Friday Squid Blogging: On Squid Communication

They can communicate using bioluminescent flashes:

New research published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences presents evidence for a previously unknown semantic-like ability in Humboldt squid. What’s more, these squid can enhance the visibility of their skin patterns by using their bodies as a kind of backlight, which may allow them to convey messages of surprising complexity, according to the new paper. Together, this could explain how Humboldt squid­ — and possibly other closely related squid­ — are able to facilitate group behaviors in light-restricted environments, such as evading predators, finding places to forage, signaling that it’s time to feed, and deciding who gets priority at the dinner table, among other things.

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 April 3, 2020 at 4:30 PM125 Comments

Comments

RRD April 3, 2020 5:34 PM

As someone who just installed Zoom.us on our Ubuntu laptop (and then uninstalled it a few days later), I have four questions (first rhetorical as a point I’ve not seen anyone mention; pls correct me if it’s already been brought up in these parts):

  1. If you wanted to collect facial recognition data on another country’s citizens, what better app to create than a free video teleconferencing solution? (Of course, that image data will be cross-correlated with whatever other internet metrics are used to identify us.)
  2. Can I trust Ubuntu to truly know how to completely remove all its components after I use the admin function to uninstall it? (i.e. Could it have left components behind, like an open web server?)
  3. How can I (within Ubuntu or Linux in general) know precisely which components it installed (b/c I will have to reinstall it in a few days) or can sudo’d installations keep modifying their codebase days after install, allowing them to present one footprint immediately after install that then gets modified sometime later to add the actual malware bits? Obviously, if it runs, e.g., a Scheme interpreter or somesuch it can always download a source file and run it on the fly, but my question is only about binaries injected into the operating system code at some later date. (Essentially I’m asking how long that ‘sudo’ remains in effect in terms of allowing system modification.)
  4. How feasible would it be to run Zoom in a dedicated virutal machine on my modern (only a few years old) Ubuntu 64-bit machine, and which virtual machine tech would you suggest for isolating 3rd party apps on such a machine?

As a serious longtime software engineer who has spent quite a bit of time over the years learning about installation and config of OSs from OpenBSD to Linuxes to Windowses, I’m more than willing to wipe the box and reinstall Ubuntu to ensure that Zoom is gone, but I’d really rather not, if I don’t have to.

God bless you all and may peace be with you in this trying time. Love is the answer to all our problems because the selfish lack of loving compassion is their only source. Thanks in advance.

RRD April 3, 2020 6:01 PM

Sorry, all; I didn’t see the latest Zoom post so I’m re-posting this over there.

Bruce, please delete these two posts if you wish to reduce the clutter in this Friday Squid post.

This is the oldest SQL language of them all: have someone else delete the records 😉

Clive Robinson April 3, 2020 6:02 PM

@ RRD,

The answers to your questions are,

1, Whilst it would be good you get higher resolution pictures through sharing apps for mobiles, which we already know have been used in several countries to gather biometrics. So yes video gives you other information such as “mannerisms” that would enable you to generate better “fake videos”.

2, *nix systems used to be way more transparent about installation and removal of software. Then we got package managers and the well understood init system got replaced with a shambles with an incompleate interface… So the leaving behind of artifacts is almost certainly possible depending on the package manager.

3, there are security applications that link into the OS at a low level and log file creation. There are also security tools that you can run that make hashes of all the files in a file system which enables you to do not just a before-n-after but also keep an eye on any changes to the files and also to find copies of the file (the odds of a hash matching two different files is very small, so any matches should ring an alarm bell).

4, I’ve not used zoom so it’s a question I can not answer, but the use of Virtual Machines often has problems with I/O used at a low level, so I’d be cautious.

Mr. Peed Off April 3, 2020 6:05 PM

@ RRD
Using synaptic package manager to remove programs there are two options, uninstall program and remove completely. Uninstall will leave configuration files in case you want to reinstall later. Remove completely supposedly means what it says. Anyone please correct me if I am wrong.

Clive Robinson April 3, 2020 6:19 PM

@ vas pup,

Can we ask Italy to share blueprints for their device?

The idea is “obvious” have a look at one of my posts a few days back on CPAP machines/devices.

I described everything you need to know to design your own, I even said that the breathing set from a scuba diving system gives you faily well what you need. It’s why I say the idea is “obvious”, as,in effect it’s existed for many decades.

That is not ment to detract from what they have done in any way.

And before anybody asks I had no idea these Italian gents had come up with the same self idea.

Clive Robinson April 3, 2020 6:25 PM

@ vas pup,

On other thought on what the italians have done…

With a slight redesign to take the pipes over the head, and use a battery powered air pump and UV-C chamber to kill bacteria and render virii non viable you would have a nice piece of PPE for nurses, drs and even people walking around…

So there you go instant device upgrade on the “Brucey Blog” 😉

Not a first and won’t be a last for this grizzled old engineer.

RRD April 3, 2020 6:37 PM

Thanks, Clive.

  1. I didn’t think of the ‘fakes’ angle. While it would take a lot of effort, it could certainly cause havok for people famous enough to target. Yikes.
  2. I guess the problem is that our OSes are big balls of mud that a sudo’d application gets installed into however it wishes. Ultimately, it would be better for the OS to require installations to declare which components/subsystems of the OS it needs to target and then notify the user of them before getting final permission, and then restricting them during the install. Perhaps like OpenBSD’s ‘unveil’ mechanism, but for entire OS components/subsystems. It wouldn’t necessarily solve the problem but at least I’d know if the app wanted access to system logs so I could nope out before the installation began. As well, I’d know that if the installer didn’t say it wanted access to the system logs up front, it wouldn’t get them later.

Of course, software dependency tracking is at the heart of the difficulties we have in evolving complex dataflow systems, so it’s no surprise that it would closely interrelate with overall system security. Creating a truly successful software engineering paradigm will require us to solve many kinds of problems all at once.

lurker April 3, 2020 7:01 PM

@Mr. Peed Off: Synaptic> Remove completely, usually but not always does, Debian 10.2. Sometimes stuff left in ~/.cache, ~/.config, always stuff left in /usr/share/*

lurker April 3, 2020 7:10 PM

@RRD

Ultimately, it would be better for the OS to require installations to declare which components/subsystems of the OS it needs to target and then notify the user of them before getting final permission…

assumes that the user knows what the heck all that means; whence follows the decision from the developers that the user hasn’t a clue, and we’ll do it for you…

MarkH April 3, 2020 7:12 PM

.
Crisis Mis-Management

Many security problems occur with the right combination of frequency and modest cost that responses to them can be thought of in the framework of a “steady state”.

Often enough, however, they manifest in forms which:

• develop abruptly on a short time scale
• present a fairly drastic change from accustomed conditions
• incorporate mysterious unknowns
• impose costs so heavy as to constitute a crisis
• require effective decision-making in key power centers, in order to resolve without great needless damage

In the 20th century, crisis management became a focus of academic and institutional study. When I was reading a lot about arms control and disarmament in the 80s, I was introduced to some of the findings of crisis management research. The TL;DR I remember from that reading is:

In a crisis, where calm reasoning and thoughtful decisiveness are critically important, people’s natural reactions to crisis-induced stress greatly impair the capacities to:

• take in and process new information
• conceptualize a variety of alternative potential responses
• evaluate the relative merits of such alternatives
• make sensible (though necessarily imperfect) decisions in a reasonable length of time


I want to make a few observations about the Covid-19 situation in my country, because (a) I know it better, and (b) probably no other prosperous democracy is doing a worse job at the national level.

Errors of greater or lesser magnitude:

  1. Until (perhaps) a few days ago, POTUS1 saw Covid-19 as a political threat to his reelection, and not a national problem.
  2. Until a few days ago, influential media aligned with POTUS supported his minimization with the message “nothing to see here, keep moving.”
  3. After it became obvious that resources including virus tests, protective gear for medical workers, and ventilators might be needed in vast numbers, about two months were lost in which no national effort was made to address these needs.
  4. Even today, no system exists to analyze needs and capacities, consult with private industry, and organize a coordinated national effort to meet resource gaps while both maximizing production, and minimizing wasteful duplication and mutual interference. [I predict that no such rationalization will occur while the present administration remains in office.]
  5. In the absence of coordination, the states — and the federal government itself! — are all competing for the same resources, with the evil consequences to be expected from such a state of affairs.

  6. The military announced that a stockpile of face masks would be made available to hospitals. Will they be distributed to hospitals with desperate shortfalls? NO! They will be sent to private companies which will then sell them to the highest bidder, even if that means exporting them to other countries.

  7. Although “social distancing” has been recognized as the most effective presently-accessible tool for ameliorating the crisis of overflowing hospitals, and greatly reducing the eventual death toll, POTUS has refused to make an “order” or even recommendation to practice this nationwide.

  8. After a rapidly rising U.S. case count was made public, much of the country waited at least several weeks before issuing local stay-home orders, using the flawless logic that “there’s no crisis here.” Of course, the grisly turn is coming to every region; some are just later in the queue. The delays in ordering social distancing (several U.S. states have yet to do so) are likely to result far worse medical catastrophes, than would have occurred with more timely intervention.

  9. POTUS announced (already a couple of weeks ago) that he will employ special powers to command industry for the purposes of defense production … but so far, has essentially refused to exercise these powers.


1 In the U.S., with our comic-opera “system” of 50 state sovereigns (plus a few territorial governments), the office the presidency is of distinctive importance in a crisis. Other than the president, no other part of government can marshal such large resources so quickly.

drink grape drink: the secret of poor people everywhere! April 3, 2020 9:26 PM

Never take the mark, no matter how it comes, whether by tattoo, chip, or other.

Warn you family and friends about ID2020.

Do NOT take the mark, AT ANY COST!

Do not continue to: Support Microsoft (stop using their software, services, hardware, never buy from them again, refuse the EULA/TOS for Windows 10 and demand a refund)

Do not continue to: Accept whatever Gates says, especially about ID2020.

Given the history of their company and software, do you really want what ID2020 proposes? Enough is enough.

Just remember, when the time comes to surrender your freedom and turning yourself into a walking bar code which can be scanned as easily as a bag of rice, you’ve lost more than just the plot.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons April 3, 2020 9:39 PM

Not long ago, prior to 2018, the result of the failed meritocracy was in plain sight. Today, the plutocracy (my nomenclature Neo-kleptocratic-theomonic-fascism) with a marked distain for science, truth, and rule of law has produced monumental failures. The latest is just the most stark and obvious. A culling within the political class has become necessary, not just a fanciful or theoretical idea to entertain one’s self on a Saturday evening. Voting may not be enough to produce the systemic change that prevents the ruling class from massacring the public.

As has been observed, we are measurably demonstrating the failed social constructs of the Neo-liberal modern order. In countries with a variety of political systems; from the communist Chinese, to the democratic Republic of Taiwan, success was achieved by direct confrontation with the objective reality. Not by engaging a reality we prefer, favor, enjoy, or believe; it is U.S. magical thinking which has brought about “magical” results.

I don’t know about you but I don’t pick a personal physician based on how many rabbits the good doc can pull out of a hat, or anywhere else. But this is the methodology used in the selection of representatives of the people of these United States.

I wonder how we select captains of a naval vessel?

Sed Contra April 3, 2020 10:19 PM

So why does everyone have to social distance, since statistically speaking most covid-19 cases are mild, and the serious cases are people with some pre-existing immune weakness ? Why not isolate them, and let everyone else get back to “normal” ? Wouldn’t this hasten what has to be the end atate no matter how achieved viz. immunity of the population ?

SpaceLifeForm April 3, 2020 10:28 PM

@ myliit, Clive

Involuntary Manslaughter ?

Let’s not sugarcoat it.

It is a criminal conspiracy to commit genocide and profit while doing so.

Operating from both sides of the pond, reading from the same playbook (delay response, misdirect supplies, point fingers, plead ignorance, propaganda, fake leadership).

hxxps://bylinetimes.com/2020/04/03/the-coronavirus-crisis-herd-immunity-has-infected-uk-policy-but-who-was-patient-zero-for-this-toxic-transatlantic-idea/

RealFakeNews April 4, 2020 2:24 AM

Why all the hate for Trump?

Europe has been woefully slow to respond to this, as well. In fact, it is interesting that the more advanced Western societies have appeared to be rather complacent in dealing with it.

First, they seemed to ignore it (despite Asia responding swiftly and comprehensively).

Next, they seemed to think that “herd immunity” would stop it (absolute madness).

Now, it’s too late to contain it, and they’re finally realizing the gravity of the situation.

Just what the hell are they thinking? The media surely aren’t helping by calling it anything but SARS, and perpetuating the myth that only old and ill people get it.

Reality is catching up, and people are slowly realizing fit, healthy, young people are dying too.

It took long enough.

Clive Robinson April 4, 2020 8:20 AM

@ Sed Contra,

Why not isolate them, and let everyone else get back to “normal” ? Wouldn’t this hasten what has to be the end atate no matter how achieved viz. immunity of the population ?

Because nature is red in both tooth and claw and highly opportunistic and thus just does not work the way you are trying to make it.

First off you have to remember experiance / knowledge / wisdom / wealth and to a certain extent leadership comes with age, and it is these people that are most at risk.

Thus,

let everyone else get back to “normal”

Would not happen if they were issolated.

But as living beings you can not issolate them physically for more than a week or two tops. Because they need air, water and food to come in and waste products to be taken away. This means you will be bringing the disease not just to their door but inside it as well. So they will get infected.

Then there are “repairs and maintainence” not just of their homes where they are issolated but with them as well, that is their necessary health care.

But also it’s not just the old, the young are dying as well maybe not as many but they are dying.

What will happen is that antibody tests with appropriate unforgable identification will enable those who are nolonger a direct infection risk (via virus shedding) to return to work and travel. However they will be an indirect risk like any other fomite or object that can carry viable virus on it’s surface.

As I’ve indicated this virus is opportunistic, thus it is, it is no respector of boundries that we might chose to put in it’s way. The only way to stop infection currently is to keep infections as low as possible so that there is too little contact for it with viable hosts and it becomes unviable thus extinct.

To get the much over publisised “herd immunity” effect you have to effectively “infect the population” some how without killing even a small fraction of them in the process. The only reliable and controlable way to do this is with a vaccine that we do not yet have nore are we likely to have a fully tested for both safty and efficacy for the next year or two if we are lucky. The other way is to delibetately infect people with the disease in very controld conditions and hope you don’t kill to many in the process.

In effect it’s this “slow burn” through the population policy that “lockdowns” are all about. We can not stop infections happening because of the stupidity of vested interests, all we can do is try and keep them down to the level our healthcare systems can support. Thus slowly “inoculate” the population untill a vaccine or good supportive medical therapy becomes available.

When it comes to deliberate infection with the disease you want to start with those in their thirties with no direct or indirect contact with any people in the “at risk groups”. So those with their own homes to self issolate in. You then go for those in their twenties with no direct contact, in theory university students issolated on campus and lodgings would be next. After that things get quite difficult, especially in societies where three or more generations in the household is common.

However there is a significant risk with controled infection which in practice is why you would try to avoid doing it and that is “mutation”. If it mutates you effectively “slide down the snake” back to the begining and then you have two strains running free the new strain potentially being “novel” to all humanity again.

There are two things of intrest with pathogens,

1, How inately infectious they are.
2, How sever the resulting infection is.

Thus at a high level over view the new strain has two effectively independent degrees of freedom in which it good be more or less in either one.

In practice there are a lot more degrees of freedom under the resulting infection. With the current strain, the at risk groups are mainly the old with socioeconomic comordities of age and prosperity which is realy bad in the west, less so in africa, asia and south America[1]. But have a look at the Spanish Flu of 1918, this mainly effected the bulk of the economically productive not the old or the young. There is no reason why a mutation of SARS-CoV-2 should have the same at risk groups…

Which is why trying to invoke “herd immunity” via natural infection with a “novel pathogen” is more dangerous than playing “Russian Roulette” and why it’s a compleate nonsense to even contemplate it.

