Kudos to Spiked. Practically no one in the media ever talks about the things they discuss here and it's important. There needs to be a cost/benefit analysis of what increased testing will do in practical terms, in the real world with a widely disseminated virus that kills < 0.3-0.5% of those it infects (skewed elderly or otherwise compromised in health), and whether all that money could be better spent elsewhere. Instead, the politicians and media just promote this faith that more testing is good, and any amount of money spent on it is OK. Meanwhile, the politicians at least know full well that "any amount of money to save one life" is not how things work. Society places a monetary value on life all the time, by choosing between harms and restrictions. And the amount of money available for public health needs is not infinite - all the money being spent on COVID-19 testing may mean other needs will be shortchanged.
https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/09/1 ... -moonshot/
The UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, has announced a ‘moonshot’ strategy for defeating Covid-19 through regular testing of the whole population. Maybe the announcement was a desperate attempt to distract from the imposition of restrictions on social gatherings to no more than six people. But the plan is less Neil Armstrong and more space cadet.
In his press conference yesterday, Johnson said that in the ‘near future’ he wanted to start using testing ‘to identify people who are negative – who don’t have coronavirus and who are not infectious – so we can allow them to behave in a more normal way, in the knowledge that they cannot infect anyone else’. ....
The aim would be to ramp up testing from about 200,000 per day to between two million and four million per day in December. By next year, 10million tests could be done every day. The estimated cost, mentioned in another document, could be as high as £100 billion – almost as high as the total annual budget for the National Health Service....
A fraction of the ‘moonshot’ budget could fund a serious turnaround in the state of healthcare or of care homes for older people, for example.
But the maddening madness gets madder still when you realise the implications of all this testing. It would mean possibly millions of people being asked to stay at home and self-isolate when they don’t have the disease or if they have had it and are no longer infectious. That’s because of the problem of false positives....
Universities are also spending massive amounts of money on testing a bunch of people who are unlikely to suffer much in the way of ill effects from this virus, and meanwhile getting farther into financial trouble. Even before this expense, COVID-19 seems likely to push some universities over the edge and force them to close, and others will have massive belt-tightening within the next few years. It's already started, in fact, with layoffs, etc. There's no way that financial stress won't be reflected in increased tuition, larger class sizes and fewer class offerings (fewer faculty hires), faculty leaving, and other things that affect students.
Though I imagine some of it is your basic "cover your butt" testing. The media is milking school openings for all the drama and fear-mongering it possibly can. If anyone among the faculty or staff dies, they'll have a field day, and shriek even louder if there wasn't constant testing.... while conveniently not noticing there are people who work at universities and died during lockdown with not a student around. I know of at least one. WalMart and grocery stores and pharmacies spread the virus too.
Much like all the hype about that silly modeling "study" that was all over the media last week, with wild speculation about all the cases that might result from the motorcycle rally in S. Dakota (while continuing to pretend any gathering they favor, like BLM protests, could never possibly contribute to cases.). I was even a bit surprised there was only a single death among the 460,000-odd participants at the motorcycle rally, considering the usual age group. Maybe most people in high risk groups were smart and stayed home. (EDIT: It seems the Wall Street Journal noticed the nonsense from much of the media and has called it out too. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-sturgi ... 1599694411
EDIT: Hey, another one.
https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/09/ ... valuation/
Has the U.S. incurred larger COVID losses than countries held up as role models?
The idea that America has incurred larger losses from COVID than any other nation has been widely repeated, but it’s not true. In reality, the United States has incurred smaller COVID losses than many other countries often cast as role models, once the total cost of the disease — in both lost lives and economic activity — is correctly measured and taken into account. A truly scientific approach to evaluating COVID policy relies on quantification of the tradeoffs involved, as opposed to only considering health losses....
Economic science has developed standardized measures for quantifying the economic value of health losses. These conventional valuation metrics are routinely used by governments around the globe to evaluate health-related investments and help governments decide, for example, whether a guardrail is a cost-effective way to reduce traffic fatalities. Using these metrics, we calculated (in the figure below) the total COVID losses through June 2020 for various Western democracies, as a share of their pre-COVID GDP in the fourth quarter of 2019.
These estimates include both the losses from reduced economic activity (in blue) and the loss of lives (in orange), quantified in dollars using these standard methods....
btw, it's depressing that politicians and the media are still promoting the lie about "defeating Covid-19." (Boris Johnson in the Spiked article) There is no way to "defeat" this (relatively mild) virus even if we destroy our societies by trying; we're going to have to live with it, just as we live with the flu and everything else. Which reminds me of one interesting problem the vaccine manufacturers were having (and this was being discussed well before mask mandates): finding places to test their vaccines. They pick a spot where virus circulation is high and they're more likely to see an effect, but then the outbreak runs its course and cases drop, so that place is no good.... It seems possible this virus might have done much of its damage by the time a vaccine becomes available, though I expect it will help some.
Ah, I understand Boris Johnson's testing remarks now, after reading this article today. It seems the UK government has messed up and there isn't enough capacity to do the COVID tests everyone wants. So of course a politician comes out and promises that everything will be fixed, and soon everyone will be tested all the time. In the meantime, how about prioritizing
testing to those who need it most, like healthcare workers and those going in to the hospital for routine procedures, to fix things in the short term?
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/0 ... equipment/
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/0 ... s-doctors/
Covid testing: what’s gone wrong?
