Thursday assorted links


Or how do you say leaky sieve for viruses in French?

"The ban does not apply to US citizens returning home, nor to foreign nationals who are legal permanent residents of the the US. Also exempted are foreign nationals who are:

married to US citizens or legal permanent residents

parents and guardians of US citizens or legal permanent residents aged under 21

brothers and sisters of US citizens or legal permanent residents, providing both are unmarried and under 21

children or foster children of US citizens or legal permanent residents

It also does not apply to ship and plane crews; foreign nationals invited to the US to help tackle the virus; foreign government officials and their immediate family; and foreign nationals who work for the US armed forces, international organisations including Nato and the UN, or whose entry “is deemed in the national interest”.

A month ago it was racist to ban flights to/from China. Now we're OK with abandoning US citizens overseas.

Someone said it best here yesterday (?):

Trump doesn’t say much: “he’s downplaying the dangers! Where’s the leadership!?”

Trump speaks: “he’s panicking!”

"Trump doesn’t say much". Except when he was downplaying the problem, then he was talking too much.

Just like with the China ban, no American citizens will be prevented from returning to America from Europe.

Or did you miss the part that says "The ban does not apply to US citizens returning home, nor to foreign nationals who are legal permanent residents of the the US."

Why am I not surprised that r-strategists don't have a problem stranding American citizens in foreign countries? If you guys are willing to stab your fellow citizens in the back this early in the game, who knows what you're going to do once the poop really hits the fan. This is why I've long advocated for expelling leftists from the country, you can't trust them to have your back.

But back to the issue at hand. I don't recall anyone saying the Chinese travel bans weren't racist because they didn't affect Americans.

The fact of the matter is that the policies that help us the most, or would have helped us the most, are the ones that make the left call Trump and his supporters racist xenophobes. Travel bans: racist. The wall: racist. Anything but unlimited immigration: racist. Then you guys want to turn around and say you could have handled it better? Give me a break.

Shark, get your derangement syndrome looked at it.

#2: if you stop the Chinese economy for long enough the death rate will rise by starvation.

This is exactly what I came here to post. It's great for health, up until everyone runs out of supplies.

we all love it!

If only someone had thought about the proper travel ban before this faux pas happened. Thiago should be ashamed - A Brazilian official who met with President Trump and Vice President Pence on Saturday has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Brazilian officials.

Fabio Wajngarten, communications secretary to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, posed for a photograph with Trump and Pence at a state dinner at Mar-a-Lago in Florida before returning this week to Brazil, where he developed flu-like symptoms and underwent testing.

The potential exposure again brought the covid-19 illness within proximity of Trump, who has circulated among other people who later tested positive for the coronavirus.

Wajngarten was in the United States as part of a presidential delegation to tout the Brazilian economy and meet with U.S. officials. During the trip, he was also in close contact with Bolsonaro, who is being monitored for signs of the illness, according to local media.

“The medical service of the Presidency of the Republic has adopted and is adopting all of the necessary preventive measures to preserve the health of the President of the Republic and the entire presidential committee that accompanied him in the recent official trip to the United States,” the presidential press office said in a statement.

Brazilian officials have said they have communicated the test results to their U.S. counterparts.

I had a brief look at Trump announcing his policy. He neither looked nor sounded well to me.

So I hope Mr Pence stays well because the next in line to the throne is Mrs Pelosi.

And he was using a teleprompter. Even then he flubbed his lines - Trump also said the restrictions would apply to “trade and cargo.” Then, in a tweet following his remarks, the president said trade would be not affected. “The restriction stops people not goods,” he wrote.

One hopes that he remains in good health of course, but the office takes a toll on those who hold it.

#7: if travel bans have only modest effectiveness may much of the beneficial effect be reaped by allowing the population to make its own decisions to cut down on travelling?

There are so many more questions than answers.

"modest effectiveness" in the early stages of viral pandemic
shouldn't be underrated

especially when sociologists against the travel restrictions
are bigly overrating the current effectiveness "testing"

Fair point. On the other hand, from the British report I mention below:

"Modelling suggests that imposing a 90% restriction on all air travel to the UK at the point a pandemic emerges would only delay the peak of a pandemic wave by one to two weeks. ... During 2009 it became clear that the pandemic virus had already spread widely before international authorities were alerted, suggesting that in any case the point of pandemic emergence had been missed by several weeks. ...