The only sensible thing to do if we can is to do what we did to small pox and nearly succeeded at with polio, which is to eradicate it by mass immunization of the world with a safe and effect vaccine. For which there are two issues,

1, We don’t have a vaccine.
2, Current political thinking will weaponise it if we do get one.

Why will the politicians weaponise it well for petty political point scorring and vendettas, it would be to valuable to pass up such an opportunity. The problem with that sort of behaviour can be seen in any part of the world where there is secterian discrimination, like a disease it becomes endemic and gets passed down the generations for hundreds if not thousands of years.

[1] Unfortunately whilst their are exceptions such as the industrialised asian nations wher diseases of prosperity exist, the non industrialised have not just the diseases of poverty but also the very high transmission rates of close quaters non issolatable living (slums etc).

Clive Robinson April 4, 2020 10:32 AM

@ Sed Contra,

Makinf yiur own face mask or gloves ? Consider this

Whilst the idea has merit, the antimicrobial they use “copper” would by no means be my choice.

To humans “salts of copper” are very poisonous, where as “salys of silver” tend to be less so, however both copper and silver have broadly similar antimicrobial properties.

It’s why fridges and other food related utensils use silver for an antimicrobial they don’t use copper.

Whilst “copper pans” are great for heat ttansmission, old style solid copper where the copper comes into contact with foods especialy acidic foods are almost as dangerous as the lead pots the ancient Roman’s used that some have argued were the route cause of the fall of the Roman Empire.

Sed Contra April 4, 2020 11:53 AM

@Clive Robinson

Re: safety of cooper oxide infused maks

The study included some review of the adverse effects and found them below standard safe levels.

It seems there is commercial production currently (pun not intended).

Doubtless more research results needed looking for gotchas.

myliit April 4, 2020 12:41 PM

@SpaceLifeForm

From your 3 April 2020 bylinetimes article:

“ … Meanwhile, both Britain and the US have COVID-19 fatalities rising on a steeper curve than Italy at the same stage of the pandemic – and with the advantage of at least two weeks preparation. Is there more in both countries’ laissez faire attitude to the pandemic in the early days than a shared ideological opposition to Government intervention? …

So where did [Dominic] Cummings [Boris Johnson’s chief advisor] and his team come up with the novel if disastrous concept [herd immunity].

The comparison with Trump’s policy is more than just coincidental. According to the Imperial College team tasked by the UK Government to come up with strategies for the pandemic, they were sharing data with the US. One of the key proponents of the laissez faire attitude that informed the Trump administration was Richard A. Epstein, a senior fellow of the Hoover Institute and a New York University professor who wrote an influential paper on 16 March called Coronavirus Perspective in which he said that “progressives think they can run everyone’s lives through central planning” and claimed that only 500 people would die from the virus, which he then revised to 5,000. (As of Friday, the US has recorded 6,095 fatalities).

In a revealing and fractious interview with Isaac Chotiner of the New Yorker [ https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/the-contrarian-coronavirus-theory-that-informed-the-trump-administration 30 March 2020 ], Epstein not only confessed to the flimsy evidence for his figures and modelling, he also made the baseless claim that the Coronavirus was evolving into different less virulent strains. Throughout the interview, Epstein boasted of 40 years knowledge of “evolutionary theory” suggesting some kind of co-evolutionary “adaptation” was happening between humans and SARS-CoV-2 which would solve the problem without much intervention. (There is no evidence for this in such a short timescale). Epstein belongs to a group of libertarian thinkers who are often described as ‘evolutionary economists’. …”

MarkH April 4, 2020 12:42 PM

.
Why I’m Not Personally Anxious About the Ventilator Shortage

From the NY Times:

Even among the Covid-19 patients who are ventilated and then discharged from the intensive care unit, some have died within days from heart damage.

Even before Covid-19, for those lucky enough to leave the hospital alive after suffering acute respiratory distress syndrome, recovery can take months or years. The amount of sedation needed for Covid 19 patients can cause profound complications, damaging muscles and nerves, making it hard for those who survive to walk, move or even think as well as they did before they became ill. Many spend most of their recovery time in a rehabilitation center, and older patients often never go home.

Umm, no thanks.


@Clive:

It now seems that Germany, the U.K. and Italy are all considering the issuance of “passports” for people who may show enough antibodies to have significant immunity.

I’ve no idea whether some form of inoculation for SARS-Cov-2 is feasible, or if so whether it’s a responsible direction. Under present circumstances, I’m sure that it’s receiving sober consideration. It might seem to be one of the most useful tools available in the near term.

The American Puritan minister Cotton Mather (1663-1728) has long had a dark reputation for his involvement in America’s version of witch hysteria (which, by the way, was miniscule in comparison to its European counterparts).

However malign or benign his influence on that madness may have been, he was also a serious student of the natural sciences, and an energetic advocate of inoculation against smallpox in the face of furious public criticism. The results from inoculation, which included some percentage of people contracting smallpox from it, were sufficiently encouraging that inoculation became widely adopted.

A potential argument in favor of inoculation is that accumulating case data seem to suggest that Covid-19 has a strong dose/response effect. This would explain the high mortality among medical personnel whose demographic characteristics correspond to much lower mortality in the general population.

If this strong dose/response effect is substantiated, and sufficiently consistent from one person to another, then it might turn out that while a lot of the virus is certainly a bad thing, a little of the virus could be a good thing.

Of course, acquired immunity is still an open question. From early observations, and reference to experience with similar viruses, it seems likely that people who’ve recovered from the infection usually have significant immunity in the near term, and may continue to be immune from at least one year to perhaps many years. But it will need a lot of medical data, acquired over many months, to begin to clarify this picture.

Then there’s the challenge that RNA viruses like SARS-Cov-2 accumulate mutations rapidly. Most of those mutations have no functional effect, although variants in key proteins of the infection process have already been observed. Whether a changed characteristic protects a variant from older antibodies is a question of luck …

TE901 April 4, 2020 2:08 PM

Article from The Lancet on the Wuhan shelter hospitals. There seem to be some lessons here for other countries:-

hxxps://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30744-3/fulltext

Sancho_P April 4, 2020 3:34 PM

@MarkH

”… POTUS saw Covid-19 as a political threat to his reelection, and not a national problem.”
My take: To the contrary, the croc saw a huge chance to remain in office because with the chaos of GRETA-19 there won’t be elections in November.

”… a little of the virus could be a good thing.”
Of course, people are feeling better afterwards, go try …
What about a daily dose, just enough to feel better, and probably to keep your
#herd-immunity?
– Don’t get me wrong: This was a joke!

vas pup April 4, 2020 4:37 PM

@Clive Robinson • April 3, 2020 6:25 PM
Thank you very much!

Clive, for me you are like Tesla (not auto) but actual inventor, but unfortunately for both of you brilliant minds were/are not in charge, but mediocrity is. That is direct way to idiocracy.
Without utilization of brain power of folks like you on regular day by day basis by those who think they got crystal ball just after being elected, every epidemic is pregnant by pandemic, and local crisis could escalate to global catastrophe.

With great respect,
VP

MarkH April 4, 2020 5:39 PM

@Sancho_P:

I got it 😉

More than a few people are worried that he’ll try to postpone the election. It’s hard to believe that he isn’t thinking about it …

Clive Robinson April 4, 2020 6:21 PM

@ MarkH, Sancho_P,

    ”… POTUS saw Covid-19 as a political threat to his reelection, and not a national problem.”

It was not a “political threat” but somehow he pulled defeat out of what could have been a success. Thus has himself turned it into a very real political threat… But he will probably bluster and faux news his way through it…

The person I feel sorry for is Dr Fauci, standing within spitting range of POTUS and factually correcting him, is not a job for the faint hearted.

Oh apparently in Arizona and Florida, “golf courses” are “essential business”… Much like “pot shops” in California. I guess one must be “essential excercise” and the other “essential medication” or something, after all there could not be a political reason surely?{/sarcasm}.

Mind you it’s scary that my predictions about POTUS still being in office all came true, OK I just used the logic of politics but even so…

SpaceLifeForm April 4, 2020 7:25 PM

@ Clive, Anders

And people just refuse to stop flying. Nuts.

hxxps://flighttracker24.net/flight-radar/

lurker April 4, 2020 8:57 PM

@TE901

Article from The Lancet on the Wuhan shelter hospitals. There seem to be some lessons here for other countries

As @Clive has been repeating, the needs of the many outweigh the wants of the few. How many 1st world governments would be prepared to triage and put the non-ICU patients into a football stadium for observation and general care?

Martin April 4, 2020 9:18 PM

@Clive Robinson

How can you justify taking pot shots at the President of the United States when you put up with the Royal Family privilege nonsense? (The Queen owns all the swans…is that correct?) President Trump is not perfect, but he’s still the President for a bit longer and has applied needed pressure to many areas of the federal bureaucracy that were long over due for change. In the USA we can and will change the POTUS as needed. The next one will have different strengths and weaknesses, but won’t be around for decades and decades and decades and have masses bow.

I lived in a Common Wealth country for considerable time and often was the only person who would not bow when some special royal was approaching…that’s nonsense.

BTW state power (rights) vs federal power (rights) is a valued conflict in the USA but will often confuse outsiders. If Arizona want to take a different approach it will exercise that right…often the differences must go to the supreme court.

Take care, wash your hands, cover your sneezes, and best of health.

MarkH April 4, 2020 10:17 PM

@Martin:

How can you justify comparing the President of the United States, who exercises enormous authority over government, to the U.K. royal family, whose authority is theoretically tiny and practically nonexistent?

How can one have lived in both a Commonwealth country and the U.S., and not understand this distinction?

Or is comparing apples to oranges just a hobby?

lurker April 4, 2020 11:32 PM

@SLF: how do you know those planes are full of people? I’ve got a silver shilling that says some of them are full of junk from Amazon when people can’t get to their local shops; and some are full of arbitraged PPE which is being sold and resold to the highest bidder, to become the next tulip bubble…

myliit April 5, 2020 6:40 AM

https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/2020/04/03/coronavirus-cdc-test-kits-public-health-labs/ a fairly long read

“Investigations

Inside the coronavirus testing failure: Alarm and dismay among the scientists who sought to help

On a Jan. 15 conference call, a leading scientist at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assured local and state public health officials from across the nation that there would soon be a test to detect a mysterious virus spreading from China. Stephen Lindstrom told them the threat was remote and they may not need the test his team was developing “unless the scope gets much larger than we anticipate,” according to an email summarizing the call.

“We’re in good hands,” a public health official who participated in the call wrote in the email to colleagues.

Three weeks later, early on Feb. 8, one of the first CDC test kits arrived in a Federal Express package at a public health laboratory on the east side of Manhattan. By then, the virus had reached the United States, and the kits represented the government’s best hope for containing it while that was still possible.

For hours, lab technicians struggled to verify that the test worked. Each time, it fell short, producing untrustworthy results.

That night, they called their lab director, Jennifer Rakeman, an assistant commissioner in the New York City health department, to tell her it had failed. “Oh, s—,” she replied. “What are we going to do now?”

In the 21 days that followed, as Trump administration officials continued to rely on the flawed CDC test, many lab scientists eager to aid the faltering effort grew increasingly alarmed and exasperated by the federal government’s actions, according to previously unreported email messages and other documents reviewed by The Washington Post, as well as exclusive interviews with scientists and officials involved.

In their private communications, scientists at academic, hospital and public health labs — one layer removed from federal agency operations — expressed dismay at the failure to move more quickly and frustration at bureaucratic demands that delayed their attempts to develop alternatives to the CDC test.

“We have the skills and resources as a community but we are collectively paralyzed by a bloated bureaucratic/administrative process,” Marc Couturier, medical director at academic laboratory ARUP in Utah, wrote to other microbiologists on Feb. 27 after weeks of mounting frustration.

The administration embraced a new approach behind closed doors that very day, concluding that “a much broader” effort to testing was needed, according to an internal government memo spelling out the plan. Two days later, the administration announced a relaxation of the regulations that scientists said had hindered private laboratories from deploying their own tests.

By then, the virus had spread across the country. In less than a month, it would upend daily life, shuttering the world’s largest economy and killing thousands of Americans.

[…]”

SpaceLifeForm April 5, 2020 9:22 AM

@ lurker

Let’s hope the belly of the planes are not being used to hide supplies in a giant shell game.

Sorry, the text in the pic is small.
In this case, social distancing was not an issue.

hxxps://twitter.com/lawrencehurley/status/1246630716705816586/photo/1

Clive Robinson April 5, 2020 10:04 AM

@ Martin,

I think your allegation of,

How can you justify taking pot shots at the President of the United States

Needs to be addressed.

Firstly consider are they “pot shots”? To which the short answer is no.

They are as far as I am concerned an honest summary of the facts as we know them, and the current POTUS’s behaviour towards not just the facts, but those who try to keep him likewise honestly appraised of a grave situation. A situation that is building and now probably beyond reasonable control because of the current POTUS…

Thus if people chose to honestly look the whole world can see that “Emperor has no clothes” and is vacuous, vain, venal, vindictive and lacks verisimilitude over the SARS-CoV-2 infection. Which is runing rampant if not like wildfire through the population of the US and killing thousands in the process (over 36.3% of recorded closed cases currently[1] with the death rate increasing exponentially at 63% per day at the end of march).

I suggest you read a little more on the subject rather than “donkey kicking” at anyone who prefers honesty over political rhetoric[2]. Perhaps you should save your invective and vituperation utterings for some one who is even less informed than you appear to be.

Perhaps you should follow @myliit’s reading list above.

But first remember the old advice of,

    If you are to read the newspapers first learn to read the newspapers.

Which is why something tells me that Silicon Valley don’t think the current POTUS is going to make it into Feb 2021 by popular consent.

[1] As of April 05, 2020, 14:00 GMT the WorldOmeter shows for the US,

Recorded cases 311,656
Recorded deaths 8,454
Recovered cases 14,828

Both of which we know are at best quite low estimates due to lack of test kits and expert diagnosis. The reality is probably ten to twenty times the number of real infections not recorded cases, and if Italy is anything to go by the actual deaths five to eleven times the recorded death figures. If you normalize the recorded figures for deaths and recovered you get

8454/(8454+14828) = 0.36311

That is of resolved cases slightly over 36.3% of US citizens have died. If that holds for the other 288,374 that are active recorded cases then another 104,712 will die of what might have been avoided by prompt action that other advanced Fitst world nations such as South Korea and Taiwan have managed to do.

[2] Despite your stated dislike for the “British Way” you do need to remember that the original US legal and political system is based on it, and importantly the phrase,

    To speak truth unto power

Has for many years been associated with the British Civil Service.

That is to be able to “speak truth unto power” was cherished, by both sides, because to give honest and objective advice to ministers without “fear or favour” has always been seen as something that all impartial civil servants should be able to do. Otherwise how could Ministers trust the information they are given on which they have to make judgments that can critically effect the Nation and it’s Citizens. Something that by a large number of reports can not be said for the Whitehouse currently.

celt April 5, 2020 11:46 AM

Many choose sources that reinforce what they already believe, including Clive Robinson. Notice the links to various news sources, these are the ones that they read and believe. So their thinking becomes reinforced, they won’t consider the possibility they’re not in possession of all the information. It’s too painful to imagine all the little pieces they have carefully pieced together in the mind, the contorted interpretations of history, and the twisted interpretations of current events distorted by old hatreds and unresolved bitterness, could possibly be wrong.

And by the way, it’s White House, not Whitehouse.

celt April 5, 2020 12:13 PM

The ugly truth about news media is, the vast majority of copy is generated in a vacuum of reliable facts. Not the truth, not the whole truth by any means. And the reason isn’t always just because the agencies wish to force people to think what they think. They NEED copy so they have something on which to sell advertising (they don’t even bother to grammar check this stuff anymore). Watch CNN? It’s not incidental they talk nonsense for 3 mins then break for 5 min of advertising. Prefer Fox? It’s no accident the bottom half of their website is loaded with garbage ads right out of the National Enquirer. At least try to read stuff you don’t agree with and ask yourself difficult questions, like is it possible I’m wrong about such and such. Especially now.

