bullet for me?

I think the answer is likely to be no, especially if they are a Californian resident…

As mentioned by a North Californian resident who used to be a cop,

    The state of California has decided to close shops it considers non essential so gun shops are closed but pot shops are open. Yes California thinks pot shops are an essential business.

But also that,

1, The price of guns had inflated dramatically.
2, People were standing in close formed ques.
3, Bullet supply was restricted.

So yes in California you could by potentially catching SARS-CoV-2 buy a vastly over priced gun, but you could not buy bullets for it…

What other parts of the US are doing about 2nd Amendment Rights waits to be seen. Personally I’m glad I don’t live where a bunch of people suddenly start buying guns because of a disease and what they think others will do. Perhaps someone should tell them they will be fighting “an invisable enemy”… Just make sure you duck and cover first though.

Anders March 28, 2020 6:03 PM

@La Abeja

Decimal based SI units are used long times with computers.

“All quoted figures are in metric decimal units. Note that these aren’t the traditional binary prefixes for memory size. These decimal prefixes have long been established in data communications. This occurred before 1998 when IEC and other organizations introduced new binary prefixes and attempted to standardize their use across all computing applications.”

MarkH March 28, 2020 9:26 PM

Re 21 million mobile phones,

I’m with Clive and lurker. By all means, let’s add armchair intelligence analysis to armchair epidemiology!

There’s actually a reason why governments pay good money to people with high educations, specialized training, and relevant experience to do intelligence analysis. Their job is often to extract “signals” (what’s going on inside a target country) from masses of “noise.” It’s very easy to get this wrong!

Consider the data from the article: the reported tally of mobile accounts dropped by 1.3% over a three month period. Sounds like a surprisingly high percentage …

But consider that (again, from the article) at the start of that period there were 1.143 mobile accounts per person in China.

Based on the age distribution in China, I estimate that perhaps 12 percent of the population is children younger than 7 years, or people too elderly, poor, and/or infirm to need or maintain their own phone accounts. That brings it to 1.3 mobile accounts per person who plausibly would have their own phone.

With such a glut of phones, how meaningful is the reported decrease? Clive pointed out a few reasons why accounts might be closing other than death of the subscriber.

The new accounts number is from 19 March. Most of the Covid-19 deaths in China are reported to have occurred in February, only a few weeks prior. Does China have a super-efficient system for instantly closing the mobile accounts of deceased people in the middle of a national crisis?

It’s worth noting the “The Epoch Times” is intimately associated with the Falun Gong religious movement. The Chinese communist government has been extreme in its repressive measures against Falun Gong, and the publication is relentlessly opposed to that government.

Since the election of Trump, it has also been one of the strongest pro-Trump “news” sources.

Its content fails fact checking substantially more than mainstream outlets do, and staff appears not to apply traditional standards of journalism.

Anyway, if you enjoyed that story, I’ve got another one for you:

China has reported 3,299 coronavirus-related deaths, with most taking place in Wuhan, the epicenter of the global pandemic. But one funeral home received two shipments of 5,000 urns over the course of two days, according to the Chinese media outlet Caixin.

Notice the clever use of the word “But” at the start of the second sentence: it telegraphs the presentation of facts which contradict the preceding claim. We caught those dirty bastards in a lie this time!!!!!

But … simple arithmetic shows that a Chinese city the size of Wuhan can expect an average of 3,000 deaths per week under normal
(non-epidemic) circumstances.

Wuhan is, as far as I understand, just emerging from an extreme lockdown condition, which presumably involved innumerable disruptions of ordinary activities, including deliveries of all sorts of items.

That so many urns were delivered in such a short time means something … but what? I can pretend that I know … you can pretend that you know … Fox News can pretend that they know … in the absence of more and clearer data, it’s a children’s guessing game.

SpaceLifeForm March 28, 2020 11:59 PM

@ Clive

Why is fairly easy to see when you accept that “the area under the curve” is proportionaly to the population size and that as the population size is finite at some point the available number of uninfected hosts must reach zero.

And people are talking about the second derivative going negative as a hopeful sign…

When the first derivative is still positive.

SpaceLifeForm March 29, 2020 12:19 AM

@ Wael

Good link.

It was funny when the dots escaped to rural areas on his monitor.

Except, it’s not funny in real world, because that is
how the travel problem makes the pandemic spread.

People need to stop moving around. Avoid travel.
If you have to go out for supplies, plan ahead.
Don’t go to one store one day, another store another day.
Plan it out so you can do it all on the same day.

Yes, it can get boring, but if you can manage to go out only 1 day a week, that is better than 2 or 3 trips per week.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons March 29, 2020 12:38 AM

What, me callous?
No, I’m Presumptive!

What is utterly astonishing, and due to the recalcitrance of subject matter, how intellectuals, academics, professionals, learned, and the hobbyist treat the matter of life, the cost of living, not on a referential interdependent time scale but as a projection with but only an apogee expressed almost exclusively in numerical systems.

What do I mean? Simple, to address OUR (not MY) cost of living is exercised outside the scope of direct or anecdotal experiences. Incurring the cost of death, referentially, is necessary to infer or intimate some value, and at a minimum some reference. To merely measure life in terms of the forward trajectory and its associated measure/value is to mis-value or discount the entropic state resulting in death. And don’t make me ask “What is the cost/value/price of not being, every?”

An analysis may be considered complete when, and if, the terminus between the two states live/dead are co-joined (as pun, co-terminus) in all their terms. Until then, the discourse seems largely perfunctory and diminution of the moment at hand. It of course is not fruitless, like raspberry jam, and can be applied liberally to one’s biscuit.

DISCLAIMER: Leading coefficients missing, terms not included for lack of sufficient subscripting. Scientific notation not available due to misplaced notepad.

SpaceLifeForm March 29, 2020 12:44 AM

@ Clive, Anders

Good article. Probably ignored in UK, US by the alleged leaders (Johnson, Trump).


name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons March 29, 2020 12:53 AM

@ Wael

I believe that is:

Please Lose the Epidemiological Armchair, Stop Epidemics.

or as I like to call it…


Wael March 29, 2020 1:10 AM


Yes, it can get boring

So boring that I’m going to jump out of my skin!

It was funny when the dots escaped to rural areas on his monitor.

It seemed an unintentional “bug”. Made him laugh too.

but if you can manage to go out only 1 day a week, that is better than 2 or 3 trips per week.

That’s the thing: it’s impossible. Doctors, nurses, police officers, military, etc… must go out more than once a week. Speaking of numbers and forecasts, take a look at this, and see how many carbon units from your state will turn into diamonds 😉


The other possibility is that China got a hold of either a vaccine or a form of medical treatment.

Wael March 29, 2020 1:15 AM


Yea! That covid-19 must be worse than Sniper’s measles. You remember? 🙂

Wael March 29, 2020 1:32 AM

@Clive Robinson,

calamarata calamari Capri.

Little wonder calamari tastes different each time. Thought something’s wrong with my taste buds (corona?) but turns out the buggers change their genetic code! (They no longer taste like chicken.)

Eventually the squid that survive are the ones that taste bad — natural selection, eh?

JonKnowsNothing March 29, 2020 3:07 AM


re: There’s actually a reason why governments pay good money to people with high educations, specialized training, and relevant experience to do intelligence analysis. Their job is often to extract “signals” (what’s going on inside a target country) from masses of “noise.” It’s very easy to get this wrong!

Recruiting are you?

Good Pay        no
High Education      maybe
Specialized Training    sometimes
Relevant Experience     no experience needed
Get it wrong        Boy Howdy

JonKnowsNothing March 29, 2020 3:22 AM

Tech Report about a “flexible electrical device capable of generating terahertz waves”.

Scientists have crafted a tiny flexible electrical device capable of generating terahertz waves

Terahertz non-ionizing radiation lies in the electromagnetic spectrum where microwaves and infrared meet. These so-called T-waves, ranging from 0.3 to 3THz according to the ITU, have interesting properties: they can travel through clothing, wood, walls, and even human skin, for one thing.

École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, believe they’ve created something that … emits high-power terahertz radiation [a terahertz transmitter]

“We achieved an ultrafast switching speed, higher than 10 volts per picosecond

Seems to have one drawback…

can only cope with a few volts before breaking

ht tps://
(url fractured to prevent autorun)

Clive Robinson March 29, 2020 4:16 AM

@ Wael,

The other possibility is that China got a hold of either a vaccine or a form of medical treatment.

Whilst there is a possability they have found one or both, I don’t think it is likely.

Why? Because it’s not in their interest at many levels to keep such a thing secret. Not least being that as they have tried hard to turn themselves into the manufacturing center of the world, it would not be good business to kill off your customers or their economy on which your own economy and citizens well being depends.

But we can rule out a vaccine fairly quickly simply due to the manufacturing involved. Yes I know they built a couple of thousand bed hospitals apparently over night but as I’ve indicated in the past I strongly suspect they already had the prison style building block design on book for other entirely different reasons and making minor changes was not that difficult.

Whilst at a distance the manufacture of many vaccines is the same, close up it’s not. As discussed before it takes time to fine tune, train personnel etc. All of which would take two to three months after the basic fascilitie was built at a realistic minimum, which would bring us to around about three weeks to two months from now. But that would be without animal or multi level human trials.

As for an effective “treatment” yes they may have found one, but they were running dozens of trials openly and the world is looking at the results as they come out, and realistically none look that hopefull. The same problem is happening in Europe and now the US but realistically the odds are quite low that anything will be found. We have after all been looking for a cure to endemic viral infections like the common cold and flu for half a century, or more but not much has resulted. In fact in the main what progress we have made with antipyretics and other symptom modification drugs arguably are more harmfull, and whilst they might make the majority of us feel better they actually don’t make us better at all. Instead they prolong the disease and aid in it’s spread, and make edge cases more likely to have adverse outcomes such as death.

As I said some time ago towards the begining of all this it’s a question of rights and responsabilities that is the “individual -v- society”. Whilst this might not appear as a security question it very much is, and in democratic countries arguably the citizens tend to favour the individual out of self interest. Unless they are effectively lied to by those with agendas, who take what are often extream corner cases and by FUD argue them into peoples perception as being a lot more general than they are (“think of the children” arguments etc).

The HBR article @SpaceLifeForm links to above argues a similar “Individual -v- Society” bias in health care in effect makes us less secure as it alows more rapid infection spread. Whilst there is a germ of fact in that they are arguing from effect to cause which is an unscientific approach. The position we are in can be way more easily shown to be actually the result of trying to make healthcare “more efficient” thus driving out resiliance and making it very fragile.

As I’ve noted the ideas from the production line methodologies of kanban and JIT have been cherry picked to form LEAN and it is from that band waggon the UK Health Service has been cut not just to the bone but beyond to the point where it is fragile at the best of times hence my comments about the anomaly of the “163 critical cases” remaining constant in the UK figures whilst the numbers of deaths rises.

If you want to see how LEAN has contributed to this look up the works of Mark Eaton who has written a few books on the subject and received UK Government awards, for the results,

Wael March 29, 2020 4:57 AM

@Clive Robinson,

Whilst there is a possability they have found one or both

I implied it was given to them. It’s why I had the words italicized.

Because it’s not in their interest at many levels to keep such a thing secret.

Perhaps a secret to the population!

it would not be good business to kill off your customers

Not necessarily “kill”. Perhaps “prune”? Or pave a way for more superpower leadership behavior in the form o.f sending help to other countries. Like the masks they sent to Italy (and were taken by other EU countries on the way). Or the help they’re providing to Serbia, at a time the EU could not help? etc, etc…

It’s just hard for me to see all the simulations I saw and not to come to one of three conclusions:

1- Data they share isn’t accurate (death toll a lot higher)
2- They were given a cure (not found one).
3- covid-19 is manufactured and the vaccine / effective treatment was ready long time ago

I could be wrong, of course, especially as I’m getting a bit sleepy 🙂

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons March 29, 2020 5:07 AM

@ Wael

Yea! That covid-19 must be worse than…

Please, don’t remind me–I already have a splitting headache.

I must say that the Wolfram research piece is instructive, there are other databases that could be used against the modeling and phylogenetic tree does surprise. I have forgotten the name of the dataset organization (open source, visualization company), they original work was around MERS. It is a large set of CoV peptides and aminos.

Preparing for a near IR viral elimination barrel/syringe…where’s my mirror.

@ SpaceLifeForm
That was hilarious, almost fell out of my box.

Sed Contra March 29, 2020 6:51 AM


Re: 31BlueBrown video

Do the Math ! Very cute ! Completely restored my faith in armchairs.

The video description/notes box or whatever it’s called has a link to another video where a mathematician from MSRI discusses the current real world modelling efforts

Something very restorative about immersing oneself in math – reassures simple weak minds like mine thst rationality is possible. And not to be satisfied with truncated handwaving all the time.

Seen also in may any older stories of people in prison and concentration camps who kept working on mathemaitcs and did great work in spite of the conditions, some dying. Resist the temptation to despair. One might have thought this activity was pointless and impractical. Quite the reverse.

Part of humankind’s search for meaning à la

and the natural desire that must be satisfied for truth.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons March 29, 2020 8:48 AM

Okay, let’s make it easier…
Wolfram Genetic Sequences for the SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus

How about an open source project, not github though as MS is in play, the Global Pandemic Public Response Doctrine; a Framework and Strategic Plan

It is the public that is paying the price for this lack of competent and cogent response that includes some level of cognizant thinking. Critiques are easy, let us move beyond the bull that is too easy to watch and put the sycophants out of a job.

The tragedy that is to beset those on the front lines has yet to play out, remember the PPE issue–it is using tunactin as a way to prevent a boot sector virus like Chernobyl. Your feet feel great, but for some reason your computer doesn’t work anymore. Reminds me of a Black Hat event, “Hey, they’re handing out free CDs of Back Orfice 2. Gotta get me one.”

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons March 29, 2020 9:07 AM

If you look at what they did in Wuhan, a systematic scrub of the entire city. Everything, all surfaces, atmospheres, spaces, quarters, buildings, streets, and organisms. A squeegee to the area, warts and all.

Wuhan required a staffing level of over 40,000 medical personnel. NYC is talking about 70,000. How many of those are already out due to contagious interface. A preliminary hypothesis is a saturation model that goes along with this virus, the concentration of viral exposure, say the number of active viruses introduced to the host, can induce greater illness and increase lethality. Kind of like a parallel replication model, a wide torrent of bits. This is probably the expression of the L strain of SARS-CoV2. Of those that survive, is the strain seen S and of those adversely affected in the same modality/demographic L.

Conjecture on my part, but it’s the piece I have at the moment.

PLR March 29, 2020 11:31 AM


Further due to “state requirments” older non-smart phones and thus their accounts would have to go before March.

For real?

Wael March 29, 2020 12:03 PM

@Sed Contra,

Instant results via the marvels of electronics

Fascinating! Calamities often stimulate mankind to innovate in the right direction!

SpaceLifeForm March 29, 2020 12:42 PM

@ name....

Active Cases ~= Schrödinger’s cat

I’m glad your found some humour in that.

Unfortunately, I am [redacted] serious.

It’s actually a way to look at the problem.

Just like Schrödinger’s thought experiment noted that one did not know the outcome of the cat until it was observed, one does not really know the outcome of an active patient until disposition (death or recovery).

As long as the patient remains in hospital, they are really in an indeterminate state as to their outcome.

Using todays numbers from

active cases = 507520, total cases = 686199

So, 74% of cases are still in an indeterminate state.

And of course, the number of active cases will continue to rise.

If one gets so sick that they need a ventilator, the outcome is likely not good. From the NY cases, some recover and get off of ventilator in 3-4 days. But, the average numbers of days on ventilator is much higher.

And freeing up a ventilator for someone else does not describe the disposition of the patient.

There has to be a treatment ASAP to get people off of ventilators. Otherwise, there will be piles of people dying on the floor waiting for help.

It appears the hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin treatment is better than nothing for severe cases, even though those drugs are contraindicated for patients with existing heart issues.

But, if one is likely to die, I can see where one with the existing heart condition would try the treatment anyway.

Alas, it appears that hydroxychloroquine is now in short supply.

JonKnowsNothing March 29, 2020 12:57 PM



Well, I’d be cautious to ask Mr. Dräger that question, for obvious reasons.
They can, it’s only a question of time.
Don’t care about air quality, there are people surviving the tar of more than 600.000 cigarettes.

Reminds of another similar situation during one of the US Middle East Wars. A whole lot of oil fields got blown up. Of course, this is not what was wanted, we wanted the oil in a tanker, not pouring out on the sand or going up in flames.

We have several famous Texas based oil fire fighting outfits that were engaged in putting out the fires.

In a documentary film the Texans, who were very good and careful to put out such fires without killing anyone, had said it would take years or decades to put out the fires.

This was not welcomed information. So a whole lot of inexperienced folks and other governments were engaged in putting out said fires.

The Texans looked on and were astonished as how cavalier the governments and companies treated the lives of the folks working the fires.