Problems with labs, staffing and equipment resulted in a desperate plea from the Health department to the biomedical sector
It has been obvious for the best part of a fortnight that all was far from well in England’s Covid testing system.
But even as reports crowded in of entire areas running out of test slots and huge delays for results, ministers and their officials refused to spell out what exactly had gone wrong, preferring instead to talk in general terms of “capacity”.
One senior source, who helped set up the flagship Lighthouse testing labs, last week described the true cause of the crisis as “the most closely guarded secret in Whitehall”...
NHS hospitals are cancelling operations and turning away patients amid a deepening crisis over coronavirus testing, health chiefs have warned.
They said shortages of coronavirus tests are now threatening the running of services, with growing staff absences, because so many doctors and nurses are stuck at home, unable to obtain tests for themselves or their families....
The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the problems obtaining tests stem from a sharp rise in the number of people coming forward for tests who are not eligible, because they do not have symptoms.
Government sources say that worried parents are taking children for tests because a child in their class has symptoms, when only those with symptoms themselves are eligible.
However, many parents said they were seeking tests because the new school term had seen the surge in coughs, cold and respiratory infections which are typical of this time of year, but hard to distinguish from coronavirus....
This is one of the problems with the practicality of "let's test and trace everyone" scenarios when a virus is this common and causes mild symptoms easily confused with a cold, flu, or allergies in many people, and no symptoms at all in some.
There is a reason the authorities stopped testing and tracing people with H1N1 "swine" flu after a while, during that pandemic.
https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/09/1 ... out-covid/
It is now clearer than ever that Sweden was justified in taking a liberal approach to Covid-19.
Last week, Sweden conducted a record number of tests for coronavirus (more than 120,000) but found a record-low proportion of infected people – just 1.2 per cent, according to a report from Reuters.
This is down from 19 per cent in the spring. What’s more, Sweden’s current position contrasts sharply with the surge in infections in countries like France and Britain....
Note also Sweden's position on deaths/population, from another article. Combined with their lower infection rate, it definitely looks like their approach resulted in less economic harm and a better overall outcome in terms of mental health, jobs, quality of life, freedom, etc. for their population, without the astronomical death rate the modelers and their crystal balls predicted. Or all the financial bailouts, whose reckoning will come due at some point and will be paid by all of us in the form of higher taxes, no matter which party gets elected. :
https://reason.com/2020/09/09/is-the-u- ... an-europe/
One common way to measure how countries are handling the coronavirus relative to one another is to compare their COVID-19 mortality rates per 100,000 people. In that respect, the U.S., at 57.97 per 100,000, is doing better than the Belgium, United Kingdom, Spain, Brazil, and Italy, with rates at 86.78, 62.68, 63.34, 60.85, and 58.85 respectively. On the other hand, the COVID-19 mortality rates in Sweden, France, Canada, Germany, and South Korea currently stand at 57.33, 45.93, 24.83, 11.26, and 0.67 respectively.
btw, this statistic from the article is garbage propaganda from the fear-mongerers:
Another oft-cited statistic is that the U.S., with just 4 percent of the world's population, accounts for 24 percent of the world's diagnosed COVID-19 cases and 22 percent of the deaths attributed to the disease. Based on these figures, the U.S. has not been all that great at mitigating the pandemic.
It's a damn poor comparison because countries don't have exactly the same testing regime - or even the same criteria for measuring a COVID death.
As a hypothetical: Test everyone every day, and you'll mostly pick up every infection. Test everyone once a month and you'll miss some, because some people got it and got over it in the meantime, some people are sick but they're past the point where you can easily detect the virus, some people just got infected but it's too early to pick up virus replication.... Or compare a country where people are fairly philosophical about illness and won't get tested unless they get seriously ill, vs. one where many are scared silly and think they have a better chance of survival if they actually know whether they have COVID-19 vs. the flu....
And if someone thinks impoverished countries are testing as much as developed countries, I've got a bridge to sell them. They have more important needs and not enough money even for those. I am willing to bet that a fair number of countries that report very few coronavirus deaths and cases simply weren't recording them. If you've got people dying of malaria, malnutrition and lots of other things, COVID-19 deaths can easily be missed as something else.
btw, the most useful takeaway message from the above article is this:
In the Nature article, University of California, Irvine demographer Andrew Noymer noted that people in his field will probably never know the pandemic's final toll with certainty. "We haven't even settled on how many people died in the 1918 flu," said Noymer. "And we've had 100 years to sort out the numbers."
A bit of a poor example, because record-keeping wasn't so great back then and most people with the flu never went to a doctor, but the gist of it is true. Pretty much everything about every disease, from the annual number of cases to the case fatality rate, is just an estimate, subject to change, and can be argued.
Interesting bit of research, btw.
https://www.upi.com/Health_News/2020/09 ... 599139929/
As many as one in four of the nearly 500 participants in the study were found to have less-than-optimal levels of vitamin D, the data showed.
Among those found to be lacking the key nutrient, 22% contracted COVID-19, the data showed.
Of the 60% of study subjects with adequate vitamin D levels, just 12% were infected, according to the researchers.
It's plausible that the vitamin D effect was on the immune system. Then again, it's also possible that it's just a correlation. Maybe some people had lower levels because they're chronically ill and stay indoors more, or they're elderly.... Or maybe people with higher vitamin D levels are not stressed about this virus and are spending time outdoors exercising and living life, and the lower stress levels are what's making the difference...
