Friday assorted links

1. Scott Alexander reviews Toby Ord’s The Precipice, about existential risk.

2. Pooled testing in Germany.

3. A critique of the Paycheck Protection Program — it might help already stable restaurants the most.  See also this tweet storm.

4. Should we pivot to a service trade agenda?

5. Full paper assessing health care capacity in India.

6. Claims about Covid and the future economics of cultural institutions.

7. I could link to Matt Levine every day, but do read this one on liquidity transformation.

8. How is the cloud holding up?  A good post.

9. Immunity segregation comes to Great Britain.

10. Robin Hanson on the variance in R0 and how hard it is to halt the spread of the virus.

11. New program for on-line “Night Owls” philosophy by Agnes Callard.

12. The true story of the toilet paper shortage: it’s not about hoarding, rather a shift of demand away from the commercial sector into the household sector (you are doing more “business” at home these days).


14. Fan, Jamison, and Larry Summers 2016 paper on the economics of a pandemic.  I wrote at the end of the blog post: “In other words, in expected value terms an influenza pandemic is a big problem indeed.  But since, unlike global warming, it does not fit conveniently into the usual social status battles which define our politics, it receives far less attention.”

15. Buying masks from China just got tougher.

16. How to produce greater capacity flexibility for hospitals.

17. Paycheck Protection Program is steeped in chaos.


15. What, no mention of Americans in taxis with cash diverting shipments on Chinese runways as a potential problem?

"US buyers waving wads of cash managed to wrest control of a consignment of masks as it was about to be dispatched from China to one of the worst-hit coronavirus areas of France, according to two French officials.

The masks were on a plane at Shanghai airport that was ready to take off when the US buyers turned up and offered three times what their French counterparts were paying.

Jean Rottner, a doctor and president of the GrandEst regional council, said part of the order of several million masks heading for the region, where intensive care units are inundated with Covid-19 patients, had been lost to the buyers.

“On the tarmac, they arrive, get the cash out … so we really have to fight,” he told RTL radio.

Rottner would not identify the buyers, who they were working for or which US state the cargo was flown to, but another French official also involved in procuring masks from China said the group were acting for the US government.

“The icing on the cake, there is a foreign country that paid three times the price of the cargo on the tarmac,” Rénaud Muselier, the head of the south-eastern Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, told the French channel, BFMTV. The Guardian has contacted the US state department for comment."

Leading a truly cynical observer to wonder if someone on the plane knew the masks were actually inferior goods that the French would have likely tested before paying for.

As you can read in English, France is not really stupid when dealing with China, even if some Americans are.

A third French official has accused US buyers in China of outbidding the country for vital supplies of masks, as a global scramble to source protective equipment heats up.

Valérie Pecresse, the influential president of the Île-de-France region, which includes Paris, described the race to get hold of masks as a “treasure hunt”.

“I found a stock of masks that was available and Americans – I’m not talking about the American government – but Americans, outbid us,” Pecresse said.

“They offered three times the price and they proposed to pay upfront. I can’t do that. I’m spending taxpayers’ money and I can only pay on delivery having checked the quality,” she told BFMTV. “So we were caught out.”

Re your last statement. Looking at the link one thought running through my mind was "But China and the CPC have a really output problem and want all the companies working and selling the goods internationally."

I wonder how they will walk that line -- will a number of the "unlicensed" companies simply turn into suppliers for the licensed companies and so blessed to sell the goods? We will start seeing a lower average (but perhaps strategically packaged) quality of exports?
Or will reputation matter in terms of all those countries that are not BFF with China just not matter?

Oh look, yet another American bashing story posted by prior. Is it just malice prior, or is somebody actually paying you to post all these stories?

Several per day now. Often one of the very first comments to a new post. Just as if you had posts written up and ready to paste in as soon as you notice a new post has appeared.

Well, it seems like the French bashing the Americans, but that is a traditional French national sport.

And the first excerpt from the Guardian was from yesterday, at least from using google.. The second article is from Fri 3 Apr 2020 14.41 BST which is an hour after the first snarky comment about how the French would not pay cash upfront, and that they would check the quality before paying. Which actually seems to be the case.