The fires got put out.

ht tps://
ht tps://
ht tps://
ht tps://
ht tps://
(url fractured to prevent autorun)

Nik March 29, 2020 1:15 PM

@Clive , @all: “Can you spare a bullet for me?”

I think the answer is likely to be no, especially if they are a Californian resident…

I used to be a CA resident. And a gun enthusiast. So this is a topic that I want to chime in.

California has a hatred of guns. 70% percent voted on sever gun laws a few years back.
One of my reasons to move. It had been a slow progression from a free state to an insane complex of laws that even police do not understand. now we have laws that:

  • Prohibit lending firearms arms to others.
  • Prohibit short barrel firearms[0], magazines over 10 rounds
  • Have a waiting period of 10 days, with background checks and a finger print.
  • Required microstamping[1] on handguns, ensuring no new guns can be added to the roster of approved guns ( a costly process )
  • There was an assault weapons registration [2]
  • Bullet buttons: Magazine releases that required a tool to release the magazine, such a bullet. Required on semiautomatic weapons with specific features( pistol grip).
  • Ammunition only in-person. NO internet sales
  • Ammunition requires a buyers permit and the calibers are logged.
  • Weapons registrations : All weapons sales & transfers go through the CA DOJ.
  • You also have to take a written test to be eligible to buy firearms. Not complex OR trivial.

There are more but you get the idea! I am sure NYC has a lot of others as well.

The effect of these laws is that law abiding citizens are being cut off and criminalized. The criminals had easy access to weapons. And profits. But the masses are not supposed to heave firearms, only the sacred police & military. Rioting crowds thus pose no danger and can be dealt with.

Yes, the people lining up at the gun stores who bout guns, now can’t pick them up or now buy ammo for them if the stores are closed The effect is that the black market got a huge boost and home robberies went up[4]

The scary part is that many people in the US now buy guns for protection ( or to acquire goods when the stores don’t have them). This is scary. I have taken many training classes [5] ( even advanced ones where you shoot through vehicle windshields or clear a structure ). It takes lots of training and discipline to handle them; I don’t consider myself a good shooter either.

The state of California has decided to close shops it considers non essential so gun shops are closed but pot shops are open.

Yes a cunning move. Sedate them, take away access to weapons. In a few weeks when the food becomes scarce,

Perhaps someone should tell them they will be fighting “an invisable enemy”… Just make sure you duck and cover first though.

They alas buy them to feel safer – even though it’s quite the opposite.

[0] In the US firearms such as rifles & shotguns are considered “LONG GUNS” and thus have to be 27 inches and over in overall lengths, this is a FEDERAL limit from BATFE[3]. Thus it applies to all states. CA then upped it by THREE inches, causing a lot of trouble. This leads to ridiculous things, like a welded 7 inch muzzle device on the business end of the barrel it was hilarious too, because the standard magazine has 50 rounds and the CA legal ones only 10, so they look very empty.

[1] Every handgun sold in CA (with exceptions that are ever tightening) has to have a firing pin that stamps a code number on the primer while firing. This is not feasible, would require huge databases and could be easily defeated. That was not the point, the point was to stop additions to the roster of approved handguns, effectively stopping additions.

[2] This was a ban on most of the fun rifles. It was very complex and one had to follow a big flowchart. For Instance, a magazine fed semiautomatic shotgun had to be registered, but a Mini-14 did not. Having lived through the introduction of this was insane. A central database that was not even accessible for a long time. Also the people who approved it made my life hell. One had to provide 4 pictures of the gun, proof of residence (for every gun!) a long description where everything had to be 100%. for my gear (8 guns) it took 10 months for this to be approved with back & forth. also had to have my wife register the same guns; otherwise she would be a felon if I leave a weapon unattended should I go to the restroom. Most people ignored this ( with scary legal ramifications) or made small modifications to render weapons legal.

[3] Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives. (BATFE) used to be called ATF and are at times heavy-handed ( see ruby ridge ). While they are tasked with keeping bad things out of bad people’s hands, they have become too big and have ruined many people’s lives that did not know all 1000+ laws on the books.

[4] Unprepared population + need = people will take by force. Just last week a neighbor had his car broken into, the garage door opener taken to open the garage opened and the whole property ransacked. The thieves wore coveralls, Baseball caps, glasses, gloves and had a UHAUL truck. they were experts! But we’ll see amateurs doing this soon.

[5] These classes have taught me to be more organized and disciplined. Most of the other students and the instructors are the type that would stop and help you if you had an accident on the side of the road. People who look out for others; sheepdogs[6] and shepherds. But then you also had the fat overweight sheriff that would miss 90% of his shots and was winded just walking to the target. At least he was there!

[6] As the saying goes there are sheep and wolves and sheepdogs. Sheep are the masses that follow every law rule and policy, completely rely on the police / establishment. Wolves prey on them, be they grifters, murderers, rapists or robbers. Sheep dogs are the ones that protect the sheep.

La Abeja March 29, 2020 1:32 PM

The state of California has decided to close shops it considers non essential so gun shops are closed but pot shops are open.

Yes a cunning move. Sedate them, take away access to weapons. In a few weeks when the food becomes scarce,


The goal is to create a government portal with geolocation information from some 500 cities across the country, to help ascertain how well people are complying with stay-at-home orders, according to the WSJ. One example of how the anonymized data was reportedly used: Researchers discovered large numbers of people were gathering in a New York City park, and notified local authorities.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons March 29, 2020 1:50 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm

Apologies (could not help myself), meant in the ironic form, not ha ha.

Your comment crossed several thresholds for my comedic hysteresis conditions (min and max) as one thread dealt with life/death not being knowable on the later, only the former. And, the impossibility of epidemiology to be effective in an apriori sense. Basic research yields the schematics, and clinical gets it assembled (there is a lot to production engineering).

Rolled up a lot in a simple equation. Next might be a treaties along GUT, and I’m joking here. Ha ha.

You’d also have to go with Heisenberg’s uncertainty principal to further dissect the clinical analysis to a degree that is useful…aka double blind/placebo.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons March 29, 2020 2:00 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm

I certainly hope post-op; recovery, death, or whatever includes a genetic marker. Right now I do not believe asymptomatic, in-care positive, or released as negative samples are part of the genomic databases or collection regime. If these RNA groupings included a multi-transition capture it might be informative.

myliit March 29, 2020 2:16 PM

Satire or humor



From 1, “ … As Trump began drawing up plans for a parade, a panicked Dr. Fauci [director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases] interceded and tried to explain that such a celebration would be “much nicer” if held after the pandemic is over.

“Would I still be able to have tanks?” a crestfallen Trump asked.

“Yes, you could have tanks,” Fauci replied. …”

From 2, “ … After weeks of near-constant exposure, however, the seventy-three-year-old man appeared “a hundred per cent asymptomatic” of intelligence, the researchers found.

“In terms of facts, data, and wisdom, there was zero community spread,” the report stated.

The researchers, however, left open the possibility that intelligence might be transmissible to other people, just not to the seventy-three-year-old who was the subject of the experiment. …”

Sed Contra March 29, 2020 2:25 PM


The paper from 2004 (!) describes essentially instant virus identification by electrical means using antibodies as part of the detection device.

One wonders if the electrochemistry or whatever is the right term could be done without antibodies by crafting the right electrical surface to match the virus or viruses.

working remotely March 29, 2020 3:17 PM

I’ve rarely used videoconferencing software, but it seems that I will now have to. I suppose I will wince past news articles such as the one posted on this blog last year about vulnerabilities in the current app du jour and fight the urge to only face the camera in a darkened room wearing a mask.

Wael March 29, 2020 4:00 PM

@Sed Contra,

… could be done without antibodies by crafting the right electrical surface to match the virus or viruses.

I don’t know. But it’s worth looking into it. I need to read that paper first, and I have access to a virologist that can explain some things to me.

myliit March 29, 2020 4:26 PM

“How Does the Coronavirus Behave Inside a Patient?

We’ve counted the viral spread across peoples; now we need to count it within people. …

But three questions deserve particular attention, because their answers could change the way we isolate, treat, and manage patients. First, what can we learn about the “dose-response curve” for the initial infection—that is, can we quantify the increase in the risk of infection as people are exposed to higher doses of the virus? Second, is there a relationship between that initial “dose” of virus and the severity of the disease—that is, does more exposure result in graver illness? And, third, are there quantitative measures of how the virus behaves in infected patients (e.g., the peak of your body’s viral load, the patterns of its rise and fall) that predict the severity of their illness and how infectious they are to others? So far, in the early phases of the covid-19 pandemic, we have been measuring the spread of the virus across people. As the pace of the pandemic escalates, we also need to start measuring the virus within people.

Most epidemiologists, given the paucity of data, have been forced to model the spread of the new coronavirus as if it were a binary phenomenon: individuals are either exposed or unexposed, infected or uninfected, symptomatic patients or asymptomatic carriers. Recently, the Washington Post published a particularly striking online simulation, in which people in a city were depicted as dots moving freely in space—uninfected ones in gray, infected ones in red (then shifting to pink, as immunity was acquired). Each time a red dot touched a gray dot, the infection was transmitted. With no intervention, the whole field of dots steadily turned from gray to red. Social distancing and isolation kept the dots from knocking into one another, and slowed the spread of red across the screen.

This was a bird’s-eye view of a virus radiating through a population, seen as an “on-off” phenomenon. The doctor and medical researcher in me—as a graduate student, I was trained in viral immunology—wanted to know what was going on within the dots. How much virus was in that red dot? How fast was it replicating in this dot? How was the exposure—the “touch time”—related to the chance of transmission? How long did a red dot remain red—that is, how did an individual’s infectiousness change over time? And what was the severity of disease in each case? … “

Alejandro March 29, 2020 4:57 PM

Last week I started a post with:

Nobel laureate: surprised if Israel has more than 10 coronavirus deaths

Michael Levitt: Crank or Prophet?

I guess we’ll know soon enough.”

I guessed he would be right. Unfortunately he and I guessed wrong.

As of today, fifteen-15 persons have died due to Covid. And, it’s just begun there.

Since this report I did some back of the napkin figuring and can only say it appears he will off by several orders of magnitude.


myliit March 29, 2020 5:16 PM

“ From Bats to Human Lungs, the Evolution of a Coronavirus

For thousands of years, a parasite with no name lived happily among horseshoe bats in southern China. The bats had evolved to the point that they did not notice; they went about their nightly flights unbothered. One day, the parasite—an ancestor of the coronavirus, sars-CoV-2—had an opportunity to expand its realm. Perhaps it was a pangolin, the scaly anteater, an endangered species that is a victim of incessant wildlife trafficking and sold, often secretly, in live-animal markets throughout Southeast Asia and China. Or not. The genetic pathway remains unclear. But to survive in a new species, whatever it was, the virus had to mutate dramatically. It might even have taken a segment of a different coronavirus strain that already inhabited its new host, and morphed into a hybrid—a better, stronger version of itself, a pathogenic Everyman capable of thriving in diverse species. More recently, the coronavirus found a new species: ours. Perhaps a weary traveller rubbed his eyes, or scratched his nose, or was anxiously, unconsciously, biting his fingernails. One tiny, invisible blob of virus. One human face. And here we are, battling a global pandemic.

The world’s confirmed cases (those with a positive lab test for covid-19, the disease caused by sars-CoV-2) doubled in seven days, from nearly two hundred and thirteen thousand, on March 19th, to four hundred and sixty-seven thousand, on March 26th. Nearly twenty-one thousand people have died. The United States now has more confirmed cases than any country on earth, with more than eighty thousand on March 26th. These numbers are a fraction of the real, unknown total in this country and around the world, and the numbers will keep going up. Scientists behind a new study, published earlier this month in the journal Science, have found that for every confirmed case there are likely five to ten more people in the community with an undetected infection. This will likely remain the case. “The testing is not near adequate,” one of the study’s authors, Jeffrey Shaman, an environmental-health sciences professor at Columbia University, said. Comments from emergency-room doctors have been circulating on social media like S.O.S. flares. One, from Daniele Macchini, a doctor in Bergamo, north of Milan, described the situation as a “tsunami that has overwhelmed us.” …”


What Bob Dylan Is Doing in “Murder Most Foul”

Bob Dylan’s “Murder Most Foul,” released on Friday, is the first evidence of original songwriting in eight years from one of the most original songwriters of our era.

What a weird new [17 minute long] song for Bob Dylan to drop—and what better time to drop it. “Weird” with its full Shakespearean force, as in the “weird sisters” of “Macbeth,” possessing “the supernatural power of dealing with fate or destiny.” And “new”—well, new to us, at any rate. …

“Play” becomes the controlling verb for the remainder of the song and opens the majority of the song’s remaining lines. The song-as-playlist reaches far and wide, with an admirable ecumenicism—the Eagles are there, and Fleetwood Mac, and Stan Getz, and Patsy Cline, the Everly Brothers, John Lee Hooker, the Animals, and the Who. …”

gordo March 29, 2020 5:57 PM

COVID-19 and Circuits of Capital
by Rob Wallace, Alex Liebman, Luis Fernando Chaves and Rodrick Wallace
Monthly Review, Updated: March 28, 2020

Our general theory of neoliberal disease emergence, including, yes, in China, combines:

• global circuits of capital;
• deployment of said capital destroying regional environmental complexity that keeps virulent pathogen population growth in check;
• the resulting increases in the rates and taxonomic breadth of spillover events;
• the expanding periurban commodity circuits shipping these newly spilled over pathogens in livestock and labor from the deepest hinterland to regional cities;
• the growing global travel (and livestock trade) networks that deliver the pathogens from said cities to the rest of the world in record time;
• the ways these networks lower transmission friction, selecting for the evolution of greater pathogen deadliness in both livestock and people;
• and, among other impositions, the dearth of reproduction on-site in industrial livestock, removing natural selection as an ecosystems service that provides real-time (and nearly free) disease protection.

The underlying operative premise is that the cause of COVID-19 and other such pathogens is not found just in the object of any one infectious agent or its clinical course, but also in the field of ecosystemic relations that capital and other structural causes have pinned back to their own advantage. The wide variety of pathogens, representing different taxa, source hosts, modes of transmission, clinical courses, and epidemiological outcomes, all the earmarks that send us running wild-eyed to our search engines upon each outbreak, mark different parts and pathways along the same kinds of circuits of land use and value accumulation.

SpaceLifeForm March 29, 2020 6:00 PM

@ name....

It’s not clear that the status of the patient really has any bearing on the genome data. As far as I can see, various labs that do full sequencing contribute the data to the researchers.

Trevor Bedford could definitely clarify.
He can be found on twitter @ trvrb

on 2020-03-27, he tweeted:

“A huge thank you to @UWVirology
and @seattleflustudy
for sharing Washington State genomes, @PHE_uk
for sharing UK genomes and @decodegenetics
for sharing Iceland genomes.”

There is a lot on that website.

@ Clive

This particular FAQ regards the L and S strains.
That it is a statistical artifact, not two strains.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons March 29, 2020 7:03 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm

Thank you…nextstrain and the Wolfram models need to be integrated…and I suggest some schema extensions.

Love Nextstrain’s model, organizationally and with respect to mission. Looks exportable, and possible part of a larger Public response as the current system is defined by some sort of nihilism or apathy besides the usually stimulus/response paradigm of our public institutions. From The WHO to the highly politicized nation-state governments, we are screwed. Answers, responses, and solutions will likely be woefully inadequate to put it bluntly and mildly.

Those strains have been described in pathophysiological treatments, two base changes have a modified “stick” that has a receptor change behaviorally, the more virulent strain exhibits much more aggressive host cell attachment (receptor bonding domain) than the S strain. My question is not about them, not individually, since they can co-indicate with one host. I have a very different question that has yet to be part of a formal definition…working it. The R0 factor, serialization, and some virility expressions seem interesting and more complex than what might be explained for example by a simple pathogen (not saying it’s a pathogen, but model in a similar fashion) and their genetic tails. The Wolfram research helps describe these tails, amino deltas , phenological pinnings, and phylogenetic markers.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons March 29, 2020 7:19 PM

@ gordo

One to add to the list is within the mammalian immunological systems. It has to do with loading; rate, variation, and concurrence and microbial agents. Also a consequence from increased densities of mammal populations and the amount of compound aggravation within the micro-climate/ecosystem/bio-zone.

Think of it as a computing AV system that is being hit be every variant of every virus; simultaneously trojans and worms are at the door making noises too. And, all expressing new mutations (polymorphisms) concurrently. It’s an exaggerated example but it is a boundary, threshold, or as I like to think of it as a biological stack/heap overflow. And, nothing a mutant don’t likes more than boundaries–or a box of chocolates.

gordo March 29, 2020 8:19 PM

@ name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons,

Sandbox overload. The notion of kill chain collapse or the defenestration of (natural) defense in depth constituents seems analogous as well.

SpaceLifeForm March 29, 2020 8:28 PM

@ name....

I have a bad hunch that none of the models are really that close to what is happening on the ground.

  1. I think the duration of viability on surfaces is larger than expected, especially in certain conditions (inside a building, plane, train, automobile, bus, ship)
  2. I think there is way more silent spreading going on than suspected.

