Proof that you can make money using my blog as an investment guide…

… just do the opposite of whatever I’m bullish about.

Me: Two-thirds full airline idea (12/23/2019)

Me: Coronavirus will breathe life into my two-thirds-full airline idea? (3/23/2020)

“What Delta’s Big Bet on Blocking Middle Seats Means for Flying” (Wall Street Journal, 2/10/2021):

The last U.S. airline with this policy has lost fliers to carriers with looser rules—here’s why Delta is holding out for now

The grand experiment of blocking the middle seat on airplanes has proved what we have known all along about air travel: More people care about a cheap fare than comfort, or even pandemic safety.

The bottom line for Delta during the pandemic has been bigger losses than rival airlines selling all their seats. Delta was the most profitable U.S. airline in the final six months of 2019. That flipped during the pandemic. In the last six months of 2020, Delta had the biggest losses, with a net loss of more than $6 billion, greater than United and Southwest combined.

Even with state governors telling people that coronavirus was so dangerous that we should close schools and have children stay home to get fat and stupid, close society and have adults stay home to get fat, drunk, opioid-addicted, and stupid, and imprison/fine people for breaking a variety of rules that were apparently in conflict with the First Amendment right to assemble, consumers decided that coronavirus was not dangerous enough to be avoided by paying a little more for an airline ticket (and getting a much more luxurious experience as well).

One of the harbors in Hilton Head, South Carolina where you can keep the yacht that you buy after acting (after reversing the sign) on my advice:

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Revisiting my COVID-19 death estimate

In the comments to “Why do we care about COVID-19 deaths more than driving-related deaths?” (March 26, 2020), a reader asked a great question:

How good of an estimate today can you make of traffic-related deaths in the US in the next year? This estimate is quite uncertain given that miles driven will likely plummet and depend on the duration of various shutdowns. You can still probably guesstimate the total miles driven will be some fraction of the previous year and be within 0.25X to 4X. You won’t be wrong by 100X.

Now predict today the number of coronavirus deaths in the next year in the US. Your estimate could very easily be off by 100X or more.

This was just a few days after New York went into shutdown (March 22) and before the typical U.S. hospital had seen even one Covid-19 patient. Here was my prediction:

why can’t we extrapolate from Lombardy to get a reasonable estimate? Out of 10 million people, COVID-19 has killed 5,000 to date. Assume that becomes 10,000 by the end of the year. That’s 1 in 1,000 people. Applying that to the U.S. we get 330,000. Horrific, of course, but about the same as the driving deaths expected for next 10 years (which didn’t seriously concern the nation). I don’t think this can be off by 100X. 33 million is too much. 3300 is, sadly, likely to be exceeded (1,301 as of right now). Maybe we can do 4X better than Italy due to advances in knowledge and drug therapies that are available. That brings us down to 82,500 deaths, not too different from what the Imperial College folks are predicting per capita for the UK. We’re not as competent as other countries when it comes to health care, so estimate 150,000 COVID-caused deaths through February 2021? Let’s come back to this post on March 1, 2021 and see if the mortality was, in fact, within 0.25X to 4X of 150,000.

Our heroic anonymous reader gave me some wide error bars (0.25-4X), there, but not nearly as wide as what the IHME prophets gave themselves regarding Sweden (“They’re fairly confident that on May 23, Sweden will have between 11 deaths and… 2,789 deaths”).

So… my proposed method back in March was to extrapolate from Lombardy to the entire U.S., reduce for the worldwide effort to develop treatments and add back in for American incompetence at organizing health care. This boiled down to 45 percent of whatever the Lombardy death rate was. And then there was an additional guess that, as of March 26, Lombardy was halfway through its total COVID-19 deaths.

So… let’s put two questions to the readers.

How did my guess that Lombardy was halfway through its total COVID-19 suffering hold up? As of February 27, the Google said that 28,275 people in Lombardy had died with a COVID-19 tag (Italy had a big second wave of deaths tagged to COVID-19 starting in the fall of 2020). I’m having a bit of trouble finding the death rate through December 31, 2020 (maybe a reader can help out). My guess that 10,000 would be the death toll in Lombardy “by the end of the year [2020]” seems to have been a little over 0.5X of the actual.