Given the expected two to three day incubation period for pandemic influenza, there is no evidence of any public health benefit to be gained from meeting planes from affected countries or similar pro-active measures such as thermal scanning or other screening methods. Such measures are largely ineffective, impractical to implement and highly resource intensive."

whenever we read a sociology study about a viral pandemic
that says"modeling suggests" and then makes 8 bold claims
we are skeptical
we say ask Melania!

ya right all under control
go out shopping and buy stuff
oh wait that was George Bush that said that

#1 "Probably this is not the end of the world. But a plague is creeping around the globe at a seemingly exponential rate, killing some of us and affecting all of us. "

This is insane, why do you post this garbage

Big shock coming from a humanities professor. She also wrote: "... it fills me with childlike panic to contemplate the possibility of my sons’ generation as the final one."

If Harvard geneticist George Church is correct, her son will see his age start to reverse in about ten years. Now that sounds like the end of humanity to me. Maybe better not to mention the brain interface device that her son will have in the 2030s...

How did that NR trial you were excited about last year go?

Genetically engineered age reversal in ten years trumps NR. The accute kidney disease trial went well enough that Elysium was granted permission by the FDA to apply for drug status ,for Basis (1,000 mg NR + 200 mg of pterostilbine) so that's pretty cool. There are three heart failure trial papers using NR coming out soon and in fall. And there is likely to be an NR on immunity paper published soon as well. So, all in all, NR is coming along quite swimmingly.

10 years is a joke, so why do you keep saying stuff like that? In the middle of a global pandemic that we will need a year just to develop a vaccine, you think a few years later there will be widespread aging reversal?

I know why you do that, because 10 years is far enough away for us all to be long gone when you are laughably incorrect.

Yeah, because as we all know, science grinds to a halt for a decade when there is a pandemic.

Oh, and Harvard geneticist George Church told that to 60 Minutes a few weeks ago, not me.

She's supposed to be really smart. Smartest person i know is in a massive funk. What is it with IQ that sends you down a depressive vortex ?!

Ignorance is bliss
Pessimism sounds smart

The end is nigh! And #1 is self-recommending! :)

How long have we got? At a recent public talk, the economist Tyler Cowen spitballed the number of remaining years at 700.

Sounds about right, seven being a very symbolic number.

The End Is Nigh

Climate Change is going to kill you

Guns [150,000,000 Americans killed since 2005] are going to kill you

Voting out globalist oligarchs and technocrats (populism) is going to kill you

Outlawing abortion is going to kill you

The Dreaded Wuhan Death Plague is going to kill you

See the pattern?

So responses to many crises are things lobby groups pushed for decades.

As I often do around here, I began reading and abruptly stopped when I realized it was Democrat agitprop poorly disguised as fiction. you often do around here you vomited up some more useless partisan garbage.

The Butcher was correct on all points.

Irrational panicky nonsense. She should know better.

I tried to listen to the podcast she did with Eric Weinstein last night when I couldn't sleep. I found it highly disjointed, unnecessarily jargon-y, and mostly a waste of time. This essay wasn't quite as bad, but it wasn't great, either.

1 canada is getting a little panicky
can sumbody tell them the end is not nigh

It's the left's form of disaster porn, akin to the right's guilty obsession with Red Dawn. They're both intentionally hyperbolic.

"... at a seemingly exponential rate, killing some of us and affecting all of us" is a somewhat dramatic way of saying that the coronavirus is killing a very small number of people, most of whom were [I've been advised to delete this part]. "Climate change" whatever your feelings about it (there, will that forestall the well-worn tangent?) is an actual doomsday scenario. This coronavirus on the other hand is almost certainly a side effect of some people's addiction to bushmeat and some other people's addiction to international travel. I'd like to think it if it were even more serious, it wouldn't already be verboten to mention those things. I know, I know, international travel "broadens the mind."* Okay, yes, I concede that it does, in principle, if your mind was open to begin with; but I expect most travelers are busybodies out to broaden other people's minds, or over-traveling for no reason that would pass muster, and there will be no pain in dialing it back.