Therefore, many more are getting infected via surface than would be expected. Which means, even if there was sufficient testing, contact tracing may be futile.

An infected person is not likely to recall every surface that they touched a week or more ago.

And you can’t call the surface, and tell the surface to self-quarantine.

Everyone needs to wear a mask in public, in case they are a silent spreader.

Of course, finding a mask these days is not easy.

I think you can get 600000 for free from Netherlands now, because they were found to be defective. (Made in China)

gordo March 29, 2020 9:03 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

even if there was sufficient testing, contact tracing may be futile

Contract tracing would, at the very least, be good for identifying clusters. Antibody tests is also be part of the mix.

Nik March 29, 2020 9:05 PM


viability on surfaces is larger than expected
Yes, fully agree; I think if they would say publicly it’s up to 10 days (as mentioned in this blog from chinese reports) the panic will increase. The regulars here have been eerily on point. Same with the CFR that was touted as 2% just two weeks ago.

Let’s hope the new 15 min (5 if negative) does not have many false negatives. And will be available. That way, air travel will be possible again.

SpaceLifeForm March 29, 2020 11:26 PM

@ Nik

I believe the new test was 5 minutes if positive,
15 for negative.

I takes longer to prove a negative.

And it requires the test to actually be trustful and
not generate a bunch of false positives or false negatives.

We shall see.

65535 March 30, 2020 2:22 AM

@Clive R, and others regarding a drop in cell phone accounts and covid19 deaths.
Yes, Clive R and others are probably correct. Prepaid plans are highly used and may have caused a small down turn in cell phone accounts.
Although, it probably has been covered on this blog Apple had been sued for using iPhone patch to push their customer’s into buying new iPhones and has settled one class action lawsuit – I assumed M$ was the same or worse. Is M$ and Intel next on the lawsuit list?
“Apple software tweak that slows down older iPhones was a ploy to spur upgrades to pricier models.”- cnet
link to suit and settlement.
I forgot to add links in my prior post – here are some:
“How Did Prince Charles Get Tested for Corona virus? ”
“The Prince of Wales only experienced mild symptoms before testing positive for COVID-19.” “…Despite Prince Charles’s diagnosis, a palace source told Town & Country that his condition is “unlikely to escalate into a more serious case.”… “Following the announcement, questions have been raised about how the Prince of Wales received a test with mild symptoms, as there is reportedly a shortage of tests in the UK, and the NHS Scotland website notes that “generally, you’ll only be tested for COVID-19 if you have a serious illness that requires admission to hospital.” Per the BBC, “Corona virus tests are still not being made routinely available for NHS workers, despite the government describing it as a ‘priority.’” Scotland’s Chief Medical officer …“Dr Catherine Calderwood …Medical Officer for Scotland, has confirmed that Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay, were tested for Covid-19 for clinical reasons. She is very pleased to confirm that both remain in good health…”-townandcountry

Hum, what are “mild symptoms?” with this killer virus? Clive R others UK posters with ground level knowledge of covid19 can probably better explain this.


“Prince Harry, Meghan Markle Were Forced To Leave Canada To Avoid Double Taxes …KEY POINTS…Prince Harry and Meghan Markle moved to the U.S. to avoid paying taxes in two countries…Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will need President Donald Trump’s approval for a diplomatic protection …”-ibdtimes

ht tps://www.ibtimes[.]com/prince-harry-meghan-markle-were-forced-leave-canada-avoid-double-taxes-2948859

Talking about California – seeing Prince Harry moving to Los Angeles California because of “tax issues” in the commonwealth of Canada is odd. I thought California was a high tax state [compared to Washington and Oregon]? And, I thought all UK Royalty had the best Tax Accounts on salary – why should taxes be a problem for UK Royalty? How about moving to Washington or Oregon for lower taxes?

ht tps://www.ibtimes[.]com/meghan-markle-prince-harry-need-donald-trumps-approval-diplomatic-protection-after-us-2948811

Wait a second? If the situation was reversed Does Trump need UK approval for his “Political protection” – or is Prince Harry bring power guns or machine pistols into California – I assume both UK and US politicians are heavily armed.
I don’t know if this ties in with Clive’s talk of very stiff gun control in California but he or other UK citizen can explain the situation. I am baffled.

Excuse all the mistake because I had bang it out. Links broken some repair needed to use.

MarkH March 30, 2020 5:22 AM


Please see above

Michael Levitt had, no doubt, an extremely distinguished career in biological research. His work was so important, it won a Nobel!

It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking, “this person is a genius in his/her discipline, and therefore can speak with some authority about this aspect of that discipline.” The mistake is so seductive, that plenty of celebrated scientists have fallen into it …

Imagine a group of computer scientists who respectively study:

• whether certain computational problems are NP complete
• compiler object code optimization
• robust synchronization of massively distributed databases via unreliable communication channels
• ways to improve image recognition
• error-correcting codes

It’s entirely possible that by a lucky connection, one of them might be able to help another make progress with a deep problem. But in general, none of them has any special insight into the work done by the rest of them.

Levitt is a great pioneer in molecular biology. When it comes to epidemiology, he perhaps knows no more than you, or I, or financial “quants” who have anointed themselves as Covid-19 forecasters …

An interesting example of this phenomenon is American molecular biologist Michael Behe. He became famous by writing a book making the case for “intelligent design” (which is a fraudulent re-packaging of anti-science creationism).

Evolution deniers were delighted: this guy’s the real deal, a respected biology professor! What his fans missed, or perhaps didn’t want to know, was that although Behe was an expert in molecular biology, his understanding of evolutionary theory and the evidence undergirding it was quite poor.

His case was riddled with rookie mistakes, which were pointed out by fellow biologists who actually did study evolution. But to people who don’t know enough to appreciate the separation among various branches of biology (a distinction I probably would have missed), it was enough to say “he’s an expert in biology and he speaks with authority.”

MarkH March 30, 2020 5:43 AM

PS to Alejandro:

Public trust and social cooperation are vital to effective responses to an epidemic of contagion. A comprehensive rational plan will mean little, unless there’s a high degree of public compliance.

Israel has a booming economy, and a tremendous wealth of highly educated and forward-looking citizens. But it’s also a very heterogeneous country. I speculate that two cultural groups within the population might be at special risk of disease spread.

As I understand ultra-orthodox culture, which is a large and fast-growing segment of Israel, life is to a great extent organized around gatherings and observances which are the polar opposite of social distancing: frequent gatherings of groups of people, sometimes large, at very close quarters.

Again, as I understand it, the steadfast adherence to tradition among the ultra-orthodox makes their way of life highly resistant to external pressures. I’ll be very impressed, if the Israeli government succeeds in convincing this group to practice social distancing.

Israel also has a large segment of people who came from the former Soviet Union. From my personal experience, the “rules are made to be broken” attitude runs rampant among those who were imbued in Soviet ways … so again, I speculate that getting good compliance rates in that population could be a big challenge.

I hope I’m wrong about all that … we shall see.

JonKnowsNothing March 30, 2020 11:55 AM


re: Protection for High Ranking Persons

Pretty much every government has protocols in place to provide security services to “High Ranking” or “High Value” persons, such as Presidents.

In the USA our Secret Service is tasked with ” protecting the nation’s leaders and their families”.

Who qualifies to get this provided protection varies by country. The duration of this protection also varies, some of it is For Life and some of it is Duration of Office, some of it cascades to other family members (kidnapping, extortion risks).

Under normal circumstances, any visit by a head of state to any location (locally or internationally) will have prior diplomatic arrangements as to itinerary, events and meetings. A security detailed sweep of the area is done during pre-visit evaluations and risk assessments (closing manhole covers).

Every time our US Presidents go anywhere, this happens. If a country cannot provide for the security, then that visit will be rescheduled (interior civil conflict). If the visit or purpose overrides that precaution, then the visit will be in “high secrecy blackouts ” (presidential visits to war zones).

afaik: There is no requirement to provide such detailed security to ordinary persons. This family is opting for “normal status” and they no longer qualify under any government’s rules. They are still “High Risk” and still “High Profile” but they don’t get any more tax payer funded protection. They will no doubt be employing any of what are probably a number of firms that already do this for other “High Visible” persons (actors, rock stars, talk show personalities). They will need personal body guards and premises guards and security sweeps prior to any travel or appearances similar to any other wealthy and targeted persons or professions.

ht tps://
ht tps://
(url fractured to prevent autorun)

Nik March 30, 2020 1:10 PM

@0xFFFF: I also am baffled that anyone would go to California for tax reasons. Texas or a handful of other states without state income taxes would be much better. Having lived there and feeling the sting of taxation is insane:
10% Sales tax
Property taxes ~4%/year due to special assessments. Car registration is a lot as well. In CO I paid R2k for a $40K truck, in CA it’s over $4K
SSI SDI: Special taxes for CA disability and welfare
Then there is the ACA that hits you bad; CA took another 10%off any stock options.
Gas is highly taxes, so is tobacco and other special goods. Pot is I think at 30%tax.

Then there are special assessments and prop measures that are getting crazy. Many people I knew were living off the state and being on disability. Some were exchanging tips on how to maximize this. (Don’t take a shower for a week before the appointment).
Many people vote for any give money to X ballot measure – they won’t have to pay for it.
Since weapons, ammo and training are expensive the majority do not have much and voted to control the real fire power (rifles & magazine capacity).

Then driving on the roads is now easy, but there were express toll lanes that cost up to $10/10-15 miles (saving 45 mins)

So Los Angles is second to NYC in taxes, but quite bad. My guess is that if you are a us citizen, you have to pay taxes, they went to the US. and with their movements tracked by the media they can not live in a tax-free state where they would not physically stay in for 6+months.

Clay_T March 30, 2020 4:16 PM

@Wael • March 29, 2020 1:32 AM

@Clive Robinson,

calamarata calamari Capri.

Little wonder calamari tastes different each time. Thought something’s wrong with my taste buds (corona?) but turns out the buggers change their genetic code! (They no longer taste like chicken.)

Eventually the squid that survive are the ones that taste bad — natural selection, eh?

During my long range fishing days we’d catch Humboldt squid to use as bait.

The first one over the rail would be quickly cleaned, cooked, and tasted.
If it was tasty, we’d fill the bait tanks.
If it was nasty, we’d move on to another spot of squid.

Repeat until we found some that would serve as both appetizers and bait.

Clive Robinson March 30, 2020 6:22 PM

@ ALL,

Sometimes the news is not the real news…

As quite a few people are aware there is a shortage of ventilators and that various politicians have issued the old Churchill “Action this day” memos to engineering companies to make them. But making from new is a long and involved process, which is why those being asked to do it have their doubts,

But has anyone actually asked if throwing lots of effort into making ventilators is actually the right thing to do?

I won’t go into details but being put on a ventilator is actually a quite serious medical procedure, sometimes involving surgury. You are also rendered unconscious for the entire duration you are attached to it and you are given all sorts of muscle relaxant and other drugs. All of which leaves you totaly immobile and physically degrading in various ways, preasure/bed sores being the least of it as fluid settles in various parts of you. Hence the reason for other specialist support equipment from beds to drug pumps and complex monitoring equipment down to cannulas and catheters which carry their own not insignificant risks. Then there is the amount of personnel tied up with ventilator use, they are specialists and not something you can “magic up out of thin air” and you realy do not want or need them tied up to just a tiny handfull of patients in a healthcare system under immense strain.

Also as @Wael noted that sometimes the person that comes off a ventilator is not the same person who goes on. Worse in quite a few cases after being on for as little as a week your body has to learn how to breath again…

In short you don’t want to be on a ventilator if you can possibly avoid it, and neither does anyone else…

So the question arises as to if there is a step between breathing oxygen enriched air and being a near lifeless blob on a ventilator?

To answer this you have to ask what it is you are trying to do, that is does the patient need full breathing support or assisted breathing support and in what way?

As I’ve mentioned before put simply your lungs are inflamed in the alveoli (air sacs) and smaller bronchial tubes in your lungs. One result of inflammation is fluid, comes out of the inflamed tissues and the alveoli become filled and gas exchange of O2 into the blood and CO2 out of the blood can not happen and clinical shock then sepsis sets in followed by DIC and death.

The reason the fluid comes out of the inflamed tissue is that it is at a slightly higher preasure than the air in the lungs. If you therefore raise the air preasure in the lungs slightly the fluid either stays in the tissue or can be pushed back into the tissue. Which is one of the things a ventilator does as a side effect of the way it works (we breath in creating a low preasure to draw air in, the ventilator actually does the opposit creating a higher preasure that pushes air in).

Back in the 1980’s it was known that people stopped breathing in their sleep due to their throat or other airways colapsing and closing. It’s known as “sleep apnea” and a machine was developed that basically increased the air preasure slightly. It’s called a Continuous Positive Airway Preasure (CPAP) device. There are hundreds of thousands of these sitting on peoples bedside tables these days so they are a well understood engineering problem. The earliest design was simply a fan that pushed air into a mechanical regulator device and the regulator was set to the desired air preasure, this then went via ab anesthetics set tube and face mask with added straps. In short a “Heath Robinson” lash up, but things have improved significantly since[1].

If you already have a supply of preasurised air/oxygen, all you actually need is the regulator, tube and a mask that has a reasonable seal to the face. This is almost identical to the Scuba Diving “dive regulator” invented by underwater pioneer Jacques Cousteau.

The “regulator” needed for a CPAP is actually very similar to the “regulator” you find on just about every gas bottle or gas meter coming into your home, there are millions of these in the world, they are highly reliable often working faultlessly for fifty years or more and are incredibly simple to make. Importantly they “work dry” that is they require no lubricants or oils or other volatiles, they also do not have any rotating or friction mechanisums that could wear, so thay don’t impart anything into the air supply.

So what the Formular One (F1) racing teams in the UK are going to make is a stripped down CPAP that can be used instead of ventilators,

All well and good but as the article mentions there is a slight complication. As the air is under preasure when the person exhales there is an increased risk of virus coming out in droplets under preasure and therefore traveling further. One solution to this is to put a HEPA filter on the inside of the mask across the exhaust port. But this still leaves “mask-face seal leak”, there is a solution to this and there are two basic ways to do it. The first you might have heard about in the early Chinese reporting, it boils down to thick petroleum jelly (Vaseline) and surgical tape. The second is a seal much like those used to get a good seal for a “stoma bag”. However in Italy they’ve opted not to use a mask but a large clear plastic balloon that goes over the entire head and seals at the neck, whilst simpler it has some practical disadvantages.

Thus the CPAP solution could be used on an ordinary ward that has had an airlock added for medical staff. The patient does not require an intensivist or anesthesia specialist or other critical care specialist, or the drugs required for ventilator use that are now in short supply (that frequently come from India that has banned their export and the export of the precursor chemicals). Importantly the patient remains conscious and can move and do other things such as comnunicate with staff.

So hopefully patients will get breathing assistence befor they become “tired out” that could stop them progressing to the point they need full ventilation.

[1] Modern medical CPAP machines are a bit more complicated in that they have microprocessor systems in them that do the regulation in an adaptive way, they also data log and most importantly they are way way quieter than the older CPAPs.

Wael March 30, 2020 8:18 PM

@Clive Robinson,

if throwing lots of effort into making ventilators is actually the right thing to do?

I don’t believe it is the right place to put resources for the reasons you listed. Seems we’re spending money on the “last line of defense”.

This video is worth watching: see the difference between Asian and Western thinking:

Also as @[…] noted that sometimes the person that comes off a ventilator is not the same person who goes on

Was that me? I don’t recall.


Repeat until we found some that would serve as both appetizers and bait.


MarkH March 30, 2020 8:46 PM


To the smaller point first, production CPAP machines are designed to use room air. Because 20% oxygen is rarely going to be adequate for the people who need ventilators, a modified CPAP would presumably need

(a) a plumbing connection for the hospital O2 line;
(b) a mixing valve; and
(c) some means of monitoring that the oxygen concentration is as directed.

Whether a system less than a hospital ventilator will be adequate for a person with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, I have no clue.

The larger point is your important question as to whether investing a lot of resources into ventilator production is a good idea.

As you mentioned, being put on a ventilator is very serious matter. From what I’ve been reading, a great many of the patients who survive ARDS with a ventilator will not recover to their pre-illness strength.

Clive knows well (though other readers here might not) that over time, high concentrations of oxygen destroy lung tissue. The longer a patient is on a ventilator with enriched oxygen, the greater the danger.

What I didn’t know until yesterday is that apart from oxygen toxicity, the mechanical pressures from a ventilator also cause lung damage …

An aggravating factor is that the people on ventilators are literally suffocating. Whether a patient with ARDS is on a conventional ventilator, or some enhanced CPAP gadget, that person will be liable to the panic of any suffocating person, and will reflexively claw at the hose or mask (even if, in a non-panic condition, they would understand well that the equipment is in place to ameliorate their suffication). That’s one reason why the drugs are used, and might be necessary whether or not a conventional ventilator is employed. Reportedly, Covid-19 patients on ventilators are often put in arm restraints 🙁

I’ve already told my spouse that if I fall sick with this plague, I don’t want any CPR. Not only is CPR very unlikely to save a patient in such bad condition, but it also transforms the patient — for those few minutes — into a volcanic eruption of virus-laden droplets, creating an awful exposure risk for attending medical personnel.

