Friday assorted links

1. Balaji on heterogeneities and data integration.

2. Citizen’s handbook for nuclear attack and natural disasters.  Do we need a new version of this?

3. The Amazon: “We show that, starting at around 10,850 cal. yr BP, inhabitants of this region began to create a landscape that ultimately comprised approximately 4,700 artificial forest islands within a treeless, seasonally flooded savannah.”

4. How much distance do you need when exercising?  And against crowded spaces.

5. Dan Wang letter from Beijing in New York magazine.

6. Trump pushing to reopen by May 1.

7. Lots of new testing results from Germany, consider these as hypotheses but still a form of evidence.

8. Good and subtle piece on Tiger King (NYT).  And betting markets in everything.

9. The Vietnamese response seems pretty good so far.

10. Joe Stiglitz discusses his love of fiction (NYT)

11. Sourdough status-seeking.

12. Ronald Inglehart on the shift to tribalism.

13. Explaining the Fed lending programs.

14. MIT Press preprint of new Joshua Gans book on Covid-19, open for public comment.

15. What will the restart process be like?


I admit it -- I got so bored I clicked on a NYT article. Always a mistake, and this was no exception.

>"Critics fear that “Tiger King” creates a glamour around tiger ownership"

Jesus Christ on a unicycle, NYT writers are useless. There is nothing on Earth that de-glorifies tiger ownership more than Tiger King. Apparently all you have to do is start a sentence with "Critics fear" and then you can finish it any way necessary to produce a NYT article.

Beyond that, May 1 is a bit late to open the country, but it will have to do.

"Jesus Christ on a unicycle?" Look out Loretta, if hockey ever returns that could almost be a new Mike Lange-ism

"Critics fear that 'Tiger King' could lead to an increase in the worldwide useage of tiger penis, a known Chinese aphrodisiac."

Same day in the lifestyle section:

"Tiger Penis: The Chinese Aphrodisiac you didn't know about but need to spice up your sex life!"

I kid you not...wait long enough and THIS WILL be a story related to tigers on NYT someday. The Onion is real.

Carol Baskin strikes me as the typical NYT reader - hypocritical, holier than thou, and an advocate for a cause for personal benefit. Not at all surprised they sympathesize with her.

I propose a new secondary meaning of the word “exponential”: to violate one’s intuition.

Example: Covid-19 will fade exponentially over the coming weeks so May 1st gives us plenty of time.

Kinda like “literally” has come to mean “very, but not actually”.

And now Scarf Lady is throwing "logarithmically" into the mix to further confuse things

More like "critics fear" that someone might get the idea that private tiger ownership isn't an unabridged evil that has to be stamped out by an act of congress.


So, COVID likely spreads much faster than we think, and there are significant numbers of individuals with mild or no symptoms that are not captured by current testing. That also means it is less deadly than we think.

So far the early results from blood testing has been good news (see also, Denmark, which estimates that the number of infected ihas been undercounted by 30-70X).

+1 for “That also means it is less deadly than we think.”

So, the Trump administration photos of Iran graves so massive they can be seen from space along with the NYC graves so massive they can be seen from space is fake news

Because Iran and NYC always have mass graves seen from space, or

The mass grave photos are fake?

Depends. We’re they taken by the same people that warned us about Saddam and his WMD’s?

I suspect the small grave dug for my mother's cat can be seen from space.

Re: "less deadly than we think" is perhaps over-reading this data. We have been looking at CFR, not IFR, knowing that we won't know the IFR until we have widespread antibody testing and the spread has essentially stopped. Those who understand epidemiology have known that the IFR would be substantially lower than the CFR.

In this case, the estimated 0.37 IFR is certainly low - COVID-19 takes time to kill people. Recall that when we all thought the Diamond Princess story was done, there were 7 deaths out of a little over 700 confirmed cases. In the subsequent weeks, the number rose to 11 deaths. In Gangelt, the number of those who will die among those who are now known to be positive will almost certainly rise, pushing up that 0.37 number. I would not be surprised if it ends up closer to 0.5 in this relatively "ideal" German situation.