Though that sounds like America bashing too, doesn't it? Maybe you can make it sound more positive. Extra credit if you can blame the FDA or CDC, which is never an indication of America bashing at MR.

Either misanthropic or autistic.

Choose one

"yet another American bashing story posted by prior."

He thinks its bashing, but its actually an awesome story. Whisking away stuff from the French.

If true, it almost certainily is not.

That toilet paper article was stupid. Here in Australia, toilet paper vanished from the shelves in a day more than a month ago, but there were few limits on working at the time, and significant limits have only come much later. And yet, even during the time when there were few limits, it couldn't be kept on the shelf. That thing reeks of an a priori rationalization that doesn't fit with the facts.

You should be pleased that your countrymen showed a little foresight.

Even if everything the author says is true, the problem still comes down to inflexible prices (anti-gouging laws and culture). Flexible prices communicate to everyone that there is a problem in shifting supply from commercial to retail. That tells retail customers to minimize their purchases --- not buy less than they require, just not more than the bare minimum (stocking up) --- and suppliers to accelerate their transition to retail. It also tells those that can use excess commercial toilet paper in the home, even if not a perfect fit, to do so. I noticed that one could actually find some commercial toilet paper rolls on Amazon.

Notably, the author spends one sentence on price gouging: "The libertarian Mises Institute took the opportunity to blame anti-gouging laws." He doesn't give any arguments refuting it, probably because there are none.

Toilet paper is both rivalrous and excludable, so there is no reason to believe that flexible prices wouldn't internalize all costs and benefits.
It's especially during unusual periods that we need to communicate and coordinate a transition from commercial to retail: who should use and produce what quantities of each, which requires understanding of dispersed, localized information. The most effective means, really the only effective means, that we have for communicating dispersed information and coordinating such activities at scale is through price signals. With all the shortages of masks, PPE, etc., we're finding out just how damaging --- life and death damaging --- it is to rely on means other than price signals.

Prices have gone up a fair amount here. The other day was the first day in a month I had seen toilet paper in my local grocery store (I think it sells out most days shortly after opening, if it is there at all) and a 4 pack roll was $9. It was "nice" stuff, but that is still a 60-80% increase, at least, from a month ago.

It's another technocratic explanation that has some basis in reality but overreached into being THE explanation to be shuffled around social media in an attempt to make readers nod their heads. The truth is we had hoarding, panic buying, and price gougers and they all took out way more supply than the marginal needs of the newly home-stationed.

But don't you understand? I'm making 40% more bathroom visits at home these days, so I need to buy 40 times as much paper.

#12: yeah, but April 2. I explained it on the first day. Ditto the "panic buying" of food due to people expecting to eat meals at home that would otherwise be eaten at work, or at school, or on pleasure bent. Some things are bleedin' obvious to anyone of above journalistic standards of acuity.

see also #13: if people expect that they won't be having a drink out at a bar or restaurant, then surely they are wise to stock up?

The main lesson of all the "panic" buying is probably that many households keep absurdly small stocks of food and drink at home.

and bog rolls.

15. Anecdotal but a friend of mine was recently told by family in China that they couldn’t ship masks to him in the United States that weren’t certified as meeting the European CE regulatory standards. I’ve known many other people who’ve received masks from China in past weeks so this may be a recent change or just a misinformed postal clerk. So the product quality concerns seem to have created overregulation in many countries. And the product quality/reputation issue seems more credible than the idea that this is a secret export ban—China has ramped up mask production so much that there’s a huge surplus there and they would probably rather be making money selling them (especially because they could get premium prices now).

12. Good article, but it should also note that toilet paper is all produced in the United States. The shortage of toilet paper shows that domestic manufacturing is no protection against supply chain problems.

"12. The true story of the toilet paper shortage:

Excellent article. That's something that didn't occur to me but logically makes sense. Of course stores could start stocking the commercial rolls. If there's nothing else available, they'll just buy a big roll and sit it on the back of their toilet. Not elegant, but better than none.