If my condition were to get bad enough that the docs wanted to put me on a ventilator, my preference would be to get enough morphine to drown quietly in my sleep, and save the ventilator for a patient whose optimism is more stubborn.

Where the “Manhattan Project” effort is needed, is in the expansion of testing capacity. The only plausible ways I’ve seen to (relatively) quickly restore something like normal life presuppose something ultra-extensive testing, preferably recurrently and — at least until the epidemic has damped down a lot — frequently.

In the U.S., Covid-19 spread could be controlled very efficiently with the use of testing … if we could run about one billion tests per month. As far as I can tell, the present capacity is much less than one percent of that.

I have no understanding of the problems involved in scaling up testing capacity, but apparently it’s quite difficult, and there’s some doubt whether whole-population testing will be feasible even a year from now.

For limiting factors like the availability of reagents, isn’t there enough ingenuity and technical infrastructure on this old planet to solve the problems?

As a footnote, antibody testing is (again, I don’t know why) supposed to be a lot simpler and quicker to develop than virus testing. Antibody testing may be a critical tool for sampling the prevalence of SARS-Cov-2, and as time goes on, will indentify more and more people who had the virus but didn’t know it. This kind of data will help to guide responses as we move forward.

MarkH March 30, 2020 9:12 PM

Did I say something above about potential problems in Israel with its ultra-orthodox population?

I was a little hesitant to do so, because I don’t wish to “pick on” a particular minority group. But I know that in public health work, interaction with cultural norms is a crucial matter, and often a vexing challenge.

I’ve been thinking about the case of Israel because a famous scientist who should know better made a very foolish prediction, and because it is such a distinctly multi-cultural state.

Tonight, the NY Times has an article headlined:

Virus Soars Among Ultra-Orthodox Jews as Many Flout Israel’s Rules

Ultra-Orthodox Jews failing to comply with government instructions to contain the coronavirus are causing it to spread so quickly that Israeli officials are considering blockading entire communities to protect the wider population.

The virus is mushrooming in ultra-Orthodox communities as much as four to eight times faster than elsewhere in Israel.

In one form or another, around the world similar dynamics can be expected to play out among many communities united by some combination of ethnicity, culture, religion and tradition.

It’s a useful reminder that here in this security-interested commenting community, many of us as “techies” are at risk of over-simplifying social problems as though the constituent people were gears or transistors. Life is a LOT messier than that …

Clay_T March 30, 2020 9:24 PM

Wael • March 30, 2020 8:18 PM


Repeat until we found some that would serve as both appetizers and bait.


Sometimes and, usually or.
One day down at Alijos Rocks, captain Brian Sims came out of the galley with a plate of hot wings the chef had put out for snacks.

Yellowfin tuna were rolling and biting all around the boat.

Brian took a bite of a hot wing then pinned the rest of the drumstick on a hook.
He cast it out and hooked a YFT.

La Abeja March 30, 2020 10:09 PM


Did I say something above about potential problems in Israel with its ultra-orthodox population?

So there’s a bunch of extra-virgin Italian street ladies out there who highly resent the imputations of sinfulness preached by some rabbi in a synagogue?

No, it’s not a joke. Even as in the Christian New Testament, there is always some female or another like “Salome” who demanded John the Baptist’s head at King Herod’s birthday party.

Wesley Parish March 31, 2020 3:03 AM


I fear you misunderstood me. My point was the unsafe design of the CTV Building in Christchurch – it collapsed during the 22nd Feb 2011 earthquake while many another building remained standing – indicates that the overall valuation of life in the West by your average business type tends to be very much dependent on what he/she can get away with. There is no difference between the NZ company that designed and built a substandard earthquake-unsafe building in 1987, and the Chinese businesspeople who adulterated baby foods in 2008 with melamine – both were after a quick buck. The only difference I have noticed is that in the PRC, justice was swift, while in NZ the govt dithered over the issue.

For what very little it’s worth, most of the workplace safety we enjoy in the West is a direct result of the labour and socialist agitation of the 1800s and 1900s. Free education for all children instead of being sent to slave in mines and factories, after all, is found in the Communist Manifesto, not in the policies of any of the major political parties of the UK and the US during that time. But of course, the West believes it came to that out of the goodness of its heart, instead of being bent over a barrel by labour and socialist movements.

Clive Robinson March 31, 2020 4:18 AM

@ MarkH,

I was a little hesitant to do so, because I don’t wish to “pick on” a particular minority group. But I know that in public health work, interaction with cultural norms is a crucial matter, and often a vexing challenge.

There are many “minority groups” in life as well as religion, generally the more “orthodox” the more “conservative” which means lots of “rituals and customs” that have to be “first hand”.

I’ve previously mentioned the issues with shrines and death rituals in the Middle East and down through Africa some of which have caused the spread of Ebola in the past. Well you can find those same or similar rituals in Asia as well.

For instance I dread to think what is going to happen in India where religious rituals are already a problem health wise in normal times. When coupled with a virus that is water transmissible and in very close quaters living. With a very large population of whom –around twice the number of people living in the US– living one work day away from not eating “lockdown” is not realy going to be an option when you are at the poverty level on the socioeconomic scale… Worse with the train system locked down such workers are migrating back to villages via busses so cramped that people are traveling “on top”. This means that the disease is almost certainly going to get into the much wider community where there is no real health care.

When you look at things the way epidemiologists do it’s perhaps not supprising when they talk about SARS-CoV-2 becoming “endemic”. Thus more than 1% of the general population in the Western / First world even with good medical facilities dying of it within three years if a vaccine or effective treatment is not made available quickly. When you ask what the figures are for areas of the world where medical facilities are minimal you get the 4-15% figures…

With regards CPAP oxygen can be added to air either before the regulator or in the mask. If you look at conventional plastic face masks from the likes of ResMed you will find a silicon rubber plug at the bottom covering two plastic nipples that the same green plastic line used for nasal oxygen can be pushed onto. I gather from Italy they think that the use of CPAP stops between half and two thirds of the severe cases from becoming critical thus potentially halving what the CFR would otherwise be.

I gather from speaking to someone on the subject a few years back when I had a sever chest infection, the way to minimise the oxygen damage is to keep the pressure sufficient to keep the fluid in the tissues early on and use as little oxygen to keep the SpO2 figures at the lower level of acceptable. But importantly sufficient to stop the patient strugling to breathe (apparently just rapid gasping breathing alone causes damage as well as increasing the need for oxygen…). I’m not sure what the recommendations would be these days, they are almost certainly going to vary from country to country and be in a state of flux currently for obvious reasons, hopefully the anesthesia staff should any of us have the misfortune to need them will know what works best for us.

As for what we call “DNR” (Do not resuscitate) in the UK, I’m not the sort who backs down in a fight when it comes to my ill health, I have to many responsabilities and things I want to yet do in life.

65535 March 31, 2020 4:29 AM

“I also am baffled that anyone would go to California for tax reasons. Texas or a handful of other states without state income taxes would be much better. Having lived there and feeling the sting of taxation is insane: 10% Sales tax… Property taxes ~4%/year… Car registration is a lot as well. In CO I paid R2k for a $40K truck, in CA it’s over $4K…SSI SDI: Special taxes for CA disability and welfare…Then there is the ACA that hits you bad; CA took another 10%off any stock options…Gas is highly taxes, so is tobacco and other special goods… their movements tracked by the media they cannot live in a tax-free state where they would not physically stay in for 6+months.” -nik

Yes, you have a good point.

I am still baffled… unless their move has nothing to do with high taxes… the news is simple misdirection – They just to live in the sun and possibly rub elbows with the few movie stairs still living in LA.


“This family is opting for “normal status” and they no longer qualify under any government’s rules. They are still “High Risk” and still “High Profile” but they don’t get any more tax payer funded protection. They will no doubt be employing any of what are probably a number of firms that already do this for other “High Visible” persons (actors, rock stars, talk show personalities). They will need personal body guards and premises guards and security sweeps prior to any travel or appearances similar to any other wealthy [person]…”-jonknowsnothing

That was my thought or possibly they want diplomatic privilege – say like an embassy diplomatic person who has protection and cannot be arrested. But, I don’t know. Maybe, they just faked the news story – to live in Tinsel town and its warm sunshine.

And, thinking Prince Charles who has “mild” covid19 could be a similar fake story – or possibly covid19 is just the seasonal flu. Who knows?

MarkH March 31, 2020 5:56 AM


I forgot to mention an example much closer to home (in the sense of cultural distance from the European/Christian traditions which are most familiar to me).

Two days ago, my Mrs told me news about a village in her native district, in the foothills of the Carpathian mountains. Much of the population is reported to have contracted Covid-19, traced to kissing a cross during a church service.

Such kissing of inanimate objects might seem bizarre to some, but it’s very typical in orthodox Christian observance, and it seems to me that Roman Catholics also have some version of that.

Simply admitting oxygen to CPAP plumbing might make it difficult to ensure a desired partial pressure of oxygen. Whether that’s an important concern is beyond my pay grade.

Disturbingly, some “hot zone” hospitals in the U.S. report running low on oxygen, which I suppose they receive either in the form of delivered tanks, or tankers from which central tanks are refilled.

As to resuscitation, it’s of course a very personal decision. In general (apart from the present epidemic), only 3% of persons surviving CPR in the U.S. afterward regain any significant quality of life. I suspect that for hospitalized Covid-19 patients, the prospects are even worse: the medicos are only going to attempt it if the patient’s heart stopped while on the ventilator, an indication that the lungs are so impaired by fluid and tissue death that they simply can’t oxygenate the blood.

It’s a desperation measure without realistic foundation, and it magnifies the terrible hazard to which medical professionals treating epidemic patients are already subject.

I’m told that if CPR is performed properly, the patient should have a broken breastbone (and perhaps some ribs).

The graveyards, it is said, contain many indispensable men …

Clive Robinson March 31, 2020 6:28 AM

@ Wael,

see the difference between Asian and Western thinking

The four differences are,

1, Rapid and thorough testing.
2, Effective contact tracing.
3, Effective quarantine.
4, Wearing of masks.

The fact they mobilized fast on the first three steps and culturally the fourth is well accepted is where they and some other Asian countries went right and the West has gone badly wrong.

Working in reverse order,

We’ve discussed at length why masks do and do not work and why. But to recap,

Masks are useless at stopping virus and bacteria, we know this and why. Masks are also largely ineffective against very fine aerosolization dropplets. However as the size of the droplets increases the masks do become more effective but by no means perfect. They are also very effective as a physical barrier to stop direct or indirect contact droplet and fromit vectors, as do glasses and transparent face shields.

Thus masks are not needed in most places, but are advisable in places where close contact is probable as is short term drop suspension in air. So near infectious people or places where they go, in busy public places and especially in any kind of closed air environment such as shops, offices, or any kind of shared trasport.

Whilst there are cultural differences between the West and Asia, the messages from Western Politcians and their advisors about masks is shall we say “unhelpful” to the point of misleading.

Interestingly though masks and glasses get mentioned gloves do not. Which is something that is fairly remiss in both cultures.

As I’ve mentioned before the use of hand sanitizers has issues, and that the washing of hands in hot water with hard soap is much more effective. However they both carry risks. One of which is too frequent washing of hands causes the removal of the bodies natural moisturizer and first line of defence of the immune system sebum. As most people know lack of moisture causes “dry skin” and “cracking”. Cracking provides not just a route into the body, it provides water which will keep virii viable for longer. Whilst sebum is a moisturizer it’s lipid (fat/oil) based more than it is water, it is thus sticky but dry that helps make virii unviable. Also sebum has bacteria held on it’s surface and dead skin cells underneath. Like gut bacteria the bacteria on your skin can aid your immune system.

Thus the wearing of gloves in public places puts another layer of defence up to help make up for that lost during washing and sanitizer use. They do not need to be disposable gloves just those you can give a squirt of mild bleach etc solution to when you take them off and place in sun/daylight to dry off.

But what we do need is effective quarantine, in China they were fairly ruthless about it, and this payed off. We need our quarantine systems to be equally as good in the West if we ever want to get on top of this virus. It’s a point few want to discuss because it crashes head on into “Individual -v- Societal” rights. People in the West are not accepting that “we are at war” therefore the rights of the individual by historical president get subsumed to those of society. That is the primary function of all individuals is to “fight the invader in the best ways they can” for the good of all.

Which brings us into the second head on issue, that of effective contact tracing, there is no way around it, it is going to involve invasion of privacy and surveillance. It’s not a “trust issue” with regards the citizens as such so we have to be careful not to frame arguments that way. However it is very much a trust issue in the other direction, western governments contain those who for what ever reason are untrustworthy, and they will seek to obtain any advantage they can. Historically the reach of such peoole was limited by the resources they had available to them. Unfortunately for good or bad technology is rapidly reducing the resource limitation barrier to these people. My opinion is that when found such peoole should be removed from positions of power permanently, however they appear to be endemic not just in government but commerce as well which makes removing them from power an interesting problem in the balance of harms (which we’ve already seen go horribly wrong with the start of this pandemic in the West).

Which brings us to testing, the spread has got to the point where it’s not economicaly or practically feasible to make, deploy and run test kits.

What we need is a reusable inplace non invasive, genuinely real time test that is just a few cents per test. Whilst it is feasible to develop such a test (think IR temprature testing, blood oxygen etc) the question arises as to if we are even close to one. I suspect that the closest we will get is an antibody test using disposable blood drop test strips similar to those diabetics use to test their blood glucose. The problem with that is antibodies only appear quite a while after you are infected and infectious.

However that is probably of more use economically than the RT-PCR kits at several hundred dollars a test. Simply because if you have antibodies you are immune and can thus go back to being economically productive without cause for concern.

What was not mentioned in the video and is perhaps the most important thing is South Korea has not gone into “economic lockdown” which I’ve mentioned before is vital if we are to get out the otherside of this pandemic without a major recession that could actually kill more people than the complications of COVID-19.

Clive Robinson March 31, 2020 8:02 AM

@ MarkH,

only 3% of persons surviving CPR in the U.S. afterward regain any significant quality of life.

I’ve survived it a couple or more times (depending on how you want to count it). As far as I am aware[1] I’ve been lucky and it’s happened when cardiac specialists have actually been talking to me[2]…

As they say there is nothing like the sound of an ECG alarming on a “flat line”, to interupt a humours conversation and throw a bit of seriousness into the room.

The first time was in a resuscitation area just after an operation, the first I realised was my eyesight went funny then the coldness in the chest followed by the fire, where upon the medics were doing their thing, and from what I remember a couple of injections later the old engine was running back on it’s rails.

The second time was after I unknowingly developed AF and found myself waking up next to the crisp isle in my local supermarket and hearing some small child saying I was Santa Claws :@ It was when the ambulance staff hooked me up to an ECG they asked “do you have AF” to which I said no, thus won that afternoons special of a free trip to to hospital A&E by ambulance. It was whilst they were preping me for “cardio inversion”, I was half sitting up as the gurney was part raised when the consultant mentioned the drug ketimin and I jokingly said “I’m not a bl@@dy race horse” and she laughingly said it should make me feel a little better if not more frisky that the beep beep beep stopped and the alarm started. The next thing I remember was flat on my back with people loudly giving commands about injections and a few other things and the whine of other equipment charging up when beep beep beep started again. I then felt the urgent desire to both vomit, urinate, and sweat a bucket or so… Having got that under control and feeling a little better I said I think I need to lie back again just as the beeps stopped again and the alarm started again… After the consultant got me stabilised again she phoned the big boss and had a brief chat and said looks like you will be our guest for a day or two and who should they call as my next of kin… I was there for rather more than a couple of days and had another couple of alarms go off on the ECG but due this time to the heart beating way way to fast…

As for being the worse for it, I don’t know, yes I’m on a fist full of drugs and eventually got a pacer fitted and have one or two bad memories but I’m as mobile as I was before and less nervous about going out and about. The trick is trying to get my physical fitness back. I was diagnosed as type II diabetic and the insulin and other drugs realy do not agree with me with GI tract and increasing body weight issues, I’ve decided to “follow the research not the doctors” we’ll see how it goes but jacking up on insulin and using carbs to control the blood sugar is madness and always was, so I’m cutting out the carbs all together bit by bit and using fasting to get the blood sugar down and try to get back to a sensible weight and build the muscles back up again.

[1] My heart condition that caused me to pass out all over the place was due to the heart stopping beating for several seconds. If I had remained upright instead of pitching over and gracing the pavement with my presence there would have been a good chance it would not have restarted for various reasons.

[2] Maybe I should stop talking to them 😉 but a better option would be to find a way to not be flat on my back festooned in wires and tubes from ECG machines and drips etc.

Nik March 31, 2020 8:55 AM

@Clive: Thank you for the splendid bit about ventilators – as you were posting it, my wife who has lung issues[0] asked me about them and the ramifications. For all the news about ventilators, I have not seen any description of these procedures. I also did not know that 100% oxygen is a poison to lungs. It makes me feel better once I inhale it.