The Atlantic is not a conservative source, but they’re not stupid either. Bruce Schneier has written for the Atlantic, pretty sure. Here’s an article worth considering, that asks the reader to step back and consider the possibility that President Trump is right about China, and not to be blinded by your hatred of him, as if everyone must be placed into either a box of “those good people I know,” or the box of “those bad people whom I don’t know but must be to blame for all things bad that happen.”

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/04/consider-possibility-trump-right-china/609493/

What scares me is, the number of people who were previously wrong, horribly wrong, but rather than back up, they drive ahead as if insane, insisting upon the same things they must now know were never right. That scares me.

Clive Robinson April 5, 2020 12:49 PM

@ celt,

Notice the links to various news sources, these are the ones that they read and believe. So their thinking becomes reinforced, they won’t consider the possibility they’re not in possession of all the information.

I’m calling “bullshit” on you.

Firstly you have to realise that “No one” and I realy do mean “no one” including you and your vacuous ramblings are in possession of even close to “all the information”. To pretend otherwise as a strawman attack is realy very very stupid.

As for what I do and do not read is a very silly assumption by you at best it’s an inane generalisation from your outlook on life. However most here will probably make their own assumptions about what you do and do not read, and I suapect many will be quite a bit closer to the mark than you are.

But you also make another stupid assumotion that I actually believe what people write, well if you go back far enough on this blog you will find that I often do not agree with the MSM or other supposed news sources. I thus analyze what is available and come to my own conclusions and can clearly give reasons for them. Thus I’ve found myself at odds with those who don’t. Guess what given time that popular view is wrong, do those that I’ve been at odds with come back and apologise and admit they were wrong? Of course they don’t. But more importantly just like you they present absolutly no evidence of the factuality of their claims or reasoning, just as you have not.

So it’s put up or shut up time for you.

Present your evidence and reasoning or be held up high as a fool or a troll.

Your choice, but think carefully we’ve seen your type around before.

Oh and with regards to the “Presidential Palace” do you know why it’s called the White house?

Go and look it up it might improve your knowledge of the world.

myliit April 5, 2020 1:20 PM

tl-dw (watch); Our, probably, negligent president blew it. There is no best solution available. The time slot for a best available response is in the past in the USA.

https://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/video/full-michael-lewis-we-re-now-in-the-land-of-second-best-solutions-81657413712. Not too long

“Full Michael Lewis [1]: ‘We’re now in the land of second-best solutions’

Author and columnist Michael Lewis joins Meet the Press to talk about the long-term impact of the Trump White House’s governing philosophy.“

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Lewis

“Bibliography[edit]
Liar’s Poker: Rising through the Wreckage on Wall Street. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. 1989. ISBN 0-393-02750-3.
Pacific Rift. Knoxville, Tennessee: Whittle Direct Books. 1991. ISBN 0-9624745-6-8.
The Money Culture. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. 1991. ISBN 0-393-03037-7.
Trail Fever. New York: A. A. Knopf. 1997. ISBN 0-679-44660-5.
The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. 1999. ISBN 0-393-04813-6.
Next: The Future Just Happened. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. 2001. ISBN 0-393-02037-1.
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. 2003. ISBN 0-393-05765-8.
Coach: Lessons on the Game of Life. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. 2005. ISBN 0-393-06091-8.
The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. 2006. ISBN 0-393-06123-X.
Lewis, Michael, ed. (2008). The Real Price of Everything: Rediscovering the Six Classics of Economics. New York: Sterling. ISBN 1-4027-4790-X.
Lewis, Michael (2009). Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-06901-X.
Lewis, Michael (2009). Panic: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-06514-6.
Lewis, Michael (2010). The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-07223-1.
Lewis, Michael (2011). Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-08181-8.
Lewis, Michael (2014). Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-24466-3.
Lewis, Michael (2016). The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed Our Minds. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-25459-4.
Lewis, Michael (2018). The Coming Storm (Audiobook ed.). Audible Studios.
Lewis, Michael (2018). The Fifth Risk. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-1-324-00264-2.”

myliit April 5, 2020 1:38 PM

This may surprise neither no woman nor no man. From Ignatius

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/04/04/trump-wants-him-fired-inside-ouster-capt-brett-crozier/

“ Inside the ouster of Capt. Brett Crozier

Civilian control of the military is part of the American bedrock. Acting Navy secretary Thomas Modly used that prerogative unwisely Thursday when he short-circuited a preliminary military investigation and fired an aircraft carrier captain who had pleaded for help against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping his crew.

The sudden firing of Capt. Brett Crozier, the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, has created another unsettling moment for a country traumatized by the worsening pandemic — and for a Navy already rocked by President Trump’s remarkable intervention last year in disciplinary cases involving the elite Navy SEALs. Crozier’s crew cheered him as a hero as he walked alone down the gangway, leaving what will almost surely be his last command. Former vice president Joe Biden tweeted his support for Crozier.

It isn’t clear what role Trump may have played in Crozier’s ouster. Modly told one colleague Wednesday, the day before he announced the move: “Breaking news: Trump wants him fired.” Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper apparently obtained White House approval for a preliminary investigation into Crozier’s conduct, a probe that Modly preempted with the firing. Esper appears to have left the final decision about how to handle the matter to Modly, who last month was passed over as Trump’s permanent choice for the job. …”

Sed Contra April 5, 2020 1:38 PM

@All

Right Mr. Lewis, last chance to notice that the whole thing is a PRC disinformation campaign. Just comb through the news remembering that the big lie has been the method of communism from day one.

myliit April 5, 2020 5:22 PM

In the past, I think, most presidents have divested their assets or created blind trusts, or something, before taking office. Whether the trusts were blind or not, probably, is a separate issue.

Creating blind trusts may help presidents avoid a perceived potential conflict of interest or other things that may not be in the taxpayer’s or citizen’s interest.

It looks like our president personally guaranteed a bank loan for the 92-story Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago.

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/03/report-trump-repeatedly-inflated-assets-in-deutsche-deals.html

“… Around 2004, shortly after the Trump Organization defaulted on hundreds of millions in bonds, Trump reportedly went to Deutsche’s commercial real estate unit in pursuit of a loan to build the 92-story Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago — but not before the bank realized that Trump, on paper, was not who he said he was …”

Like any deal involving the business interests of a president who refused to divest his assets, ethical questions are clouding the decision-making process. The Trump Organization’s requests are making their lenders and landlords choose between a financially responsible decision and making a cantankerous president content. But the coronavirus is a particular disaster for the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago. Because of his history of defaults and bankruptcies, Deutsche Bank required that Trump provide a personal guarantee on the loans for the skyscraper, so that the bank can seize his personal assets if he is unable to pay the money.

According to the Times, Deutsche Bank executives have worried what would happen if Trump were to default while in office, as they’d be stuck between seizing assets from the President of the United States or letting him off another million-dollar hook. (In that first scenario, the bank would also have to consider whether or not Trump would use the regulatory agencies his administration oversees against them, in the way he has wielded the Justice Department to do his bidding.) As the coronavirus continues to shred profits in the hospitality industry, that doomsday choice could become Deutsche’s reality. …”

myliit April 5, 2020 7:47 PM

@JonKnowsNothing

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/04/05/acting-navy-chief-fired-crozier-panicking-before-trump-might-intervene/ Ignatius again

“Acting Navy chief fired Crozier for ‘panicking’ — and before Trump could intervene …

The [ aircraft carrier ] Roosevelt incident has the ingredients of a morality play at sea: A captain desperate to protect his men, who takes actions that his superiors view as a sign of faltering resolve and judgment. Navy leaders worry about protecting the ship, but also about shielding the Navy from an irascible, impulsive commander in chief.

Recall classic tales about the moral dilemmas of men and women in uniform: “Mutiny on the Bounty,” “The Caine Mutiny,” “An Officer and a Gentleman,” “A Few Good Men.” The tale of the Roosevelt, crippled by covid-19, with a captain beloved by his sailors but mistrusted by the brass back at the Pentagon, has elements of all of them. …

After that conversation with Baker, whose cabin aboard the Roosevelt was near Crozier’s, the acting secretary said he decided that Crozier had to be relieved. He informed Esper, Milley and Gilday later Thursday morning, and although Gilday favored more investigation before taking such drastic action, Modly said that “I have lost confidence” in the captain. Esper, with Milley’s support, backed the decision, Modly told me, and Gilday stood by the acting secretary.

Modly sent me an email later Sunday morning, summarizing why he reached the decision: “I had serious doubts about how this CO might act if, for example, the ship came under attack by hypersonic missiles, or by cyber forces that crippled his communications, or by any other unpredictable event. It’s essential to love your crew, but it’s not sufficient.””

SpaceLifeForm April 5, 2020 7:51 PM

@ Clive, Anders, ALL

A while back (seems like eons ago), I wondered if all mammals were susceptible to 2019-nCoV, because of the reports from China that cats and dogs were dying.

Lack of social distancing and aerosol transmission?
Droplets on the animals food?

Apparently a keeper is infected.

hxxps://newsroom.wcs.org/News-Releases/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/14010/A-Tiger-at-Bronx-Zoo-Tests-Positive-for-COVID-19-The-Tiger-and-the-Zoos-Other-Cats-Are-Doing-Well-at-This-Time.aspx

Nadia, a 4-year-old female Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo, has tested positive for COVID-19. She, her sister Azul, two Amur tigers, and three African lions had developed a dry cough and all are expected to recover.

La Abeja April 5, 2020 8:21 PM

@SpaceLifeForm

Apparently a keeper is infected

Just another fed. This whole country is a zoo.

Clive Robinson April 5, 2020 8:45 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

A while back (seems like eons ago), I wondered if all mammals were susceptible to 2019-nCoV, because of the reports from China that cats and dogs were dying.

If memory serves me right, I think I mentioned that there are a very great deal of corona viruses strains in animals –which is where Sars-CoV-2 originates from– but they are gastro-intestinal in animals not respiratory as in humans.

Also if I remember correctly the tests carried out on a dog in Hong Kong were described as “weakly positive” which ment that either the test had been triggered by another virus or that the dog was acting as a fomite from an infected person. The Chief Vet in Hong Kong then said the dog was not infected therefore not infectious, and the whole story kind of stopped there due to no further facts comming forward.

I think I also mentioned if the Chinese were cleaning the streats and spraying down with some kind of anti-virus solution the probability was there would be no pets or feral animals on the street.

Interestingly where I live we have both foxes and squirrels as wild vermin and one or two cats that have gone ferral. I used to see and hear them quite frequently prior to “lockdown” since however, I’ve neither seen or heard any or seen any signs of their presence.

As there is no street cleaning or spraying of anything in the area, then it would appear it’s unlikely to be those. However there is also a lack of people to drop litter, no fast food to be idly dumped, and people at home do appear to be “tidying up” more than they have done previously, possibly because they now have time on their hands and can not do anything else to distract themselves.

But at the end of the day SARS-CoV-2 is zoonotic and if it can jump species once, theres no reason it can not jump again.

Thus they may not actually have SARS-CoV-2 but something close that triggers existing test kits.

But that still leaves the issue of the “cough” feline respiratory diseases whilst both highly infectious and dangerous to all members of the feline genus, do not effect humans, and as far as I remember the opposit is true as well. So if the big cats do have a SARS-CoV-2 infection it will probably be a first…

It will be interesting to see if any on sequences this viris to see what makes it tick.

SpaceLifeForm April 5, 2020 8:57 PM

@ Clive

Ignore the chickens and ducks as they are not mammals.

hxxps://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.30.015347v1

We found that SARS-CoV-2 replicates poorly in dogs, pigs, chickens, and ducks, but efficiently in ferrets and cats. We found that the virus transmits in cats via respiratory droplets.

JonKnowsNothing April 5, 2020 9:56 PM

@Clive @All

Reports of various sorts of “Virus Tracking Apps” being deployed in different countries. Seems curious that within a few short weeks since the limited official ACKs that something was amiss “in Denmark”, that such apps are passing muster on the different App Platforms.

The new group, named Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP-PT), promises a GDPR-compliant app that sounds a lot like Singapore’s TraceTogether service, but also offers considerable detail on how the service is designed to preserve privacy
….
India launched “AarogyaSetu” as an Android and iOS app that requests that location services and Bluetooth be turned on … As explained in the Indian government’s announcement: “Once installed in a smart phone through an easy and user-friendly process, the app detects other devices with AarogyaSetu installed that come in the proximity of that phone. The app can then calculate the risk of infection based on sophisticated parameters

Zho…

Seems like UWB being deployed (Bluetooth and Location). Auto-detecting “compatible” apps (Air Drop type auto-exchange) and “sophisticated parameters”.

Just a rebranding of pre-existing malware Apps?

ht tps://www.theregister.co.uk/2020/04/06/pan_european_privacy_preserving_proximity_tracing_plan/
ht tps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultra-wideband
ht tps://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/something_is_rotten_in_the_state_of_Denmark
(url fractured to prevent autorun)

JonKnowsNothing April 5, 2020 10:28 PM

@myliit @All

re:

Acting Navy chief fired Crozier for ‘panicking’ — and before Trump could intervene

I put in a post that Captain Crozier tested positive for COVID19 and is hospital. Seems to have skipped a link in the blockchain… maybe the reference source wasn’t OK.

As it seems that the Captain is now in hospital, and as we all know here, the next 5-10 days will determine his longevity, one might want to review claims of “his panic”.

The PM of the UK Boris Johnson is in hospital now too. And a whole lot of the 1% around the world are beginning to fall. Private Jets, to Private Parties, to Private Regal Weddings (Brazil). One might predict that at some point they will wake up to the fact COVID19 doesn’t respect balance sheets.

Which will bring in new dilemmas already starting the rounds of MSM. Who is going to get the ventilator? “Jane Small Person” or “Big Wig One Percenter”?

Folks like PThiel, no doubt have private ventilators already stashed in their BOL (he’s pretty smart dude), but what about the ones telling the rest of us to die and be happy about it so that the economy will return to “normal” to make the 1% richer as they hoover up the wealth of the dead?

Will we triage the “small fry” the same as “Scotland’s chief medical officer” who thinks the laws, edicts and lockdowns don’t apply to her or her family or the “New Zealand health minister” who decided to go for a lovely mountain bike ride when no one was allowed in the parks? Not to mention the dudes that promote fake cures and encourage their followers to wreak havoc during this period when we need science to take first position.

Maybe we need a demerit system… if you have a demerit, you go to the back of the queue.

BOL – Bug Out Location. A private sanctuary, stocked and ready for any emergency.

ht tps://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/apr/05/us-navy-captain-brett-crozier-fired-coronavirus-ests-positive

ht tps://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/apr/05/scotland-chief-medical-officer-seen-flouting-lockdown-advice-catherine-calderwood

ht tps://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/03/new-zealand-health-minister-caught-mountain-biking-during-lockdown

(url fractured to prevent autorun)

65535 April 6, 2020 1:25 AM

I can can see the concern and sense the fear all over this blog about covid19. But, let’s do a sanity check on the situation.

1] Which is deadlier the seasonal flu or covid19?

WaPo

“In all, so far this winter season, the flu has caused death in roughly 24,000 people across the country, the CDC estimates, including 162 children. The percentage of U.S. deaths attributed to the virus during the week ending March 28 is above the agency’s “epidemic threshold” of 7.2 percent.”- WaPo

https://www.upi.com/Health_News/2020/04/03/Pneumonia-flu-linked-to-more-than-8-of-US-deaths-in-last-week/8031585926101/

and

“The new coronavirus causing COVID-19 has led to more than 454,000 illnesses and more than 20,550 deaths worldwide. For comparison, in the U.S. alone, the flu (also called influenza) has caused an estimated 38 million illnesses, 390,000 hospitalizations and 23,000 deaths this season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)….”-lifescience

https://www.livescience.com/new-coronavirus-compare-with-flu.html

The above links are just picked off the top of the google pile. I anybody has better seasonal flu death figure please post them.

From the Wapo the seasonal flu kill more people including children than covid19.
Killing children is far worse in my opinion than adults…. but if you are in Clive Rs position with a bad heart and three heart restarts you might fell differently.

