Thursday assorted links

1. Less Wrong coronavirus database (now upgraded).

2. My 2017 video on The Great Reset.  And David Wright podcast on how Covid hits the poor.

3. MIE: In Beijing restaurants “many delivery orders now often include cards listing the names and temperatures of all the staff involved in preparing your food.”

4. The limits of infrastructure stimulus.  And the case against airline bailouts.  And database of state quarantine regulations.

5. Paul Romer’s simulations for tests and targeted isolation.  And more from Romer.  And a third Paul Romer simulation: even an eighty percent false negative rate helps fight a pandemic.  I’ll be writing more on this soon.

6. Health and pandemics econ working group.  And Senegalese music video.

7. “This paper examines the puzzling phenomenon that many Chinese liberal intellectuals fervently idolize Donald Trump and embrace the alt-right ideologies he epitomizes.

8. Cheap mechanical ventilators?

9. Someone wise once told me that you get into the most trouble/controversy making statements that (pretty much) everyone agrees with.  Here is my Bloomberg column on university endowments, which endorses the policies of virtually all elite universities, and by extension their presidents and boards.  Or for that matter virtually all businesses that have had to opt for lay-offs.

10. The problems of post-acute care.

11. During the shutdown, the creativity pours forth (Joseph’s Machines).

12. UK fiction sales surge, most of all long classics.

13. Covid-19 seems to be most dangerous across Italian-speaking Swiss cantons, then French-speaking cantons, then German-speaking, big differences.

Comments

5. Are these simulations assuming a certain percentage of false negative, and then 100% compliance? That's not really the way this works. Especially for family spread. Of course one can consider it to be a sum of the two, 80% false negative in the model is really the combination of false negative and non or poor compliance.

https://www.livescience.com/how-coronavirus-tests-work.html

How do the new coronavirus tests work?

What happens next to these samples is very different. The throat swab is well suited for polymerase chain reaction testing, also known as PCR, while the blood sample will be mined for antibodies specific to the new disease, known as COVID-19.

Related: Live updates on COVID-19
Both tests take just hours to run, meaning results could be ready within a day, said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious-diseases specialist and a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore. However, once the rapid form of these PCR and antibody tests are created, results could be ready in under an hour, he said.
"There are rapid PCR tests, but they're not quite yet available" for the new coronavirus in the United States, Adalja told Live Science.

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In the article, PCR tests for virus activity, blood sample for anti-bodies. The docs think our immune response responds almost immediately, also evidenced by fever and lung failure which are over stimulated immune function.

The docs will be perplexed. In extreme stress, suppress immune response, in early positives with no symptoms, maybe boost immune response. For the statistician, this means remission times will be shortened by the docs, they have some real clues going on. Thus my model predicts infrequent outbreaks at equilibrium, maybe 1 in 40 neighborhoods per season.

Economic cost?
At equlibrium I have one in foprty neighborhoods suffering the utbreak. The cost to contain 200 million per and there are 200 neighborhoods in the USA. Less than a few billion a year.

Outbreaks will reduce output in the affected areas by half, but only 2.5% of GDP is affected and hospital costs have been minimized (no multiplier ). GDP effect small, no worse than flu. We suffer a bunch of dead Boomers along the way.

so much "information" so little truth..meanwhile herd mentality is committing economic suicide...one cut at a time...begin reopening the economy CAREFULLY now....this isn't the black plague

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As an aside, I asked for by-state growth rates yesterday. Someone said use death rates ..

https://twitter.com/DouthatNYT/status/1243236302813831171?s=19

As congratulatory as that caption is, I'm not sure we can take credit yet. It could be that you need a critical mass before bad things happen.

Was California fortunate enough to lock down before critical mass? We can pray so.

Newsom certainly comes out better than almost all other governors in the country right now. He made a politically risky call based on the evidence he had available. Remains to be seen if it’s tenable in the long term.

Apropos of nothing and maybe I haven’t thought it through: shouldn’t the X axis also be days since ‘deaths per X population’ also?

At first glance it will skew the data visualization by making the derivative artificially lower for more populated states ?

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Per capita, hilarious.

We're not at the point, in the US, where population is a limiting factor.

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+1
the model doesn't seem to account for real world behavior

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8 - Yes, yes. As I already pointed out in a previous comment, effective ventilators (iron lung) were used already in the 1920s. They really worked. My fathers MA thesis at MIT in electrical engineering involved circuits to better regulate the iron lungs that were in use for polio patients at that time. This is an incredibly primitive technology that was used effectively on tens of thousands of patients over the last 90 years. It's obvious to met that a simple and effective respirator could be hacked for a few hundred euros.