Hard to say yet. I was going to read the article but they were doing site maintenance last night, so I'm not sure if they controlled for any of this.
Still haven't had time to read it but there's a lot of interest in vitamin D. It seems I'm not the only person thinking lockdowns may have made things worse than they had to be (though I admit I was thinking more of the effects of stress on immunity and mild infectious diseases):
Adv Respir Med. 2020;88(4):364-365. doi: 10.5603/ARM.a2020.0101.
Vitamin D supplementation to prevent COVID-19 in patients with COPD: a research perspective.
Chaabouni M1,2, Feki W3, Chaabouni K4, Kammoun S3.
There is increased evidence that the massive release of pro-inflammatory cytokines leading to the cytokine storm syndrome shapes the evolution of COVID-19 and is responsible of the severity of COVID-19 in some patients. A recent review argued that vitamin D deficiency could have increased the COVID-19 outbreak and suggested vitamin D supplementation as a preventive action. In fact, many factors seem to be correlated both to low vitamin D levels and the importance of COVID-19 spreading and severity. It is also important to highlight that the lockdown, implemented in many countries, prevents people to go out and then increases the risk of vitamin D deficiency. COPD patients are particularly at risk to have low levels of vitamin D due to multiple risk factors. COPD may generate a systemic inflammatory process responsible of secondary extra-pulmonary impairments. Vitamin D deficiency could sustain and aggravate the systemic inflammation associated to COPD. Reports have also shown that vitamin D deficiency was associated to exacerbations and hospital admissions, as well as lung function. Recent research showed that vitamin D supplementation significantly reduced COPD exacerbations. Although vitamin D deficiency was not proved to be neither a risk factor of COVID-19, nor a determinant of its severity, vitamin D supplementation represents a preventive perspective that needs to be further studied
Also there's a study or two on supplements which seemed promising, though it still seems to be just observational studies.
Well, this should be interesting, fining a company for not preventing a natural disease in an open society. The fine isn't large but I wonder if it will open companies up to liability if one of their workers happens to have TB, or they come to work with the flu and someone who's immunocompromised dies. I can see why that COVID-19 liability shield the Senate Republicans want for employers is a necessity in our sue-happy society. It sounded like overkill to me at first but, given American juries, it's probably not. Especially since companies will go overboard with the rules and restrictions for their employees if they think they might get sued.
https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/news/4- ... r-BB18UE4s
https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/09/ ... ttle-gain/
The U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday proposed that Smithfield Foods pay a $13,494 fine for failing to protect employees at a meat processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where nearly 1,300 workers contracted COVID-19 and four died.
The penalty, the maximum allowed by law, comes after the agency's Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted an inspection of the pork processing plant after it closed for several weeks in April and May due to an outbreak of the coronavirus among employees. OSHA cited Smithfield for not providing a workplace free from recognized hazards that can cause death or serious harm.
What the U.K.’s Target of Net Zero Emissions Would Really Entail
Vast sums of money and resources would be spent for little gain and perhaps great environmental harm.
In 2019, Britain’s Conservative government toughened existing climate-change legislation by setting the country the target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 (the previous target had been 80 percent). There are other yet more ambitious proposals, providing for full decarbonization at even earlier dates, such as Extinction Rebellion’s 2025 and the Green Party’s 2030. In addition, other policies such as banning the sale of new cars and vans with internal-combustion-engines from 2030 are under serious consideration by the government in order to decarbonize transport as part of the overall CO2 target. As discussed below, the challenges of the energy transition required are enormous enough to seem unsurmountable and don’t seem to be sufficiently appreciated by those who set the targets. The scale of the challenge is great. A schedule, a budget, and engineering targets need to be put in place, and the work needs to start immediately, if the government is serious about meeting the targets for zero carbon emissions. It won’t be easy....
One thing that caught my eye was the proposal to replace all gas furnaces with heat pumps. Well, first there would be all the resources and energy needed to manufacture all those heat pumps. Secondly, the electricity to power the heat pumps needs to come from somewhere. Then there's the fact that heat pumps are lousy and inefficient in colder climates, the cost of repairs is astronomical with all the circuit boards going into them (try replacing a fan motor sometime - it'll cost you roughly $1000 plus labor, and if your compressor goes, you might as well buy a whole new unit) and the parts are much less reliable than the heat pumps of the past, even a power surge from a storm regularly kills parts even on units that are only a few years old....
No, this isn't The Onion:
https://www.oscars.org/news/academy-est ... ligibility
Today, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced new representation and inclusion standards for Oscars® eligibility in the Best Picture category, as part of its Academy Aperture 2025 initiative. The standards are designed to encourage equitable representation on and off screen in order to better reflect the diversity of the movie-going audience. Academy governors DeVon Franklin and Jim Gianopulos headed a task force to develop the standards that were created from a template inspired by the British Film Institute (BFI) Diversity Standards ...
For the 94th Oscars (2022) and 95th Oscars (2023), submitting a confidential Academy Inclusion Standards form will be required for Best Picture consideration, however meeting inclusion thresholds will not be required for eligibility in the Best Picture category until the 96th Oscars (2024).