Now, when reading both stories the numbers become blurred. If one reads the lifescience’s story and follow all the links including some to the CDC you will very mixed data – or no usable data. This is a poor reflection upon the CDC.

In fact, from what I can tell from a US congressional hearing [Senate?] a person with bad symptoms of the flu is hospitalized. If that person dies from the flu then an autopsy is preformed to check out the exact strain of virus with caused the death. That is odd.

I thought covid19 could be determined fairly easily.

Let’s take Prince Charles of the UK or the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and ask some questions:

“It’s been ten days since U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson tested positive for the coronavirus. As reported by the BBC, Johnson was hospitalized for tests in London as of Sunday night as a “precautionary step” because of “persistent symptoms” of the coronavirus. His fiancée, Carrie Symonds, has reportedly been homebound with symptoms…”-kos

ht tps://www.dailykos[.]com/stories/2020/4/5/1934610/-UK-Prime-Minister-Boris-Johnson-admitted-to-hospital-over-coronavirus-symptoms

If both Prince Charles and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have been [relatively easily] diagnosed with covid19 why has Italy and Spain done poorly?

If both Prince Charles and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have a “mild case of covid19” why were they not hospitalized sooner – the people with a bad case of the flu go to the hospital in the USA before any tests can be done – probably to avoid a malpractice lawsuit.

2] What is keeping both Prince Charles and Prime Minister Johnson in relatively good health?

3] Is the Prince and the Prime Ministeron some combination of drugs not available to the public?

4] What exact drugs are the Prince and the Prime Minister on?

5] What exact treatments are being used?

I am going with what I said a while back:

“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.”-65535

65535 @ MarkH, Clive Robinson, Jordan Brown and others –
https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2020/03/friday_squid_bl_722.html#c6808294

If the CDC cannon differentiate the death rate of the season flu from covid19 their numbers and funding are of little use.

If there is no way to tell the difference between the seasonal flu and covid19 how will a useful treatment be made? Will doctors just give them the flu shot and a bucket of pills?

I am baffled.

All bets are off if said politicians “faked” their illness or the press and medical experts are 60 kilometers off of the mark.

SpaceLifeForm April 6, 2020 1:39 AM

@ JonKnowsNothing

I parsed BOL as Bill of Lading.

It still makes sense semantically to me for some reason.

SpaceLifeForm April 6, 2020 2:39 AM

@ Clive

“With a slight redesign to take the pipes over the head, and use a battery powered air pump and UV-C chamber to kill bacteria and render virii non viable you would have a nice piece of PPE for nurses, drs and even people walking around…”

Great concept. A higher tech oxygen tent.

But, I think it needs to be expanded.

If the patient is on vent, then the tent will leak.

Somehow, all of the expelled air needs to have gone thru the UV-C chamber before exhausted to room.

It has to be balanced with the extra air coming in from the ventilator.

I think the ventilators are making the problem worse for the med staff, because the vent may be creating more aerosol of the virus.

Clive Robinson April 6, 2020 3:27 AM

@ 65535, ALL,

I can can see the concern and sense the fear all over this blog about covid19. But, let’s do a sanity check on the situation.

OK, lets work things backwards from funerals. That is,

Ignore the “recorded as COVID-19 deaths” and look at the “excess deaths” instead.

In Italy Town Mayors were jumping up and down because the number of funerals had gone up between five and eleven times the expected deaths for that time of the year from previous years figures. Spain likewise.

In the UK reports of a 30-60% increase in funerals has been reported (unofficially).

As I can not quickly find the “expected deaths” on line lets do some basic arithmetic. Starting with the,

National Population (NP) ~70M
Average Life Expectancy (ALE) 71

So the annual death rate (ADR) in the UK is approximately,

ADR ~= NP/ALE ~= 70M/71 ~= 1M

Seasonality will effect the monthly figure by at a guess 50%. March is still in flu season so lets assume the Monthly Death Rate (MDR) is ADR/12 to ADR/6,

MDR ~= 83.3k to 166.7k

So with a 30% to 60% lift you get the Excess Death Rate (EDR) of,

EDR ~= 0.3(ADR/12) to 0.6(ADR/6)

Which is in the 25k to 100k range.

If we now look at the “official COVID-19” “Recorded Cases” on WorldOmeter we see for the end of yesterday +621 deaths that day for a total of 4,934. So lets just say it will be ~5k today.

So 25k/5k = 5 and 100k/5k = 20

That is the “Excess Death Multiplier for the COVID-19 infection period is going to be between 5 and 20 times. Which just to “sanity check” things covers the ranges seen in both Italy and Spain…

I’ll leave others to work out what it will be for the US.

Clive Robinson April 6, 2020 3:59 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

I think the ventilators are making the problem worse for the med staff, because the vent may be creating more aerosol of the virus.

That is very probably true if and only if they are still infective.

The infective period appears to be from about three days after infection, to about 6 days after first becoming symptomatic.

For those in hospital the first week tends to be mild and simple atmospheric preasure oxygen enrichment is sufficient. It’s in the third week people get serious enough for ventilators to be considered. Therefore whilst they might not be shedding SARS-CoV-2 virus, they are probably pushing out pneumonial bacteria. The bacteria should be stopped or limited down to background levels by a HEPA filter.

My hope is that “early intervention” with cheap rapidly produced CPAP masks would be that cutting down secondary bacteria by using clean air/oxygen the patients won’t get the secondary infections thus far less say 50-90% will get to the point they need to be intubated or have a trachectomy and all the drugs etc to put them in a clinically induced coma that the use of a ventilator requires.

CPAPs keep the patient concious, less distressed and needing way way less nursing, technology, and drug resources.

Remember most of the anti-biotics and other drugs that are required, originate from China or India. Whilst India has banned the export of the precursors to the drugs China has not and is now getting production of PPE / Drugs up and running and shipping them and ventilators out to other countries.

I don’t know about US citizens but hearing Jarad Kushner talk about “our masks” as in for the Federal Gov only whilst apparently also auctioning them off not just to other US States but other nations on a best profit basis kind of sickens me. But unfortunatly that sort of “rich over the poor” behaviour has been a halmark of the current administration therefor I was unfortunatly expecting something like it so I am not as shocked as I would have expected.

Much as when I got to the bottom of the supposadly “free tests”. Whilst the SARS-CoV-2 test was free, it was conditional on you having a whole load of other “screening” tests first that were not free and not inexpensive.

MarkH April 6, 2020 5:29 AM

@Clive:

Interesting analysis you presented … I looked up some numbers, to put a “sharper point” on it. Apologies in advance, for any clerical errors I might have made along the way (skeptical checking welcomed!)

Based on the preceding winter of 2018/2019, in each of the winter months of December through March almost exactly 49,000 deaths (average) were recorded in England and Wales (I found those numbers rather than all-UK stats).

By the way, the mid-2018 population estimate for England and Wales combined was 59,115,800.

If the expected funerals were based on matching the preceding winter, an increase of 30 to 60 percent sustained over the entirety of an “average” month — throughout the whole territories of England and Wales would imply 14,700 to 29,400 excess deaths (above and beyond typical winter excess mortality).

I really don’t know what significance to attach to all of this. I’m guessing that the funerals numbers are very much anecdotal. Are they sustained over 4 weeks, or representative of one peak week? Are they an average over an entire territory, or spikes seen in certain “hot spots?”

If these jumps in funeral counts are more spotty — for example, in certain major cities and towns for the worst two weeks — then they could be perfectly consistent with the official Covid-19 death tally.

To my mind, it would make sense to apply an excess deaths analysis to a total of death registrations, sorting by date of death (as opposed to date of registration, for which there can be some significant time lag).

Rough funeral frequency estimates, of unknown provenance? Maybe better for an RNG seed, than to form a picture of national trends.


I’d like to remind all interested readers that although Covid-19 deaths are MUCH easier to measure accurately than cases (huge uncertainty) or recoveries (heavy uncertainty plus long time delays) … nonetheless, there’s a lot of room for error in death numbers as well.

I suggest that analysis based on numbers with presently unknowable (but surely very large) error bars is likely to devolve into some no-man’s land between numerology and theology.

SpaceLifeForm April 6, 2020 10:53 AM

Another possible treatment for Covid-19

Hydroxychloroquine and zinc salt

hxxps://abc7.com/coronavirus-drug-covid-19-malaria-hydroxychloroquine/6079864/

Dr. Anthony Cardillo said he has seen very promising results when prescribing hydroxychloroquine in combination with zinc for the most severely-ill COVID-19 patients.

“Every patient I’ve prescribed it to has been very, very ill and within 8 to 12 hours, they were basically symptom-free,” Cardillo told Eyewitness News. “So clinically I am seeing a resolution.”

He said he has found it only works if combined with zinc. The drug, he said, opens a channel for the zinc to enter the cell and block virus replication.

SpaceLifeForm April 6, 2020 12:26 PM

@ Clive

It is truly amazing how much faster this type of research can be done compared to SARS research.

Of course, the SARS research provided a map for research into SARS-COV-2.

What do we know about the novel coronavirus’s 29 proteins?

hxxps://cen.acs.org/biological-chemistry/infectious-disease/know-novel-coronaviruss-29-proteins/98/web/2020/04

The RNA genome of SARS-CoV-2 has 29,811 nucleotides, encoding for 29 proteins, though one may not get expressed.

[I find elsewhere 29903 bases, but maybe 29811 is the count after excluding the non-expressed gene]

[from diagram]

SARS-CoV-2 has four structural proteins (top): the E and M proteins, which form the viral envelope; the N protein, which binds to the virus’s RNA genome; and the S protein, which binds to human receptors. The viral genome consists of more than 29,000 bases and encodes 29 proteins (bottom). The nonstructural proteins (blue) get expressed as two long polypeptides, the longer of which gets chopped up by the virus’s main protease. This group of proteins include the main protease (NSP5) and RNA polymerase (NSP12).

JonKnowsNothing April 6, 2020 12:41 PM

@Clive @MarkH

re: undocumented and under-documented deaths

Documented deaths generally require a Death Certificate in western societies. One MSM report quoted an Official in an EU state who by-passed a Gagging Order on giving out the number of deaths by stating the number of death certificates issued, in that case the number was significantly higher than the number the city normally issued for that time/season.

Under-documented are as been describe by Clive and Others. These are deaths that lag behind publishing timelines. Can be due to many factors. Some examples might be Deaths Reported for ADay = N, then some days or weeks later A Revised Death Reported for ADay = N+Y or N-Y. In the aggregate the totals will be the same but the skew of the curve is what’s changed. My favorite: Double Exponential Smoothing…

The Non Documented are cases where people are not counted or buried without official paperwork being filed or when normal funeral functions cannot keep up and bodies are buried/cremated/sky burial or other rites directly. Most commonly thought of in “poor areas” and now stacked in Fridge Trucks and Ice Rinks. The Old Plague Pits are an example. Mozart is somewhere…

There are other ways to find the death rates and they are used to tally genocide, victims of war, natural disasters (Vesuvius). Some give better results and are subject to revisions over time. Reports in China that additional crematoria where setup up to deal with the number of dead. That program was described as Direct from Hospital to Crematoria.

As we know from the many archaeological digs around the world, that forensic analysis will eventually put an Official Number on the Global Deaths from COVID19. It takes fuel to run a modern crematoria and SkyNet sees the mass graves being prepared and photos the rate of fill. It can spot land shape changes and track movements of people trucks and materials. The number of empty buildings and the transfer of wealth requests from Governments and survivors will be added in. Un-renewed bank lockboxes, escheatment actions and others will document those without heirs or survivors.

Business changes like the interesting alteration of AirBnB bookings, where a very large number of real properties are going un rented, showing exactly how much AirBnB actually contributes to rental shortages in various locations vs the hypothetical numbers that were challenged by AirBnB. The loss of mass tourism showing the residual effects of 30Mill Tourists to Venice preCOVID19 and the N-Mill Tourists who eventually return.

We who are still living through this might quibble between 1k or 10k deaths as to accuracy. The scope of catastrophe is way beyond any significant difference between them.

Under estimating or under guessing, is worse, because it robs people of knowledge that might save the lives of their families friends and neighbors. It shows a flattened curve long before the real curve flattens. It creates a false forecast and adjusting a lower curve upward only highlights how bad the forecast is.

You can always donate your uneaten can of corned beef to a food pantry. You cannot eat the can of corned beef if you do not have it.

ht tps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exponential_smoothing

exponential smoothing is a rule of thumb technique for smoothing time series data

ht tps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Wolfgang_Amadeus_Mozart
ht tps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eruption_of_Mount_Vesuvius_in_79_AD
ht tps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escheat

is a common law doctrine that transfers the real property of a person who has died without heirs to the Crown or state. It serves to ensure that property is not left in “limbo” without recognized ownership

(url fractured to prevent autorun)

Anders April 6, 2020 3:39 PM

@Clive @SpaceLifeForm @ALL

mobile.twitter.com/PeterKolchinsky/status/1246975275021348865?p=v

JonKnowsNothing April 6, 2020 3:48 PM

The UK Prime Minster Boris Johnson is now in ICU.

I think the famous “six degrees of separation” are about to descend on the planet for COVID19.

ht tps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_degrees_of_separation

Six degrees of separation is the idea that all people are six, or fewer, social connections away from each other. Also known as the 6 Handshakes rule.

ht tps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Degrees_of_Kevin_Bacon

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon or “Bacon’s Law” is a parlour game based on the “six degrees of separation” concept, which posits that any two people on Earth are six or fewer acquaintance links apart. Movie buffs challenge each other to find the shortest path between an arbitrary actor and prolific actor Kevin Bacon. It rests on the assumption that anyone involved in the Hollywood film industry can be linked through their film roles to Bacon within six steps.

(url fractured to prevent autorun)

Clive Robinson April 6, 2020 4:46 PM

@ JonKnowsNothing,

The UK Prime Minster Boris Johnson is now in ICU.

Apparently Boris Johnson is both full concious and fully cognative, and holding Zoom meetings with the Cabinet and others…

https://www.livescience.com/boris-johnson-covid-19-icu.html

That does not sound like his blood O2 is low in any way, or that he should be considered for an ICU place ahead of others who do have low blood O2 or are neither fully concious or fully cognative.

If the Hospital thought him infectious or in need of closer observation or privacy they could have put him in a side room as is quite often the case (it’s happened to me a couple of times, once when I was in sepsis and delirious).

Whilst they might have concerns he might suffer a rare complication I doubt in these constrained resource times that others would get the same “precautionary measures”.

Thus it sounds like various people are “Wallpapering their sit apons”.

I suspect other people are going to “put two and two together…” and no doubt there will be stories about “Power has it’s privileges”, “Que Jumping”, “kid gloves”, “feather bedding”, or similar, initially dressed up as “not on medical need”.

Thus I suspect this story is going to run a while one way or another.

[!] In the interests of disclosure, as some may remember, due to an incident just outside Westminster Clock House Gate, I dislike Boris Johnson. Because he ran into me when breaking the law with his push bike, right infront of two police officers who just laughed it off.

vas pup April 6, 2020 5:30 PM

Apple helps to fight COVID19 pandemic:
https://www.bbc.com/news/business-52059084

“tech giant Apple, best-known for phones and computers, said it would start making face shields for medical workers.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook tweeted on Sunday that it has designed and is now making the protective gear.

The tech giant plans to make more than one million shields a week, which will be shipped first to US medical workers and then distributed globally.

It has also sourced 20 million face masks which it is donating worldwide to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Apple is dedicated to supporting the worldwide response to COVID-19. We’ve now sourced over 20M masks through our supply chain. Our design, engineering, operations and packaging teams are also working with suppliers to design, produce and ship face shields for medical workers. pic.twitter.com/3xRqNgMThX
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) April 5, 2020”

THANK YOU!

Clive Robinson April 6, 2020 5:35 PM

@ Anders,

I don’t do “twitter” or “facebook” or for that matter anything that does not come up with both cookies and javascript turned off in the browser.

To be honest “social media”, even at this time when we find our own homes have become “four walls to stare at”, holds “zero interest”.