#8 - also this: https://vosizneias.com/2020/03/22/attn-hospitals-how-to-hack-a-ventilators-to-service-more-people/

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mebbe but
accurate positive end expiratory pressure (PEEP) production and monitoring may be the crux in cheaper ventilator production

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I’ve seen that Joesph’s Machines video before, it’s definitely pre-quarantine

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Just a few problems with Tyler's arguments:
--His main point, the need for *focus* on universities' main mission, isn't actually argued for. He doesn't say why using a small percentage of the endowment to pay workers that are *necessary* to its function detracts in the slightest, let alone significantly, from the mission of learning and innovation.
--non-sequitur concerning helping anyone in trouble around the world. Again, these workers have a concrete relationship with the university and are necessary to its mission. Tyler explicitly notices that other universities are necessary to the functions of the elite ones. I'll let you guess why he's blind to the necessity of its workers.
--Saying that X has historically contributed to some good does not automatically justify X or continuing to do X. Everyone is familiar with example after example from history.
Tyler claims he is defending a "radical" view of universities. As elsewhere in his work, it is really just a Rube Goldberg-esque rationalization of the status quo.

100%. Additionally, it's not at all clear to me how much these schools are using their endowments to contribute to their mission of learning and innovation anyway. Last year Harvard apparently contributed 5% of their endowment to the budget of the university. I promise you returns were much higher than 5% (even post-tax, to the extent applicable to a "non-profit"). So what are those excess gains being used for each year? An emergency perhaps?

Most of these schools appear to me to be hedge funds that happen to own a university.

I am still in debt from my $200k in loans taken out ten years ago to attend that place. I have no regrets, but it is completely silly to me that I get phone calls from them every month asking for donations. You have $40 billion and I'm still paying off my tuition! Why would I hand more over?

Harvard has 6700 undergrads. If the actual cost for each is 60,000, that is 407 million or a little over 1% of their endowment, more than covered by income not to mention donations.

They should not charge anyone really. Making people use loans is a sin.

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Harvard is need blind for undergraduates. Only the rich pay full tuition. If you were an undergraduate and managed to pile up $200K in loans you screwed up royally.

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People on ventilators generally need regular lung suctioning. Though not all that hard to teach to do, disposing of likely infectious lung fluids is not exactly a trivial problem.

Possibly, ventilators are a unit that also includes a lung suctioning attachment, but without such suction units, a ventilator is likely as useful as a truck without tires.

It must suck to be...ewh!

Feed it to the pigs? That's what they did with amputee parts in the US Civil War...ewh!

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Switzerland has some of the worst per capita infection rates in the world. Very underreported story. Alex's admiration for German federalism will meet its challenge in the Swiss case.

But not per capita deaths. In fact less than their neighbours France and Italy.

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7: Maybe you wouldn't be so "puzzled" if you figured out that DJT does not epitomize any alt-right ideologies.

But I'll be frank here: I don't hold out that much hope for you.

You want to know what the Alt-Rights fundamental platform is? Read the tale of the ant and the grasshopper. Hint:

Alt-righters are the ant...it's just that instead of trying to warn people they gave up on that a long time ago and are just very very angry that grasshoppers won't leave them alone at this point.

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+1

That paper is garbage.

Chinese intellectuals like DJT because we have freedom of movement, soeech, and thought and they don't. Political correctness is the enemy of those values and DJT is the enemy of PC.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Duh!

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More likely their definition of alt-right is simply "orange man bad".

After all, their new idea of "anti-racism" is preferential treatments for some, which is completely against liberalism. At what point do these people admit that is indeed a warped form (rationalized with arb metrics of oppression) of racism akin to black supremacy.

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7. in a viral pandemic
the chinese communist party censors the media while
in the u.s.a the media censors the president of the united states!

this is exactly the sorta intellectual arrogance/dishonesty that got
the president elected in 2016 and will help get him reelected
in november

Donald is very heavily censored. I never hear any reporting of what he says.

in a viral pandemic
several mainstream "media" outlets have actually proposed censoring the president of the united states and his advisors statements to the
American public about the current pandemic.
that is actually rather extraordinary

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#9: You *don't* talk about the elephant in the brain, Tyler.