For the 96th Oscars (2024), a film must meet TWO out of FOUR of the following standards to be deemed eligible:
STANDARD A: ON-SCREEN REPRESENTATION, THEMES AND NARRATIVES
To achieve Standard A, the film must meet ONE of the following criteria:
A1. Lead or significant supporting actors
At least one of the lead actors or significant supporting actors is from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group.
• Black/African American
• Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native
• Middle Eastern/North African
• Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
• Other underrepresented race or ethnicity
A2. General ensemble cast
At least 30% of all actors in secondary and more minor roles are from at least two of the following underrepresented groups:
• Racial or ethnic group
• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing
A3. Main storyline/subject matter
The main storyline(s), theme or narrative of the film is centered on an underrepresented group(s).
• Racial or ethnic group
• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing
STANDARD B: CREATIVE LEADERSHIP AND PROJECT TEAM
To achieve Standard B, the film must meet ONE of the criteria below:
B1. Creative leadership and department heads
At least two of the following creative leadership positions and department heads—Casting Director, Cinematographer, Composer, Costume Designer, Director, Editor, Hairstylist, Makeup Artist, Producer, Production Designer, Set Decorator, Sound, VFX Supervisor, Writer—are from the following underrepresented groups:
• Racial or ethnic group
• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing
At least one of those positions must belong to the following underrepresented racial or ethnic group
Adding actors and directors with cognitive difficulties should really enhance the quality of films
Paint-by-number films. Sometimes I wonder if some people realize all those sci fi novels where society dictates everything were warnings, not "how to" guides.
Then again, I actually saw some people today getting upset online about those who don't follow the "one way" COVID directions in some stores (unless this was just trolling?). Practically everyone around here quickly decided those were stupid and counterproductive. We manage to sort ourselves out like adults, instead of bunching up behind each other like obedient children, or having to pass the person in front of you, when you actually want to be in the next aisle over, which is totally empty and could be reached without getting near anyone at all.
The Rules Nazis are having a field day lately.
https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/09/ ... r-problem/
Cancel Culture Is Not the Problem; Conformity Culture Is
Greg Patton — a business professor, for now, at the University of Southern California, who committed the outrage of repeating a Chinese expression that sounds similar to a racist slur in English — is the latest scholar to fall prey to campus cancel culture. His case also serves as a warning that, while cancel culture is a real phenomenon that presents a clear and present danger to academic freedom, a more insidious peril lurks: the soft despotism of presumed conformity....
All these episodes are problematic. They invert the purpose of learning, which inherently entails discomfort, as well as a baseline condition for scholarly inquiry, which is academic freedom. Patton’s cancellation occupies a special, and perhaps especially absurd, category in the sense that he did not even express a controversial idea of the sort academic freedom should protect.
But there is an advantage to these explicit illustrations of cancel culture: They are visible and known. The more egregious they are, the more attention they draw. A larger question looms behind them: Who never speaks in the first place? ...
The more difficult cases — largely unknown because they are, unlike discrete and reportable events, unknowable — are those in which scholars restrain their own language not out of fear but rather out of weariness. For them, the question may be less what consequences will ensue from controversy than whether they have the time and energy to engage in it. Resistance is not futile; it is simply exhausting. Purported offenses and the silencing that attends them are identifiable events that tend, at least in the circles that care about them, to make news. Self-censorship, if it is even self-conscious, is the dog that never barked and is not news precisely for that reason...
...the intent of those who seek compliance more softly is not necessarily hostile or heavy-handed. They may, on the contrary, sincerely perceive themselves as charitable. The resulting dynamic is less severe and arguably more insidious: those who police, or rather shape, speech not with an intent to suppress dissent but rather on what they view to be the benevolent assumption that everyone agrees with them....
Not an easy transcript to find. But worth reading again. Here we are, 5 months later, and Boris Johnson just said you're a criminal if you meet more than 5 people for a get-together, LA's mayor just tried to jail and fine people if they let their kids trick or treat, before having to back down, and Australia is arresting and prosecuting people for the "crime" of suggesting
a socially-distanced protest against lockdowns. And quite a lot of people have happily surrendered their autonomy and their independent lives to the whims of the media and the politicians, out of an irrational level of fear. :
Here is a recording of the astonishing interview of Lord Sumption, a former member of the Supreme Court and last year’s Reith Lecturer, on BBC Radio 4’s World at One today, Monday 30th March 2020. It is by far the most high-powered criticism, made in public by a senior figure of considerable reputation and merit, of government policy on the corona virus. I shall be providing a transcript as soon as I can, but in the meanwhile I ask you to disseminate it as widely as possible, as I fear that other media may not do so in these strange times.
Lord Sumption interview begins at 17 minutes into BBC R4’s World At One 30th March 2020
Here is a transcript of the whole interview.
The real problem is that when human societies lose their freedom, it’s not usually because tyrants have taken it away. It’s usually because people willingly surrender their freedom in return for protection against some external threat. And the threat is usually a real threat but usually exaggerated. That’s what I fear we are seeing now. The pressure on politicians has come from the public. They want action. They don’t pause to ask whether the action will work. They don’t ask themselves whether the cost will be worth paying. They want action anyway. And anyone who has studied history will recognise here the classic symptoms of collective hysteria.
Hysteria is infectious. We are working ourselves up into a lather in which we exaggerate the threat and stop asking ourselves whether the cure may be worse than the disease.