The trend to replace “blogs” especially technical ones with “Twitter” says a great deal about what is one of the things that “aills the modern world”. Where Orwellian sound bites have replaced considered thought and careful prose, in such an addictive fashion all else of worth appears to have become a distraction in the race to trend or some other vacuous attainment.

gordo April 6, 2020 6:05 PM

FAA investigating mystery drone telling New Yorkers to socially distance
04/06/20

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating whether a drone filmed telling New Yorkers to socially distance over the weekend was violating aviation regulations, an official for the agency told The Hill on Monday.

CBS News posted a video of the drone in question flying over a Manhattan park on Sunday.

[ . . . ]

An official for the New York Police Department told The Hill that it was not behind the drone.

https://thehill.com/policy/technology/491410-faa-investigating-mystery-drone-telling-new-yorkers-to-socially-distance

Anders April 6, 2020 6:24 PM

@Clive

Try – Twitter is usable without Javascript,
i browse it all the time JS turned OFF.

BTW, most infosec people today live there,
even Snowden.

C U Anon April 6, 2020 9:42 PM

@celt:

“Many choose sources that reinforce what they already believe”

You bid ‘The Atlantic’ as evidence,

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/04/consider-possibility-trump-right-china/609493/

You should remember even a worthless coin has two sides.

So on the flip I raise you one of similar factual content from ‘RT’, but with better style,

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/484756-us-france-masks-covid/

Perhaps you should ‘fact check’ your bid and it’s origin you will find a lot of nasties under that particular Think Tank rock including a strong tie to the manufacture of military drones, a plan to enrich both Big Agro and Big Phama in the US, oh and another to destroy impartial education in the US.

SpaceLifeForm April 7, 2020 1:23 AM

@ Anders, Clive

I also browse twitter. No app, no id. Readonly.

On Twitter, there are Bluebirds and Bluejays.

But, if you “follow” trusted, respected folk, you can be truly amazed.

I have a group of folk, basically, no more than a dozen, that I “follow”. Sometimes, I check who they deal with. Especially, if is a topic of my interest at the time, and I believe that the other folk are worthy for their comments, especially if I think they would be interested in the subject matter. You would be surprised at how often that happens, that they did post something related.

Sometimes, you waste a minute or two, and then decide that it’s not related enough.

But, if you “follow” the folk that you respect and trust (Bluebirds), you won’t waste too much time.

Twitter is a very useful tool if you wield it well.
Albeit, a double-edged sword.

As I noted above, I just browse.

Most of the interesting website links I find, were noted by someone on Twitter. You can’t count on a search engine to find what you are looking for. (well, let’s put it this way, pre-y2k was less crap to wade thru in search results).

I have my Bluebirds ids memorized.

If I forget the spelling, search will rescue me.

But, I have a group memorized. Different fields, different countries. Folk that I think really care about humanity and this planet. That are trying to make a difference, and make the world better.

I’d tell you my Bluebirds Clive, but I do not want to bias you.

At this critical point in time, I really believe that in order to beat Covid-19, Twitter is an extremely important tool in the battle.

Science is happening on Twitter constantly, as the World turns. It’s really breaking news, 24×7.

It’s not all in the papers.

Twitter is a very useful tool if you wield it well.

SpaceLifeForm April 7, 2020 1:51 AM

@ Clive, Anders

Just a matter of hours, until officially over
one million (1,000,000) ACTIVE cases

That is a heavy load for the health system.

hxxps://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

734 Henry Ford workers test positive for COVID-19; Beaumont has 1,500 ill employees

hxxps://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan/2020/04/06/over-600-henry-ford-health-workers-test-positive-covid-19/2955929001/

Beaumont Health, the state’s largest health care system, and Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System say they have at least 2,200 employees who have either tested positive or are home with symptoms of the novel coronavirus infection.

Wesley Parish April 7, 2020 3:51 AM

@usual suspects

The discussion on the responsibilities of those in power and high up the chain of command raises the question: if those lower down in the chain of command can be held responsible for dereliction of duty, abandoning their posts when they are needed at them, what about those higher up? If the captain of a warship hides when the guns fire in anger, if the officer in charge of a group of soldiers runs away when he’s needed to lead them into battle, if a commanding officer of a squadron of strike aircraft never gets anywhere near the battle, are they held responsible?

I would like to think so.

Because, you see, in the United States of America, we had a civilian commander in chief abandon his post during the start of the covid-19 outbreak and allege that it wasn’t happening, that it was all a hoax, etc, ad nauseam.

New York and probably many another city in the US has desperate need of hospital space, and they also have a commander in chief arguable guilty of dereliction of duty and cowardice in the face of urgent need. Said “Commander in chief” holds title to many an otherwise useful piece of real estate that could be usefully converted to hospital space.

I believe he believes himself “The Chosen One”. If so, he can believe himself to be chosen to surrender his entire holdings of real estate for the good of his nation.

On the other hand, he stands accused of cowardice. I believe he’s too much of a coward to do anything of the sort.

myliit April 7, 2020 7:19 AM

@Wael

Sometime back, iirc, you brought up exponential growth.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/opinion/coronavirus-trends.html

“ Our New Historical Divide: B.C. and A.C. — the World Before Corona and the World After …

The power of exponentials: One of the hardest things for the human mind to grasp is the power of an exponential — something that just keeps relentlessly doubling and doubling, like a pandemic. The brain just can’t appreciate how quickly 5,000 cases of confirmed coronavirus infection in America can explode into one million if we don’t lock down now.

Here’s a simple way to explain the exponential threat we face — in a way an oft-bankrupt real estate developer like Donald Trump might understand. It was also offered by Bill Joy: “The virus is like a loan shark who charges 25 percent a day interest. We borrowed $1 (the first coronavirus to appear here). We then fiddled for 40 days. Now we owe $7,500. If we wait three more weeks to pay, we’ll owe almost $1 million.”

That’s why working every single day to slow the rate of infection and testing everyone possible is everything. Lose that battle, lose the war.

That’s also why the only number I am watching now is not the Federal Reserve’s interest rates, it’s the number of critical-care coronavirus patients versus the number of general hospital and I.C.U. beds in the country needed to care for them. If the second number can accommodate the first number when the virus peaks, we’ll be O.K. If it can’t, we’re going to have pandemonium on top of a pandemic. …”

Clive Robinson April 7, 2020 7:25 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm, MarkH, ALL,

Just a matter of hours, until officially over
one million (1,000,000) *ACTIVE* cases

Bad as that is, you need to be looking at the “closed case” figures,

Cases Recovered : 293,611 (79%)
Cases Deceased : 75,959 (21%)

You need to remember when looking at this the time lag between those who recover and those who die is between 2 and 3 weeks. Thus if you clock back to the survival figures of say 15 or 17 days ago and average them to get a survival figure for aproximately the same infection date you will see that percentage of dead rise significantly. That is the actual mortality / Death rate is quite a bit over 1/5th or even 1/4 of the cases maybe 50% or higher than that of those who do not become symptomatic or only mildly symptomatic.

@ Wesley Parish,

[R]aises the question: if those lower down in the chain of command can be held responsible for dereliction of duty, abandoning their posts when they are needed at them, what about those higher up?

It depends on how high up you go…

In theory it would go all the way to the Commander in Chief but his “Oath of Office” is not military but civilian. That is he and the current Acting Navy Chief are technically civilians in political offices not Military Officers.

This means as normal, that as politicians they are only accountable to the electorate for any dereliction of duty or worse (such as personal enrichment and extortion). A point that is apparently getting into the skull of the current POTUS. But rather than act as a leader he is acting as something else. Thus he is trying to both re-write history and wrap himself in the flag so his “Emperors Clothes” issue is not so visable.

Sadly he’s got a good chance of succeding in this because of the US MSM and who at the end of the day realy controls them…

And to see why that might be of relevance, remember US elections are not “sudden death” an ousted POTUS gets nearly two months to “salt the ground”. If you think that is not an issue look into the issues Deutsche Bank are in with regards “Mr Trumps” previous default on hundreds of millions of dollars, and the “personal guarantees” he gave as “Mr” Trump. what some see now as “POTUS” Trump demanding with the unstated threat of what he can do via federal agencies,

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/02/business/economy/coronavirus-trump-company-finances.html

The article also explains my comment the other day about Florida considering Golf to be an “essential service”. Sometimes people just need enough unbiased factual information “to join the dots”…

JG4 April 7, 2020 9:05 AM

Hope that everyone is staying safe and happy in quarantine. Hiked 20 miles yesterday – best exercise since fall of ’18.

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2020/04/links-4-7-2020.html

US Schools Are Banning Zoom and Switching To Microsoft Teams Beta News

Supervised Self-Driving Shuttles Are Moving COVID-19 Tests In Florida The Verge

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Epic Richard Smith find:

quaranbean@christapeterso
In other news Stanford has made a toilet that identifies you based on your butthole
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41551-020-0534-9
8,152 likes | 5:24 PM – Apr 6, 2020
4,645 people are talking about this

Foursquare Merges With Factual, Another Location-Data Provider TechCrunch

Imperial Collapse Watch

The NSA Paradox Solved – Why Does Such A Smart Intelligence Agency Keep Getting Outsmarted By The Russians? John Helmer

Clive Robinson April 7, 2020 10:44 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm, ALL,

In the UK the ICU’s send reports and outcomes to ICNARC who produce reports such as this one,

https://www.icnarc.org/DataServices/Attachments/Download/76a7364b-4b76-ea11-9124-00505601089b

It’s about 2020 COVID-19 cases with refrence to pneumonia cases in 2017-19 (ie not just flu but all other causes including those from other chronic illnesses effecting cardiovascular, pulmanary and respiritory systems etc).

The results are realy not encoraging.

The UK ICU patients are clasified in two groups those on non invasive oxygen support and those on invasive mechabical support (ventilators).

As a single group only 50% have made it to discharge, and only 30% have on mechanical support.

The sex split is 71% male, whilst a high BMI is apparant, you have to remember though “middle age spread” and “torso fat” are also signs of aging in affluent societies, where even the poor usually get an excess of carbs in their diet. Further you have to remember that upto a point women carry fat externaly whilst men tend towards having fat around internal organs. Fat around organs is not good when it comes to oxygen supply, it’s why in part in the past men have been more susceptable to coronary and related deaths at younger ages.

Race split is not that great though a higher skin melatonin level indicates you are slightly more susceptable suggesting Vitimin D may have an influence. Which kind of scotches the argument that certain race types don’t get COVID-19.

But the overall message so far is if you get to ICU you’ve a 50-50 chance of getting discharged.

I expect the results to change with time but this information is almost certainly going to change the view point of if ventilators are a priority.

Wael April 7, 2020 11:08 AM

@JG4,

Stanford has made a toilet that identifies you based on your butthole

Par for the course. Prior art, or same folks at Smart Pipe, I suppose!

@myliit

If it can’t, we’re going to have pandemonium on top of a pandemic. …”

Let’s hope not.

JG4 April 7, 2020 12:04 PM

@Wael – Thanks for jogging my memory. There is an expression along the lines of “Life imitates fiction.”

From: Bruce Schneier
Date: Tue, Dec 30, 2014 at 11:22 AM
Subject: Re: the most awesome satire ever
To: JG4

That was impressive.

At 01:23 PM 12/29/2014, JG4 wrote:

they missed the option for a tie-in to the Trusted Traveler program

Smart Pipe | Infomercials | Adult Swim
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=DJklHwoYgBQ

someone April 7, 2020 2:01 PM

Medical Ventilators don’t spread Viruses if their Filters work as mandated. Infected without ventilators coughing in overcrowded hospital rooms are am eventually lifethreatening issue for doctors and nurses.

As far as Twitter goes, it locking out viewers with disabled JS and cookies and so forth makes it useless unless you’re willing to be datamined yourself even as a non-logged in user. I found consequently ignoring twitter, facebook, et al. helps free up a lot of time you can spend working or relaxing or doing something worthwhile.

As for following noteworthy people, there’s few where signal to noise actually warrants a daily check, if any. I’d love to be proven wrong. Ultimately, twitter limiting messagelength ensures that anything worthwhile is bound to be compacted beyond readability or just a link.

SpaceLifeForm April 7, 2020 10:46 PM

@ someone

“Medical Ventilators don’t spread Viruses if their Filters work as mandated.”

The filters are meant to block particles of size 0.3µm (.3 microns) or larger.

The size of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is approximately 0.08µm to 0.14µm, well less than .3 micron.

Any filter is better than no filter, and may actually capture the virus anyway, even if not rated to do so, but, the virus can escape.

hxxps://derangedphysiology.com/main/cicm-primary-exam/required-reading/respiratory-system/Chapter%20510/filters-mechanical-ventilator

“Contaminated condensate can potentially pass through some filters under typical pressures encountered during mechanical ventilation” warns A. R Wilkes (2011).

Wesley Parish April 8, 2020 3:50 AM

@myliit

[1] Does anybody believe anything our president says?

I’ve suggested to at least one US West Coast grunge-punk band that they put together a song about The Donald, quoting various of his tweets, with I am The Chosen One, a very stable genius as the chorus aka punchline after comparing and contrasting said self-contradictory tweets that prove the very opposite.

Sadly I have not seen any evidence that they understand this could be as funny as The Offspring’s Pretty Fly (for a white guy) and Self Esteem. Which is a pity – the band (whose name I’m not going to mention) isone of my alltime favourites and I’d love them to have a really big hit again.

Clive Robinson April 8, 2020 8:17 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm, ALL,

COVID-19 How far is safe?

First we had it’s “dropplets” not “aerosolization” so one meter was assumed safe.

More recently it’s “dropplets and some aerosolization” so two meters was considered safe.

Now it appears 8 meters or 26 feet is what you should be considering,

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2763852

So you are not safe in a room or other enclosed space like a bus or train carriage… And opposite sides of the street as a minimum seperation outside…

lurker April 8, 2020 12:42 PM

@Clive

Part of this is we have made things “efficient therefore fragil” our hospitals can not cope not just because of a lack of resources, but because they were built incorrectly.

Which makes the Chinese “fangcang” temporary facilities more interesting. They were were not really hospitals at all, more like temporary nursing homes to hold the non-serious cases out of the community during their infectious phase, and away from the real hospitals while their care demands were trivial.

Western democracies appear to lack the understanding of this need, and the political will to do it. Vested interests will not make facilities available, and governments lack the spine to use their powers to recquisition.

As a result Covid19 appears no worse than the flu: the “Spanish” flu of 1918.

MarkH April 8, 2020 1:19 PM

The U.S. Defense Department’s National Center for Medical Intelligence issued a report in November concluding that a disease outbreak in China’s Hubei province could become a cataclysmic event.

Apparently, NCMI was doing ordinary good intelligence: looking at communication intercepts and satellite imagery, and applying expert interpretation to the raw data. The analysts concluded that there was a rapidly spreading virus outbreak, which was already causing major disruptions.

By the first days of January, President Trump personally received warnings that in the U.S., the new coronavirus could sicken many millions of people and inflict economic losses in the trillions of dollars. [The time lag of getting to the president is not unusual; typically intelligence filters through organizational layers, and evaluations of its significance, before presentation to POTUS.]

Outside the initial “hot zone” of China and its nearest neighbors, the governments of many states — who had substantial warning time and abundant resources to mobilize against the coming storm — seem to have largely wasted the opportunity.

However, the absolute worst of the lot are perhaps the trio of Trump, Boris Johnson, and Putin, who all share certain attitudes toward governance. Their protracted maintenance of “no big deal, we’re doing fine” will magnify the cost of Covid-19 to their respective states by substantial multiples.

In the U.S., at least 10 weeks elapsed between POTUS receiving the warning, and beginning to use his powers of office (still very tentatively!) to make some response.

Electing populist authoritarian leaders isn’t just a bad idea.

It can kill you.

A dubious person April 8, 2020 1:45 PM

@Clive:

Which begs the question why those further up the chain of command saw things differently and acted as though they could not understand the simple mathmatics behind infectious disease…

It seems as if the Navy, and the rest of the US Dept. of Defense as well, are all now being run by MBAs, managing their “business” so as to meet their next quarterly bonus goals. The move to COTS IT gear that started a generation ago suggests the chain of command had already been infested by modern business thinking. If it’s really true that all US Army commands now go through Whatsapp, I suppose that completes the hat trick. (Gee, what could possibly go wrong?)