How did my guess that the U.S. toll would be “45 percent of Lombardy” hold up? As of February 27, 2020, the Google said that 510,000 Americans had suffered “COVID-19 death” (keep in mind that, with a median age of 80-82 for “COVID-19 death”, we are saying that a 92-year-old with cancer, diabetes, and COPD “died of COVID-19” so long as a positive PCR test can be obtained).

Through February 27, 2020, Lombardy has had a COVID-tagged death rate of 0.28 percent (28,275 divided by 10 million). The U.S. has had a death rate of 0.155 percent (510,000 divided by 330 million, but perhaps the divisor should be 350 million?).

The guess was 45 percent and, as of February 27, the statistic was 55 percent (0.155 divided by 0.28).

What about the 150,000 number that I tossed out? That is 0.29X of the 510,000 number that we’re being fed. So, unlike our heroes at IMHE and other epidemiology institutions, the reality was within the error bars that I set up.

(One reason that my estimate came out on the low side, I think, is that I underestimated the extent to which Americans would want to wallow in coronasadness and maximize the count of very old, very frail people who purportedly died “of COVID-19”. This can be seen on Facebook as people claim that the impact of coronavirus has been worse than all of the wars that the U.S. has ever fought, except maybe the War of Northern Aggression. At least some subset of Americans wants to equate a healthy 18-year-old marching off and never returning with an 82-year-old who was expected to die within 1-2 years meeting his/her/zir/their final end within a few weeks of a positive PCR test. Admittedly this method of counting is not unique to the U.S. For example, the Swedes have a computer system automatically tag “COVID-19” to anyone who dies within 30 days of a positive test, even if the person dies in a traffic accident.)

From my Italy photos, a square in Burano, 1996:

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Okay to deliberately infect the young with coronavirus…

“Up to 90 volunteers in UK to take part in pioneering Covid infection trial” (Guardian):

Approval has been given for an initial trial that will involve up to 90 carefully screened, healthy, adult volunteers aged between 18 and 30. They will be exposed to the coronavirus in a safe, controlled environment. It is hoped further trials will follow.

“These are quite unique studies, able to accelerate not only understanding of diseases caused by infection, but also to accelerate the discovery of new treatments and of vaccines,” said Peter Openshaw, a professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London.

Young, healthy, volunteers are being recruited as they are known to be at low risk of complications from the virus. Openshaw said the safety of volunteers was paramount: “None of us want to do this if there is any appreciable risk”

So… there is no “appreciable risk” for someone under 30 to experience a 100-percent chance of becoming infected with coronavirus.

What about opening a public school with healthy children and slender healthy teachers under age 30 (recruit some new teachers as needed)? I hope that we can all agree that this would be way too risky!

Related:

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College Today: Exercise by going to your twice-weekly COVID-19 test

“Amid COVID Outbreak, UMass Amherst Prohibits Students From Leaving Dorms for Walks” (NBC):

For the foreseeable future, all UMass Amherst classes will take place remotely, and students in dormitories and off-campus housing are instructed not to leave their residences except for meals, COVID testing twice per week and medical appointments.

The university says students can use trips for food and twice-weekly COVID testing at the Mullins Center as opportunities to take walks to support their health. Another option is virtual fitness classes.

Students living in the same residence hall are not allowed to hang out in each others’ rooms, and no guests are allowed in residence halls until further notice. Students are also not allowed to gather in any spaces during this time, UMass Amherst says.

All athletic practices and competitions have been canceled.

Students who violate campus restrictions or fail to comply with directives will face disciplinary action, according to the university’s website. Punishment may include removal from residence halls and/or suspension.

And on the other coast… “UC Berkeley bans campus residents from outdoor exercise as part of clampdown after COVID surge” (Mercury News):

The lockdown, imposed on Feb. 1 and expected to be lifted on Feb. 8 before being extended that day, even bans students from getting outside exercise. And to enforce it, the university is increasing its security presence.

The new restrictions will affect about 2,000 students, a “significant number” of whom are in quarantine, according to the university.

Under the restrictions, students can only leave their rooms for medical care, in case of emergency, to comply with testing requirements, to use the bathroom on their floor and to get food from a nearby outdoor kiosk, according to an email sent to students from the UC’s medical director and other campus officials.

Additional campus security officers will be patrolling outside the residence halls and students may be required to show their campus IDs more frequently. All students must be tested twice a week.