Why "ideal"? The German medical system hasn't been close to maxed out. Given how infectious this virus is, and how readily it overwhelms community resources and medical systems, most communities can't expect to have the same IFR.

Finally, consider that the IFR of the typical seasonal flu is around 0.04-0.06. This novel corona virus is substantially more infectious than the seasonal flu, and probably about 8-10x as deadly. Plus it is far more likely to cause morbidity and mortality in younger, healthier people than the seasonal flu.

Studies from other sources seem to have similar findings:
"Preliminary research published this week focusing on a portion of the Boston area on March 25 showed that in one area with 2.3 million people, there could be upwards of 115,000 infected — far more than the 446 confirmed cases in the area when the samples was collected."
These weren't blood samples:

It might be less deadly, but you also have to look at the infection rate. Based on these data and from what I've seen about season flu, it's about double the rate of seasonal flu (15% vs. 8%). And I wasn't able to find when the study was done relative to when lockdowns were put in place here. In other words, this could be an undercount of the infection rate without social distancing measures in place, which matters a lot for how deadly it is.

With this coronavirus, 15% getting infected and .37% dying from it means .0555% of the population dying vs. .008% from seasonal flu (8% infection rate X .1% dying).

That's 555 people per million vs. 80 people per million. That's still a pretty significant difference and explains why unabated (with potentially a much higher infection rate than 15%) it could overwhelm a health care system.

But the numbers could have been worse. I hope there are more studies soon like this from around the world.

“ infection rate without social distancing measures in place, which matters a lot for how deadly it is.”

Citation needed.

To the contrary, no citation is necessary to show that infection rate influences number of deaths

That's why I said "it *could* be an undercount" and why I pointed out that I wasn't able to tell when the study was done relative to lockdowns being put in place. This would be useful info to have to have a better sense of whether or not this is the infection rate with social distancing, with some social distancing, or with none at all. (It's like not the latter unless this was all done before Germany put in social distancing measures.)

"But the numbers could have been worse"

I've been telling people that COVID-19 would decimate 20% of the world population by September if left unabated. Now it looks like it's about 3 times worse than the common flu.

From these numbers, it’s about 7 times worse assuming the infection rate isn’t higher without extreme social distancing in place. And as New York City shows, that’s enough to start to overwhelm hospitals when it hits all at once.

I take you’re mocking those who have been worried about this pandemic, you might want to tone it down. No serious person concerned about it thought it would kill 20%. But even if it’s killing 1% or .5% (which are numbers that were much more in consideration), that would be devastating. And thankfully, it looks like its lower than that

Perhaps you weren't but, certainly people who thought they were serious people certainly thought that 5-10% IFR was realistic, and were rather vocally derisive of the "large numbers, lower IFRs" possibility.

(Perhaps, depending on how this goes, soon they'll pretend that they knew all along it could be 5-10% pop infected already with a much low IFR. "It was just specifically 50% of the population proposal that we were against!" they may claim!).

Really gorgeous math here, folks!

Wouldn't you have to decimate everybody twice to hit a 20 percent kill rate?

Not sure if you’ve seen this, but it touches on many of the key aspects of the estimated lethality of the Wuhan virus.

#7 , so in that case , lots of people had antibodies and were not positive ( had already cleared the infection). Perhaps most of those were never symptomatic.
The ratio was around 7 (immune but negative)/ positive

The most important takeaway from those tweets was deliberately buried. That in all of Heinberg, at the time of the study starting on March 31st was that previous RT-PCR had identified less than 4% of infected. In other words, they had found 1400 confirmed cases, but the serological survey suggested 25 times that number in the district.