*I think Genghis Khan had a tee shirt that said just that.

You're not entirely wrong. It's silly to think that travel has any sort of magical impact on a person's life. Privileged college students are especially guilty of acting like it's the greatest thing in the world and a lot of people travel mostly to show off. But travel is still well worth doing; even at its worst, it's never nearly as much of a waste of time as most of the things that most people do with their free time are. And you get out of it what you put into it.

Once the virus passes, we will travel again. International travel will become a growth industry again. I don't understand this "anti-travel" mentality by certain political factions (alt-right, for example). I think these are people who simply don't get out much and have real, well-rounded life-styles.

Of course, we could develop fully immersive VR, followed by true mind/computer link up, and make obsolete by that means. Why put up with the hassles of 14 hour flights when you can "jack" into a fully immersive VR in the net and explore by drone?

Do any of you with anti-travel bias have any stock recommendations for the development of the latter? If so, I'm all ears.

Might speak more to the lost art or custom of making your home a place you would feel attached to, and that others might even want to see/visit ... versus the place you get away from as fast as ever you can when you've got some leisure time, to travel to somewhere else its total and better-by-comparison opposite in every way. Whose lessons you may not return with, under any circumstances ... And to policy set far above one's head, that canonizes this blandness (and should you sense something was missing, and it wasn't always thus, well, no threat but TPTB can provide you on the instant with an atmosphere much worse than blandness).

Just a guess.

You are right in *your* guess - I do have certain limitations apart from being merely out of tune with fashion; I'm certain all the children hereabouts are more well-traveled than me by about seven. Still, I've not been bored since I was a small child. *Here* even as attenuated as it is - and with oddball status (so I've often been made aware) - and the history of this place and how we came here, and every plant and bird, is of interest to me. And how to make daily life as full and charming and locally specific as possible in what others might describe as the flyover territory of American life. I find I am a perfectly ordinary type in old books, though - no hint of alt-right about it, unless alt-right is in fact a word for something much less sinister. I am super Local.

The Jet Age has brought wonders, but I'm not sure that a new and more wondrous type of human is one of them.

1. This kind of article just shows how risk-averse people have become, which is in some ways ironically a manifestation of our own success because our very high material standard of living makes life very pleasurable and therefore risks to life very bad. Let’s say the worst case scenario for coronavirus happens where everyone in the world is infected and 2-4% of the world’s people die this year. Tragic certainly, but not the end of the human race. In 1918, we just treated it as “stuff happens” and then got on with the Roaring Twenties. If we get that kind of death rate today, we’re probably looking at at least an economic collapse going by what’s happening to the stock market and restrictions on travel now even though this disease is by all indicators less deadly than the Spanish Flu. Ditto for climate change—although it will be challenging and we should take steps to mitigate it, there are plenty of societies that are surviving and even thriving in warmer climates. It’s not an existential threat, and not even as pressing of a problem as global poverty.

I remember in the 90s when the zeitgeist was profoundly optimistic—people were noting that technologies were ever increasing human capability over nature and finally there was convergence and economic development in poor countries. Both of these trends may have slowed but are still moving in the same direction. Yet the zeitgeist seems to have transformed from trans-humanism to “are we the last generation”? And how widespread is this change in zeitgeist? I bet many people in fast-growing developing countries today feel that they are the first or second generation of modern humans rather than the last.

"Ditto for climate change—although it will be challenging and we should take steps to mitigate it, there are plenty of societies that are surviving and even thriving in warmer climates. It’s not an existential threat, and not even as pressing of a problem as global poverty."

Yes people live right on the equator but no one lives at the poles.

-1 - many people live within 10 km of the rising seas...solve for the (underwater) equilibrium

If we get that kind of death rate today, we’re probably looking at at least an economic collapse going by what’s happening to the stock market

The "investors" that make the world go around are ever-alert for any possibility that might effect stock prices either up or down. The Wuhan flu is perfect, especially coupled with an oil glut that is benefiting the normals and ravaging the investors in the shale oil industry. Selling near the top of the cycle and getting back in later is the ticket for the wise guys, just as it was after the 2008 real estate crash. People seem to forget that every transaction involves both a seller and a buyer.