“Be aware that students are subject to serious residential conduct sanctions for not complying with campus directives including being disqualified from housing and suspended from the University,” the email stated. “We don’t wish for residents to be alarmed by this increased UCPD presence, but we must ensure the health of our community.”

If back in April 2020, a few weeks into coronapanic, someone had said that Americans would one day pay $50,000+/year for this experience (surveillance, regular medical testing for an infection that is typically irrelevant to the young, periodic absolute lockdowns), would we have believed him/her/zir/them?

Related:

  • COVID-19 and the MIT community: “I hope that Ms. Meredith is never sentenced to prison here in the Land of Freedom (TM), but if she does become part of the world’s largest imprisoned population, it sounds as though she has the right attitude for life in the Big House.”
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Sweden ignores the science on COVID-19 vaccinations

America’s science-following health care professionals and science-informed politicians decided that health care workers, police, and firefighters should have top priority in getting COVID-19 vaccinations. (example from Maskachusetts)

What about the wicked non-masked non-shut kids-in-school Swedes? Their Phase 1 is organized entirely around those old and/or sick enough to require nursing care. Their Phase 2 is for people 65 years and older and also includes health care workers. From the Swedish government:

How many shots has Sweden administered? About 6 per 100 through February 19, or right at the EU average:

As one colleague of Dr. Jill Biden has pointed out, the strict lockdown in the UK has been very effective at driving COVID-19 out of Sweden:

The same guy also looks at media analysis of North Dakota versus South Dakota:

Circling back to vaccine priority… we are told that public health authorities make decisions regarding vaccines based on science. Yet science apparently may give the authorities in every state and country a different answer.

Separately, how important are vaccines? Let’s compared locked-down, masked, and mostly-vaccinated Israel to unlocked, unmasked, and only-starting-to-vaccinate Sweden:

Sweden seems to have had a more dramatic fall in the death rate, starting at roughly the same time, and actually to a slightly lower value than Israel’s. (But maybe this is because party-on Sweden’s cumulative death rate is 2X forever-shut Israel’s and there is a limit to how many COVID-vulnerable people exist in any given population.)

A final thought on the science of vaccinations… “Vaccine Alarmism: We look at the costs of vaccine alarmism.” (NYT):

About one-third of members of the U.S. military have declined vaccine shots. When shots first became available to Ohio nursing-home workers, about 60 percent said no. Some N.B.A. stars are wary of appearing in public-services ads encouraging vaccination.

Nationwide, nearly half of Americans would refuse a shot if offered one immediately, polls suggest. Vaccination skepticism is even higher among Black and Hispanic people, white people without a college degree, registered Republicans and lower-income households.

Friends on Facebook have cited this disapprovingly. They can’t believe that any young healthy person wouldn’t welcome an “investigational” vaccine that would be illegal to give as soon as a declared “emergency” is over. I asked one of these guys why he expected young healthy folks to want it:

  • Him: because most of the information we have seems to show it’s much better than the alternatives.
  • Me: Better for whom? Italy was one of the world’s worst-afflicted countries by coronaplague. 60 million people live there. Among those 20-29 years old, exactly 46 have died over the past year with a COVID-19 tag. You’re saying that a healthy slender 24-year-old Italian should take an “investigational” vaccine to avoid becoming the 47th person in this age group to die with/from COVID-19 (remember that, as far as we know, the 46 who did die might have been extremely sick with some other diseases, extremely fat, etc.)?
  • Him: yes, to keep from spreading it.
  • Me; Here in Maskachusetts, our governor assures us that the vaccine does NOT prevent people from being infected with and spreading coronavirus. “At this time, vaccinated individuals must continue to comply with the Governor’s Travel Order and related testing and quarantine requirements. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic, including quarantining after a possible exposure, covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others.”
  • Me: So you’re saying that young people should believe the government when it tells them that getting stuck with this experimental pharma product will stop them from spreading coronavirus. And they should also believe the government when it tells them that getting stuck with this experimental pharma product will not stop them from spreading coronavirus, which is why they need to wear masks, stay at home, quarantine after travel if they do somehow escape their home, etc.? (CNN: “Dr. Anthony Fauci said that Americans should continue wearing their masks and social distancing even after getting the vaccine because they can still spread coronavirus”)
  • Me: If the government doesn’t trust the vaccines enough to change the travel quarantine laws, why should healthy young people believe that they will help the old/vulnerable by experimenting on themselves?
  • Him: because they’re rational?