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#7 China's liberals are classic liberals?
#8 Good topic for prizes, especially before we need them. Common items we wouldn't use normally, but could be produced quickly and cheaply in the time of crisis. May coincide with some of the work to help very poor nations.
#9 "Yet the actual behavior of these universities does not accord with that rhetoric." Surprising that leftist are hypocrites. To none.

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In what world is trump remotely alt-right? He is at farthest 'center-right' and represents a less disgusting version of Bill Clinton, realistically.

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#1, nice resource but I didn't see Johns Hopkins on the list. They have an up-to-date dashboard. Maybe I overlooked it:
https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

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7: Civilizational beaconism, sharing with its nationalistic counterpart – civilizational vindicativism – the heritages of scientific racism and social Darwinism imported in late-Qing, renders the Chinese liberal intelligentsia receptive to anti-immigrant and Islamophobic paranoia, exacerbates its anti-baizuo sentiments, and catalyzes its Trumpian convergence with Chinese non-liberals.

Honestly, I've only read a bit of this paper so far, but it's clearly low-quality. The author relies a great deal on elaborate "psychological" explanations for why this ideological outgroup of liberal Chinese Trump-fans believe what they believe. In other words, he does not deign to address their arguments, and instead puts them on the therapist's couch.

It's not really strange that Chinese liberals would like Trump--he is, by global and historical standards, a liberal. The liberal tradition is a lot bigger and older than the policies favored by democrats circa 2020.

Indeed, I don't think it's particularly complex.

PRC Liberals live in a weird version of a ideologically Communist system that represses consumption and compensation by local labour to maintain export supremacy (state capitalism), and deals with middle classes who would otherwise demand rights with a mix of surveillance driven suppression, and coldly materialist buy offs. They know there's something deeply wrong with this, but can't really do anything about it.

Trump *actually* challenged that model, by threatening to close off the export demand that feeds and stimulates China's model (or fed it). In the grand scheme of things, although he may seem "protectionist" to what passes for liberalism in the West, he obviously challenges China's model to change in a more liberalizing direction.

The fact that the man himself is obviously kind of derpy* tends to be discarded in favour of that point.

Much as how American voters in 2016 were willing to overlook his derpiness in favour of the fact that he offered the opposite to Killary; isolationism (not foreign wars), NATO as an alliance of equal contributors (not "bankrolled by America"), clear immigration restriction (not amnesties and de-facto open borders), negotiation on trade (not opening trade to protectionist powers out of rather flawed logic that import restrictions always weaken the restricting country more than the competitor), not obsessively focused on urban cores, making threats against the permanent political class that they better shape up. How much longer Americans will be willing to overlook that derpiness, I wonder... It's wearing pretty thin.

*Less so if you don't look at carefully tailored Western media feeds, true, but still pretty damn derpy.

Your last paragraph is a perfect breakdown for why I'm voting Trump in 2020. I've never read something like that in a comments section before.

I didn't vote for Trump in 2016 because of his "derpiness", but after 4 years the Democrats have convinced me to vote for Trump.

I would have voted for Bernie! too bad

I will still refuse to vote for Trump for a multitude of reasons, but with Biden now facing credible rape allegations and several credible sexual assault allegations, I am definitely either third party or leaving the box blank.

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You'd think that Chinese parents would learn not to send their children to idiotic American universities to receive faux-Marxist indoctrination. You'd never see this kind of empty nonsense at Peking Univ. or Tsinghua. But, the author of 7 probably could not get in there. His parents, who are probably entrepreneurs since they can afford Yale tuition, must be so proud that he has learned to string together English nonsense words.

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#13 is very interesting.

#13 - almost as if they are mountains apart .. ;)

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Any benefit to viewing us through a crop failure lens, whereby human labour is the crop we're harvesting? Has this type of economic lookback been done using this lens?

Perhaps a relook at https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2017/07/poor-crop-yields-violence.html?

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7. The paper references “many” Chinese liberals, but is this how most Chinese liberals think or are they talking about the Chinese version of Tulsi Gabbard, whose justified distaste for their own regime’s wrongdoing leads to a reflexive defense of every opposing regime?

The liberal-minded Chinese I know are against Trump. You simply cannot have a free market anywhere in the world when the person who directly or indirectly controls nearly the world’s financial systems and much of its trade uses protectionism and sanctions to prevent voluntary economic exchanges between entities without market power.

"protectionism and sanctions to prevent voluntary economic exchanges"

Yes, like every country before 1900 and most until after World War II.

China uses subsidies/government ownership and predatory low ball pricing to eliminate competitors. Plus, slave labor as a bonus!

