Saturday, March 28, 2020

Wuhan Coronavirus: the Real Chinese Curse

Here’s a partial list of people/groups that have proved themselves unworthy as we navigate through the  waters of the Chinese Curse:

Media: (too many examples to mention and apparently the American public agrees.)

When the Babylon Bee is just as believable as any mainstream outlet you might have a problem.

Politicians: (too many examples to mention but here’s a classic from a classless has-been)

Democrat politicians in particular: (way too many to mention but here are two Freshman Reps doing jazz hands on the Floor to make the most of their facetime)

AOC gives fiery floor speech denouncing coronavirus stimulus ...Freshman Democrat Haley Stevens yells on House floor before ...Sorry to say the idiot on the bottom is my Rep

China ((too many examples to mention but here’s one anyway)

After infecting the world with Wuhan coronavirus, China now demands that the world apologize to them.

China’s embassy in Denmark has demanded an apology from daily Jyllands-Posten after it published a cartoon of the Chinese flag with its five yellow stars represented by coronavirus particles. - NYP

A cartoon of the coronavirus depicted as part of the Chinese national flag, is pictured in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.Who do they think they are anyway, Muslim terrorists?

But for some real first rate propaganda (pay attention MSM and Democrats) there’s nothing like the CCP’s official propaganda arm, the Nightly News (just like here).

So when the headline reads “US becomes the first country to reach 100,000 confirmed coronavirus cases” remember that the actual headline is “US becomes the first country to report 100,000 confirmed coronavirus cases” because China stopped reporting cases weeks ago.

But stop saying that because…racist!

Pro-tip of the day:

View image on Twitter

Interesting note: this Calvin and Hobbes cartoon was originally published on November 29, 1995. Twenty five years later, it’s still as pertinent as ever.

Calvin and Hobbes Comic Strip for November 29, 1995

Friday, March 27, 2020

Fake Models.

No, I’m not talking about Melania; due to the ongoing Covid 19 crisis, FLOTUS Friday, like much of America, has been suspended until further notice and the country remains on lockdown.

Melania Trump | TheHill

For what it’s worth this is my take so far:

It would seem that the models used to forecast the run of the Wuhan virus run are faulty.

The forecast used to predict 2.2 million U.S. deaths and 510,00 deaths in Great Britain was produced by Imperial College in London. It is “the epidemiological modeling which has informed policymaking in the United Kingdom and other countries in recent weeks.”

OK, but is the information reliable? Epidemiologist Sunetra Gupta is doubtful.

“I am surprised that there has been such unqualified acceptance of the Imperial model,” he said in the Financial Times.

Gupta’s team of researchers at Oxford believe both the hospitalization and mortality rates are much lower than the worst estimates, and immunity is more widespread than previously thought.

“Some say”  the models are not just wrong but wrong by an order of magnitude.

The Wall Street Journal has published an op-ed from professors of medicine at Stanford who said “projections of the death toll” reaching 2 million to 4 million “could plausibly be orders of magnitude too high.” They believe “epidemiological modelers haven’t adequately adapted their estimates to account for” a number of important factors.

Why ever does this not surprise us? Perhaps because we have already seen faulty models used to whip up panic and manipulate the world to bend to the “science” of fake modeling promoted by our betters. Where else have we heard that we must “bend the curve”?

Bending the Curve: 10 Scalable Climate Solutions for Climate Stability

If I’m feeling kind I might excuse our betters for inciting such panic. They fear that the highly contagious virus  without a massive shutdown will result in so many critical cases at once that it would overwhelm our hospitals and medical personnel. That certainly is true in some countries. But in America we have ships standing at the ready to serve as floating hospitals, and auto manufacturers that know how to makeshift production facilities on a dime to produce more respirators. We’re kind of unique that way.

At this point history alone will prove which course is best – duck and cover or come out and fight.

Meanwhile we remain on lockdown here in Park City after our unelected health director issued  a “stay at home” diktat. He deemed that “grocery stores, banks, hardware stores, post offices, essential transportation services, senior care facilities, farming operations and media outlets. Restaurants that have transitioned to providing curbside and delivery service in compliance with a previous order may also remain open.” Plus the state has directed that state owned liquor stores will remain open.

That is pretty much the way things have been here since March 15th so the big announcement is more hoopla than news. Essentially this means that aside from formalizing what’s already taken place the diktat forces the closure of one jewelry store on Main Street along with a couple of galleries trying to hang on by the skin of their teeth.

That will show them who’s in charge around here.

The jury is still out on the status of our local gun range,

As licensed concealed weapons carriers, we consider firearms training/practice to be essential, although we’re not sure our betters would agree.

We don’t want a bunch of untrained cowboys running around packin’ now do we? Just because somebody’s model was wrong.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

From Parody to Reality In Less Than One Generation

As of tomorrow Raj and I will be joining many of you in mandatory involuntary confinement. Our order wasn’t handed down from on high by our governor as it has been in other states. So far this lockdown  only applies to our county, Summit, which has a population of just 40,000 but is running the highest per capita number of confirmed cases in the state (90 as of yesterday). Nor was the county-wide shutdown ordered by our elected County Manager but rather by our duly unelected county health director who was given all this power by the simple declaration of a county emergency. It’s bad enough when elected officials - who are at least accountable each election cycle – have access to this much control over our liberty but seriously, when your local government charter grants this capacity to individuals who are simply appointed I have a real problem. The petty demigods amongst us are always far too eager to use their power.

I first heard about the coming shelter in place order from my neighbor, who listens to the local NPR station round the clock. I guess that’s good as otherwise I’d never know what was happing around here.  She also sent me this PSA on food safety which coincidentally was made by a doctor in my hometown. Suffice it to say that putting groceries away will never be the same.