" The shortage of toilet paper shows that domestic manufacturing is no protection against supply chain problems."

True, but nobody was claiming otherwise. The difference is that it's a problem that can easily be rectified. The US can't as easily rectify the problem of India/China not shipping out any pharmaceuticals until the crisis passes.

I've noticed that the packaging has changed for a Canadian producer. They are responding. What is the normal lead time to delivery for this stuff? I'd think something like 6-8 months. They seem to have responded within a month.

A story that made me happy. I'm seeing my customers either shut down, seriously curtailed or utterly overwhelmed. One customer, a family owned grocery store that has valiantly survived the changes in the market over the last decade started online and phone orders a year ago. They are the only ones in our area who have implemented the service. I started equipment for another store who was supposed to go online in March but the crisis meant all hands on deck just doing the normal stuff. So the small family store is very busy, working till late in the evening filling orders. A market niche serviced by smart people in a very competitive market. It made me happy.


Haven’t seen that yet, received a package of surgical masks and respirators from family just this week.

-re "paycheck protection steeped in chaos"
the media is way overdoing the "chaos" meme
a lotta stuff they define as chaos is the normal difficult process of defining and solving difficult problems
-todays actual silly headline-
"Jared Kushner is going to kill us all"
-how many consumers are actually out of toilet paper as of today
in the u.s. - would bet not too many

"8. How is the cloud holding up? A good post."

This analysis is good but he's ignoring standard practices and what you can do on a temporary basis.

"From a technical angle, there are only three options. You either (1) build additional data centers and networking, which takes years, or (2) rack up more servers into your existing data centers, or (3) use software to boost throughput, performance, or multi-tenancy capacity in order to squeeze more out of the existing hardware. Under COVID-19, where human movement is limited, manufacturing capacity is constrained, especially in Asia where much of the servers are made, and supply chain and shipping capacity are reduced, the only near-term option is software."

First, servers are still being made and shipped. It's probably a lower rate, but as of a month ago you could still purchase servers and have them shipped within a week. In any case all large departments are going to have a certain amount of hot swappable spares sitting around as standby stock to deal with hardware failures.

Secondly and more importantly he's ignoring the process by which companies upgrade their servers. Essentially, companies have extra rack and power capacity. As part of the process a certain amount of servers are added every cycle (month, quarter or year) and spun up and old servers are removed making room for the next cycle. Furthermore, the classic rule of thumb is to only run at 80% capacity, to be able to facilitate change to your model, surges, etc. It's fairly easy to just leave the old hard ware in place for the next cycle and start filling up your spare capacity. In addition, instead of upgrading switches, you can fill up the remaining slots.

The crunch spot would be cabling. Depending on the setup you might not have as much spare cabling. But on the other hand that's relatively easy to add assuming that you have the actual cable.

All things said and done, I'd be surprised if most infrastructure couldn't expand by 25% for a 6 month period. Of course, without that spare capacity and particularly if you cut into your standby stock, the network will tend to be more prone to failure. You might end up with 99% availability for 100% capacity, instead of 99.99% for 80% capacity.

The reality is that companies are cutting budgets down to the bone, spending less on projects like IT and laying off workers.

No supply chain ever could deal with the short term demand increases we have seen in the last few weeks without maintaining absurd levels of redundancy. This bleating about outsourcing to China is entirely beside the point, it wouldn’t matter if there were mask makers in the US, someone would be going without.

" it wouldn’t matter if there were mask makers in the US, someone would be going without."

True, and indeed there are mask makers in the US. However, since there are mask makers that produce in the US, it's much easier to ramp up production than it would be if there were none. The US and any country that produces masks will be fine in a few months. Countries that don't produce any, will have to do what they can until there is production higher than domestic consumption in the countries that produce.

Like Canada. Trump just cut off the supply. The Federal people have deer in the headlights look, but some provinces are doing very well with really smart public health people.