I disagree. The 1400 cases are from the Heinsberg district (pop: 253K). The sample came from 400 households ( total 1000 people). 400 people were chosen from the 1000.
Because this local area is a cluster from a town of 12,500 people ( Gangelt municipality) , the number of people testing aB positive or RT-PCR positive doesn’t say much about the whole population. a person in each household could have infected the others.
It’s equivalent to going to Chinatown and concluding that 90% of the US population has Chinese ancestry.
I only can conclude this:
1- This local area is 14% immune now ( assuming a highly specific test that doesn’t pick up the other 4 common Coronaviruses). I do think it’s a good test.
2- The number of infected but asymptomatic is large . Using raw numbers ( 14/15) = 99.3% here as an upper bound. This almost certainly is too high. Most likely , there can be other reasons why they were not tested: not enough tests, their symptoms were cold-like but no more, they were tested and showed positive , but it was antecedent to this study, by which time they had turned negative and developed antibodies etc..many possible reasons
3- In the whole of Germany at the time of this study , the number of infected is < 15% ( upper bound)

Yes, I agree. You can't just do a study in one small town and then extrapolate it to the whole of Germany. You need to randomly sample across a large area. Possibly worldwide.

I didn't extrapolate to all of Germany, just the Heinsburg district. The researchers deliberately chose this locale because it was part of the Heinsburg district- as I understood it, the town of Heinsburg itself had the most of the 1400 confirmed cases, but the others were spread out in the district, including the area of the study.

However, you can actually extrapolate to other hotspots. That is the reality of this outbreak- it isn't spread over a wide geographic area- it is highly localized in parts of every country.

I mean that just because 15% of the population in Heinsberg already have it, doesn't necessarily mean 15% of the world population has had it. It might mean that maybe 15% of italy has had it at this point, or New York. That still leaves a lot of uninfected people who are susceptible.

However, I too, am hopeful that the death rate is low and lots of people have already been infected.

It is a semi-random sample taken from the Heinberg district. The people selected were previous positive cases- they were people that had never been tested at all. All the researchers were looking for were people who lived in the area since the year's beginning, and had not been tested for COVID-19. To find that 15% of this sample is positive for antibodies does suggest that the number of infected was 20 times or more than the 1400.

But, yeah, go ahead and downplay it- I realize this is uncomfortable news for certain people.

The Gangelt sample is not a semi random sample, whatever that means. It was the epicenter of the largest cluster in North Rhine- Westphalia. That’s because the Gangelt Karneval took place there on Feb.23. On Feb 27, 14 new patients were admitted to the Heinsberg hospital with Covid-19; 9 were from Gangelt, one from Heinsberg.
The research team didn’t choose it at random. They wanted a high enough infection rate to avoid the problem of false positives and they wanted to get a new estimate of IFR.
The ratio of true (infected + past infected) to positives in the sample was 15 % / 2% = 7.5
Heinsberg had 1246 infections on March 27. I believe Heinsberg accumulated cases from outlying areas not just itself. But Let’s assume that Heinsberg is similar to Gangelt.
What we can say if Heinsberg is comparable to Gangelt is that the 1246 cases adjust to 1246 *7.5 = 9345.
The data was useful mostly because it can give indication of the IFR starting from the CFR and the undetected ratio . That’s what the authors did . They took the CFR from the Heinsberg district: 39 deaths /1400 cases = 2.78% and divided by the factor 7.5 to get to 0.37%.
However :
1- It takes time for fatalities to occur ( 2.5 to 3 weeks from infection) so deaths are underestimated
2- It’s possible that there was under testing at the beginning as the German test was ramping up, so the 7.5 factor is over estimated (i.e there is not a 7.5 factor today between new cases( testing positive) and undetected new infections.
Again the main value of this is to get a better estimate of the IFR.

Here is a 2018 article on traffic in Vietnam. Look at all the masks.

It helps that everybody has them, and the use pattern.

Quarantining all visitors is of course also very excellent. I wonder why we didn't try. Was the problem too big, or did we convince ourselves it was?

Not sure everybody saw it, but a DNA study argues that most New York cases came from Europe. So that China "ban" was not such a wall. And of course it wasn't really a ban, accepting a few categories of people, and not requiring that quarantine.