SpaceLifeForm April 8, 2020 2:39 PM

@ Clive

“But the overall message so far is if you get to ICU you’ve a 50-50 chance of getting discharged.”

And maybe worse odds if one has to be put on a ventilator.

hxxps://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/04/survivors-severe-covid-19-beating-virus-just-beginning

Many COVID-19 patients who need a ventilator never recover. Although survival rates vary across studies and countries, a report from London’s Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre found that 67% of reported COVID-19 patients from England, Wales, and Northern Ireland receiving “advanced respiratory support” died. A study in a smaller patient group in China found that only 14% survived after going on a ventilator.

MarkH April 8, 2020 4:21 PM

Some key concepts from today’s NY Times:

  1. Italy and Spain have had miserably high Covid-19 mortality rates. This might be explained by something they have in common: for a variety of economic and social reasons, a higher proportion of adults live with their aging parents than in most neighboring countries, multiplying the risk that this widely circulating virus is transmitted to the most vulnerable age group.
  2. About 1,000,000,000 people live in crowded slums, in which “social isolation” is impractical to maintain. How will they fare?

@SpaceLifeForm:

My layperson (i.e., medical ignoramus) picture of ventilators has long been that when they put you on a ventilator, you’re already desperately sick, and you’re mighty lucky if you make a good recovery. I doubt whether anyone who spends more than a couple of days on a ventilator is left unchanged by it.

I think the odds are probably even worse for Covid-19 patients. By they time they’re “hooked up,” they are literally drowning. Every day you stay on the ventilator only worsens your prospects. I’ve told my wife that if I should end up on one, after 3 days I’d wish to be unplugged.

A commenter wrote on this very blog, a good number of years back, that they best way to survive a gun battle is to not be in it. The best way to survive the ventilator, is to avoid getting sick enough to need it … my heart goes out, to all who are falling 🙁

JonKnowsNothing April 8, 2020 5:22 PM

@MarkH

The primary reason that some countries have “miserably high Covid-19 mortality rates” is a policy called “Herd Immunity”.

Remember “Herd Immunity”?

The concept of survival of the fittest and letting the weaker members of society die. Promoted as an alternative and very economical solution instead of doing something “seriously damaging to the economy” (aka thus saving our personal 401K, stock portfolios and tax haven bank accounts).

Remember “Herd Immunity”?

That’s the policy recommended by every NeoLiberal Economist, Banker and Politician. That was going to fix us right up and “One day, like a miracle, it would all be gone”…

Remember “Herd Immunity”?

When the death rate hits 1Million and then 2Million in the USA. Remember that.

All the dead will be gone, as promised. Burials will be handled by a different department; one with huge D9 Caterpillar Bulldozers digging up Central Park.

MarkH April 8, 2020 8:09 PM

@JonKnowsNothing:

I haven’t studied the policies adopted by various countries as measures to lessen the intensity of their epidemics.

The only country I’m aware of which publicly considered letting the epidemic spread largely unchecked in order that immunity acquired by accidental infection serve to reduce the rate of reproduction, was the U.K. (which since reversed course).

Do you have evidence that Italy or Spain adopted such a policy?

I mentioned the unproven hypothesis about multi-generation households because (a) it seems plausible, (b) might prove to be valid, and if so (c) might have very important implications.

A lot of attention is rightly focused on government responses to Covid-19. Surely many other factors will influence outcomes, including typical social arrangements.

Clive Robinson April 8, 2020 9:16 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

And maybe worse odds if one has to be put on a ventilator.

With regards the “sciencemag.org” link and,

    Although survival rates vary across studies and countries, a report from London’s Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre found that 67% of reported COVID-19 patients from England, Wales, and Northern Ireland receiving “advanced respiratory support” died.

Firstly it’s not quite what the ICNARC report indicates. As you will see if you had downloaded the report from the link I gave above,

https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2020/04/friday_squid_bl_723.html#c6808913

Whilst the report Table 4 does indead show 67.3% had died for “advanced respiratory support” you need to read the cautionary note at the bottom of the table.

Secondly “advanced respiratory support” is not the same as “put on a ventilator”.

You need to look at the definitions on page 15 where you will find it mentions “extracorporeal respiratory support”. Likewise read carefully the “basic support” definition where “extubated after a period of mechanical ventilation” and the use of CPAP via tracheostomy. Then remember that basic to advanced is a two way street and the reports information is unclear on this asspect.

JonKnowsNothing April 9, 2020 1:20 AM

@MarkH

re: Proof of Herd Immunity as a Government Policy

Well, I am not the member of any government so I do not have direct government position papers to provide you.

However, a bit of Google-Fu might dredge up all the details and then some. Also some archive diving will find posts by Clive and others screaming “Da Plane Da Plane Stop the Damn Planes!!!”.

Countries that promoted Herd Immunity – meaning they did nothing active to stop the rate of infection or the vectors of infection:

  • UK (controlling Wales, Scotland and N Ireland)
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • USA
  • Sweden (still on going)
  • Mexico (still on going but they don’t have any ability to block it)
  • various parts of Europe (Spain, Italy, France)
  • various parts of Eastern Europe
  • Brazil (still on going)
  • various parts of Afrika (mostly because they have no ability to block)
  • various parts of South America (mostly because they have no ability to block)
  • possibly Israel (predictions of only 10 cases, nothing to see here)

Countries that actively rejected Herd Immunity:

  • China (after they got a sample of what was about to blow through their country)
  • New Zealand
  • S Korea
  • Hong Kong
  • various countries in Asia
  • Germany

The list is by no means complete, and there are more countries that could be included in either listing.

One key difference is at which point did a country “shift gears”. The goal of Herd Immunity is 60% population infection. Conceptually the “immune folks” (those that recovered) would some how shield the non-immune folks. A target of 60% infection would theoretically yield the number of “immune folks” needed (reference: Immunity Passport).

One of the interesting aspects that will no doubt be studied post-mortem, is the modeling showing the Tripping Point from Acceleration to Deceleration and still achieve the 60% infection rates. This number is the target number of infections when you start the Economic Lock Down.

The uncontrolled rate of acceleration infection is X (10), the controlled deceleration rate is Y (1). You need 60% of the Population P to be infected. Clearly you do not wait until you have 60% of P before you do the lockdown. The lockdown starts at (60%-N of P * Y) that is at some point before you hit the 60% and you coast along by “flattening the curve”.

A bit like those old Lunar Lander video games where you tried to land on the moon. You had limited fuel, the lander increased speed by lunar gravity as well as thrusters. If you break too soon you run out of fuel and the lunar gravity welcomes you to the surface with a splat. If you wait too long, you don’t have enough time to break the effects of gravity pull and you splat on the surface. You have to mix thrust with counter thrust against the lunar gravity pull and time it to land with a gentle bump.

Once countries like USA and UK could “see” the tripping point, that’s when the “flattening curve” starts making the news.

Makes it sounds like they did something, doesn’t it?

It does seem that a few of them got their tripping point wrong and are going to have a bigger splat than they intended.

disclaimer: equation writing is not my forte

Clive Robinson April 9, 2020 3:43 AM

@ JonKnowsNothing,

Countries that promoted Herd Immunity – meaning they did nothing active to stop the rate of infection or the vectors of infection

The easy way to find the “suspects list” is to go to the WorldOmeter web site, scroll down to the table of counties and click on the “deaths/million” heading a couple of times. Those with about 50/million or above form your suspects list you can then use to find those promoting the “lets wait till the first of never” before they wanted to take action.

As for recognising and first shouting about “stop the planes” that honour belongs to @SpaceLifeForm from memory. He and I discussed the risks and explained why the risk to an individual was quite low, but the shear number of flights ment the risks to society were greater. In turn this prommoted “Individual-v-Societal” “rights and responsabilities” which from a security asspect is one nobody has ethicaly/morally solved. Nor do I think it can be when the idividual does not trust the leaders / controllers of society. However in terms of limiting spread Taiwan and South Korea showed that putting society first with very active test/trace/confine policies has ment they still have functioning economies whilst the “do nothing till the first of never” “Herd Immunity policy” promotors were spouting utter nonsense and now have ever increasing lock downs in progress and economies that are as close to “flat lining” as they can get.

I suspect that for many of us hear, and for many scientests as well, SARS-CoV-2 has been quite a learning curve and certain “cherished notions” have turned out to be false for what with hindsight are simple and obvious reasons.

The most obvious of which recently has been the shooting down of the widely held belief that there is some quantifiable diffrence between dropplet and aerosol production and emission by live subjects. Many on this site rejected the idea early on and indicated that N95 masks would not stop the wearer getting infected[1] (which turned out to be finally recognised). There is obviously a spectrum of particle sizes from heavy dropplets you can feel and see on surfaces right down to the size of a viris it’s self. And indeed a recent study shows that emissions from live subjects are on a very broad spectrum and can travel atleast as far as 8m/26ft and can hang in the air for upto three hours. The long survival time being due to a moving bolous cloud of exhaled aerosols where the evaporation of aerosols on the outside of the cloud slows the evaportion of those inside the cloud.

I suspect the next two “cherished notions” to get a reexamination are assumptions about,

1, Antibody production.
2, Virus loads.

I guess we will have to wait and see.

[1] The real effect masks have on the disease spread are,

1, They help reduce hand to face infection routes which is why you also need face plates / goggles / glasses and gloves.

2, They reduce the dropplet and aerosolization spread from an infectious person, by a significant amount (potentially 8m / 26ft down to under 2m / 6ft).

This became obvious before the research was published by examination of the spread in nations where masks were worn either by rule or by caution and those nations that did not.

MarkH April 9, 2020 6:10 AM

@JonKnowsNothing:

That’s quite a hypothesis you’ve got there. As far as I’ve yet seen, if you want to support it you’ve got a long way to go. In case you’re interested:

  1. Inconsistency with available facts

You wrote about “countries [that] did nothing active to stop the rate of infection …” If I understood correctly, you mentioned some comparatively underdeveloped regions in which governments lack the capacity to take effective action. In those regions, failure to act is surely a question of capability, and not of policy.

Aside from those cases, every state I’m aware of has taken some action, though Sweden is a particularly odd case (for which they are likely to pay a heavy price).

So, the set of countries which had the capacity to do something active, but in fact did nothing, seems to be nearly empty.

Also — by the way — is there any shred of evidence that any country is so near to a 60% infection rate, that they imagine that they can just “tough it out” until they get there????????

  1. Missing the Big Thing

According to my awareness of most countries outside of the “poverty belt,” the measures they have taken are:

a) roughly similar
b) plausibly likely to reduce the rate of new cases
c) apparently effective when put into practice

The most dramatic distinction of among these states isn’t action vs. inaction, but rather the timing of action. There looks to be a strong correlation between delay in starting action, and the public health consequences.

Thinking about those who “did nothing” is a dead end, as far as your hypothesis is concerned.

  1. Invalid logic

When you wrote

Countries that promoted Herd Immunity – meaning they did nothing active to stop the rate of infection or the vectors of infection

either you defined failure to act (or more realistically, delays in acting) as the promotion of “Herd Immunity”, or else you inferred from inadequate action that the underlying policy was the promotion of “Herd Immunity.” 1

If it’s a definition, then it is also a meaningless tautology.

If it’s an inference, it is valid if and only if a policy of promoting “Herd Immunity” is the only plausible explanation for governmental delay in action. If there are other plausible explanations — and think I (or any one of us) can prove that there are — then the inference is completely invalid.

If I were a thesis adviser, I’d say “better make a fresh start.”

1 Some commenters here have been using “herd immunity” as a synonym for the policy of intentionally allowing Covid-19 infections to run rampant. That’s abuse of language. It’s like using “gravity” to mean a policy of draining wetlands, or putting satellites in Earth orbit. Herd immunity and gravity are objective phenomena, not policies. Sloppy use of language is an obstacle to correct reasoning.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons April 9, 2020 9:24 AM

The U.S. administration that holds a task force to fight the SAR-Cov-2 virus pandemic resembles something from the United States not to distant past…Carnival Barkers!

Come and get your Miraculous Magical Wonder Fantastic Phenomenal Unbelievable cure for whatever ales ya…

If it were not for the seriousness of the pandemic and the lack of competent respondents <sarcasm>that have lead the way.</sarcasm>

JonKnowsNothing April 9, 2020 11:19 AM

@MarkH

Well… well….well…

You can follow up on Clive’s suggestion to see the full listing:
From Clive:

The easy way to find the “suspects list” is to go to the WorldOmeter web site, scroll down to the table of counties and click on the “deaths/million” heading a couple of times. Those with about 50/million or above form your suspects list you can then use to find those promoting the “lets wait till the first of never” before they wanted to take action.

You can use your re-definition of the term “Herd Immunity” to mean other than what the Politicians, Economists, and Governments used to define their “wait and see” policies. Won’t change what’s happening numerically or what they decided politically.

There are countries with lower economic levels that have no choice about letting the pandemic run through their population. Choice or no, they will be using and hoping Herd Immunity happens. Their death rates will be comparative.

Some countries lack the infrastructure needed to hold their entire population indoors for long periods. iirc Iran had a lock down policy and then everyone went back to their villages for holiday anyway. Mexico cannot contain drugs, violence, migration or corruption, AMLO is following Herd Immunity Policy because – well the last time someone tried to stop “something” there it ended badly.

Some countries that did have the ability to stop, chose not too. Brazil is the poster for this policy. Along with other governments who offered “COVID19 parties”, get sick now so you can go back to work, and other variations. One comment early on was “All we are doing is haggling over the price” (cost of death vs the economy). This version was reflected in a Texas Lt Governors view that “old people would rather die than allow the economy to be damaged”

You are not my thesis advisor.

This from a MSM report today:

2,000 workers at Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO) are to be asked to be available to go back in to work with plans to have 500 people in offices at any one time

Home Office deputy scientific adviser, Rupert Shute, that 80% of people would get Covid-19 in the end.

Shute said: “You are no more at risk at the workplace as you would be in your home or at the supermarket. It is about minimising it.

“We are working on the assessment that 80% of us, if we haven’t already, will get the virus.”

Mr Shute is correct, in the end (3years from now or so) nearly everyone on the planet will have had COVID19 or a vaccination for it. There will be hotspots of non-vaxers (either directly opposed or without access to inoculations) which will be (40% or less) of the planetary population.

What Mr Shute is really advocating is the “Cost of Death vs Cost of Business”. This calculation is not unknown. Mr Shute has decided that getting you a passport is worth the death of 40%*2,000 (the herd die off rate).

He is no doubt hoping that it will be less, but gosh, just think what the department could do with all those budgeted salaries. (800 * $50,000USD). Do the Math.

There is the back swing value of Rate of Infection as the virus is carried back home, to the market, and the kids carry it to schools and returning it to home. Increasing the rate for those still not infected and sheltering in place. Parts of Australia are planning to re-open their Face to Face schools very soon.

“GET COVID19 DONE” I think would be a good slogan. I think they could even put up a banner with the “savings to the UK NHS” on the side of a bus too!

note: The salary number I SWAGGED from US salaries for basic support staff.

ht tps://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/09/coronavirus-uk-passport-office-accused-of-taking-cavalier-approach-to-staff-safety
(url fractured to prevent autorun)

SpaceLifeForm April 9, 2020 11:27 AM

@ Clive

This is why I advocate some kind of treatment (HCQ, Z-PAK, Zinc) for these cases where a ventilator is needed.

If one’s odds of survival is already slim, and one could die due to the treatment (HCQ contraindicated for those with existing heart issues), then one may want to take the chance.

I know I would.

Even surviving post ventilator, may not be such a great outcome at all, due to the resultant lung damage.

https://apnews.com/8ccd325c2be9bf454c2128dcb7bd616d

Generally speaking, 40% to 50% of patients with severe respiratory distress die while on ventilators, experts say. But 80% or more of coronavirus patients placed on the machines in New York City have died, state and city officials say.