Counterfactual. The question is whether we as a nation are better-equipped to weather these types of issues when we maintain domestic production as opposed to offshoring it. The answer, as shown, is a fairly obvious yes.

The fact that this virus originated from the same place currently selling us PPE and videoconferencing (not a coincidence in the slightest), and that we're beholden to buy them because our elite class sold us out, ought to enrage anyone with a shred of patriotism. The subsequent fact that none of this is a topic in our mainstream media outlets, their instead focusing on the racism of pointing it out, tells you everything you need to know about whose side they are on. Protip: it's not the side of the American people.

No one should be enraged. The American people, through their voting and purchasing choices, chose to offshore to China and get cheaper goods. They're now paying other costs that they didn't consider or care about for the last couple of decades.

Were they wrong to do so? I'm not sure. The tradeoff looks bad right now, but the last 20-30 years with much higher prices for consumer goods would have been a big negative too.

Regardless, now that the costs are more obvious to more people, there's going to be a big worldwide protectionist push for many categories of goods.

"The American people, through their voting and purchasing choices, chose to offshore to China and get cheaper goods. "

After they had no choice. The domestic makers of many things closed and opened new plants in China. The people didn't close the plants.

If you wanted a new TV you had two basic choices: China, S. Korea.

It wasn't the people who let China into the WTO.

It wasn't the people who knew China was using predatory lowball pricing to gather market share.

+1, good response from Richter

> The American people, through their voting and purchasing choices, chose to offshore to China and get cheaper goods.

it's more complicated than that. The cost to assemble modern consumer goods is dirt cheap. The die was cast when the US decided they didn't want nasty things built in the US. Printed circuit board factories are nasty. LED panel fabrication is nasty. Battery production is nasty. Silicon fabrication is nasty. When you push all this overseas, it makes total sense to do the easy part--the final assembly overseas too.

When you drive up energy costs, put limits on water and sewage, put limits on emissions, OSHA has a long list of rules...the end result is the things above all go away.

Our leaders did this. Not the consumer's demand for cheap.

Voting with your wallet is one of the many great cop-outs of libertarianism. It's obvious after even a relatively short experiment with the universal franchise that people aren't equipped to make decisions that affect their own lives, much less an entire nation or society. We clearly can't leave the consumer to decide whether they want to patronize communist bat-eaters. If that decision isn't going to be made by the elite class that profits from it then it's up to the government.

13. I understand why people would want to drink more now, but it's a bad idea in several ways. It increases the odds of domestic conflict, along with serious accidents and other medical issues. Some studies show it weakens your immune system. And, finally, what happens if your spouse becomes sick and you need to make a run to the hospital in the middle of the night?

Sure there are negatives with drinking, but there are positives as well, maybe drinking actually reduces people’s stress for instance. Of course I am typing this with a glass of Bordeaux in hand so I would say this.

Alcohol retards and kills the virus. There's a reason it was used for drink thousands of years ago in much less sanitary conditions.

12/13 likely the same. Same consumption, but at home.

By the way, a report on the Internets is that stores with limits on TP etc. have "the same people show up every morning to buy more." If that is hoarding, they'll end up with just deserts. A garage full of TP and bottled water.

And as mentioned earlier, running to the store every day is not social distancing. Nor multiple trips to Home Depot "because my hobby project is 'infrastructure'."

"The same people show up every morning to buy more ..."

That lines up with local report that there was a line of Usual Suspects waiting outside the store in the AM to grab whatever had been stocked in the night. And also a Greek chorus lined up to watch them do it and post on NextDoor. The same folks who don't like the sight of people, especially kids, interacting in the great outdoors, seem to be the keenest to make constant grocery and takeout runs, or place daily delivery orders.

So was it really a shortage, then, if the rolls that were stored at the warehouse or the store, shifted to being stored in people's houses? If things got dire, I was going to get toilet paper from my bulk-buying friend.

BTW if you live in a small space, buyer beware the "lavendar-scented" 12-pack that you may discover sitting all by its lonesome on the supermarket shelf. It took two weeks for that stuff to fully outgas its noxious perfume. I actually moved it to the garage. Even then, at night, it would occasionally waft about like a will o' the wisp and trouble my sleep.