[0] She helped clean out an apartment for a friend. The friend happened to be a “collector”[1] of junk, empty wine bottles and plates with food residue. The doctors never cared to investigate what she caught. Fungal, bacterial or viral. [2] The residual effect was a diminished lung capacity and a weak lung that would cause issues every time her immune system got compromised. So she is in a high risk group.

[1] She died of liver failure, in the hospital due to hep C from her tattoos combined with excessive drinking of cheap stuff, and she had lots of them and magnificent ones. She also was a great performer/musician and had a dark humour. A loss to the world, really. Also even though she died in the hospital, her last days were horrible, jaundiced with seizures and massive amounts of pain. “Good thing” that California does not have euthanasia, because, “life is sacred”. So it’s better to be in agony with no hope in and out of consciousness for days? Taking up resources and racking up bills that the system absorbs? Methinks not and I’ll choose my exit off the stage, if I can, hope that it’s a long time from now, I have a strong will to live and persevere, that is what my fainting episodes showed me. I have since prepared and researched a bit, not enough of course.

[2] And this underscored the importance of PPE and that discomfort wearing it is worth it. I try to use eye protection whenever I do work, need my eyes. And earmuffs when it’s loud. And gloves and a mask if needed. Such as buying groceries. I’am surprised that many people wear masks, but not gloves and also do not protect the eyes with anything. The PPE also prevents me from rubbing eyes and such.

MarkH March 31, 2020 11:29 AM


I’m sure I got my “fact” wrong above … it’s 3% of those receiving CPR, not 3% of survivors, because of course quite a lot of recipients are never revived. Sleepy posting again …

Where CPR presumably makes most sense are cases of a basically strong patient suffering a momentary crisis — a classic example being a drowned youngster.

Unfortunately, in the U.S., CPR is often administered to (or perhaps, against) highly morbid patients, for example those in the last stages of cancer or advanced heart disease, when the “best” plausible outcome is a few days more of bare survival. I suspect that many other countries apply more rational standards of treatment.

A member of my extended family was revived about 3 years ago. The hospital gave a sufficient dose of a blood pressure drug, that her BP went to zero … she recovered perfectly, though her underlying cardiovascular disease is unfortunately incurable. If we’re lucky, we’ll have her a few years more.

She’s the one I most worry about in this epidemic; she’s short of breath from pulmonary edema on a good day. How could she survive pneumonia?

Clay_T March 31, 2020 2:09 PM

@Wael • March 30, 2020 10:33 PM


He cast it out and hooked a YFT.

Like this one: ?

I guess squid is going to be extinct then. Editing their own DNA won’t help the remaining species. Whether they taste bad or good, someone is bound to eat’em.

That’s a big tuna for The Rocks.
The YFT typically run 50-100# there.

That one might have come from Guadalupe.
The ‘lupe has bigger units but landing them is difficult.
Guadalupe has one of the largest concentrations of Great White Sharks on the west coast.
Fishermen refer to Whitey as the “Tax Man”.
To land a big tuna at ‘lupe, one must pay the tax of sacrificing a couple to Jaws.

Brian was driving the Qualifier 105 on the ‘hot wing’ trip.
Sadly, the ‘Q’ was retired from long range duty in 2012.

Squid are very resilient.
We’ve had seasons where the squid move in and eat anything and everything that swims.
Fishing for anything other than squid is an exercise in futility because a squid will eat it off the hook… including other squid.

Those were the times we’d don our rain gear and fish for squid.
It is fun and a bit chaotic.
A Humboldt will shoot a half liter of water out its siphon when it is lifted out of the water.
It will usually include a couple hundred cc’s of ink along with the shot.
Everything on deck is black by the end of the night.

Scott Forbes March 31, 2020 5:59 PM

Hot off the press (March 31, 2020): New Fitbit Charge 4 adds GPS

The article states “It’s odd timing for a world that’s increasingly shut down and housebound, but GPS was a feature that was missing from Fitbit’s devices for years.”– but is the timing really that odd?

Perhaps there will be a big market in countries with a “strong” government. (See: Flubit)

myliit March 31, 2020 9:37 PM

@Ismar, working remotely, or videoconferencing popcorn eaters

FaceTime appears better than Zoom, but requires Apple devices. Here are some possible alternatives to Zoom Cloud Meetings. Any thoughts about good replacements for Zoom (30-50 users or so)?

Discord, discussed on this blog before, iirc
Jitsi Meet

ZOOM, THE video conferencing service whose use has spiked amid the Covid-19 pandemic, claims to implement end-to-end encryption, widely understood as the most private form of internet communication, protecting conversations from all outside parties. In fact, Zoom is using its own definition of the term, one that lets Zoom itself access unencrypted video and audio from meetings. …”

“… Criticism[edit]
Zoom has been criticized for its data collection practices,[47] which include its collection and storage of “the content contained in cloud recordings, and instant messages, files, whiteboards” as well as its enabling employers to monitor workers remotely;[48][49] the Electronic Frontier Foundation warned that administrators can join any call at any time “without in-the-moment consent or warning for the attendees of the call.”[50] The Ministry of Defence of the U.K. banned its use.[51][52] During signup for a Zoom free account, Zoom requires users to permit it to identify users with their personal information on Google and also offers to permanently delete their Google contacts.

Widespread use of Zoom for online education during the novel coronavirus pandemic increased concerns regarding students’ data privacy and, in particular, their personally identifiable information.[17] According to the FBI, students’ IP addresses, browsing history, academic progress, and biometric data may be at risk during the use of similar online learning services.[17] Privacy experts are also concerned that the use of Zoom by schools and universities may raise issues regarding unauthorized surveillance of students and possible violations of students’ rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).[53] The company claims that the video services are FERPA-compliant, and also claims that it collects and stores user data only to “provide technical and operational support”.[53]

The company’s iOS app was found to be sending device analytics data to Facebook on startup, regardless of whether a Facebook account was being used with the service, and without mentioning it to the user.[54] On March 27, Zoom stated that it had been “recently made aware that the Facebook SDK was collecting unnecessary device data”, and that it had patched the app to remove the SDK (which was primarily used for social login support) in order to address these concerns. The company stated that the SDK was only collecting information on the user’s device specifications (such as model names and operating system versions), and was not collecting personal information.[55]

In March 2020, Zoom was sued in US Federal Court for illegally disclosing personal data to third parties including Facebook. According to the suit, Zoom’s privacy policy doesn’t explain to users that its app contains code that discloses information to Facebook and potentially other third parties. The company’s “wholly inadequate program design and security measures have resulted, and will continue to result, in unauthorized disclosure of its users’ personal information,” according to the complaint.[56] The same month, the New York attorney general launched an inquiry into Zoom’s privacy practices.[57]

Zoom claims to use Advanced Encryption Standard 256-bit (AES 256) encryption.[58][59] AES is being used to protect an initial TLS control connection to Zoom server but the actual audio and video streams sent over UDP are not end-to-end encrypted. Zoom claims to use “end-to-end encryption” in its marketing materials but later clarified they meant “from Zoom end point to Zoom end point” (meaning effectively between Zoom servers), which has been described as “dishonest”.[60]

In November 2018, a security vulnerability (CVE-2018-15715) was discovered[61] that allowed a remote unauthenticated attacker to spoof UDP messages from a meeting attendee or Zoom server in order to invoke functionality in the target client. This would allow the attacker to remove attendees from meetings, spoof messages from users, or hijack shared screens.

In July 2019, security researcher Jonathan Leitschuh disclosed[62] a zero-day vulnerability allowing any website to forcibly join a macOS user to a Zoom call, with their video camera activated, without the user’s permission. In addition, attempts to uninstall the Zoom client on macOS would prompt the software to re-install automatically in the background, using a hidden web server that was set up on the machine during the first installation and remained active even after attempting to remove the client. After receiving public criticism, Zoom updated their software to remove the vulnerability and the hidden webserver, allowing complete uninstallation.[63]

The popularity of Zoom caused a “sharp” increase in Zoom-related phishing scams. The number of domains containing the name “Zoom” showed a sharp increase during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many of these were used to make fake Zoom websites and links for the purposes of stealing personal information. [64] …”

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons April 1, 2020 6:26 AM

Lot of people have been looking for advice, here is just a small set of things people can investigate.


CPR, medical assistant, medical equipment, medical record[ing] management
facility maintenance, identification/labeling systems, data operations
fabric and production techniques, distribution systems and techniques


Your local Red Cross and the Y[W/M]CA, local government offices, officials
Organize your communities, build ad-hoc in community response systems
Assist local responders in any way you can.

Sed Contra April 1, 2020 8:42 AM

I don’t know if this would even be possible, but has anyone applied Benford’s law to the corona statistics ?

SpaceLifeForm April 1, 2020 11:27 AM

@ Clive, Anders, Myliit, MarkH, ALL

Doh! This has been obvious for some time.

I found my notes on the leaked numbers, which I said were horrible. They are from 2020-01-26, and 2020-02-04. But, you do not even need those numbers to conclude that the China numbers are worthless.

I will put together another post, explaining why it is obvious that the China numbers are BS.

China Concealed Extent of Virus Outbreak, U.S. Intelligence Says


China has concealed the extent of the coronavirus outbreak in its country, under-reporting both total cases and deaths it’s suffered from the disease, the U.S. intelligence community concluded in a classified report to the White House, according to three U.S. officials.

Wael April 1, 2020 11:50 AM


it is obvious that the China numbers are BS.

Beyond BS. My El Turdo meter got pegged then went off scale, got cracked and exploded. The contaminated shrapnel traveled all the way to Europe, the US and the rest of the world.

Clive Robinson April 1, 2020 1:00 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm, ALL,

China Concealed Extent of Virus Outbreak, U.S. Intelligence Says

I’ve warned before that what comes from Bloomberg should be treated as a steaming great pile of fresh bovine fertilizer.

They have presented no evidence that the Chinese figures are wrong. All they have said is,

1, Three unamed people say there is a report but have not said what the report says “because it’s secret”.

2, Some people are claiming their are urns stacked outside of undertakers.

Bloomberg have a history of inventing not just stories but supposed experts and Government sources that nobody can find any evidence of or get correlation of. Lets put it this way, if such sources do exist why do only Bloomberg get them?

There are two answers to that,

1, Some Bloomberg journalists are liers (this is becoming common in other spheres of Journalism and as they don’t get sacked or find reemployment elsewhere easily there is obviously no deterrent to stop lying).

2, Some Bloomberg juurnalists are so gullible they are easy meat for those wanting to place fake news at politically sensitive times.

And if people had not noticed this is US Presidential election time and lots of people are claiming to put it politely the current encumbrant “has dropped the ball” and with the US now being the world leader in COVID-2 infections and deaths. I’m sure some would think that calling some other information “fake” as is an almost constant refrain for the past four years, is SOP in the executive. The fact that the fairly usless number two and known lier has been wheeled out speaks volumes.

But onto the alledged extra urns stacked up outside funeral homes. There are two asspects to this that can be considered,

1, Cognative impairment.
2, Forward planning.

Urns like many other things take time to produce and once China bit the bullet about COVID-19 they went into emergancy production of certain items, medical supplies, issolation hospitals, and even PPE as they started enforcing lockdown outside of Wuhan and surrounding areas. If we look at things we can see the actually “over produced” even with the hospitals.

So the chances are they also over produced and distributed urns, assuming things were going to be a lot worse than they actually are.

The fact the urns are just sitting there tells you the opposit of what the Bloomberg piece does. That is the urns are sitting unused because there are not the cremated bodies to put in them. That is the number of deaths is lower than expected or calculated when doing forward planning.

Thus when people see the urns stacked up they are suffering from a clouded view point. That is lots of urns means lots of deaths, which it actually does not. It is a form of cognative bias, that is seeing in something what you fear rather than what the evidence may actually be telling you if it was not in a fearful state. This is frequently see after all large disasters it’s part of “survivor guilt”, people think they should have died and they in effect see portents of doom of deaths hand reaching out to them everywhere they look. It actually can be crippling in a sudden disaster like an earthquake etc, it paralyses people into a zombie like state where they quite literally sit down and don’t eat, drink, keepwarm or sleep and unless they are got out of the mindset dead within a week or two.

But as for Chinas figures being wrong, of course they are, as are every other countries figures you will find. The Chinese were fairly up front about this as has been the UK.

The figures are wrong because there are not enough test kits, there is not enough testing and it appears increasingly the clinical diagnostic “signs and symptoms” are missing as much as fourty percent of cases that do come to the attention of meddics.

For instance did you know that between a third and two thirds of people in the under fourties the major symptom might be “loss of smell”?

From what’s been said atleast one of the teenage deaths that was the only symptom in an otherwise apparently fit and healty individual.

But take the UK at most 8,000 people a day are being tested, that is ludicrously small, and some have called it “a joke” or “scandalous”. The senior healt officer has said that infections are atleast ten times the recorded figures and probably more like twenty times…

The Chinese have repeatedly said similar, not only that, the WHO have been to China and have checked what the Chinese are doing and reporting and they don’t question the figures as being anything other than what the Chinese say they are. Which was originally those who were “tested positive” and later included those by “expert clinical assesment”. The later of which most other countries do not include (including the US, Spain, Italy…).

In short the whole Bloomberg story looks like “Political mischiefmaking” or if you prefer “alternative news” the question of course boils down to who benifits from it as it did with the story about the server motherboards supplied to Apple. I know that you are not supposed “to shoot the messenger” but in the case of Bloomberg lets just say that maybe “there are exceptions to the rule”.

Anders April 1, 2020 2:00 PM

@Clive @SpaceLifeForm @Wael @ALL

World CFR has reached to 5% and is still raising… 🙁

SpaceLifeForm April 1, 2020 2:06 PM

@ Clive, Anders, Myliit, MarkH, ALL

Why the China numbers are completely devoid of reality.

For this exercise, I will use the numbers from


as of this writing.

The numbers from hxxps://
or hxxps://
could be used also. They are all close, but just not necessarily updated in sync.

Let P = (deaths) / (deaths + recovered)

P is a rough CFR, but I don’t want to call it that.

It’s more like a CFR for known serious cases. We know that the numbers are wrong for many countries.

Only the serious cases are really being counted in most places. Deaths that occur outside of hospital are usually not counted. Cases that never get to hospital are almost certainly not counted. Until today, in China, they were not counting asymptomatic positive cases as a ‘case’. Allegedly, they will from now on.

Consider P as a rough estimate of the probability that one will die if they go to hospital, and are a serious case.

It’s really the only data we have, even if it is ‘off’.

It also looks like P is really high at the start of an outbreak, as it is the really sick that first go to hospital.

But, even over weeks, while P may decline, it is still a very horrible number for those seriously ill.

But, for comparison purposes in this exercise, these numbers are good enough to show that China is an outlier.
Or, maybe better described, an ‘outright liar’.

Raw numbers by CC, Deaths, Recovered

US 4516, 8745
IT 13155, 16847
ES 9053, 22647
CN 3312, 76238
DE 858, 18700
FR 3523, 9444
IR 3036, 15473
GB 2352, 135
KR 165, 5567
CA 108, 1445

World 45538, 190921

The P values:

US .34
IT .43
ES .28
CN .04
DE .04
FR .27
IR .16
GB .94
KR .03
CA .07

World .19

Note the good numbers from CN, DE, KR, CA.

Lets take the World numbers and back out the CN numbers.

P becomes .27 A significant jump.

Lets back out the IR numbers also.

P becomes .28 not a big jump

Lets back out the DE, KR, CA numbers because their P values are under .10 just like the CN P value.

P becomes .34 a not so minor jump

But, if we add the CN numbers back in

P becomes .21 a significant decline

The China numbers are distorting the world numbers.

The China number of recovered (76238) is 40% of the world recovered numbers (190921).

Here are the leaked numbers from Wuhan earlier this year
and the official China numbers on the same dates.

Official dead 81, recovered 52 P = ,60
Leaked dead 2577, recovered 49 P = .98

Official dead 305, recovered 328 P = .48
Leaked dead 24589, recovered 269 P = .98

MarkH April 1, 2020 2:57 PM

Extinguishing Oil Well Fires

Tho’ this may seem absurdly off-topic, I’ll make reference to it just below …

When the head of an oil well becomes an inferno, a standard method for extinguishing the powerful fire is to suspend a high explosive charge as near to the base of the flame as is manageable.

When the charge detonates, its shock wave momentarily displaces both the hot gases of the flame, and the oxygen required to sustain combustion. As spectacularly macho as this technique may be, it’s actually the easy part (comparatively speaking, of course).

The hard parts are repairing the plumbing to stop the leak which made the fire possible (done after the explosion douses the flames), and clearing as much debris with high heat-content from the vicinity of the wellhead as can be managed (necessary before the explosion).

If pieces of metal are left too near, they will of course have become very hot indeed, and radiation from this debris can quickly re-ignite the fire. I’ve seen video of such a failure; the explosion extinguished the flame, but within seconds heat from debris close to the wellhead re-lit the hurricane strength jet of flammable gases and liquid petroleum droplets shooting skyward from the broken well.