MarkH April 9, 2020 2:13 PM

@SpaceLifeForm:

When I was a boy, I was taught “scientific method” in school. Decades later, I realized that whoever devised those protocols were actually first-class applied psychologists, though they might not have thought of themselves that way.

What we now call “confirmation bias” creates enormously powerful distortions: it’s virtually impossible for any person to study data without tending to see what was expected, as distinct from what is objectively there.

In the practice of medicine, cognitive bias on the part of medical experimenters on human patients is effectively squared by a comparable phenomenon in the patients themselves, known to the world as the placebo effect.

Because of these intense biases, even a highly intelligent, competent, sober and mature physician of unquestionable integrity can become absolutely convinced — to the core of his/her being — that a medical intervention is effective, when in fact it is absolutely, utterly, and purely worthless. This has happened many, many, many times.

Not does this happen, but it also happens that other doctors will follow the first down the same empty rabbit hole.

That’s why the Gold Standard for medical therapies is the randomized, controlled, double-blind clinical trial, and anything not validated by such trials is a Great Blank Unknown, no matter how many people swear by it.

Agent Orange’s preoccupation with hydroxychloroquine may have stemmed from an unpublished Chinese study with an anecdotal statement to the effect that none of their patients taking long-term HCQ were confirmed with SARS-Cov-2 infections.

The efficacy of HCQ is against Covid-19 is NOT SUBSTANTIATED.

What IS substantiated, is that HCQ is effective against lupus, an autoimmune disease which can be extremely horrible and sometimes fatal. Right now, lupus patients are having difficulty obtaining their HCQ because people are vacuuming it up and hoarding it. That is REAL.

The Global Rheumatology Alliance is an organization which gathers and disseminates data among physicians on the cases and treatment of patients suffering from a variety of autoimmune diseases. They keep track of infections, which are of obvious interest with respect to patients whose diseases result from their immune systems.

As of a week ago, the GRA registry listed 110 rheumatic disease patients who were confirmed with Covid-19, 25% of whom were taking HCQ. GRA tweeted “Based on early data currently available in our registry, we are not able to report any evidence of a protective effect from hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19.”

That doesn’t prove the HCQ is useless — any more than the anecdotal report from China, or from however many physicians, proves that it is useful.

Only randomized, controlled, double-blind clinical trials can answer that. Everything else is Bovine Scatology.

MarkH April 9, 2020 3:02 PM

.
Another Covid-19 Safety Concern Related to the Pandemic

The title of the article says it well:

I’m a black man in America. Entering a shop with a face mask might get me killed

On Saturday I thought about … a trip to the grocery store. I thought I could use one of my old bandannas as a mask. But then my voice of self-protection reminded me that I, a black man, cannot walk into a store with a bandanna covering the greater part of my face if I also expect to walk out of that store. … For me, the fear of being mistaken for an armed robber or assailant is greater than the fear of contracting Covid-19.

Clive Robinson April 9, 2020 3:13 PM

@ MarkH, SpaceKifeForm,

Only randomized, controlled, double-blind clinical trials can answer that. Everything else is Bovine Scatology.

Actually no not everything else is Bovine Scatology.

Double-blind clinical trials, take time a lot of time and require a statistically significant cohort, and their are other moral end ethical reasons to running them.

There are many occasions where you might not have either or both time and cohort etc.

It’s why “comfort prescribing” is alowed and practiced, as long as it falls broadly within “first do no harm”.

There are other occasions when double-blind trials are unnecessary, that is when results can be subjective or cognative bias free. That is when the results can be tested and verified without the input of researcher or patient, such as in vitro tests.

For instance one such that many may have performed on them in later life is a “glucose uptake” test. This involves the test subject not injesting calories for over 12hours and having urin and blood samples taken immediately prior to the patient being given a measured dose of a glucose drink and alowed access to water only. Two hours later a second set of urine and blood samples are taken. Analysis of the samples determins the effect of the glucose on the patients system.

In lab work with animals double-blind tests are often not used though random selection into a control group is used. Often such tests result in all the animals being euthanized if they have not already died during testing.

Such “death during testing” trials on people are normally considered ethically and moraly wrong irespective of if they are straight trials, randomized trials or double-blind trials. However they are acceptable when death is the most likely outcome without intervention. Such trials do not have to be double-blind at all for their results to be valid. A variation on this is “observational trials” that is where you simply monitor a large cohort over a long period of time, the test subjects fill in frequent “life style” questionnaires and take periodic tests.

Treat with suspicion anyone who discounts other trials off hand because they are not double-blind they frequently have a cognative bias. Whilst such trials may be considered the “Gold Standard”, there are fairly obvious reasons why we rarely trade in “gold coin” similar reasoning applies to testing. Thus “The right tool for the test and environment” especially in times or environments where other testing regimes are inappropriate should be the consideration.

At the end of the day one of the reasons double-blind trials exist is the belief that some how the human mind can do “voodoo magic” on it’s lowest functions that is some how the mind can will the body to do certain things. It does not take to much effort to realise that at some point this ceases to be rational thinking, and starts joining those who believe in high C homeopathy…

La Abeja April 9, 2020 3:21 PM

@Clive Robinson

Double-blind clinical trials, take time a lot of time and require a statistically significant cohort, and their are other moral end ethical reasons to running them.

The Democrats put out both of Samson’s eyes even in Biblical times, and they’re still rooting for the Philistines (=Palestinians) in their war against the Holy One of Israel.

MarkH April 9, 2020 3:56 PM

@Clive:

In this case, a purely speculative — and quite possibly imaginary — application of a drug is threatening the health of people who definitely need it.

The reason double-blind trials exist, is because false conclusions about effectiveness have been reached hundreds of times — or more likely, thousands of times — without this check.

The base reality of homo sapiens is, “I’ll see it when I believe it!”

Clive Robinson April 9, 2020 4:23 PM

@ MarkH,

Some commenters here have been using “herd immunity” as a synonym for the policy of intentionally allowing Covid-19 infections to run rampant.

Whilst true, we most definitely did not start it, it was well in use by both politicians and the MSM before being used hear, (and incidently why I called it out as a nonsense).

Whilst “common usage” frequently tramples on “domain terminolgy” and vice versa[1] you have to make a choice as to which audience you are addressing. Whilst this blog does have domain specialists in electronics, communications, encryption, mathmatics, physical security, information security, etc amongst it’s readers I suspect few even of those groups are “renaissance men” or polymaths. As for the rest of the readers who do not post I would assume maybe unfairly that broadly they have the same sort of cross section that college educated society would have.

Thus current “common usage” especially that being pushed by politicians, their advisors, and the MSM[2] in a time that many would likewise consider a national or world crisis, would probably be best. Especially when domain experts would be well aware of the difference by simple context.

[1] Sometimes just to make it all worse, the subject domain usage can effectively mean the opposit of common language usage. Two examples are firstly, the usage of the english language “and” in logic, mathmatics, and computing and secondly, the term “trust” in computer security.

[2] It could –perhaps slightly unfairly– be said, that anyone who expects politicians, their usual advisors, or journalists in the MSM, to not distort meanings knowingly or through ignorance to their own advantage, to be somewhat gullible.

TE901 April 9, 2020 5:10 PM

@MarkH @Clive
Basic questions to answer. What is it to be human?; what is it to see something?:To what extent is reality a social construct mediated by language?. Maybe nothing happens but that it happens in context?. Language has been described as metaphors in formation. We make our tools and our tools make us. Maybe the language that frees our minds in some sense also imprisons them”. Maybe it is as Laurie Anderson sang “–Language! its a virus.”

Lots of maybes. The search for the God particle at the centre of our material reality is so far inconclusive. The known unknowns and the unknown unknowns–perhaps something to do with Bob Dylan’s beautiful strangers on the slow train. Maybe T.S. Eliot was right all along and there is No Thing there and, for that matter, no There there either. Whatever this thing we call reality is—it has to pass the brick test. The old engineers dictum: “simplify and add lightness”. For my part–I am. A few words from the ancients:-

“,,And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.”
Ecclesiastes 1:17

Now I think I shall listen once more to the sublime Faure Requiem Mass.

The still sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue.—
William Wordsworth.

lurker April 9, 2020 5:33 PM

@MarkH, Clive:
Confirmation bias- check; placebo- check; money seeking profit (Big Pharma)- check; double blind randomized control trials- check. Any missing? How about faith? Holy water, prayer and miracle cure faith, yes; also when a sufficiently large number of observers share the same confirmation bias the result becomes a matter of faith, eg. Piltdown Man.

On a previous Squid thread @65535 https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2020/03/friday_squid_bl_721.html#c6807914 posted reference to a French paper https://drive.google[.]com/file/d/186Bel9RqfsmEx55FDum4xY_IlWSHnGbj/view . Not DBRC, it must be regarded only as anecdotal evidence. But what do the graphs on the last two pages tell us? That the trial was rigged? To prove or disprove this will require DBRC. Who will run DBRC in the middle of a raging pandemic? Not Big Pharma if the patents on HCQ have run out, or are likely to do so very soon. Not politicians who will demand a trial rigged to give their desired result. Not those doctors having a slanging match “It works” – “It doesn’t”. Never having taken the Hippocratic Oath I’ll decline discussion of the ethics.

To paraphrase Sammo Hung from Kung-fu Chefs: “Medicine is not hard. Life is hard.”

Chris April 9, 2020 6:18 PM

Boring, flu, covid-18 where are we, what is going on, we dont know.

Lets have a look at what we do know
– 2019 april 10 freedom
– 2019 flu february 15 19000 dead
https://weather.com/health/cold-flu/news/2019-02-15-flu-season-vaccine-illnesses-deaths

aha so then the covid-19 came along lets see
February 2020
https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/02/flu-scan-feb-28-2020

It gets very complicated and VERY dangerous
infact its so many people we cant really print it because who knows it could be …
125 people …

Yep
2019 19000 dead
2020 125 dead

Yes lets do something shall we
.. we can call all the forces of
WHO and Greta with her family to make everyone understand how dangerous it is that we have a new flu ahead called… Corona

Good morning Vietnam

Chris April 9, 2020 6:41 PM

I forgot that there is something I would call global knowledge, it meens we can forgive but as a collective we never forget.

Do not forget and do document who is who and WHO is WHO

Its easy to hide behind something that sounds politically correct, when you dont have to personaly pay its very cheap, i have had a very special craftmanship in my life, i take people like you to justice.

Do think before you make wrong so people like me dont have to come knock on your door its not nice when it happens.

MarkH April 9, 2020 6:43 PM

@lurker:

It seems to me as a layperson, that to conduct controlled randomized studies during the pandemic is perfectly feasible, though they would probably need to be rather less formal than usual.

In the case of HCQ, it’s a matter of having identical-looking dummy meds, randomly assigned to half of the patients in the study. The work could be limited to places where medical facilities are not overwhelmed (there are many such).

The “hard part” is that the participating staff must rigorously collect and record medical history and condition for each patient at the start, and likewise collect the follow-up results.

For all I know, such studies on HCQ may already be in progress.

Clive wrote about ethical problems: in the case of HCQ for Covid-19, these would seem to be minimal. Clive also wrote about having enough participants for statistical significance: again, no problem.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle, is that there is probably a laundry list of medications which make sense to test. In that sense, there will be a “jostling for attention.” Some of those candidates might have a better evidentiary or theoretical foundation than HCQ, and be judged to merit higher priority in testing.

I know it’s hard for some comment-geeks to comprehend, but there might be some medical researchers in the world — who have even more medical expertise than we do — who are coordinating programs to test various medications in many countries!


For doctors to scatter-shot administer one “hope based” medication or another … or some combination! … is medical malpractice, especially when patients have a scientifically valid need for HCQ, and the present quantities are completely inadequate to the souped-up demand.

Maybe I’ve paid a little more attention to epidemics than some other readers here. In the pain and terror of an outbreak, the natural emotional pressure to do something is almost unbearable.

To patiently and methodically test and record in the face of this pressure, requires almost super-human discipline. It is also the essence of modern medicine, and some awesome progress has been achieved by adherence to such discipline.

Clive Robinson April 9, 2020 7:04 PM

On to another issue that also critically effects security and peoples reasoning about it.

The issue with testing which is a form of sampling and the question of false positives and false negatives, and how they are seen as opposed to what they actually mean in any particular test situation.

This time it’s with “antibody tests” by pin prick test,

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/09/uk-government-urged-to-abandon-poor-finger-prick-antibody-tests-coronavirus

First I should note that neither the journalist or some of those they have talked to, appear to be aware of something that has been remarked on by some in the research community. Which is,

    Unexpectedly some survivors of COVID-19 show little or no antibodies.

How accurate the observations and what consequences they might have are something that is going to require further research. However the observations add another complication to the issue…

But importantly contrary to claims you might hear there is no 100% test when sampling is involved, none and I do mean none.

I’ve mentioned the reasons before, but I’ll go over it again because it’s important.

The base reason of why no sampling test is 100% is contrary to what most think the world is not continuous but discrete. That is even liquids are when you get down far enough in effect like buckets of sand.

So if I have a bucket of white sand and I drop a similar quantity of blue sand in it and stir it to get a near uniform mixture the result is it looks like a paler blue sand from a distance. But close in you can see the individual blue and white grains.

Now consider a fresh bucket of white sand but this time just a thimble full of blue sand stired in. Again at a distance it is possible to see it as a very very pale blue.

But what of when you get close in?

Well that’s where as a friend of mine used to say “it all goes pete tong”[1]. Because it depends on your “sample size” you use to test. Obviously if you randomly pick a single grain then the highest probability by a long way is it’s going to be white. If you keep going eventually as there are blue grains in the bucket you will pull out a blue grain, but it might take you quite a while, and the number of white grains you’ve picked out first is also very unlikely to match the ratio of white to blue grains. Thus not only are most of those tests false negatives they can not be used as actual quantative measures.

Thus your test is not telling you very much… You have two samping choices[2] to improve things,

1, Make the sample size much bigger.
2, Repeat the test over and over again untill averaging out the results starts to produce stable results.

It does not matter how sensitive or selective a test is, if what you are looking for is not in the sample you will get a false negative. This problem is inherent in all tests, so no test can be 100%, and people need to remember that before considering any discussion on tests. There are other arguments that show why you also get false positives.

Thus the question arises as to if these false results are important or not, and is there anything you can do about them.

The first thing to realise is that what might be important to an individual might not be important to a population and vice versa.

Thus as an individual the result of an antibody test means a number of things. Firstly if you are immune or not, which effects your status within society. If you are immune two things would normally be said of you,

1, You are not going to get the disease.
2, You will not become infectious.

The first is important to the individual as it means they will not die of the disease and can thus go back to work etc.

The second is important to society because if you are susceptible then you can become infectious and infect other susceptable people thus start or be a part of another exponential growth infection wave.

Thus whilst society might not care if you as an individual live or die or are economically productive, in aggregate society does care about the class of people who die and in what numbers because the overall effect impacts society.

The degree society cares about a class of individual is their interchangability and replacability. Shelf fillers in shops, whilst having an important function in society are generaly easily replaced and quite interchangable. Top flight brain surgeons are generaly not interchangable or replacable. The more unique you skills are and the more important they are generaly the bigger the effect you have on not society by being not available. However some classes of individual whilst considering themselves both invaluable and irreplaceable are actually not, politicians being quite high on that particular list.

Thus the question arises of just how good a test has to be?

Contrary to what the article implies even a test with quite a high false positive or false negative rate can be usefull. It’s tests with both high false positive and high false negative rates that are the actual problem.

The reason they can be usefull is that they can be used to “prescreen” for other tests. That is a cheap fast test can be used to select if you need to undergo a more expensive or slower test.

It’s a point both the journalist and the experts they spoke to should have raised, but did not. It’s important because whilst you want effective screening of people you don’t want the process to be either very expensive or very slow, you need to find an appropriate “sweet spot”.

But there is another asspect which is does it matter if say 2% of the population is still susceptable. The answer is it depends on how you look at it, but realistically if there are appropriate contingencies in place the answer is no it does not matter.

The two contingencies of importance in this case are,

1, An unloaded healthcare system with experienced clinicians and with luck in the near future effective supportive treatments.