"12/13 likely the same. Same consumption, but at home." Well, that's what I thought: did the author even think to correlate this with decreases in alcohol consumption in bars and restaurants?

Bars and restaurants usually buy their alcohol at retail POS, too.

And as always, "fragility" is not the same as 'lack of dynamism.'

The TP factories aren't "fragile" as they keep on producing what they have. It isn't an indictment of capitalism or globalization. They just are not optimized for dramatic change.

Because no one asked them to.

And we shouldn’t ask them to, since TP demand will be rock steady regardless of Corona-chan.

It’s a temporary blip, unless people shitting is an exponential function in a pandemic.

I mean, it could be, at least for a while. Just not in this one.

Here is some spacial data science on COVID-19 hot spots.

Ontario published all their data a couple days ago. The provinces are one by one publishing their data and models. Someone is collecting all the data and posting it on github.

Good link. I see that there is also an associated dashboard for Canada.

I appreciate your sharing and that you like to embed your links in your texts, but given the fairly lax security of this site, perhaps it would be better to give the actual link as derek did. That way, people can judge is it's a trustworthy site.

A mouse-over on a notebook or desktop will show the link in the status bar. On Android a long-hold will pop a window with the same info.

To be honest this seems the edge-, rather than the use- case.

It's probably because I spent the morning researching COVID-related scams. It put me in a paranoid mindset.

To be fair to anonymous, I often use TinyUrl for some links if they are stupidly long. The site will often reject the post if it has a really long link.

I do generally directly post links that are of less than 50 characters or so.

And these can be checked here:[url]

Well cool, I didn't know that.

If relentlessly recommending that we intentionally kill millions of people, in the face of all available evidence, doesn't precipitate Robin Hanson's deserved slide into irrelevance, what will? How can end the scourge of Hanson?

Do him and Tyler really think epidemiologists have never thought about the effect of variance in R0? What on earth is wrong with these people??

I've seen worse takes. For instance, "We Cannot Destroy The Country For The Sake Of New York City" at The Federalist.

Well, Wyoming is looking at 4 deaths per day at their peak. North Dakota is looking at 6. Montana is looking at 9.

Wyoming should see 140 deaths total, or about 240 deaths per million. Montana will see about the same. NY will see 16K deaths, or about 824 deaths per million.

Places like Wyoming haven't done anything except closed schools. It's life as usual.

Nebraska hasn't even closed schools. They expect 447 dead, or about 220 per million.

There are definitely two very different movies playing here.

There might be some corner cases where the population is distributed enough that natural isolation leads to a decline in transmission.

But then, in a lot of those places everybody goes to the Walmart and the Costco.

those are some bold predictions from another sumbody who has probly
never had a virology course

Combining the information from 15, a comment, and a link, it sounds as if the Chinese are worried about the quality of their medical exports meeting EU standards- Almost as if not only do they care about their national image during a pandemic, but that they expect European countries to now be testing whatever medical supplies they buy from China.

Buyer beware seems to be against CCP policy currently, and only 'non-traditional channels' are available for those flush with cash. Anyone know if there is a Chinese translation for a fool and his money are soon parted?

To Scott Alexander, the thing the effective altruist prophets have to fear from the Gods is that effective altruism is what ends up killing us all.

How high could unemployment rise in the coronavirus recession?

I have read recommendations on Reddit about people wanting their employer to lay them off as the current benefits exceed what their employer pays. That has to be part of the story.

Would this be an argument for or against global supply chains during a pandemic?

April 3, 2020 at 11:50 AM EDT Berlin official denounces diversion of 200,000 masks, accuses U.S. of ‘wild west’ tactics

BERLIN — A delivery of 200,000 face masks ordered and paid for by the Berlin police was “confiscated” en route, a city official said Friday, citing U.S. legislation as the likely reason for the diversion by an American company.

The consignment of FFP-2 masks from China made it only as far as Bangkok, Andreas Geisel, Berlin’s senator for the interior, said in a statement.