What Must Happen, to End the Pandemic

I won’t say that there’s only one way — there isn’t. But there is condition, without which the pandemic will inevitably continue as soon as people resume anything like normal life.

That necessary condition, is that the majority of humanity must become immune. Without this condition being met, any apparent stoppage of the epidemic in a country or region will be the equivalent of blowing out the oil well flame (see above) while leaving a mountain of incandescent debris adjacent.

A less exotic analogy is a forest with a dense understory of tinder-dry brush and stiff winds. Suppose that by some heroic effort, fire-fighting has stopped a blaze there … it needs only a single lightning strike, or a spark from the wheels of a freight train, and within hours another 1000 megawatt fire will again be ravaging the forest.

The most grand-operatic analogy which came to my thoughts is the core of a nuclear bomb in the microseconds during which the supercritical mass has been “rapidly assembled.” Of course, in an actual bomb the core has a neutron-spitting initiator at its center, intended to make darn sure the chain reaction starts. But suppose that a saboteur has removed the initiator to prevent the nuclear explosion … during that moment of high criticality, one stray thermal neutron reaching the core might suffice to release the energy of millions of kg of TNT.

As of now, when Covid-19 has apparently stopped somewhere, the chain reaction is ready to start anew at any time and place in which a single case appears. The localized arrest of the epidemic looks like a sort of success, but it is agonizingly unstable. The thousands of tons of desert-dry brush await their initiating spark …

In parts of Asia where the outbreak has been brought under apparent control, they are discovering this now. People coming from other parts of the world are bringing the virus with them, and Covid-19 is flaring up anew.

Now, one can imagine Earth divided into thousands of cordons sanitaire each enclosed by strict “border controls” intended to keep new Covid-19 cases out. Many will try this, and the effort may not be altogether futile. But unless all seven billion of us participate — and succeed in becoming free of SARS-Cov-2 at exactly the same time — this won’t stop the pandemic. Instead, it will roughly “freeze” it into an unstable condition in which new eruptions can emerge with great rapidity.

I think that all of us here would like to see universal testing. Unfortunately, no one knows when sufficient testing capacity may come into existence, and given that all medical tests have non-trivial error rates (and the other challenges in applying ANY regime to an entire population), test-based control will inevitably suffer leakage.

So, we can imagine an extremely unstable world in which rigorous controls have the effect of pressing the “Pause button” on the chain reaction.

The only way the pandemic will truly be over, is when the situation has actually become stable. At the present state of medical knowledge, stability will occur only when enough people have become immune.

For example, if R0 is 2.5 (which is a typical estimate), and at least 61% of people have acquired immunity, then R (the effective reproduction rate) will be less than one under normal conditions of life. Any incidence of Covid-19 will then naturally self-extinguish, without any intervention whatsoever … and people will live, work, love, worship, and do all other foolish things we do, in pretty much the same ways as we have done, for as long as anyone can remember.

That’s how the pandemic will actually end.

lurker April 1, 2020 3:00 PM

Isn’t all this huddling over the abacus a bit futile? Comparing deaths vs. recovered ignores current active cases, which will either die or recover depending on factors which may or not be under control of the relevant national health authorities. At this stage of the pandemic the number of active cases in many places still exceeds the combined number of dead and recovered. And of course the number of active cases is only those cases which have reported to a medical facitility to be treated and counted. The asymptomatic, and those who self treat mild cases as a flu, are quietly contributing to the H word, herd immunity.

MarkH April 1, 2020 3:24 PM


Your observations are too balanced and rational. I must protest!

At least two members of our learned commentariat have assured us that herd immunity is a myth. As a New Yorker might say, “herd immunity, schmerd immunity!”

Who are you or I, to question such august authority?

BTW, “huddling over the abacus” is delicious imagery … wish I’d written that.

I’ve done my best, to explain why the count of case recoveries is a practically useless statistic for assessing this pandemic at its early stage of its development.

Next year, poring over the case recovery counts may actually be illuminating.

lurker April 1, 2020 3:41 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm

Descibe the meaning of the formula

(deaths) / (deaths + recovered)

What you achieve by that?

Clive Robinson April 1, 2020 5:08 PM

@ MarkH,

But unless all seven billion of us participate — and succeed in becoming free of SARS-Cov-2 at exactly the same time — this won’t stop the pandemic.

Yes, I originally worked out it would take just one month (30 days) to make SARS-CoV-2 extinct this way, however due to tests that showed it could remain viable on surfaces for upto nine days and that one person had been asymptomatic for twice the mean time I revised that upwards to 35days.

But as I pointed out this was never going to happen because of “vested interests” with “very short term thinking” (which is by the way the reason the US is on top of the leader board at the moment).

If people do the maths, preparing for and stopping the whole world for just over a month will be economicaly the best solution. Likewise if we had done it in march socially it would likewise have been the best solution.

The “let it run wild Herd Immunity” idea will actualy do most harm to the economy and society in general. The result would be a very real recession of more than a decade and whilst COVID-19 complications might kill 250 – 700 million people in the first year to two years, the deaths due to economic downturn could be three times that or about 1/3rd of the worlds population.

No matter how much lipstick you put on the “run wild” idea it’s still giving pig ugly results.

The South Korean model of “test, track and issolate” is the only model that will alow the economy to function at the same time as not over taxing the health system thus the death rate will go down from ~5% to 0.5% or less depending on where you are in the world.

As a necessary requirment of this as you note the setting up of,

cordons sanitaire each enclosed by strict “border controls” intended to keep new Covid-19 cases out. Many will try this, and the effort may not be altogether futile.

The level of futility has to be considered in three ways,

1, People crossing to land side.
2, People contacting across the border.
3, Goods crossing to land side.

The first will require mandatory 21day issolation quarantine on arrival, which will have a significant impact on the airline industry. Many airlines will cease to exist, which would also significantly reduce the second problem.

Up untill recently it was not just airlines where “people connected” across the border, it also happened with docks and other shipping facilities. In effect all goods passed from transportation vehicles into the docks need personnel from both sides of the border to have contact directly in person or indirectly through “fomites” (objects) such as shipping containers and documentation. Whilst this can be reduced by the use of ICT and UV-C or Chlorine based decontamination it only goes “so far” which takes onto the third issue.

Goods ariving such as documents and other “couriered” items will be in boxes or bags which will have been recently packed by persons of unknown health / infection status. The contents almost certainly will have virus friendly surfaces where the virus will remain viable for 4-9days. Decontaminating such packages will be difficult.

But it gets worse, I’ve not seen any information about how long corona viruses remain viable for when frozen. But I do know that sailors who died of Spanish flu that were buried in permafrost back in 1919 the virus that caused it was still sufficiently viable in the bodies that it could be correctly identified.

This obviously has consequences for frozen goods such as food comming into a country. Whilst surface virus could be treated with ionizing radiation, I’ve no idea if that still applies to large objects such as packaged frozen meat and fish that arives in 6.4kg (14lb / 1stn) blocks and larger. I know perversly fresh fruit and vegtables have longer shelf lives if they are irradiated but again frozen vegtables I have no idea.

Thus “Food Security” takes on a whole different meaning.

Clive Robinson April 1, 2020 5:22 PM

@ Lurker,

Descibe the meaning of the formula

It’s the normalisation of “closed cases” that have ended in death.

It’s a highly inacurate measure not least because the infection to survived time is 3-4weeks whilst for infection to death is 2-5weeks or longer.

To see how bad the current Worldmeter page shows under closed cases,

193,770 (81%) Recovered / Discharged

46,782 (19%) Deaths


46782/(46782+193770) = 0.194478

Clive Robinson April 1, 2020 6:14 PM

@ MarkH, Lurker,

At least two members of our learned commentariat have assured us that herd immunity is a myth.

Herd immunity is a nonsense, it’s believing it’s a panacea or easy solution is where it becomes a myth.

The general idea behind herd immunity is for “endemic” pathogens that have been in existance longer than any member of the herd has been alive.

The idea is that every one in the herd has been exposed to the pathogen whilst young with a fully functioning immune system, thus have only suffered minimally on aquiring their immunity. Further that all new members born into the herd which is a small subset of the herd will likewise gain immunity within a year of their birth.

Sounds simple in practice it’s a nonsense as a general rule as Mumps and German Measles show. It only realy applies to highly infective but not very virulent[1] pathogens that are endemic.

With a novel virus that the “herd” has never seen there is no “small subset” that are only newely born with good immune systems. The whole herd is susceptable, and the severity or virulence of the pathogen rises with age. Thus not only is the whole herd at risk, the death/injury rate will be considerably higher than for an endemic pathogen that the entire herd has had whilst young.

With COVID-19 if you are young then your chance of death if you do suffer the infection sufficiently to come to the attention of the medical proffession is less than three in a thousand, in your fifties it’s around eighty in a thousand and if eighty or over it is over one hundred and fourty five in a thousand.

Thus if COVID-19 does become endemic, it will be over eighty years befor “herd immunity” might be considered in place depending on how many “older hosts” manage to avoid becoming infected. However if it mutates and becomes more infectious then it might get through the entire “herd” in less time, longer if it becomes less infectious and “herd immunity” might never be reached (Mups etc).

But the important thing to remember is, there is no “herd immunity” with a “novel pathogen”. Which means thinking there is, is a sign that you’ve either been given incorrect information or you have not understood what you have been told.

The second important thing to remember is that the more infectious a novel virus is, the greater the number of people that are going to die. This is because the health care system becomes over loaded.

[1] The usual “special use of words” rule applies here, “infective” meaning how easily the pathogen passes from one host to another as a function of the pathogen, not the host behaviour or environment that R0 includes. Likewise “virulent” here means how much harm it causes or can cause the host. Thus there are pathogens like the common cold that are quite infective but low virulence through flu that is quite infective but of moderate virulence through to the likes of MERS that was not very infective but highly virulent (~30% CFR).

Petre Peter April 1, 2020 6:49 PM

My Doctor wanted to use a Google application for chatting and video conference. Being afraid of voice recognition turned into subtitles, then into keywords, then into advertisements, I refused.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons April 1, 2020 7:07 PM

The Spanish Flu pandemic, should be the Kansas flu, had a varied effect relative to known pandemic epidemiology respecting the populations resistance to new viral components. The risk profile for the flu centered on persons aged 24-29 years of age. It was that a previous outbreak of a horse flu in 1873 and a subsequent (chicken) bird flu had immunized portions of the population older than 29. In fact, the most immune demographic, based on age, during the 1918 event was aged 75 and over.

Some interesting epidemiological forensics was completed in 2014 to document the Kansas Flu of 1918 (formerly known as the Spanish Flu of 1918).

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons April 1, 2020 7:22 PM

@ myliit

The company stated that the SDK was only collecting information on the user’s device specifications (such as model names and operating system versions), and was not collecting personal information.

This is so disingenuous, how if the device, probably SN, and model information sent to Facebook not collecting personal information. Of course it is, just that the data/event component of your activity is being transmitted. Good thing your IP address and network level ID’s don’t provided any “tagging” data such that your event data can be tied to you personally.

That’s hilarious…better change my agent string again. “Lynx 2.2 – Slackware 2.4”, or is it “86”

MarkH April 1, 2020 7:58 PM


Sometimes English words have different meanings in different countries.

I am no expert on U.K. English.

In America, however, “herd immunity” is used by public health officials to refer to a population prevalence of immunity, sufficiently large to reduce the spread of infection to a meaningful degree.

It has NOTHING WHATEVER to do with whether the disease is old, or endemic, or the means by which immunity was acquired.

Here, “herd immunity” us most often used in reference to immunity conferred by vaccination.

It’s real.

It works.

It has saved great masses of human beings from horrible suffering and death.


name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons April 1, 2020 7:58 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm

I have a bad hunch that none of the models are really that close to what is happening on the ground.

It may well be difficult to attribute transmissive mechanisms without experimental developments, and since replicating the pathogen in vivo is not a good option; tests using cellular plasmas and suspended tissue (has to be susceptible to multiple states of known pathogen migration) must be performed.

And, I understand your hunch, and bad feeling, those are two distinct elements that may point to several different factors.

One that may not be characterized, though seems quite possible, is water. Or if it is robust enough, liquids (probably not CH chain fluids and the like–volatiles).

Hadn’t considered whether a microbial could not be a “payload” delivery system…going to have to go back to my white board.

Clive Robinson April 1, 2020 8:56 PM

@ MarkH,


Not the way Wikipedia looks at it,

    Herd immunity is a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that occurs when a large percentage of a population has become immune to an infection, whether through previous infections or vaccination, thereby providing a measure of protection for individuals who are not immune

As with all “novel” viruses, neither,

    previous infections or vaccination

Apply, that’s why talking about “Herd Immunity” with respect to COVID-19 is a “nonsense” and why believing in it as a “natural solution” with respect to COVID-19 is like believing in “Fairies at the bottom of the garden”. As I described in my previous post it would have to be “endemic” for “herd immunity” to apply through infections.

As for vaccination that’s realy not going to happen any time soon, if ever. The best you can hope for short term is very limited immunity by antibody transplant from those who have survived COVID-19. That is you spin down blood serum and extract the antibodies which can in some –but not all– cases be injected into people suffering from the disease. You can also receive such “shots” regularly to avoid infection (as used to be done with gamma globulin injections to ward off against Hep A before the vaccine).

As I have mentioned in the past, some Silicon Valley Billionaires are believed to get blood transfusions from late teens early twenties donors to get blood serum currently for what is in effect rejuvination (you can get a similar effect with way less risk by “intermittent fasting”). Thus as I indicated more recently I would be very unsprised to learn that “off book” serum transplants of COVID-19 antibodies was made available to a select few. Oh and it would not surprise me if that included a few more senior politicians.

SpaceLifeForm April 1, 2020 10:05 PM

@ name....

This possible transmission route that I have been thinking about lately is bugging me. I can not rule it out no matter how much I try to dismiss it.

Sidewalks and streets are a surface.

I’m thinking as a rule, that if one goes out in public, they probably should treat the bottoms of their shoes as possibly carrying the virus.

So, that means one should definitely wash hands after putting shoes on and after removing shoes, especially if one must grasp shoe from bottom for removal.


name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons April 1, 2020 11:18 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm

I understand what you suspect is to be accurate, a doctor in Wuhan said that they went to two layers of full foot coverage, three gloves, and two goggles. And mucus is a cellular plasma that is probably just right for stasis beyond free microbial or cellular mobility.

If I ponder for a moment (less than 500 milliseconds), a sticky or statically attracted microbial with a charge (-/0) surface. Or, not unlike some nano-particles, specific molecular capillary phenomena. Or both…kinda like velcro with a twist.

working remotely April 2, 2020 12:50 AM


I’ll add Jami to that general list, though I haven’t looked into it.

MarkH April 2, 2020 2:18 AM


As of today, nobody’s been vaccinated, and the numbers of people who’ve already been infected is probably too small to make a measurable difference.

Very Attentive Readers will have noticed that I wrote about the eventual end of the pandemic.

Those who follow the news will be aware that it’s not ending today, or even within 100 days.

Its end is in the future, when enough people have acquired immunity, by some combination of vaccination and infection.

Unless some awesome medical innovation comes into play (a possibility I don’t exclude), herd immunity is exactly what will enable people to resume their customary lives without creating a gunpowder keg with flint and steel scattered throughout.

Thinking about herd immunity with respect to the FUTURE of Covid-19 is good sense, not nonsense. It’s how several ghastly epidemics have already been nearly or wholly eliminated from the human population.

It’s real. It works. FACTS MATTER

MarkH April 2, 2020 5:52 AM

I saw a brief but interesting interview (from yesterday) of Robert Gallo, a distinguished elder scientist with notable accomplishments in virology.

He made two statements which particularly caught my attention.

More than a year ago, researchers in China predicted that:

• a new coronavirus infecting humans would emerge from bats
• this eruption would occur in China
• it would likely happen within the next year

The actual time between the publication of their study and the first human infection was not greater than 10 months. The principal author is Yi Fan.

Dr Gallo is a co-founder of the Global Virus Network. As I understand it, the main purpose of this group (which he cited as having more than 50 “centers of excellence” in more than 30 countries) is to share and coordinate research among a large community of virologists, focused on response to outbreaks in humans.

I don’t have his words (which anyway were few), and I may have gotten this all mixed up, but this is what I think was his message:

Some researchers in the network are working on the development of a vaccine able to act against a range of viruses. Because this work has been underway for some time, it already has some degree of maturity. They feel optimistic that it may help against SARS-Cov-2, and he expects that there will be an announcement soon.

I wonder whether perhaps this agent is intended to be effective against all coronaviruses … their exterior surfaces are similar, which is what makes them coronaviruses.

Even if I understood this correctly, I won’t get my hopes very high about it. Promising lines of laboratory research often prove to be unworkable in clinical medicine.

However, given that this pandemic is likely to kill more than a million people (possibly many millions), that its economic damages will run into many trillions of dollars, and that scientific and technical capabilities grow rapidly, the campaign to develop medical responses to this pandemic may exceed anything that has happened before.