Now I know the good Dr. means well and is only interested in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping people safe until it is your time. But honestly, about 2 minutes in and all I could think about was Phil Hartman’s Anal Retentive Chef on Saturday Night Live.

Sad isn’t it - from parody to reality in less than a generation.

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.” – Ronald Reagan

You are now free to go about discussing the $2 trillion Covid-19 bailout.

NOTE: NBC doesn’t allow SNL clips on YouTube but if you don’t mind sitting through a couple of mandatory commercials you can view the entire The Anal Attentive Chef Fixes Pepper Steak episode here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Positive: Just Not In the Covid-19 Test Sense

Raj and I are going to the old farts hour at our local market, maybe they’ll have potatoes today.

So this advice will have to suffice in lieu of a post:

Good advice at any time I suspect, just a bit harder right now.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

“We’re All Waiting For the World to End”"

How about a little old fashioned foot stomping knee slapping musicality to greet this Taco Tuesday?

It’s a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll – served up with a grand splash of super funk. If you’ve been looking for an official Wuhan Coronavirus theme song this is it: music for the Great Undoing.

If you haven’t had your coffee yet this studio version will suffice in its stead.

If you have already had your covfefe and prefer to get up on your feet and dance with abandon to the Great Quietus, here is the live [she said without irony] version. I recommend it; if you can watch the whole thing and not break out in a smile you’re taking things too seriously my friend.

So in conclusion here's the solution
Just live your life until you die, my friend
Have no regrets and don't forget
We're all waiting for the world to end

Monday, March 23, 2020

“Mommy, What Did You Do During the Wuhan Coronavirus War?”

Some day your children or grandchildren will ask you what you did during the Wuhan Coronavirus War. Ensure that you use your time such that you’ll have something to tell them other than “I binged crappy shows on Netflix.”

Do some research, maybe learn a new skill:

Let’s just say that some people were more productive than others during the Great Pandemic of 2020.

Lucy’s redecorated stairwell, circa 2020

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Nobody Knows Nuthin’– Black Swan Edition

Warning: There’s Always a Black Swan Somewhere Ahead

"There are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know." -  Donald Rumsfeld, 2002

This is undoubtedly Rumsfeld’s most famous, as well as most derided, quote. The media, predisposed towards disdain for George W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense, didn’t even attempt to comprehend what he was telling them. Instead they ridiculed his statement as “word salad.” If however you have at least a working knowledge of classic risk assessment technique/models – which most journalists do not - Rumsfeld’s statement would seem both perfectly logical and linguistically correct.

Human endeavors are riddled with knowns and unknowns.

Image result for knowns unknowns quadrant categories

That’s why decisions are seldom perfect. Risk analysis helps sort through what you do know, assess the impact of things you don’t and direct you to the best decision based on a thorough evaluation of circumstances, facts and hypotheses. Many methodologies exist for coaxing data from the first 3 quadrants, but only imagination will help you discover what you don’t yet know.

Which is why novelists predicted a 9-11 event, the financial meltdown and countless examples of worldwide pandemics but apparently nobody actually responsible for averting such disasters ever conceived of them. Such disasters have come to known as Black Swan events: an extremely rare, unpredictable event with severe consequences. With the benefit of hindsight people who lacked the imagination to envision such a calamity  will claim that the Black Swan should have been predictable.

But we are in the middle of the maelstrom, having not yet arrived at the point of perfect knowledge known as hindsight. If we’re not driving blind we’re certainly operating with impaired sight. And we’ve reached a dark intersection where the knowns have the right of way but there is no guarantee that the unknowns will yield to them.

Hence we have two camps regarding our response to the the coronavirus threat: one camp says we are shutting the country down and ruining the economy for no valid reason, the risk to the general population isn’t that great and it’s much ado about nothing. The other camp contends that this thing, this plague, could decimate the population and requires an abundance of caution. I bounce back and forth, simply because the unknowns at this point remain many and significant. Nobody actually knows.

What we do know, although nobody in authority will admit it, is that this is a man-made disaster. To paraphrase the few scientists who are not (yet) afraid to speak out, the bio-markers of the “novel” Wuhan coronavirus genome are as unlikely to have occurred in nature as a monkey sitting at a keyboard and banging out a Shakespearian play.

Image result for monkey writing shakespeare

So acting like this is just another flu is insane, especially since the Communist Chinese Party hasn’t told us anything we can trust about the virus’s origin, infection and death rate. Since we don’t know or understand the full extent of this scourge – Europe is just two or three weeks ahead of us so not a reliable model either - we don’t know whether destroying America’s economy is a futile attempt to contain the virus or the only prudent action.

So I sit here with too much time on my hands and no more real knowledge than I had 3 weeks ago. From that vantage point the the shutdown and shelter in place strategy looks like a stalling mechanism, right out of a dystopian novel, to keep the Grim Reaper at bay while we search frantically for a prophylactic and/or cure.

There is nothing worse than the uncertainty of outcomes and the ambiguity of meaning. That there’s been as little panic as there has been is almost commendable.  But the truth is out there and yes, we can handle the truth – even if it’s that nobody knows how this plays out at this point. I do not want a government functionary determining my fate. If the Black Swan has made another appearance we deserve to hear it sooner than later.

But remember, all swans appear black in the dark.

Image result for black swans in analysis

If the government expects us to follow their diktats - that are sounding more and more like martial law – and isolate in place for weeks or months we deserve to know why this is necessary. Shine a little more light on the pandemic’s prognosis. Tell us everything that is known today; and if nobody knows nuthin’ let us decide how we want to deal with the risks of the unknowns.

Image result for black swans in analysis

For all we know the swan is getting a bum wrap.