Q At a time like this as you acknowledge, citizens do look to the state for protection, for assistance, we shouldn’t be surprised then if the state takes on new powers, that is what it has been asked to do, almost demanded of it.
A Yes that is absolutely true. We should not be surprised. But we have to recognise that this is how societies become despotisms. And we also have to recognise this is a process which leads naturally to exaggeration. ...
... The Press has engaged in a fair amount of scrutiny, there has been some good and challenging journalism, but mostly the Press has, I think, echoed and indeed amplified the general panic.... [NB: At least some of the press in the UK has engaged in some scrutiny. Most of the mainstream press in the US is following the "pandemic plan" and not questioning anything, even when there's plenty of scientific evidence that doesn't agree with the official narrative.]
I am not a scientist but it is the right and duty of every citizen to look and see what the scientists have said and to analyse it for themselves and to draw common sense conclusions. We are all perfectly capable of doing that and there’s no particular reason why the scientific nature of the problem should mean we have to resign our liberty into the hands of scientists. We all have critical faculties and it’s rather important, in a moment of national panic, that we should maintain them....
Well, I am
a scientist, and one important thing everyone forgets is that "Science" should never
be making the decisions on anything. Science's proper role is to say "this is what the evidence suggests,and here are the arguments for and against this being true." then it's society's
role to choose what to do with that information.
And by society I personally prefer not ceding our right to make choices to the politicians and the media or "the scientists" (which generally means the loudest and most confident-appearing people and/or those who have the ear of the politicians) , but allowing people themselves to choose. In other words, if you tell people they shouldn't go to the beach on spring break, or they shouldn't visit a public park in Paris, or they shouldn't go to a pub in the UK, and they still do in spite of the warnings, the proper course of action is not IMO to criminalize normal behavior or lock everyone into their houses like 5-year-olds "because you didn't listen" but to accept the will of the people and/or find other ways to cope or limit crowding.*
*For instance, one touristy beach town got upset this spring because too many people were descending on it on warm spring days for a bit of pleasure. So they decided to completely close the beach and posted police to keep anyone from going for a walk, even on cold, blustery days when people stayed away and there was not the slightest danger of getting within several hundred feet of someone else. But they could have been able to control the crowd size quite easily, given the layout of the place and its relative isolation, by temporarily closing a proportion of the parking spaces. It was easier for their politicians to play authoritarian and use the police to punish wrong-thinkers than to use psychology and think outside the box...
It's sad there are so few people of Lord Sumption's caliber, but an awful lot of selfish and paranoid folks who want their government to criminalize perfectly ordinary actions of their fellow citizens to "protect" themselves against a natural event that can't actually be stopped by any means we have. Especially when they could protect and isolate themselves if they're vulnerable or just afraid.
I am honestly shocked at what has happened since February. Cancellation of large public gatherings like conventions and parades, sure, I anticipated that and thought it was sensible. Suggestions advising people on physical distancing, hand hygiene, limits on the number of people in stores to avoid overcrowding, etc. sure. Advice to stay home if you feel sick, even if it's just a scratchy throat and you're not sure, absolutely yes. (giving people extra, COVID-specific, sick leave was one of the better ideas during this pandemic) But mass border closures, mask mandates enforced by fines and jail time, hotlines for informers to report their neighbors breaking the rules, drone surveillance, people forbidden from leaving their home except for government-allowed purposes, having a barbecue with friends or a wedding or funeral criminalized (unless you're George Floyd, in which case you got several large funerals, at least some at public expense), public parks and beaches and walking trails closed or open at the whim of the authorities, police not allowing married couples to sit on the same public bench, governments prohibiting businesses from operating, states forbidding hotels from accepting people from other states, etc? In supposedly "free" western societies? Never in my wildest dreams. It's like sanity and adult independence fled when the media pumped most people full of fear, and now it seems like everyone has just accepted it.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/0 ... ndermined/
One of the cruellest tricks that a sadistic jailer can play on political prisoners is to hint that they are about to be released, to wave the keys to their cells before their eyes – and then, at the last moment, to snatch away the promise of freedom.
That is pretty much what the government has done to the entire population over the past week. The everyday deprivations of lockdown had become – like accustomed imprisonment of most kinds – almost endurable, until the experience of something like normal life was restored.
Even more important than the details of those relaxed rules was the emergence of hope...
The news ran through the public consciousness like an electric current. Not only was there to be an even more limiting prohibition on gatherings of family and friends but, on a wider front, there now seemed to be doubt cast over the entire future: the optimism that had driven the back-to-work and back-to-school movements was giving way to a renewed doom model in which no guarantees of any kind could be offered for the foreseeable future.
The government, I am quite sure, has underestimated the shock and indignation that its Rule of Six diktat produced in the country because it is, by all accounts, relying on opinion polling and focus groups to keep in touch with public attitudes....
...In fact, my (and quite possibly your) experience of talking to real people gives a very different picture of the public state of mind from the quiescent one that official figures might suggest.
Even before last week’s bombshell announcement, I was struck by how widely the true facts of the current situation had permeated the popular consciousness. Casual conversations with neighbours in the street, with people in shops and at the hairdressers’ revealed that almost all of them had taken in the important anomaly: that while numbers of “new cases” (in reality, just positive test results) were increasing, hospital admissions and deaths were not....