“We consider this an act of modern piracy,” he said. “This is not how you deal with transatlantic partners. Even in times of global crisis, wild west methods shouldn’t rule.”

Geisel called on the German government “to urge the United States to comply with international rules.”

He added: “We are currently assuming that this is related to the U.S. government’s ban on mask exports.”

The statement did not name the company involved, saying only that it was a U.S. firm, but German press reports said the consignment was ordered from 3M. Company spokesmen did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Trump administration this week invoked the Defense Production Act to force companies such as 3M to prioritize consignments to the United States.

Are you sure you didn't mean to link to news of the death of the soul singer? To CNN's undying regret, no doubt, he did not die of coronavirus, he just died - however, not ones to miss a trick, they were able to work it in, informing us that one of his hit songs, "Lean on Me", had just recently become much more meaningful because of coronavirus.

It seems we want, for the future, for all companies to detail how they would respond to a pandemic, before the pandemic happens.

A. Some businesses would be considered "essential" and we want to boost their wages and employment.

B. Some businesses cannot function at all (anything that crowds lots of people into a small space). They need to be put into stasis, and their employees on reduced wages (not full wages, because we want them to flip to group A if they can).

C. Some businesses go into half-power mode, or even less. Think restaurants that go into reduced seating to slow spread in mild cases, or even go into take-out only mode. Their staffing will reduce noticeably. We want some of those employees put on reduced wages, but also we want health screenings put in place on customers and (especially) workers. Those screeners come from displaced workers in group C but also from employees in group A.

D. Daycares and schools need to entirely change during pandemic. We probably want kids at home, but we have workers in group A who need their kids taken care of. Kids need put in small, fixed groups. Maybe even boarding so the kids stay there overnight? I don't know. We need to think about it.

E. Some businesses are considered "non-essential" but they are still important and things start breaking if they can't function. We want to give them the chance to function on a rotating basis. Say we put car dealerships in Group 1, clothing stores in Group 2. We put them on a rotating basis, so Group 1 stores can be open on week 1, Group 2 stores can be open on week 2, no one is open on week 3, and back to Group 1 with week 4. Screening and controlling admittance needs to be handled like it was for group C.

7. I could link to Matt Levine every day, but do read this one on liquidity transformation.
Bank lending had a sudden stop and the value added banking chain sees inventory piled up. I wold think that over the sequence more retail banking is rolled up and excess reserves continue to increase.

There is, ultimately, no free source for the huge seigniorage gains the government is collecting and excess reserves will start a slower growth to match Treasuries held. The only way to avoid the seigniorage tax is to grow excess reserves.

The existential problem here is that regulated banks have no barrier to entry except their control over the monopoly tax dollar. No one is paying taxes during the shut down.

That is not the driver, but the medium term effect; banks return to their wreck of a business and find their business dominated by Fed purchases and retail banking fees rise to cover 'capital' costs. Real capital are those buildings, they get sold. This is an acceleration of shadow banking and home production; a loss of market share for the tax dollar. It leads to a sudden stop out here in California where sales taxes are essential. Home delivery is accelerating, I see more deliveries on my street than individual shop by drive. So the entire strip mall economic architecture is crumbling, in collapse. Collapsing as fast as regulated retail banking collapses.

On net, we are forcing the Fed into a tech upgrade, forcing it into the 'Never let a crisis go to waste' mode. The regulated banking cannot exist, under the current regime, it was under severe pressure before the virus, remember the repo crisis?

3. Why did Congress make the employer the middleman in providing two months' of wage gap insurance? Answer: Congress favors employers over employees. But didn't Mitt Romney inform us that corporations are people too (i.e., corporations are the employees who work there). Yet, many American elites disrespect employees: they observe Labor Day by celebrating employers not employees. Prejudice against labor is often reflected in this blog, with high praise for entrepreneurs but mostly condescension for employees. I know, our hosts would deny the prejudice, but it's obvious to anyone with eyes. Thus, we get an unduly complex Paycheck Protection Program that is more about advancing funds to employers than providing paycheck protection for employees. Rather than having the employer serve as middleman, with the complexity and potential for fraud that entails, Just send checks for the next two months to employees who have lost their jobs. So simple, even a libertarian would approve. Well, maybe not libertarians.