Many brilliant specialists are at work, and can expect plentiful resources to support promising lines of investigation.

Clive Robinson April 2, 2020 6:19 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm, name.withheld…,

I’m thinking as a rule, that if one goes out in public, they probably should treat the bottoms of their shoes as possibly carrying the virus.

From what they are saying look at it this way,

1, Virus survives on surface for upto 9days.
2, Virus is heavy and droplet bound thus drops to the ground both localised (within 2M) and quickly (within 30min).
3, Non symptomatic people shed virus.
4, Major symptom is coughing, both dry and productive.
5, Virus is also transmitted in mucous, urine and feces.

Thus Virus is going to be on the ground without doubt. Picking it up from the ground on footware is a known infection route for some parasites in children and adults.

Therefore all the building blocks are there for ground surface to oral transmission.

I suspect that is why the Chinese were out spraying the streets, it’s probably why India is out spraying the streets and even pedestrians.

As noted the Chinese had a significant problem with tuberculosis before vaccines were available. They implemented “anti-spitting” campaigns to stop people puting mucous and saliva on the streets, and from what I remember they did see a decrease in infection rates.

Some medical practicioners in the UK have been saying for weeks know about removing footware at the door and not just squirt down the shoes with antiseptic (or dilut bleach) but then washing hands in hot water using hard soap for atleast a minute to ensure getting it ubder the fingernails and in all the folds of the skin, and importantly including the wrists and up to a six inches of the lower forearms. Some have even suggested to stop wearing wrist watches as is done in all UK hospitals as part of infection control.

Oh and also sanatize your fomites like pens wallets/handbags and most especially your mobile phones.

Whilst I have mentioned the importance of gloves for similar reasons the message is not getting out.

Likewise the important message about masks is being blocked in the West, which is,

    Whilst a mask will not stop you getting infected, it will stop you from infecting others.

Which is again the issue of “Individual-v-Societal” rights and responsabilities. That is those most likely to be infectious and spreading virus are the “risk seeking” in society, who won’t wear masks for vanity and other reasons such as smoking and spitting. Which pragmatically can only be solved by making mask wearing mandatory and enforced by punishment, which is what the Chinese and others have implemented.

None of this infection control is “rocket science” and with a few prompts most people could work it out for themselves abstractly. The problem is getting it from abstract reasoning to practical “habbit overcoming” behaviour.

Whilst we in the West have not had a population thretening novel virus amongst us for a century, asian countries have had several epidemics in easy living memory as well as high polution levels. Thus they have or are used to “mask and glove” habbits, taking shoes off at the doorway and importantly putting on slippers. They are also much more aware of ground contamination, most homes in South Korea use underfloor heating, and they do still sit on the floor or very close to the floor as tradition. Thus the “safe habbits” are much closer to them culturally than they are in the West.

Clive Robinson April 2, 2020 7:23 AM

@ MarkH,

However, given that this pandemic is likely to kill more than a million people (possibly many millions),

Rather sooner than many might think or hope…

If you look at yesterdays and todays WorldOmeter figures you can see that at some point today the number of recorded cases will pass a million and the number of recorded deaths 50,000.

If you look a little lower down you will see on the logrithmic presentations that the death rate is rising faster than the infection rate.

You will also see that in the “closed cases” section the death rate is 19% but a quick calculation shows it’s actually a little higher, and has been kind of constant for a few days now.

A back of the envelope calculation shows that what is happening is that the infection rate is actually far higher than the recorded rate. This is due to two things,

1, Mainly only those presenting to the medical proffession are being tested only when it’s almost certain they have COVID-19.
2, A world wide shortage of doctors and test kits means that the “recorded numbers” are suppressed thus are only a fraction of “reality on the ground”.

But also there is a lag between infection and death that is the number of daily recorded cases is significantly larger than deaths but the rate of change is higher for deaths.

Worst case there will be a million deaths about two weeks after the recorded cases crosses about 10million (assuming sufficient Drs and test kits).

On the assumption the doubling rate is now 4days in 9.4 days we will cross the 10million recorded cases and the recorded deaths will cross a million in 23.4days so before the end of the month.

However we know from Italy that rather than seek out the medical proffession people are opting to stay with their family and die. This actually increases the deaths by around 50% of the sever case figure. Which might acount for the fact that Italian undertakers are reporting to their town Mayors between six and twelve times the number of deaths that they did this time last year.

If those extra deaths are COVID-19 complications deaths then that million deaths is a lot closer and might happen this week.

Clive Robinson April 2, 2020 7:49 AM


Should have read twice…

In my above it’s not 9.4 days but 13.4 days, not that the extra four days makes any real difference unless it’s your number…

If I sound indifferent it’s not that I am, it’s just that like most of us I can not realy imagine a million people. I’ve only had a handfull of frieds and maybe a couple of hundred aquaintances[1] in my time, heck I doubt if I’ve ever actually walked past a million individuals in my life, and I’ve done a lot of walking in my time.

Thus whilst a million has a solid abstract meaning for me, and as a life long engineer it has some practical meaning all be it on a logrithmic scale, in human terms it has no understandable meaning in tangible human terms. That is even if I look at a new face every minute of the working day I’m only just going to see a million faces in ten years, and remember mostly none.

[1] The difference between a friend and an aquaintance is quite subjective. To me a friend is some one who if I were to call them even in the middle of the night would lend me their support not just emotionally but practically as I would for them. For many that definition does not even apply to close family members.

Clive Robinson April 2, 2020 8:49 AM

@ ALL,

Latest Imperial College Modeling Paper

I’ve not yet had the chance to realy go through this paper,

HOWEVER, a cautionary note needs to be sounded.

As the paper states they are using the “recorded deaths” ascribed to COVID-19, based on the not invalid assumption they will be more accurate than the “recorded infections”.

However we know from Italy where medical became saturated that increasing numbers of people did not seek out medical help and instead decided to stay at home and in quite a few cases die without their lives having bern recorded as an infection or their death likewise recorded as part of the COVID-19 numbers.

Thus the question “how far off” are the recorded death rates arises, and it might be a long way.

In Italy the undertakers are required to report back to Town Mayors their numbers of funerals and the cause of death on the issued death certificate.

The figures are between 6 and 12 times worse than those of a year befor, however only about 1/5th showed any relation to COVID-19 as the cause of death.

Similar information appears to be comming from Spain where their hospital system is rather more than under strain, it’s compleatly overwhelmed.

Therefor assume that what this paper is saying is probably on the low side of what is happening on the ground, thus their worst case figures may well be closer to reality than their best case figures.

SpaceLifeForm April 2, 2020 11:50 AM

@ name....

Another possible transmission route, not so much on the ground, but in the ground.

Traps, Water, Aerosol

Make sure your drains at home do not dry out.

You may have traps that are dry. Usually, you would smell them, but not always. Make sure you run water down drains periodically for those you may not use every week.

If you have a basement with floor drains, water them too.


SARS is particularly dangerous to handle in the laboratory because there is no vaccine, so all laboratory workers are susceptible. It can be transmitted through aerosol/droplet mechanisms: the very large (321 cases) Amoy Gardens outbreak in Hong Kong was traced to infectious aerosols created by turbulent flushing water flow in the sewer lines: this turbulent flow generated aerosols that were sucked back up into numerous adjacent apartments through dry floor drains by negative pressure generated by bathroom exhaust fans! (Abraham 2005).

Sed Contra April 2, 2020 1:34 PM

It’s the body that overcomes the viruses in the end anyway no matter what else is going on.

The real trick is to boost the immune response. Regimes of diet and detox can do that, e.g., Gerson therapy.

It would be nice to have some way to gauge susceptibility to the virus. Most people who are infected don’t get very sick. Only the susceptible need any special protocols, eg isolation, in this case so they don’t get exposed.

This would allow normality for most.

La Abeja April 2, 2020 2:27 PM


Make sure you run water down drains periodically for those you may not use every week.

For drains used for emergency purposes only, some people suggest using mineral oil to fill the traps, or at least to form a protective layer of oil over the water to prevent it from evaporating and releasing sewer gas and other noxious fumes into the dwelling.

I’m not real sure in cold weather areas drain water in the traps can freeze and crack the pipes, whether they are cast iron, ABS, or DWV copper.

Some of the plumbing supply houses around here sell rather small diameter drain pipes embedded in a large diameter asbestos, glass wool, or mineral wool insulation, with an electric heating element included to keep the pipe from freezing and cracking in the winter.

Some people complain about water wells freezing over even in the summertime if they’re drilled in permafrost at a depth where the heat might take several months to penetrate the earth — except the earth’s crust, on the net, conducts heat (generated by the radioactive decay of uranium ore as well as the tidal action of the moon) away from the core and mantle into space, especially in the polar regions.

SpaceLifeForm April 2, 2020 3:21 PM

@ Anders

So, over 2000 an hour.

How’s that second derivative working out again?

And April 2, 2020 3:27 PM


And Turkey is raising very fast in the table,

18,135 infections 356 deaths

Considering those are official numbers, there must be
a real hell.

Clive Robinson April 2, 2020 7:17 PM

@ Anders, SpaceLifeForm,

so CFR is already 5.14%

It might be, because you are not comparing time intervals correctly.

The alledged mean time for incubation to symptomatic is about a week. You remain symptomatic for about two weeks and if you are going to die it’s another week or three.

So very approximately,

Infected to surviving 2.5-3.5
Infected to succumbed 3.0-6.0

So you need to take todays total dead and compare it to recorded cases about 10days prior.

Which is going to make it a lot more than 5%.

But… and its a big BUT, we know cases in the community are way way higher (see the Imperial College paper I link to above). Estimates from just eleven countries say it could be between ~7 and ~50 million. Which would make the CFR down in the 0.25-1% range (from memory).

But… and its a largish But, in Italy and Spain the hospitals were overloaded by a significant multiple. Thus people were not only not becoming a “recorded case” when they died they dod not become a “recorded death” either. This increase in “hidden deaths” which could have been between 5 and 11 times the official “recorded death” from COVID-19 complications would push the CFR up rather more than the non recorded cases of infection would bring it down.

The other thing to consider is that the CFR in a non overloaded healthcare service is going to be between four and six times less than for those that do not get health care due to overload and their being no capacity for them. That is the CFR with full healthcare availability would be say less than 1% and for those that don’t get healthcare more than 4%.

Whilst Italy had/has a world class healthcare service, it’s capacity is known to have been not upto the demand. The Spanish healthcare system is known to be not just of lesser capacity but more variable quality for “market reasons” something those in the US should be quite mindfull of as they now have about a quater of the worlds recorded cases…

This healthcare issue shows up strongly if you look at Germany’s figures, their healthcare system is now starting to go into saturation and thus their CFR is rising in part due to that.

Oh and there is another couple of problems,

1, Different countries record cases in different ways.

2, Some countries do not supply all the information.

With regards the second point, the UK for instance is not making “critical case” or “closed due to recovered” figures available in a way that WorldOmeter can pick them up, which makes the active case figures bigger than they should be and the closed case “recovered” figures smaller, so the WorldOmeter “closed case fatality rate” of 20% looks worse than it otherwise would[1].

So all in all, you can see that whilst we can factually say “OMG this is bad” we can’t truthfully say how bad, and infact we may never be able to do so with large numbers of “community deaths” being incorectly recorded (one of the issues many countries have initially with a lack of test kits and “battle hardened” medics capable of making accurate diagnosis).

Which just leaves the 2nd April UTC close of play figures,

Total Cases : 1,014,386
Total Deaths: 52,993

Make of them what you will, just remember they are both way lower than the reality on the ground.

[1] This is something WorldOmeter realy should get a grip on and sort out and mark not collected from the country figures “-NA-” as opposed to leaving in out of date figures.

Clive Robinson April 2, 2020 9:14 PM

@ Sed Contra,

The real trick is to boost the immune response. Regimes of diet and detox can do that,

Put simply for most people the best advice is,

1, Take a multi vitimin supplement to up both Vit D and zinc[1].

2, Cut out carbohydrates from your food intake (so protien, fat and above ground vegtables and plain water, not fruits, grains/seeds, root vegtables[2]).

3, Eat nothing every other day that is fasting[3] (gets blood sugars down, scavenges out dead cells etc increases growth hormone, reduces “torso flab” ups stamina and cognative ability as well as reduces the bodies need for oxygen).

We know even slightly raised blood glucose levels significantly impares the immune system and that even moderate BMI figures are a significant recorded factor –over 70%– in deaths from COVID-19 complication fatalities. However what actualy kills most is clinical shock and sepsis caused by the inability to get the oxygen the body needs. Thus taking steps to reduce the bodies need for oxygen even a little could be the difference between requiring medical intervention or not, or from needing oxygen support to CPAP or Ventilator assistance, or between life and death…

These are simple things that are also easy to do for most people and in the case of the last one can save you a big chunk of change.

The use of “Intermittent Fasting” by Silicon Valley workers is growing as they have found it ups their cognative ability atleast as much as certain very expensive pharmaceuticals ment for dementia patients.

[1] There is no scientific evidence that taking lots of vitamins etc will improve the functioning of your immune system,. However there is plenty of evidence that having to little of them does impare your immune system and other bodily functions. In particular many people fail to get sufficient vitimin D if they live above above 48degrees north or south, lower if your melanin levels are higher. Oh one other “supplement” that is worth taking half a level teaspoon of yeast extract. Oh and for goodness sake don’t fall into the “colide silver” nonsense, whilst the solid metal has well proven antimicrobial properties as surfaces, it’s has none of those properties inside you and is actually a poison if you injest it. You will however get warning that you are poisoning yourself as you slowly turn blue and develop a fish scale like sheen (silver nitrate which is used in photographic emulsion is also used in those anti-smoking gums, supposadly it makes a cigarette taste tinny/metalic and quite unpleasent, and yes some desperate to give up their “fag addiction” have actually gone pale blue).

[2] Look up low glycemic food index, there are plenty of charts out there. But very importantly avoid wheat and that family of grains it appears there is something about them other than their numeric carbohydrate load that worsens outcomes over even rice. There are some exceptions on some fruits, tomatoes and peppers have micro nutrition benifits that out weigh their carb content, and some fruits like avocados their “whole food” and fat content likewise. Also whilst you need both fat and protein in your diet to live you do not need carbs in any form your body can absorb (sugars, starches). Contrary to half a century of unscientific thinking the mischief Ancel Keys did which the AgroCorp grain producers exploited, the advice given in the book “Pute White and Deadly” is correct as is much of the thinking behind the Atkins diet. All other diets have been proved to start to fail a couple of weeks to six months after you start them, simply because your body turns down your metabolic rate to account for any calorific deficit, and ups your production of the “hunger hormone” ghrelin[4]. Properly run scientific study after study has shown this for decades, but such is the preasure of the grain/sugar industry the medical proffession has kept it’s head in a bucket.

[3] There are some types of perversion pushed by nutritionists that has no rational basis in science, in fact the exact opposit. The first that springs to mind is the 60% of calories should be carbs, is utter nonsense, at best it’s based on studies of asians who do not meet their dietary requirments for protiens and fats (hence the reduced stature). The second is “grazing” that is the notion we should be eating all the time. Both ideas have absolutly no real science behind them and in fact have been repeatedly shown to cause insulin resistance thus obesity, hypertension, cardiopulmonary complications, type II diabeties, blindness and amputation of limbs. Oh and huge profits for big pharma pushing out overly priced insulin that makes things worse. Mankind is designed to only eat occasionaly and like the large carnivors prior to sleeping. You can have better fitness, physical and importantly cognative ability if you only eat one meal every other day or skip a couple of days every week. Fasting –which is not starvation, nor does it burn protein– has been known for millennium to be good for you, thats why most major religions include fasting as part of your “religeous duties”. Importantly unkike grazing there is a large amount of science supporting fasting in various forms, amongst which is it has been found to be a cure for insulin resistance thus “curing” the carb overload issue that kills all type II diabetics eventually and needlessly.

[4] You can find links to published papers on ghrelin here,

Sed Contra April 3, 2020 12:19 AM

@Clive Robinson @Gremlin @@al

The Gerson diet in the strictest form is meant to address chronic conditions and also has a modified form for daily continuing healrh. The website has details on the program of diet and detoxification. It’s a nearly entirely natural food based approach. The main issue with the diet is the requirement for large quantities of organic food for juicing, and the labor of the juicing itself. The only other major compinents are possibly B-12 injections and possibly natural thyroid supplement. Gerson devised the therapy for chronic conditions in the 20’s and 30’s when food was still basically all organic but found it not working after agricultural methods changed later and so had to make organic a requirement.

Gremlin April 3, 2020 12:56 AM

@Sed Contra @Clive Robinson
Thank you for that Gerson Therapy, it was new to me, i just got to write about something related to this diet thing when we are at it..

Such sayings as: You are what you eat comes to mind, there are these pre/pro biotics that are told to make your bio in the stomach more diverse, not sure if its that simple, but i guess there is something here that needs to be looked at seriously if not allready done.