#9 - Vietnam only has 257 C-19 cases as of 4/10/20? Fake news. It reminds me of Turkey, which claimed for the longest time they had no C-19 cases, then it exploded to over 42k (neighboring Greece has less than 2k). I don't believe the Vietnam numbers, even granted it's not as open as Thailand (which as 2473 cases, also an under count no doubt). Same for all the countries in that region (Laos has only 16 cases, but in fact probably it's closer to several thousand and doubling every three days, since nobody washes their hands nor maintains social distancing in southeast Asia countries).

As editor of the Review of Behavioral Economics (ROBE) yesterday I accepted a paper about mask use for covid-19 in Vietnam, the first such study anywhere, "If you wear a mask rhen you must know to dispose it properly: A survey study in Vietnam," by Toan Luu Duc Huynh, of the School of Banking at Ho Chi Minh City University. It looks at five ways one can misues a mask, and improper disposal is the biggest problem with about half not doing so properly. Looking at various personal characteristics it seems that the one that is associated with best use of masks is age, with older people knowing what to do with them, noted to be consistent with Vietnam being a "Confucius society."

The travel ban on China probably saved the west coast from NYC's fate, in conjunction with relatively more quick acting leadership in places like Washington and California than we saw in places like NY. There's no question the Europe travel ban came too late and that both the China and Europe bans were too leaky.

But if you recall, the NYTimes, Joe Biden (remember him?), and the various illuminati that comment on these things were all out in full force denouncing travel bans as racist actions promulgated by racists. The US seems to have done as much as was politically feasible. It wasn't enough, but it sure helped.

That seems a contradictory answer. You say Los Angeles was saved because China was cut off, and New York was not because Europe was not cut off?

I'm sorry, but viewing this as a "Chinese problem" did indeed prevent proper response to a global pandemic.

Viewing as a Chinese problem was probably a fair take on the basis of data as presented by CCP and WHO (relatively slow human->human transmission; WHO late to announce human->human transmission; low prevalence of mildly symptomatic and asymptomatic cases).

The mistakes were in buying that presentation by WHO, and that China had it contained. China probably should have been cut off earlier, and more universally, as well as more universal contact tracing, earlier.

Have to add, the idea that travel bans gave false overconfidence and that the far-sighted opponents of travel bans were consciously using them to avoid complacency is an after-fact justification. Opposing travel bans wasn't an n-dimensional Chess move to raise public awareness, it was an act of complacency itself.

Complacency had many mothers, principally the WHO, but also the incumbent's desire to protect the economy, and the opposition's desire to make hay out of their usual tactic of denouncing the sane travel ban as racism (which parties are keen to now forget). It wasn't the result of the travel ban.

That a travel ban had the effect of complacency is as wrong-headed as asserting that lockdown would breed complacency among people who think it's all under control. It may have increased people's opinion of the severity of the issue, beyond what it otherwise would've been. We simply don't know, and the likelihood is that taking severe action probably helps to convince people that it's serious. Anyone asserting otherwise is probably trying to play this issue politically.

But you're essentially making the same argument, that a ban on China was good, and it's bad on Europe was out of the question.

By the time we banned China we knew two things. We knew the disease was communicable. And we knew that people were leaving China for all over the world.

That's enough to tell you it's going to come in both your front door and your back door.

I state only that the ban on China was good, and did not "lead to complacency". A ban on travel to Europe would have been sensible, but was probably impossible on the basis of what was known at the time. It was not predictable at the time that it would "come through the back door"; this is mostly attributable to the WHO. The US did not know, could not know on the basis of what was communicated, that the disease would be going epidemic, elsewhere. To say they should have known is probably hindsight bias mainly aimed at generating political capital.

We had a China "ban" (that let through 40k) and we had complacency.


What this really says is that if Europe had put the ban in place that Trump did, it woudl have helped. And if Europe and Trump would have put an even wider ban in place, it would have helped more.

Instead, the world called Trump racists for his action.