Readers: Do you expect your government overlords to grant any special privileges to the vaccinated? If so, when? And will these privileges be revoked as soon as mutant variant coronaplague is circulating?

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WHO guidance on pandemics then and now

We’re about a year into Worldwide Coronapanic. Let’s make sure that we’ve been following expert advice. How about checking out Pandemic Influenza Preparedness And Response, A WHO guidance document to see what #Science had figured out regarding a respiratory virus after 100+ years of study. This 2009 document is an update of previous work and the update is a result of five task forces laboring for years. There were 139 experts who participated substantially and another 428 folks who commented.

We are reminded that viruses can kill us:

Influenza pandemics are unpredictable but recurring events that can have severe consequences on human health and economic well being worldwide. Advance planning and preparedness are critical to help mitigate the impact of a global pandemic.

(also that the only thing worse than a pandemic is a global pandemic)

The case fatality rate can be as high as 2-3% (page 13).

Page 43 is about “Reducing the Spread of Disease”.

In other words, do not close borders unless you’re on an island with no undocumented inbound migration (“in rare instances where clear geographical and other barriers exist”). Do not take all of your money and spend it on Clorox wipes. Do not wear a mask unless you’re sick or treating someone who is sick.

Aside from the above, the 64-page document contains only one other use of the word “mask”:

If medical masks are available and the training on their correct use is feasible, they may be considered for symptomatic persons and susceptible caregivers in household settings when close contact can not be avoided.

The document is silent on the disease-preventing effect of a bandana that has been hanging from the rear-view mirror for months.

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Politicians tell scientists how dangerous coronaplague in Germany needs to be

From the Dutch NPR (February 9, 2021) plus Google Translate:

‘German ministry hired scientists to induce corona fear’

At the beginning of last year, the German Ministry of the Interior worked with several scientists on a strategy to increase fear of corona in order to foster understanding for drastic corona measures. The newspaper Die Welt reports this on the basis of a leaked email exchange.

The emails date from March and April 2020, when Germany was in the first lockdown. Seehofer was concerned about easing too quickly and instructed his State Secretary Markus Kerber to come up with a plan to create support for stricter measures.

Kerber sent an email to various scientists, universities and research institutes asking, among other things, for a worst-case scenario to get a “mental and systematic” grip on the situation. This would help to plan “measures of a preventive and repressive nature”.

The scientists provided plenty of suggestions, including proposals to put “fear and obedience in the population” on the agenda, writes Die Welt. For example, campaigns could be used with images of people dying of breathlessness because there are no IC beds available.

When you’re making up numbers, there can be a debate at what the numbers should be:

It is striking that scientists “negotiated” among themselves about the possible death toll that should be mentioned. The RKI, the German RIVM, proposed to work with their estimate of 0.56 percent of the infected persons, but an employee of the RWI, an influential economic research institute, argued for the death rate of 1.2 percent.

He wrote that they should think “from the purpose of the model”, which is to emphasize “a great deal of pressure to act” and therefore present the numbers “better worse than too good”.

The opposition demands clarification from Seehofer. It cannot be that politics gets “opinions on demand” from science, says Die Linke party chairman Dietmar Bartsch in Die Welt. According to him, politics and science are doing each other a disservice, because trust in science is being damaged.

The liberal party FDP wants an explanation of the ministry in the interior committee of the Bundestag tomorrow. FDP member Konstantin Kuhle writes on Twitter that it is normal for science and politics to exchange ideas, but it cannot be the case that “tailor-made” results are presented, he says.

The Dutch article links to one in German, but that is paywalled.

A photo from 1997(?) when Siemens was our software company’s customer…

The perfect place to hide from coronavirus!

Related:

  • “Coronavirus: Germans’ mental health worse in second lockdown — study” (DW): “Life satisfaction has decreased significantly — worries, stress and depressiveness have increased,” research group leader Dorota Reis told the German news agency DPA. … During the first lockdown, the study participants initially reported that society was moving closer together. They now assessed behavior as “rather selfish and drifting apart,” Reis added.
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Mask that won’t fog eyeglasses

Genetically defective friends: just in time for attending all of the parties for the one-year anniversary of “14 days to flatten the curve”, I found a mask that doesn’t fog up my glasses. It is the Honeywell dual layer mask. It sits off your mouth, which makes it kind of like breathing into a paper bag for those who are hyperventilating due to excitement from anticipating the next round of science-informed executive orders from Uncle Joe and state governors.