I've had the same experience and I was just talking with a friend about the idiocy of not being allowed to stop at a restaurant if you forgot your mask, although everyone will take their mask off for an hour or so while being seated
. I've had other spontaneous conversations with people who don't believe the hype about the virus being deadly to everyone (though all seem to recognize that it can be very dangerous to people in certain groups), or all the "rules" being needed at this point. Once someone realizes you're not going to chastise them for not agreeing with the official media line, what they really think comes out.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/20 ... le-reason/
Don’t panic, Britain – Christmas isn’t cancelled. And here’s the simple reason why
The Government may have lost faith in the common sense of the people. But there’s a flaw in its draconian new plan
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/0 ... -lockdown/
Not even Agatha Christie could have dreamt up a twist like this. Before he entered Downing Street, Boris Johnson was, above all else, a vigorous defender of personal liberty. A tireless opponent of the nanny state. An implacable foe of bureaucratic bossiness. If he believed in anything at all, it was freedom.
And what does he do when he gets into power? He makes Christmas dinner a criminal offence....
Or is it? Actually, I don’t think it can be – whatever the Government says. In practice, cancelling the traditional family Christmas would be impossible. It doesn’t matter what laws the Government lays down, nor how many Boris Busybodies – aka “Covid marshals” – it recruits. The fact is this. Every Christmas, around 12 million people travel across this country to visit their families. And if, this December, 12 million people – or half that, or just a quarter, or even a sixth – decide that, to hell with the new limit, they’re going to spend Christmas with their families anyway, there are no practical means by which the Government can stop them.
What are the Boris Busybodies going to do? Erect a police road block at the end of every street? Ban the sale of petrol? Spend the whole of December going from house to house, slashing the tyres of every Volvo in Britain? …”
A mask will be compulsory when ordering a takeaway kebab or burger. Unless, that is, there is a table somewhere, but make sure you sit down right away, and don’t stop to chat to someone in the queue. Likewise, masks will be mandatory in shops, unless you happen to be under 11. Or a shop worker. Or talking to someone who lip reads. Or suffer from a mental or physical disability.
Or, for that matter, if you live in Scotland, in which case there are a whole separate set of rules to follow, such as making sure you are wearing a mask on open-air train platforms, although not bus stops, except if you are buying a sausage roll from the kiosk, in which case, well, it might be best to check first. Oh, and apparently anyone ordering a vegan sandwich will be exempt from all the restrictions. OK, OK, I made that last one up. But the rest were among the blizzard of rules introduced haphazardly over the last few days.
But hold on. This is getting crazy. What is the justification for each of these diktats? We are apparently not trusted to know. Are they proportionate? There is barely an answer. Why are they being introduced now, when the virus is in retreat? Don’t ask me. Perversely, we are getting bogged down in petty rules and restrictions just as we are trying to emerge from lockdown and bring the economy back to life....
I too have reached the point where I'm angry and say "enough!" to all this control over my life and my actions. The authorities and the authoritarian rule-makers (including those in businesses who wouldn't know a valid public health measure from a pointless one if it bit them in the face*) forfeited willing cooperation long ago.
As the Telegraph's Christmas is cancelled article points out, or LA having to walk back its criminalization of Halloweeen, this is the flaw in their plans - the government is relying on people to cooperate and, if enough people say "enough is enough," that's the end of it. For example, I have reason to suspect that all Easter or Mother's Day gatherings were NOT cancelled around here and, as far as I know, everyone minded their own business and didn't snitch.
*For example, ritual employee symptom checking stations that ensure people who would ordinarily never meet during the workday now funnel through the same small airspace with everyone else over a brief period of time. "Stand here" signs that ensure you're 6 feet from the person in front of you in line.... but manage to minimize your space from other people (especially amusing when you're practically standing next to someone in the next aisle, both wearing masks that direct your breath sideways ). And, my personal favorite, a place that used to be a 5-minute in-and-out impulse purchase, which has turned it into an elaborate ritual that ensures you're exposed to at least 3-4 employees, instead of one, and stand around inside near a group of strangers waiting for another 5-10 minutes instead of just receiving your item directly from the person placing your order and leaving. All they really had to do was limit the number of people inside at one time and keep their usual system and they'd have been safer. So much of this "safety" stuff lately is kabuki theater.
btw, I always think it's interesting that schoolkids didn't have to wear masks during the 2009 flu pandemic, which was a bigger threat to them than this coronavirus. Hmmm, maybe people then were still able to evaluate the pros and cons of mask wearing rationally, especially in kids, and look at all those decades of research about masks of different types and their effects on viruses, many of which are also spread in the late incubation period before you become symptomatic?
There's a reason Sweden recently looked at masks and decided not to recommend them for the general public:
"We do not currently recommend face masks in public settings since the scientific evidence around the effectiveness of face masks in combatting the spread of infection is unclear. However, there may be situations where face masks can be useful despite the uncertain state of knowledge about the effects."
"Some countries have chosen to view face masks as a form of security and hope that universal use of face masks will reduce the risk of infection spreading from people who are in the incubation period, before the symptoms are apparent, or who have such mild or unspecific symptoms that they do not consider themselves ill.
The Public Health Agency of Sweden does not recommend the general use of face masks, as a face mask that itches or slips down below the nose may mean a person is regularly touching their mouth, eyes or nose with their hands, which can increase the risk of the infection spreading...."
Both statements are accurate and fair.