I see no reason for economic collapse even with a Spanish Flu level death rates or even higher. Once this thing blows over, we pick up the pieces (even at 10cents a dollar_ and get on with life.

From "UK Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy 2011":

Influenza pandemic planning in the UK has been based on an assessment of the “reasonable worst case”. This is derived from the experience and a mathematical analysis of influenza pandemics and seasonal influenza in the 20th century. This suggests that, given known patterns of spread of infection, up to 50 per cent of the population could experience symptoms of pandemic influenza during one or more pandemic waves lasting 15 weeks, although the nature and severity of the symptoms would vary from person to person.

For deaths, the analysis of previous influenza pandemics suggests that we should plan for a situation in which up to 2.5% of those with symptoms would die as a result of influenza, assuming no effective treatment was available.

7. It's a bit late for a travel ban if we already have community spread in New York and Washington State.
What the situation calls for is testing and social distancing, cancellations of large events.

5. Any pre-coronavirus take on privacy is already obsolete.

After the introductory phase of the plague, the question becomes: how soon can you end the emergency social distancing measures? You simply have to, sooner than you'd like, or else the economic damage starts to become unbearable, maybe even unrecoverable. Many service-sector jobs have to be performed in person, not remotely.

"Flattening the curve" spares the most human lives, but also causes much greater harm to the economy because a flatter curve has a much longer duration.

Maybe the only way you can bring society back to life without disastrous delay is to implement China-like policies that are the most invasive to privacy: tracking where everyone has been and who they have been in contact with. Not just retrospectively and forensically, but almost in real-time. Otherwise, any relaxation of restrictions only causes the plague to flare up again.

6. The EPA is down like 30% in staffing since 2000. Might be a coinkedink in there somewhere

NEPA is something that is implemented by all federal agencies, not just the EPA. The Council on Environmental Quality (a White House agency) has the lead role.

The point is, this process is following the classic deregulation playbook.

1. Complain
2. De-fund
3. Control
4. Destroy

It's quite self-fulfilling, on purpose.

Has the EPA ever actually been defunded?

You hear the disinformation that the CDC has been defunded (pro-tip, it has not, the budget is higher than Obama era CDC) all the time now.

Incidentally, Tom Hanks has it - he is 63.

There's an awesome pic of him in isolation, where someone rolled in a volleyball with a face painted on it.

The great Agnes Callard, whom I aspire to emulate but realistically can only hope to learn from ... gets it slightly wrong.

“We are living in frightening times.“

I’m in history but a lot of it is tedious. More popular history, however, is often superb. Current books on deck: Toll on the Pacific theatre, Rome under Justinian (a REAL plague!), new translation (ugh) of the great Tacitus, and the Napoleonic Wars: A Global History by Alexander Mikaberidze (LSU Shreveport). My point?

A case can be made that every age is to some extent frightening. Our age is not especially terrible, for most of us. In fact, we live in pretty decent times, where we can occasionally put our feet up and enjoy some nice fiction. Say, some P. D. James.

The conclusion: “ The Last Generation. Scientists and politicians must work to delay their arrival as long as possible; humanists, by contrast, must help prepare us for them.” I’m not so sure the humanists have the tools.

#1 Perfect link showing the hysteria that drives our current thoughts.

#2 Only possible if the reaction to the virus was vastly out of proportion. It was.

#7 Travel bans are modestly effective, unless international in which case they are quite effective. We're doing the right thing.

#2- not true! In the absence of the emergency measures, more people may have died of coronavirus than were saved by reduced air pollution. In fact I think that is probably true.

700 years, Tyler ?

Derived from a carefully constructed model, I'm sure.

When I heard him say 700 years on a podcast over a year ago, I assumed he was recalling something from the Book of Revelation but didn't get the number exactly right. Probably off 300 years.

Is Agnes Collard a "realist"? Does she qualify as an "optimist"?