For max virtue points, here are pictures of me using the mask on a deserted Hilton Head beach with the wind blowing at 12 knots.

Like other masks, it presents a near-field out-of-focus obstruction to visibility. So I can’t recommend it for drivers or pilots.

The new mask has been “authorized by FDA for emergency use.” Presumably the “emergency” referred to is coronapanic and not the climate change crisis or the systemic racism public health crisis. The package goes on to note that there is one pathogen that this new mask hasn’t been tested against… coronavirus (“Not Tested against COVID-19”).

Finally, can we figure out how rich/elite a person is simply by asking those who aren’t health care professionals “How many hours per day do you wear a mask?” For most of the folks I know who enjoy a comfortable income, the answer is just a few minutes per day (walking into a restaurant, zipping into CVS, etc.).

Also from Hilton Head, a “halfway house”:

On Facebook, I captioned the above with “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris promised criminal justice reform. They’ve been our rulers for less than a week and look at the halfway house that is already set up and running. #MorningInAmerica”. It was not well-received.

Inside the halfway house:

Departing from Hilton Head to Gainesville:

Related:

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Public health, American-style: Donuts at the vaccine clinic

Public Health 101: When confronted with a virus that attacks the obese and unfit, lock people next to their refrigerators for a year.

Public Health 102: When the local government runs a COVID vaccine clinic, make sure that it is amply supplied with donuts.

From a town-run COVID-19 vaccine clinic in the Boston suburbs:

Readers might reasonably ask how many of these health-enhancing items I consumed personally. Answer: zero. I was merely there as driver for a 92-year-old and therefore did not feel that I had earned one. Separately, what’s the process for becoming a volunteer driver in our all-white all-heterosexual town? Look for the rainbow flag and “Black History Month” stickers to find the “Council on Aging” door. Knock and receive a Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) form to fill out and also a form in which one must supply one’s pronouns and gender ID.

The vaccination process itself was efficient. We arrived at 11:55 am for a noon appointment and were fully checked out by 12:25 pm. My old-but-fit neighbor noted that she hated wearing a mask, but otherwise was happy with her experience.

Readers: Who has vaccination stories to share?

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Life expectancy scientists never expected a pandemic

“A Grim Measure of Covid’s Toll: Life Expectancy Drops Sharply in U.S.” (NYT):

American life expectancy fell by one year, to 77.8 years, in the first half of 2020.

Thursday’s data gives the first full picture of the pandemic’s effect on American expected life spans, which dropped to 77.8 years from 78.8 years in 2019. It also showed a deepening of racial and ethnic disparities: Life expectancy of the Black population declined by 2.7 years in the first half of 2020, slicing away 20 years of gains. The life expectancy gap between Black and white Americans, which had been narrowing, is now at six years, the widest it has been since 1998.

“I knew it was going to be large but when I saw those numbers, I was like, ‘Oh my God,’” Elizabeth Arias, the federal researcher who produced the report, said of the racial disparity. Of the drop for the full population, she said, “We haven’t seen a decline of that magnitude in decades.”

The last time a pandemic caused a major decline in life expectancy was 1918, when hundreds of thousands of Americans died from the flu pandemic. Life expectancy declined by a whopping 11.8 years from 1917 to 1918, Dr. Arias said, bringing average life spans down to 39 years.

So… coronavirus was nowhere near as deadly as the last truly bad flu, yet the “scientists” in charge of life expectancy calculations apparently did not budget for even a moderately bad flu pandemic, such as 1957. They assumed that human population could be expanded from 2 billion (1920) to 8 billion (2020) without any virus evolving to take advantage of this expansion in hosts (and the hosts clustering themselves together in cities). They assumed this against a continuous stream of publications from the WHO and others that a pandemic was likely. (See Paper titled “Stockpiling Ventilators for Influenza Pandemics” for example; also Pandemic Influenza Preparedness And Response (WHO, 2009, which incidentally tells governments to do the opposite of what governments have done in response to COVID-19: don’t close borders unless you’re an island and don’t tell the general public to wear masks))

Is it possible to make these scientific conclusions, one about life expectancy and one about the likelihood of future respiratory virus pandemics, consistent somehow?

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