There is also an intresting connection here between your brain and the stomach via the vagus nerve, and i find that very intresting and also i recall reading somewhere that your immune system is 70% your stomachs bio, so i have been experimenting lately with sour this and sour that and bifido bacterias etc … at least its fun to do something new and gives a positive mindset when sitting home doing much nothing else

Any thoughts on these active bacterias and pro/pre biotics are they in manyways marketing or is there something here that is important to know


JonKnowsNothing April 3, 2020 8:58 AM


re: Captain Crozier

Captain Crozier’s biggest problem is that someone leaked his request. Claims that he had too many names on his TO/CC/BCC/ list were the reasons given for his removal.

Of course that’s not why he was removed.

He was removed because the US Military Brass needs to be seen as Invincible Warriors (in their own minds) and the leaked memo asking for “help”, exposed that COVID19 doesn’t stop at Rank Badges embarrassing the Top Dogs and maybe even President Trump with his self-appointed title of “War President”.

Having a major aircraft carrier incapacitated for the 35 days (per Clive’s recommendation) was seen as weakness. Ships in dry dock for repairs are out of service for months or years so 1 month of dry dock would have covered it or rather covered it up.

Mums and Dads may want their children to be warriors and they may want them to die “honorable deaths” in battle. For sailors drowning is a hazard of the profession but parents won’t like it if their children die drowning in their own body fluids. It’s bad for recruiting.

I would hazard the same thing would happen in any military system.

The big questions are: how did they get it, how did it get on the ship, why wasn’t the ships surgery adequate to deal with this and why weren’t the sailors taken off at the bases asap – USA has a lot of bases and moving a few jets out of hangers would have housed them all or they could pitch pup-tents as a camping out exercise.

The biggest question is: Why did he have to write this memo in the first place? Clearly someone had already said NO.

SpaceLifeForm April 3, 2020 9:08 AM

@ name...., Clive, Anders, All

URL says it all.


myliit April 3, 2020 9:13 AM

Zoom- more on. From the original post at

“ When Jonathan Leitschuh found a catastrophic security vulnerability in Zoom, the popular videoconferencing platform, the company offered him money to keep quiet in the form of a bug bounty and a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) through Bugcrowd.

The security flaw affected millions of Zoom users on Mac, and Leitschuh wanted to see the issue fixed. He declined the bounty payment because of the NDA, gave Zoom an industry-standard 90-day embargo to ship a patch, and when the company failed to do so, he published his research.

Cue fireworks. Zoom got a lot of negative media attention and fixed the security flaw. Leitschuh’s struggle to hold organizations accountable for their poor security posture is more common than you may think, and some security researchers feel the bug bounty platforms — HackerOne, Bugcrowd and SynAck — have become marketpaces where their silence is being bought and sold to prevent public exposure of insecure practices.

Used properly, bug bounty platforms connect security researchers with organizations wanting extra scrutiny. In exchange for reporting a security flaw, the researcher receives payment (a bounty) as a thank you for doing the right thing. However, CSO’s investigation shows that the bug bounty platforms have turned bug reporting and disclosure on its head, what multiple expert sources, including HackerOne’s former chief policy officer, Katie Moussouris, call a “perversion.” …”

myliit April 3, 2020 9:54 AM


“re: Captain [ former, of the nuclear aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt] Crozier

Captain Crozier’s biggest problem is that someone leaked his request. Claims that he had too many names on his TO/CC/BCC/ list were the reasons given for his removal. …

The biggest question is: Why did he have to write this memo in the first place? Clearly someone had already said NO.”

Thank you for your thoughtful and informative response.

It’s sad that Trump might think of those sailors as pawns in his march toward re-election at any cost: war with Iran, martial law at home, cancel elections, etc., …

I hope that actors in the military, intelligence community, law enforcement community, in addition to other people, are willing and able, at great personal risk, to help prevent future clusterfvcks or train wrecks.

To put it simply, if I was looking at being bankrupted, and with the corporate veil pierced, or spending years in prison after being ousted by voters in November … I might be desperate, too.

SpaceLifeForm April 3, 2020 10:22 AM

@ Clive, Sed Contra

Rest. Good Sleep. Naps.

This is the easiest action anyone can take to boost Immune System.

SpaceLifeForm April 3, 2020 2:39 PM

@ myliit


Windows leak, Mac local escalation, Linkedin, Facebook,
US and UK Governments usage, China servers

One would be foolish to use zoom unless you think you have nothing to hide and do not care about facial recognition and privacy.


Which would be why NASA and SpaceX can not use it.


But, apparently, it is a cool tool for Covid-19 response


Clive Robinson April 3, 2020 3:16 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm, Anders, ALL,

URL says it all.

Yes, but the article very much down played the biggest issue at the start “Political Idiocy”.

I know some will think I’m using 20-20 Hindsight, to make that statment, but a look back on this blog will show that some of us were waving big red flags and making simple models that were “not politicaly expediant” and supprise suprise more accurate in the predictions.

Mine are still CFR if healthcare is available for all will be down around 0.25%. But that is not now going to be possible so my prediction of 3.5% for those in the West who do not get healthcare is still my best guess. Yes I know Italy looks like 10% but in part thats due to a 2-3week for recovery 3-5week for death from initial infection and one heck of a lot of unrecorded infections as well as unrecorded against COVID-19 deaths. To get a better idea we will have to wait for the “excess deaths this year over last year” figures to come out. With a little massaging we could work out the expected death rate for this year based on last year and two years before that. Subtracting that from civil death records for this year will give the excesse deaths most of which can be atributed directly to COVID-19 or lack of resources due to COVID-19.

To see how bad that might be the article showed 12 pages of obituaries and 1.5 pages from an earlier time frame. That is 8 times as many deaths. But it’s probably worse than that, because the 1.5 pages would have been towards the end of the seasonal flu deaths, which means you would have expected maybe 1-1.25 pages when in fact we had 12 thus not 8 times but between 9.5-12 times. This higher figure aligns with some reports from Town Mayors of a 6-12 times last years figures and only a fraction claimed as COVID-19 related… This would make the CFR based only on recorded infections above 80% and as high as 120% of recorded infections. Which means that the recorded infections figures are way way below what they should be. Someware below 1/10th and 1/30th of what they realy are. Obviously that would bring the CFR down to not far off of 3%…

It’s why we need universal antibody testing as quickly as possible. Also and for other reasons those with antibodies can go safely back into keeping the economy running, to pay for this disaster.

Serious recession could easily kill more people world wide than the SARS-CoV-2 virus, a point perhaps we should start talking about.

However I can easily see serious civil disobediance starting in two to three weeks when the paltary savings of those at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale not only have landlords chasing for rent, but they nolonger have money for food.

From what’s been said the owner of the Washington Post as well as Amazon has laid of workers for asking for PPE, and worse not paying them for the work they have done. I don’t realy expect that to be in the US MSM or large chunks of the MSM in other countries due to “political meddling”.

Clive Robinson April 3, 2020 3:47 PM

@ gordo,

JIT : Potential_Risks

It’s a very major security concern, especially with supply chains going more than half way around the world…

I could have written that Wikipedia section myself, but more importantly so could anyone else on this blog that has followed the JIT conversations and their security implications…

As for the re-defining of the US “Strategic National Stockpile” (SNS).

It will no doubt come to light that it’s been cut back several times this century.

At one time, if I remember correctly it was supposed to be something like a 10% contingency, that is supply what is needed for 10% of the population for X amount of time. Obviously such inventory is not just expensive to obtain it’s almost as costly to maintain. So with the worst disastors prior to this effecting only a small percentage of the population there almost certainly would have been “cut backs”.

One justification for this would have been the inapproprate use of JIT as an argument.

The fact it has turned into a security disaster with Kushner in political language saying to the State Governers in effect “we will make you jump through hoops of fire with 300lbs on your back and then still deny you access” tells you just how much the SNS has been cut back. That is “there will be no charity spared for US citizens” who actually paid for it through their tax dollars. But don’t be surprised if it gets “donated abroad” for “Political Reasons”. Thus do not in any way expect “Charity to begin at home” even though it’s not charity but “insurance” and you’ve all been paying your premiums through your taxes.

Clive Robinson April 3, 2020 5:29 PM

@ ALL,

As most know many places are setting up “emergancy hospitals” in places like exhibition halls.

Well there is one being put together in ExCell center in just next to the “O2 Center/arena”. It’s to be called “NHS Nightingale” after the “lady of the lamp”[1]

There are already Security concernces over the ICT system they are going to use and where it is going to link upto.

But also there are lots of manpower considerations, which bring quite alarming Bio-Security questions up,

[1] Florence Nightingale, is credited with saving lives by reducing infection in 19th Century field hospitals. Whilst some say the claims are dubious, her less well known and very real claim to fame was inventing a form of visual statistics that supported what we now call epidemiology and turned it from “educated hunches” into a “science” in it’s own right. Also the turning of Nursing from “something you did” like housework into a real proffession which included medical training.

JonKnowsNothing April 3, 2020 8:17 PM

@Clive @All

re: US Strategic Supplies

eons ago in the dark ages before computers…

A TV (yes old fashioned over the air rabbit ears TV) documentary did a walkabout through a small sample of “the strategic supply”. The section I remember was where they went through some “medical” supply items like doctors white lab coats and the like.

The coats were white as indicated, had hand made buttons styled from WW1 or earlier. No one wanted them.

Some years later there was another viewing of the National Strategic Food Supply dump. There are ginormous WH and caves stockpiling food and some of that doesn’t keep like butter and cheese. After a bit it all goes rancid or bad.

There was a big debate about what to do with a huge tonnage of cheese about to sail past the very-last-use-by dates. One faction was to burn it all, a common practice in the USA to maintain farm product prices thru artificial shortages. Another wanted to distribute the cheese to poor under served persons.

Surprisingly, it ended up being distributed. The diary lobby was not amused because it depressed the retail price demand for “junk cheese” for a few weeks. But there were near riots in some areas as desperate people competed with each other to get their 2 blocks of the cheese.

I would not be surprised if our National Strategic Supply consisted primarily of “nothing” paid for by tax dollars.

SpaceLifeForm April 3, 2020 8:25 PM

@ Clive

As for the re-defining of the US “Strategic National Stockpile” (SNS).

I’m so old I remember it as the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. I remember waiting in lines to get fuel for car.

And the reason for it existing, it not the current problem today as there is no oil shortage at all.

This is about propping up crude prices.

But, it will be short-lived (months) because at some point, there will be no more storage space, and prices will have to drop.

A lot of people gambled on the crude futures market.

Many are going to lose.

SpaceLifeForm April 3, 2020 9:04 PM

@ Clive, Anders

I like the approach. And it should scale.

University of Pittsburgh scientists believe they’ve found potential coronavirus vaccine


Researchers said they sided with using a patch, rather than a traditional needle, to deliver the spike protein to the skin, which elicits the strongest immune reaction.

The patch contains 400 tiny “microneedles” made of sugar and protein pieces. It would be applied like a Band-Aid with the needles dissolving into the skin.

Wesley Parish April 4, 2020 3:29 AM

@MarkH, @Clive Robinson re: religious groups and such behaviour

Such “faith-based” lunacy has also been reported of Christian fundamentalists in the States.

There’s not only a Jewish, but a Christian joke about this sort of behaviour. Let’s start with the Jewish joke first;

Goldstein is feeling the pinch. He’s got several daughters to marry off, and a number of other such things to attend to, and he’s wishing he was richer. So he talks to God, tells him his problems and says, “If only you would let me win the lottery!” A week passes, and he doesn’t win the lottery. Rinse, repeat. Agin, he doesn’t win the lottery. Rinse, repeat. And this goes on for quite a while, until he climbs to the top of his building, faces God directly, and asks, “Why haven’t I won the lottery? I’ve been a good person, etc …” And God’s voice roars out of the clouds – “Goldstein, buy a ticket!”

Now for the Christian version of the same:

A pastor is visiting a parishioner when the heavens open and a flood sweeps away the flood banks of his town. The house is inundated and everybody climbs to the roof. A boat comes by and offers to take everyone off, and the parishioner and his family gratefully accept. They ask the pastor to come with them, but he declines. “God will rescue me.” Another boat comes by, and again, he declines. After several such visits, a helicopter hovers over and again the offer is refused, with the same words, “God will rescue me.” After that the house collapses, and the pastor is drowned. He fetches up before the throne of God, and asks, angrily, “I was counting on you to save me. Why didn’t you?” And God replies, “Who do you think sent all those boats and that helicopter to you?”

Aesop records a fable about a man who asks Hercules to get his dray out of the mud, and Hercules replies to much the same effect: he only helps those who are prepared to be their own help.

I guess a lot of people have been thinking along those lines for quite some time.

Clive Robinson April 4, 2020 6:25 AM

@ JonKnowsNothing,

Surprisingly, it ended up being distributed. The diary lobby was not amused because it depressed the retail price demand for “junk cheese” for a few weeks.

In the EU we had butter mountains and wine lakes and the like.

The EU decided it was time to reduce the size of the butter mountain. Thus much of continental Europe got it’s butter shortly before Xmas and was a welcome gift to many EU citizens.

However in the UK where the industrial dairy lobby is strong, they got the UK government to hold off untill after Xmas but they also “engineered” a shortage before Xmass, thus the price in the last three weeks of December when most butter is sold in the UK was very high and the quality was crap. However come mid january the EU butter was released and the price slumped. The industrial dairy lobby made a fantastic profit, however they did not pay tax on it, they used the late january through march price slump as an excuse to do some creative accountancy… So they tripply screwed the UK.

My mother who knew how to “bottle butter” put nearly a years supply in the pantry of the best of the EU butter knowing full well what was going to happen later in the year and next Xmass. She also did the same with cheese when the EU similarly released that. And she also froze eggs or “water glassed” them for shorter term storage when there was a lot of them or the price was low.

With two upper middle class “proffessional” incomes, ours was by no means a poor household. It’s just that both my parents had had poor times when children (knock on from great depression) and fought in WWII, they knew what the value of “preparing and hunkering down” was especially as during the 70’s we had high inflation, power cuts and great economic uncertainty.

It’s one of the reasons I have a hobby of “preserving” foods and in other ways being prepared. Doing your homework by candle light in the only warm room in the house[1] and waking in the morning to frozen condensation on the inside of windows are memories that stay with you, and if you are wise you will realise that it takes very little to bring them back again, if not worse this time around. Seeing Panic buying of food then a week or two later seeing it piles of it as refuse tells you a lot about just how unorepared people are for even a tiny hic-cup in supply chains. We are going to have food shortages over the next couple of years and “Disaster Capitalism” will ensure that prices are high and wages are low, so they can be very rich and their political cronies comfortable. It is after all what history tells us is most likely if we do not have massive social change before hand.

[1] Central heating is great, but even “gas powered” central heating still requires electricity. Back in the 70’s generating your own 240AC was beyond most peoples financial capabilities. These days however a couple of large AGM batteries and a cheap electronic inverter will keep your gas fired boiler etc up and running. Also your energy efficient freezer running in summer if the power goes out. But the problem with energy efficient freezers is in winter they won’t work if the room is too cold… So you have to keep them atleast to low room temprature (above 10-16 C). Preserved pantry goods by and large don’t care even it the temp gets below freezing. So remember “fuel diversity” such as gas and electricity is important. Oh and learn how to make a bio-mass rocket stove water heater if you’ve got a garden, it gives you another option not just for heating but cooking.

Clive Robinson April 4, 2020 6:56 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

A lot of people gambled on the crude futures market.

And whilst shirts will be lost, few realise just how interconected the energy markets are through electricity generation.

Low oil prices means that nuclear, coal, natural gas and green electricity generation will be to expensive in comparison.

A few older heads will have gone for the old trick, of eating bread with a little jam all the time “by long term contract” arangment. Whilst the young “leave no money on the table” city smart kid cake eaters, who play the market won’t even get bread…

This will knock back into the fact industry is not running which is the major user of electricity.

Which means just to cover costs domestic electricity and natural gas prices are very likely to rise a lot as they are the “hostages to fortune” of the energy market. The politicians and regulators will not stand in the way of this, because the two “banking crisis” are still in their mind and “core infrustructure” must not be alowed to fail as it’s the economic foundation on which all else rests these days.

And once domestic prices have gone up, they are very unlikely to be brought down again because that will now be “new money on the table” when industry gets back up and running and profit is high.

And so the ratchet on the socioeconomic rack clicks on, with those in the bottom 2/3rds being “rent seeked” closer and closer to poverty whilst the 1% of the 1% use the profit to further manipulate the politicians in their favour.

gordo April 4, 2020 9:13 AM

@ Clive Robinson,

“there will be no charity spared for US citizens”

The ‘royal ouras invoked by Mr. Kushner:

“The notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile, it’s not supposed to be the state’s stockpile that they then use.”

I guess he knows something about crowd control.

Leave a comment


Allowed HTML <a href="URL"> • <em> <cite> <i> • <strong> <b> • <sub> <sup> • <ul> <ol> <li> • <blockquote> <pre> Markdown Extra syntax via

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.