(She might care to read a reflective essay herself: )

--or, she may care at least to extrapolate a bit: of course, biological organisms (conscious of the prospect of death or no) die in very short order on cosmic scales, just as their species die (apex predators of their day, the dinosaurs had no pesky virus to contend with but a huge slap to the planet from an uninvited piece of space debris [it would be some kind of thrill to learn that the space debris that killed the dinosaurs ALSO brought to our planet the coronavirus that now concerns us]).

We die individually, and our entire species will follow, who knows when (no "ifs" permitted). One day, our entire planet will die. One day, our sun will die. Assuming the Andromeda Galaxy stays on course, one day our galaxy will face strenuous reconfiguration. --and physicists assure us: one fine day, the entire "physical universe" of baryonic matter and its leptons and sub-atomic constituents will cease to be, whether through absorption by dark energy and dark matter or some other process.

Astronomers can point out to us today that an "ill-placed" hypernova (which we would probably not have detected in any prior moment) in our quarter of the Milky Way could well snuff us all out in one moment and no one would be the wiser.

No guarantees ever. Everything real today on our planet emerged from our and our planet's past (photography tells the same terrestrial story that astronomy tells with its celestial surveys--ALL reality has emerged from "the past"): the future remains mostly unknown in both macro- and micro- perspectives. Nothing seems to've materially changed.

#4 Iron lung is a simple effective device in use since the 1920s. I imagine any machine shop could make them.

I know nothing about Agnes Callard beyond the content of this essay; but, based on this limited sample, she comes across as a shockingly speciest philosopher. There are plausible estimates that, in the short term at least, COVID-19 has saved human lives by reducing the intensity of industrial activity. Presumably, other species have benefited even more (imagine being a plant, or non-human animal, in close proximity to a coal fed power plant). The great philosophical issue isn’t human life, it’s life period, and, frankly, it’s not at all clear that human beings have contributed much to the later.

So you are in the humans are like locusts camp no?

#1 is idiotic. Full stop. And I'm sure Tyler 700 was just trolling that audience. It worked.

Have you ever heard Tyler makes sense in the world of science and technology in the past decade?

#1...I had Sam Scheffler in college for independent study of Rawls and Nozick. Along with a bit of Alan Gewirth, I managed to successfully synthesize the three of them into one organic and awfully compelling position. Or that's how I remember it. In any case, Sam's books are excellent.

“Since Auschwitz we know what man is capable of. And since Hiroshima we know what is at stake.” ― Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning

How do we get by? One way is to read about people who faced terrifying foes and odds and yet prevailed. I recommend Brave Genius: A Scientist, a Philosopher, and Their Daring Adventures from the French Resistance to the Nobel Prize by Sean B. Carroll. As far as we can meaningfully see into the future, we can make it there if we will. Another Victor Frankl quote I like.

“One evening, when we were already resting on the floor of our hut, dead tired, soup bowls in hand, a fellow prisoner rushed in and asked us to run out to the assembly grounds and see the wonderful sunset. Standing outside we saw sinister clouds glowing in the west and the whole sky alive with clouds of ever-changing shapes and colors, from steel blue to blood red. The desolate grey mud huts provided a sharp contrast, while the puddles on the muddy ground reflected the glowing sky. Then, after minutes of moving silence, one prisoner said to another, "How beautiful the world could be...”

If that prisoner could see meaning in such a place, we sure as hell can from ours.

Yours might be one of the best posts ever on this blog.

Regarding the flight 93 reference and what people might do with no time left, they called their loved ones to say "I love you".

In the end, all that matters is love.

EdR, Thank you. Really.

#2 But we already knew that reducing particulate emissions has a hugely positive NPV. Maybe this natural experiment will push policy makers to actually levy those Pigou taxes that can lead to greater future incomes. [And maybe the clear analogy to CO2 emissions will be noticed.]

Assessing the environmental impacts of a project is part of any competent cost benefit analysis. There was never any need for a separate review.

#1 70,000 years ago the planet's human population briefly diminished to a few thousand. Exactly what kind of disaster would it take to wipe out every last human? Pathogens and climate change aren't up to the task. Neither is warfare unless H-bombing every square inch of land somehow becomes a desirable strategy. The real existential threats are still extraterrestrial and far-fetched.

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