You guys have really lost track of what I actually said. I didn't say anything about "racism." I said:

"Quarantining all visitors is of course also very excellent. I wonder why we didn't try. Was the problem too big, or did we convince ourselves it was?"

Is everybody talking to me about racism because they don't want to talk about a serious quarantine for international travelers?

Put it another way, what should we be doing right now?

- congratulating ourselves on that China ban

- implementing national track and trace

- giving up and opening the economy because anything else is too hard

All of Trump's bans were well after hundreds of people were actively and unknowingly spreading SARS-Cov2 around the US and EU.

While Trump "banned travel from EU", due to EU open border he did nothing to ban travel in open borders US.

Consider the Biogen conference in Boston which was identified with 77 of the 95 total confirmed cases in Mass two weeks after the conference held Fed 24-27, with other cases in Indiana, North Carolina, and Tennessee. The actual number of cases resulting from that single event is unknown but like many hundreds, or thousands.

That infection came from Europe, well before Trump restricted travel from Europe. Travel bans from all nations mid March would have done nothing to even slow the current US epidemic.

Mardi Gras was held concurrently with the Biogen conference with very active Trump homeland security involvement to protect America from terrorism, including chemical and infection threats. Not one mention by Trump officials about a coronavirus threat. That's clearly connected to the outbreak in Louisiana, and who knows how many in other States.

Oddly, Florida government considered the coronavirus threat for the Superbowl held Feb 2. Before the game, news reported

"Although no cases of Wuhan coronavirus have been confirmed in Florida, health officials aren't taking any chances. Along with 19 other U.S. airports, the Miami International Airport has activated its CDC quarantine station with plans to screen each passenger for the potentially deadly disease.

"Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis weighed in on the topic at a Monday press conference.

"We don't have any positive tests yet but obviously more people coming from different areas," he said, according to ABC affiliate WFTS-TV. "Everybody to this date who has been tested has come back negative."

A travel ban that was effect would have seriously crippled the US economy and would have st a minimum shutdown travel between US States by road and air and perhaps between cities within States.

The alternative that was more feasible, but very costly to government, was massive contact tracing and isolation of individuals and quarantine of communities and regions. Lots of workers to trace, lots of quick testing, ie workers doing testing, lots of people restricting movement of potential carriers.

But since Reagan, paying workers to work costs too much, and the high costs of paying workers kills jobs. The only way to create jobs solving problems immediately is to not pay workers to work.

> All of Trump's bans were well after hundreds of people were actively and unknowingly spreading SARS-Cov2 around the US and EU.

Around EU, but not US. Italy imported 50K chinese people just after LNY to resume making "made in Italy" leather goods.

> That infection came from Europe, well before Trump restricted travel from Europe. Travel bans from all nations mid March would have done nothing to even slow the current US epidemic.

It came from Asia to Europe and then US. If Europe had banned travel from Asia when Trump did or before, it would have been a dramatically different turn out.

> Not one mention by Trump officials about a coronavirus threat.

But massive world events heavily attended by US tech companies DID shut down 100% because US companies pulled out (Mobile World Congress). The US didn't shut those down. US companies scared for the employee safety did. That event was the same time as Mardi Gras. Why didn't mayor and gov of NOLA shut it down? Don't say they didn't know. Apple and Amazon knew. They protected their employees during that same week.

It's not the federal govs job to shut down carnivals and tractor pulls. See the 10th amendment.

> A travel ban that was effect would have seriously crippled the US economy and would have st a minimum shutdown travel between US States by road and air and perhaps between cities within States.

But the crippling would have been far less than stopping ALL work for 2 months. Taiwan et al routinely will cancel all flights to give themselves breathing room to udnerstand the risk.

And in the future, if things get hot and people MUST travel, then let them travel AS LONG AS THEY WILL PAY FOR 14 DAYS OF QUARANTINE IN GOV HOTEL.

> Lots of workers to trace, lots of quick testing, ie workers doing testing, lots of people restricting movement of potential carriers.

Will likely never work well in the US. People are much more compliant in Asia. It will only work if automatic in phone.