2, A working well functioning “test, track, trace, confine” system that stops any outbreak before it becomes more than one or two steps along the exponential curve.

Hopefully both journalists and politicians will think on this, because without a vaccine it’s the only way we can get the economy back up and running in the least costly way with respect to both life and other resources.

Because there is no point in stopping a disease killing 2% of the population if the resulting poverty shortens life expectancy for 80-90% of the population by a significant ammount for several generations…

[1] Paul Oakenfold coined the phrase in late 1987. It’s “faux Cockney rhyming slang” for “it’s all gone wrong”. Pete Tong is actually an English “disk jockey” who I believe developed a following in the US. Oh it’s main reason for being “faux” is that real Cockney is a masking language designed to keep non initiates out. The way it works is you replace one word with another word. The new word is the non rhyming word in a short phrase or couplet. Thus “Richard” is the replacment word from “Richard the third”, with “third” rhyming with “bird”. Likewise “apples” replaces “stairs” via “apples and pears”. So it realy be “Pete” replacing “wrong” via “Pete Tong” and whilst some do indead say that, the norm is to use the whole couplet.

[2] There are other non sampling choices one of which is the equivalent of “selective amplification”. However these can not amplify “what is not in the sample”. But unfortunately they can due to insufficient “selectivity” amplify similar but wrong signals thus giving a false positive.

C U Anon April 9, 2020 8:25 PM

@Chris:

“Do think before you make wrong so people like me dont have to come knock on your door its not nice when it happens.”

You obviously need help with a number of things…

But you’ve also failed miserably in your analysis which almost any 11year old in the US could spot.

But aside from the fact the US recorded death rate –which is artificialy low any way– is way up in just the last couple of days last month and more so the first days of this month than the entirety of feb, you’ve failed to take an important fact into consideration

Feb is the end of the flu season not the start, thus that virus had reached most of the US citizens it was going to reach which was probably 70-90% of the US population.

Officially SARS-CoV has only just reached a little over one tenth of one percent of the US population so far. And as it appears not to be seasonal unlike the flu, it will just keep spreading and again unlike the flu nobody in the US has any kind of immunity to it…

So hopefully when it gets around to you, and it probably will, it will be nice to you. Because so far of the ~468,000 recorded cases only ~26,000 have survived… If that rate were to continue the US would be left with only a little under 20million people…

So lucky for you and most people in the US it’s still early days, and with care those odds will get better a lot better and hopefully the healthcare system won’t implode and less than 7million Americans will die.

MarkH April 10, 2020 3:44 AM

A quick follow-up on economic fallout:

OPEC and the Russian Federation (a non-member of OPEC) have mutually agreed to cut their combined production by 10,000,000 bbl/day.

Perhaps counter to intuition, at this date such an agreement has little meaning. Even with these cuts, the oil-exporting states will still be overproducing relative to demand under the present collapse of global economic activity.

Industry analysts are estimating that by mid-year — that is, in roughly a dozen weeks — the world’s oil storage capacity will be completely filled.

In the U.S., railroad companies are pushing back against their customers in the petroleum industry, who want to park long trains of full tank cars on private sidings as a sort of improvised storage mechanism. Reportedly, this use violates federal regulations. The tank cars are intended for the transport of oil, not its storage over any extended interval; their design is not meant to ensure safety in that application.

I mentioned weeks ago that oil traders were already renting tanker ships for storage purposes; that’s probably not a very safe practice either.

Clive Robinson April 10, 2020 6:07 AM

@ MarkH,

I mentioned weeks ago that oil traders were already renting tanker ships for storage purposes; that’s probably not a very safe practice either.

The trouble of course as I mentioned is that they can not turn the oil supply off without significant consequences.

One danger is that electricty production will move back to “dirty coal” such as “brown coal” thus polution escalate significantly.

This is because at some point if demand does not pick up, hard choices will have to be made that will have potentially decades long consequences. That is the stopping of oil flow in pipelines and in refineries. Which were never designed to be shut down. Take heavy tar crude as long as it’s warm like honey or treacle it will flow but drop the temprature just a few degrees C and it will go solid. Pipelines are insulated not heated so if the tar oil slows down too much or stops the temprature will drop and the pipeline effectively freeze solid… Similar issues occure with refineries. Whilst their are ways you can shut them down they are both difficult and eye wateringly expensive, as is getting them back up and running again. But the thing is once shut down they tend to degrade way more quickly than they do when in operation, thus at some point they will not be able to be much more than a pile of scrap metal that is not just contaminated, but not cost effective to recycle.

The bed rock of all economies even agrarian ones is energy not just for transport but “force multiplers” as well.

Thus a shortish term drop in the demand for energy via “lock down” will cause at some point actions that will have multiple decade consequences.

Another effect to consider is when beyond the shutdown tipping point the shortage of oil will cause a large rise in price as the economy tries to get going again. This will cause other sectors to change, if oil prices are to high to transport goods then either the price of those goods rises and thus the demand for them falls, or a less expensive source of energy for transportation is needed. Thus slow electric vehicles may become more attractive likewise electrically powered trains. Some industrial nations –mainly in europe– have already switched much of their rail infrastructure over to electricity. Thus the difference in costs due to lax regulation of road haulage versus over regulation in the railways might change bringing the road haulage industry down significantly. Also “personal vehicles” would have to change as well…

Thus oil demand for transportation might never rise back to the levels it has bee the past few years. This would have other effects on society.

Oil is used as “feed stock” into many industries, those black bags you use to put the rubbish out in are actually made from “waste condensates” that used to be “flared off” at the well head area. They were waste because of the need for petrol / gas and other light hydrocarbons was so excessive nobody had an economic use for the vast quantities of condensates that came with them.

But if the demand for petrol / gas falls the quantities of condensates will fall as well. The problem is just as those black bags were developed off of a very cheap product other similar condensate products became the feed stock for other industries. Those industries may not be able to use different feed stock or not use it such that the price is economic…

Some may know that the World Health Organisation has a list of ehat it indicates are essential medicines for society to maintain it’s position. That is without them we slide back to healthcare of a century or so ago. Many of those medicines are reliant on feed stocks that in turn are currently reliant on by products of the petrol supply industry. Worse the fact that for “infection control” perposes most medical instruments used for first response and healthcare upto and including trauma and minnor surgery that save lives in ER / A&E are disposable and majorly dependent on oil industry products for feed stock. In fact if you go into a modern hospital and take out all the things that use oil industry feed stock you won’t have anything left (glass, cements, steels and electronics can not be made without oil).

When you consider “supply chains” and Just In Time (JIT) they have caused to serious problems,

1, Way to much interdependence.
2, A near total loss of resiliance.

What we are seeing with this “oil storage” issue is people desperatly trying to build in resilience into the supply side that they had taken out for “efficiency” reasons or more correctly way to short term thinking and focus in the wrong areas for survivability of not just the resource production but the supply chain system it’s self.

As I’ve been observing since before this century you increasing “efficiency” at the cost of maintainance and other activities that increase “resilience” is foolish…

Oddly as somebody observed the other day the rise of “MBA’s” appears very coincident to the demise of “resilience”. Maybe those who tailor MBA courses to certain paid for “economic thinking” should start thinking about all the harm they have caused by essentialy teachin “mantra” over “reasoned thought”. It does after all make MBA’s and all those who have them look like some quasi religious cult designed to ensure that the 1% of the 1% gain more resources for “rent seeking” at the expense of the rest of society.

MarkH April 10, 2020 12:13 PM

@Clive:

Looks like you’ve probably been on the right track (yet again) …

Clive has written a number of times about the potential to modify the CPAP machines (widely used for sleep apnea) to support oxygenation of Covid-19 patients.

As it turns out, hospitals already use CPAP or BiPAP (a comparable device) for patients who don’t need a ventilator … so perhaps they don’t need to be modified after all. The first step is the canula (simple oxygen tube to the nose), then CPAP/BiPAP, and if all else fails the ventilator.

I got this from a very interesting article about growing concern among doctors that they’re putting Covid-19 patients on ventilators more often, and sooner, than may be medically necessary.

Two concepts I picked up:

  1. Covid-19 patients seem to be surviving for substantial periods of time at blood oxygen levels (70%, for example) which are supposed to be extremely dangerous. Implication: it may be medically appropriate to wait longer before shifting patients to dangerous and damaging ventilators.
  2. Their lungs aren’t like of those of people with acute respiratory distress from other causes: partly clogged with “goo”, but still flexible like healthy lungs. In this condition, forcing more pressure in the hopes of increasing oxygenation may simply do more damage without any benefit. Implication: it may be better for patients to be ventilated at the lowest pressure that can keep their vital signs going.

If this thinking is correct, those patients who can be saved might expect better recovery outcomes, and more of the limited supply of ventilators in “hot zones” can be reserved for those who must have them.


I was thinking whilst washing the dishes last night, about our discussion of scientifically controlled testing of medications during a crisis (my position being, yes why not).

I recalled a grotesque account of an airline passenger who died in flight, in consequence of a discussion on the flight deck: one of the pilots was talking about a sort of engineering oversight in the plane’s design (he was correct, it was a “safety hole”) and opened a circuit breaker to demonstrate the problem. Within a few seconds, an engine over-revved and at least one blade separated … it was only by great fortune that the accident wasn’t much worse.

The NTSB described the pilots’ conduct as flight testing with passengers aboard …

One of the great (and stomach-churning) dramas of medicine, is that such a large proportion of medical “flight test” is necessarily conducted with the passengers aboard. The learning must take place on patients needing medical help.

That’s exactly why there are stringent protocols for doing this sort of thing. Not only is it possible to apply them in a crisis, it’s reckless not to.

Another thing I learned from reading about aviation emergencies: the captain of a 747 which landed safely after taking severe damage from an incomprehensibly bizarre series of events, said that his first reaction in a crisis is to do nothing: he must think through and understand what’s happening, not react to it.

MarkH April 10, 2020 12:40 PM

@Clive re. petroleum etc.

On your larger observation, I concur that there has been a massive sacrifice of resilience (and its near-cousin, robustness) for the sake of (short-term) cost efficiency.

Though I despise the MBA mindset, and believe it has caused damage exceeding any reasonable hope of calculation, I suppose that the responsibility for this decline (as I see it) is more diffuse than that.

Captains of industry can never be trusted as stewards of the common good. The robber barons in my country, and their loathsome British counterparts, showed us the truth of that. Responsible government regulation and intervention could (and quite seriously, must) increase resilience.

One example in the U.S., is that it takes somewhere from 6 months to a year to build the huge AC transformers used in power distribution … and they’re all bespoke (or custom, as we colonists say). It’s not practical to keep spares, so destruction of a modest number of these transformers could have catastrophic consequences.

I’m not a power system engineer, but it’s hard for me to imagine that it wouldn’t be possible to accommodate the mutual design of systems and transformers so that the same transformers could be used in a few different installations. More expensive and less efficient, no doubt, but this would make it more practical to maintain inventories of spares at a few locations.

It’s not necessary for government to micromanage this sort of thing: it would be enough to require that each power system operator prove their capacity to restore service within some time limit, after the loss of certain vulnerable key components. The power companies would figure it out how they can most efficiently meet that requirement, and maybe decide on their own to standardize things like transformers.


In the specific case of the petroleum industry, the operators will probably need to figure out how to slow or stop their facilities with the least deleterious consequences.

I expect you’re well aware of the U.S. campaign to bomb ball bearing factories during the second world war. It was a clever idea, but not quite as effective as hoped. Albert Speer, who was at that time the Nazi minister of armaments and war production, later wrote that in response to the shortage of ball bearings, analysis showed that military machinery was over-designed (those Germans!) and in many places ball bearings could be replaced by simpler (and cheaper) bearings. Accordingly, they were able to keep production going despite the damage to their ball bearing factories.

Another example from that war is that one subtle ingredient in Germany’s postwar economic recovery, is that machine tools are inherently rather tough 🙂 From the rubble of bombed factories, a surprising quantity of machine tools could be recovered and restored to productive use.

In this crisis, and in the succession of coming crises which are likely to ensue within not many years, people high and low are going to need “wartime thinking” in order to slog through.

MarkH April 10, 2020 1:30 PM

Well, OK, one MORE footnote …

I forgot to write before, that the agreement to cut oil production by 10 million bbl/day resulted in a counterintuitive drop in oil markets.

That’s because traders recognize that even though this is a huge production cutback, it’s just not enough to track the plummeting demand.

On a quite distinct, but nonetheless related matter, the NY Times has a fascinating piece about troubles with “fracking.”

Though I think of it as a particularly U.S. phenomenon, this “advance” in oil production (essentially a combination of aggressive hydraulic fracturing and recently enhanced techniques of horizontal drilling) has been exported to other countries too.

One explanation for the Saudi/Russian price war, is that they both want to kill the U.S. fracking industry. [The cost/bbl is high in fracking, so low prices should suffocate it.] I haven’t yet been convinced of this hypothesis, but if it was their intention, their sacrifice was needless: fracking is dying on its own.

I remember reading in the mid-90s that some computer-related industries, in aggregate, were never profitable, one example being motherboards (or the chipsets for them, it’s so long ago I don’t trust my recollection). In other words, the total sales of the companies in that sector never equaled their costs.

Not many years later, an analysis of the airline industry came to the same result: since the first scheduled passenger flights, the revenues from selling air tickets were less than the combined cost of flight operations.

If capitalism is real, how can such things be?!?!?

Government subsidies certainly play a role (for example, every country likes to have its own “flag airline”), but the main motor is capital itself: these industries were kept alive by people buying shares of stock!

Think of the “dot com” crisis around the turn of the millenium … companies which never made a penny of profit, and paid every bill and paycheck from investor capital …

Well, it turns out that in aggregate, fracking likewise has never been profitable, and likely never will be. Only a few U.S. frackers turned a profit at $55/bbl, while many of their competitors were losing money. Financial analysts say we’re likely to see $10/bbl soon. Prices will recover before long, but perhaps not enough to keep the fracking petro-terrorists in business.

Fracking turns out to be an ideal business for fraudulent hucksters, because its technical character holds a psychological charm: with great consistency, well production falls sharply within a year or so of each strike. The results look great at first: “buy our stock, we’re drowning in oil.” But the only way to sustain production is more and more and more wells, each with a heavy capital cost.

A shock for me from the article, is that in the 3rd quarter of last year — with a steadily growing U.S. economy, and well before the pandemic — “91 percent of defaulted U.S. corporate debt was due to oil and gas companies.”

myliit April 10, 2020 3:17 PM

@Wesley Parish

“ … I am The Chosen One, a very stable genius …”

Good luck with that. Please consider trying to post an early
Take here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oq51a-wyPnw 4:17

In memory of John Prine, Hello in There sung by Bette Midler, a 23 year old, iiirc, singing about old people.

https://www.npr.org/programs/fresh-air
John Prine on Fresh Air for the hour

https://www.npr.org/2020/04/10/831611719/a-salute-to-john-prine-a-meticulous-craftsman-with-a-gift-for-detail 8:27

https://www.npr.org/2020/04/10/831611719/a-salute-to-john-prine-a-meticulous-craftsman-with-a-gift-for-detail 33:05

Sancho_P April 10, 2020 4:45 PM

@MarkH

”resulted in a counterintuitive drop in oil markets.”
Um, talks with our competitors were called collusion by the court, not market?

MarkH April 10, 2020 5:06 PM

@Sancho_P:

I guess that markets don’t object to collusion, so long as profits look good.

The U.S. wasn’t part of the collusion until a few hours ago, when Trump offered to cut oil production in an effort to persuade Mexico to go along. Mexico, an “OPEC plus” member, is the one holdout against the plan. Of course, they think their share of the cut is too large.

Among the many questions surrounding Trump’s unprecedented offer, are its feasibility and legality. U.S. oil production is determined solely by private industry. Does POTUS have any legal basis to control it? He’s not in the habit of thinking before opening his mouth.

Anyway, these questions are probably moot: I expect that U.S. production is declining quite naturally as high-cost producers shut down operations which are already losing money. They might exceed Trump’s reduction offer by a healthy margin.

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