I'd say every country that has a national government. What country exists now that has no trade policy?

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The Swiss canton results are most obviously explained by exposure. The Italian-speaking canton (Ticino) is next to and has substantial exchange with northern Italy, where the massive outbreak took place. The French cantons, including Geneva, also has (or had, till very recently) a large number of daily commuters from northern Italy. The German-speaking cantons are further to the north and has less exchange with Italy.

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https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-irs-explainer/explainer-hobbled-irs-tax-agency-may-need-months-to-get-cash-to-americans-idUSKBN21D2II

Explainer: Hobbled IRS tax agency may need months to get cash to Americans

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I suspected as much, transaction to do this are slow and laborious.

BS. They have the staff built up for April 15, so they have man power. And taxes day has been pushed back a couple of months.

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The only use for #7 is that it successfully identifies the author as brain-dead, and thus a candidate to be an organ donor.

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Very nice music video. Thanks.

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https://hotair.com/archives/allahpundit/2020/03/26/imperial-college-study-author-shifts-actually-think-coronavirus-death-toll-will-much-lower-expected/
Imperial College Study Author Shifts: Actually, I Think The Coronavirus Death Toll Will Be Much Lower Than Expected
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This model has an implicit assumption, once you get it you are seasonally immune. This assumption is becoming widespread and so far no data contradicts it.

There other assumption, the virus is much more contagious than we realize. Thus we approaching peak now, like New York. But the key assumption, we get seasonal; immunity and remission times will be cut to one week. That determines the capacity of the tree trunk. At equilibrium we will be a happy go lucky bunch of humans, the virus and antibody both need humans to stay robust.

The U.K. (pop. 66 million), Italy (60 million) and S Korea (51 million) are comparably sized countries. What explains the horrific death toll in Italy, climbing death toll in the U.K. and fewer than 150 deaths in Korea?

It is a gross violation of Occam's Razor at this point to say that there must be millions of people in Western countries who are asymptomatic carriers of covid-19 but, for some unexplained reason, there are not in South Korea. Or there is some unexplained reason why Italy loses more people in a few hours than Korea lost since the very start of the pandemic.

Occam's Razor instead tells us the numbers we have are reasonable proxies for reality, mortality is probably around 1%, some countries have done a better job than others at stopping contagion, and those that have done a good job are rewarded with fewer deaths.

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#3 - In Beijing restaurants “many delivery orders now often include cards listing the names and temperatures of all the staff involved in preparing your food. - but what is 'normal' temperature? I thought it was recently revised downwards?

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#4 - Gary Leff against airline bailouts (in favor of bankruptcy) was the most shocking link for me. For years I thought Gary Leff, who is a resident of northern VA and who once was nice enough or bored enough to reply to a post here by me, was a travel journalist along the lines of that WSJ "The Middle Seat" guy. But no! Gary Leff is apparent the CFO of the Mercatus Center! No kidding! He must have a finance or accounting degree? Wow.

Leff: "Bankruptcy is a more effective way than a bailout to resolve the airline industry’s financial problem" - OK. Well, there's no stigma to bankruptcy anymore in the USA, so I guess sticking to the common shareholders rather than the taxpayers is one way to go, nevermind the airline industries troubles arose from government mandated shutdowns.

Bonus trivia: I wonder if Gary Leff watches the excellent airline videos by Wendover Productions on YouTube? Gary, you reading this?

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13. the twitter fella makes some bold/false claims about
- smoking lowering! blood pressure
-smoking being protective against covid 19
- probably a little early in this viral pandemic to
make specific claims of genetic susceptibility to covid 19

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2. The government manufactures poor people through the welfare state.

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12. Happy is she who never read the Aubreyad until now. And who, though the library is closed, has a librarian buddy, whose personal collection of the series is in a sack next to her bed. I'm only on #3, the HMS Surprise is having a rough time in the Roaring Forties.

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12. wonder if there is a great stagnation
in books sales of "open borders" by b. caplan ?

Maybe it will lead Caplan to revise it to argue for optimally open borders, not absolutely open borders.

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#4 Mutatis mutandis other sectors (not just airlines) with political clout to get special treatment.

As for infrastructure investment, this is narrowly correct, but passes over two aspects. 1) The pandemic identifies benefits to infrastructure investments that may not have been so apparent before. 2) It mis-characterizes the correct decision criterion. It is not: There is lots of unemployment ;lets build some stuff." It is invest when the NPV of the project is >zero (with the discount rate adjusted for the term of the project)..

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