And kids are likely to do even worse things for pathogen spread, like "Your mask is really cute! Can I try it on?... "
EDIT: At least Sweden doesn't lie to people:
https://thehill.com/homenews/administra ... -a-vaccine
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield said Wednesday that wearing a mask is more guaranteed to protect someone from the coronavirus than taking a vaccine.
Redfield, speaking at a Senate hearing, emphasized the importance of wearing masks, noting that an eventual vaccine is not expected to work in 100 percent of people, and might only work in, say, 70 percent. But a mask is guaranteed to offer at least some protection for all wearers, he added, though it is far from total protection.
"We have clear scientific evidence they work, I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine, because the immunogenicity may be 70 percent and if I don't get an immune response, the vaccine's not going to protect me, this face mask will," Redfield said....
Yeah, if he's wearing a fit-tested N95. Otherwise, bullshit.
slightly amused that he's forgotten the party line though. Wasn't it supposed to be that masks don't protect you, they protect others? I always figured that was fairly clever. It takes care of the doubts when a mask wearer gets infected anyway. (It wasn't your mask that was ineffective; it was that horrible other person who wasn't wearing one.) It gives the public an incentive to play enforcer, since it's the other person's mask that's supposed to protect you. And it also makes it really tough to do a conclusive study that demonstrates masks are ineffective.
[To be fair, what they say is not incorrect, in a way - they're just stretching it. The idea behind wearing a mask to the doctor is you have a symptomatic respiratory disease is that, in case of coughing/ sneezing, the mask can control droplets to some extent. It's probably more effective, of course, to block your cough/sneeze with a solid physical barrier like a tissue in hand or elbow, but the mask is an extra layer of at least theoretical protection. Where they're stretching things is to assume it works the same way if you're just breathing and asymptomatic, and that this outweighs all the real world issues and decades of studies with other infectious diseases. Plus decades of arguments on this very subject between experts.
Redfield goes on to say:
These face masks are the most important, powerful public health tool we have, and I will continue to appeal for all Americans to embrace these face coverings, if we did it for six, eight, 10, 12 weeks we'd bring this pandemic under control," Redfield said
Yeah, like California, which has had a mask mandate for months and is still following a similar curve as states without mask wearing? What bugs me even more is that he's being utterly irresponsible, saying masks are the most important public measure. With this, he encourages all the people who are emboldened by the masks to ignore physical distancing and get close to people. Not that they weren't already doing this.
btw, they tried masks against SARS during that outbreak in Asia and, to this day, scientists debate whether they did any good. Which means if they had any effect, it was marginal at best. I expect the same thing to happen with COVID-19.
Anyway, people will believe what they want to believe. Screw it. I don't care any more. The mask push, and much of the public's enthusiastic response, reminds me of the propaganda about those elusive weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, when the US wanted to go to war. Most people swallowed that lie, then were surprised it turned out not be true. (I didn't, actually. I always thought attacking Iraq was going to be a big and expensive mistake, if you did any reading about the country, its factions, and its history. )
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/family/life ... die-covid/
The text message arrived at 9.30am last Friday: “A child in the class has tested positive for Covid-19. Please come and collect your own child immediately.”
Six days into the start of term, it was the news every parent at the North London primary school had been dreading. But one of them, a mother-of-four whose son was among those sent home when his Year Four “bubble” shut down, did not foresee the emotional toll the incident would take on him.
“He had been sitting next to the infected child on Monday and Tuesday, until the school sent [the child] home coughing. My son was sobbing when he came out of school, and saying ‘you’re all going to die because I’m going to catch coronavirus and pass it to you and daddy, and it will all be my fault!’
“He’s worried about infecting everyone in our house. He’d just got back into the routine of being at school and seeing his friends, and now he’s back out again.”
Anecdotal evidence suggests the parent, who asked to remain anonymous lest her child felt more stigmatised, is one of many who have watched in dismay as their child has become newly traumatised since schools have reopened. In place is a strict new system designed to protect public health. But many fear it could be doing untold damage to school pupils as they struggle to make sense of what is going on....
And yet "mommy and daddy," in most cases, are going to be well within the range of people who suffer few or no ill effects from this virus. Even in the 50-60 year old age group, last I saw, survival was estimated around 99.7%, and the average parent is much younger than that. The risk rises a bit in 60-70 year olds (I think the survival rate is a little under 99%), then rises more drastically after 70 and especially after 80, as the number of people with other serious health issues gets higher.
It's been interesting to me that some of the people they've managed to seriously terrify and turn into government informants are among younger adults who've blown what's possibly a mild risk factor* out of proportion. :
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/family/life ... covidiots/
Like virtually every Briton, lockdown transformed my life overnight. I was furloughed for five months from my job in the entertainment industry, and missed a number of key birthdays and gatherings with friends for which I had been excited for months.
My asthma made it particularly important that I did not catch the virus, turning me into something of a prisoner in my own home in Berkshire, where I live with family.
But, with tens of thousands of deaths across the country, each of them bringing unbearable heartache, never once did I question the importance of following lockdown rules.
And so, as early as March and April, when the country was still in the midst of a full national lockdown, it was deeply frustrating to see some of my neighbours flouting the restrictions completely.
I looked out of my window to see guests arriving at neighbours’ houses; at weekends, my local parks were full of large crowds, with no attempt to socially distance; and on buses and trains, many of my fellow passengers refused to wear masks.