Many banks, including B of A, will process a PPP application if but only if the applicant has both a business lending and a business deposit relationship with the bank. Why? Because the PPP application does not include the type of information a bank lender would want: the business lending relationship means the bank already has that information. Banks, the first in line for handouts, are the last in line in promoting this important program during this health and economic crisis.

Here's the link to the borrower application for those who might wish to apply:

4. See my comment to 3. I'm a lawyer with a transaction practice, which means most of my work is done digitally. Praise the digital economy. But services without goods does not an economy make. If I'm dead because there isn't a sufficient supply of essential goods, like masks, my service provider friends profiting in the digital world by moving digital data around were my executioners. Are we destined for a world of digital scammers, like this:

#3 I don't disagree with the assessment of PPP. There is, however, another program that is based on revenues and not payrolls. The Economic Injury Disaster Loan program existed before Covid-19, but is available now to companies that have been affected by it. It's not forgivable, but the loans are based on revenues lost, they do aggregate affiliate businesses so chains aren't eligible, and the loan can be for up to 30 years.

The issue isn't how the funds are determined, but the potential for abuse by companies in the PPP.

9. Solve for the equilibrium

The main problem with Covid-19 is the negative externality.

Individually, it will often be optimal to risk oneself, especially for youngster, no comorbidities, etc.

However, socially, the optimal solution seems to be close to consensual: keep essential sectors functioning, maximise home office, minimise the rest, etc.

With "immune passports", several people will have a stronger incentive to be contaminated and impose the negative externality upon others. To aggravate the problem, consider labour market competittion!

Seems like a terribly bad solution to me. It distorts individual incentives from what is socially optimal even further.

Ivermectin reported to kill SARS-CoV-2 in culture:

Nostalgia from Soviet times when toilet paper was hedonistic and you stood in whichever food line was shortest. We tried to use newspaper, which was almost a satisfactory alternative for toilet paper, but we don't even have THOSE anymore.

12. This is EXACTLY what I thought about the toilet paper shortage -- especially when big rolls of "public toilet" toilet paper started appearing in some smaller independent stores. I bought a couple and adapted my TP holder to hold them. (That said, I think that people suddenly buying ten bulk packs at once is at least part of the issue.)

13. Well, all the bars are closed as well. I'm not entirely sure if overall consumption has increased or decreased.

Anyone have any idea why Michigan has so many cases?

Jelly Roll Morton asserted that:

"Michigan water tastes like sherry wine
I mean sherry wine
Oh, but Mississippi water taste like turpentine
Michigan water tastes like sherry wine"

So it can't be that.

1. Canadian philosopher John Leslie is the grandfather of existential risk books, with his "The End of the World: The Science and Ethics of Human Extinction" from 1996, quite the catalog of doom. Does Toby Ord credit him?

I remember the bizarre lawsuit in California by a couple of physicists about five years ago that attempted to prohibit the Hadron Collider from amping up the beam power for additional experiments. Leslie's book mentioned that danger of particle accelerators triggering a space-time bubble where the physical constants of our universe don't apply and the whole world and solar system go poof. It sounded pretty freaky, but apparently there is science behind it.

Also, Leslie dealt with the danger of nuclear weapons igniting the atmosphere, a risk that the Manhattan Project boffins thought of and dismissed, but which still might be in play in the thinner air of the upper atmosphere that intercontinental missiles pass through.

I'm late to the party with a comment on the myopic tweet thread about the 25% cap on non-payroll expenses for the paycheck protection program (ironically enough I'm late because of work on that same program) but I'd be remiss if I didn't point out how much that gentlemen's problematizing relies on the assumption that employers don't hire people back until many weeks after receiving the loan disbursement. If they hire people back immediately upon receiving loan funds the entire non-issue he's crowing about goes away.

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