I did not hesitate to report larger gatherings to the authorities, either to the police on 101, or online....
To me, this sort of behavior seems another symptom of the mental health effects of scaring and isolating people and making them see fellow humans as terrifying sources of contagion. I fail to see how this guy's neighbors meeting friends or going to the park were threatening him unless he went out and socialized with them.
* https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-tr ... vid-asthma
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is scary for all people, but for those with asthma there is great fear that they will have a worse outcome or be more likely to get SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). It is important to know that currently there is no evidence of increased infection rates in those with asthma. And although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that patients with moderate-severe asthma could be at greater risk for more severe disease, there are no published data to support this determination at this time. There has been one report suggesting that asthma may increase the risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 in 18-49 year old adults; however, this is based on a small number of patients.1 And in the opposite direction are data from New York where asthma was under-represented (so protective) in those who died from COVID-19.2...
I've seen similar analyses from other sources.
This is not in the least surprising and it's a dangerous backlash. Extremism breeds extremism. It's also not surprising it's happening among the young, who have little experience of the world and are at a susceptible age.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/ ... errifying/
Is 'wokism' creating an army of alt-Right teens? If so, the results will be terrifying
A new generation has had enough of the politically correct dogma they are fed at school - and at home by overly liberal parents
The British Hand has one deeply ineloquent goal: “To get rid of Islam and those little BLM f---ers.”
Using Instagram and Telegram, a multi-platform messaging service where “secret chats” are protected by end-to-end encryption and self-destruct timers, the neo-Nazi group has been able to spread their message and make threats, like a recent plan, shared with its more than 1,000 followers, to “attack… the Dover coast where every Muslim and refugee has been given safety”.
Their poster boys are Anders Breivik...
There’s a growing appetite for online neo-Nazi hate, you see, and - according to a new report by anti-fascism campaigners, Hope Not Hate - many of those being groomed for the white supremacist cause are as young as 12....
We know that hate breeds hate. Or is it because many parents have secretly glimpsed a watered-down version of that hate and intolerance in their own children?
Because of the generation of “baby Breitbarts” - named after the online alt-Right news network that helped propel co-founder Steve Bannon into Donald Trump’s White House - that is rising up against a censorship they feel has been imposed upon them at school, college and university, where PC dogma now often threatens to eclipse traditional subjects; at home, with their ferociously liberal parents; and in a mainstream media that seems to want them to admit their ‘unconscious bias’ and atone for the sin of being born white and privileged by self-flagellating ad infinitum?
Clamp your hand over someone’s mouth every time they speak, and what finally emerges is a howl of rage.. ...
I think something similar is also happening with COVID-19 information or information about the people killed by police. Because US media and social media platforms have clamped down on legitimate dissent, many people who question the official party line and search will find themselves on far right sites that feed them a dose of lunacy together with the information they're looking for. For instance, instead of just acknowledging that accidental lab releases of viruses are possible and have happened in the fairly recent past, even from high security labs, a fact that also appears in the legitimate scientific literature, a story might go beyond that into conspiracy theories that claim the Chinese engineered SARS-CoV2 as a test balloon for bioterrorism.... I'm sure places like Breitbart know this and are using it to gain new readers. Feed people a bit of truth, when other sources deny it, and some will think you've got the whole truth that's been hidden from them all along.
btw, I've been a little curious about some of these people who call themselves epidemiologists and strike me more as modelers/ computer scientists. When I read an article in last week's Science, "Speaking Science to Power" (https://science.sciencemag.org/content/369/6509/1282
), I learned these things:
In May, epidemiologist Caitlin Rivers.. had been called for the first time in her career to testify before Congress...
Five years out of graduate school, she is already well-versed in talking to policymakers about the science of pandemics. She has developed models to predict the spread of Middle East respiratory syndrome and Ebola, briefed the Department of Defense (DOD) on outbreak response, and tracked respiratory disease among Army service members. She's now at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, a think tank that advises U.S. and international leaders on epidemics and disasters. ..
Rivers majored in anthropology, and she brings an “anthropologist's understanding of how what seem to be totally different cultures can communicate with each other—the policy world and the modeling epidemiologists,” says Stephen Eubank, an epidemiological modeler at the University of Virginia (UVA) who mentored Rivers during her graduate training in epidemiology and infectious disease at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech).
“We are in a critical moment of this fight,” she told the representatives, warning that a clear national plan for testing, contact tracing, and strengthening health care systems was essential to prevent tens of thousands more deaths.
While she was in graduate school, Rivers and colleagues proposed creating a National Infectious Disease Forecasting Center, akin to the National Weather Service, that would put a coordinated team of epidemic modeling experts inside the government.
So her PhD is in anthropology, not microbiology/virology or immunology or medicine and she certainly doesn't have the decades of experience in infectious diseases I might have expected in a policy expert advising the government.
I took a class in physical anthropology in college (what you learn from bones/ skeletons, what we know about human evolution, etc.) just for fun and loved it, so I tried a regular anthropology class as another elective. I dropped it almost immediately, when it became clear it was going to be fuzzy science, along the lines of sociology, with a good helping of social justice philosophy. (The first day's lecture told us we were not supposed to view cultures "objectively.") So I found this fairly interesting. And the truth is that, 5 years out of your PhD, you're still wet behind the ears. You don't think you are but, when you look back later, you realize you were.