"If Europe had banned travel from Asia when Trump did or before, it would have been a dramatically different turn out."

The travel ban would have had to include a ban on their own citizens returning from trips to Asia, which is a very difficult sell. By January, there were positive cases in Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, and Hong Kong, all places that ordinarily have millions of European visitors in January. Japan and South Korea may be less popular in January but I'm sure there a fair number of visitors and business travelers there, too.

The Lombardy hotspot's patient zero was apparently an Italian citizen who returned from a visit to China in late January. That person then infected a young super-spreader who proceeded to spread it among health workers and associates.

"and a ban on Europe was out of the question"

Did anyone do any analysis early on to see what countries had complementary or direct connections to the economy of Wuhan? Iran was badly hit early, as well as Italy have lots of direct Chinese business connections. Except at one point it didn't matter. The virus had spread and formed new points of contagion.

This is an impossible problem. Earlier pandemics in times when travel was less common spread everywhere, but it took a couple of years. This one has spread all over the world, peaked and started a decline within a few weeks. Every response has been to try to slow it down.

Every idea so far has been to figure out a way to respond. I think that is wrong. The solution if there is any is to figure out a way to not be vulnerable. Assume that every winter there will be a virus that will kill many tens of thousands, which oddly is the case. Design health policy and public health policy in a way that assumes that what experiencing right now is normal. Mandated surfaces should be hostile to viruses. There are straightforward ways to make air systems hostile to virus spread. What if transit vehicles had surfaces that were anti viral, and air systems that assumed contamination and moved it and treated it to prevent spread? Find points of spread where the effort has a large reward and start there.

No, look at Canada. Canada never banned travel from China only, only banning all foreign travel in March. The West Coast of Canada is *also* doing much better than other parts of Canada. The fact that the West Coast is doing better is due to weather and/or cultural reasons, not travel bans.

Moreover, Canada as a whole is doing much better than the US as a whole despite having no travel ban until March. The US travel ban simply had no discernible effect (in fact it probably was counterproductive because it encouraged people to be complacent and think of the virus as a China problem). Biden and others were right to criticize it.

Canada is less dense and colder and this could be a factor. There could be other factors : when the epidemic started and how it started. I think it’s hard to draw firm conclusions at this point.
Canada has less flu/pneumonia deaths than the US per 100,000.
9.34 vs 14.91

It's probably just explained by the US having higher global connectivity of tourism and business related travel than Canada (fewer global cities), even per capita. More initial vectors. Same thing probably explains flu vectors.

(I suspect people would probably estimate total travel volumes as being more even than they are, from Canada's newfound reputation as a "post-national society". That may be so, but probably does not mean high travel volumes overall.)

2 factors—international appeal plus density. So NYC and Mardi Gras look like the big spreaders whereas the lack of international appeal made Trump rallies that happened after Mardi Gras safe spaces.

If anything, Canada should have been affected more. Indeed, SARS killed 43 people in Toronto in 2003, but zero in the US.

Instead of inventing just-so explanations, we should probably accept that there is a large element of luck. In brushfires in California and Australia you often see one house spared while its neighbor burned down, and it all comes down to where a single ember happened to land.

Canada is not less dense. Most Canadians, like most Australians, live in large metropolitan enclaves from which we never move except to go to worldwide. I’ve been to Europe more often than in a forest. But we don’t have widespread misery.

Who mentioned density?

The post above yours.

That would probably be a better one to have hit reply on when rebutting claims about density, then.

British Columbia is different for many reasons. Chinese people in Vancouver and throughout the provinces have been wearing masks since January. I know personally people who travelled from China months ago and self isolated, closing their businesses for 14 days before that was even a thing. Vancouver gets hit with every flu coming out of Asia earlier than almost anywhere else on the continent, and seem to know how to react well.

BC public health is excellent. Again, likely through experience. They have done a very good job with hospitals, and are busy containing outbreaks in nursing homes throughout the province. Every case in nursing homes till recently was connected with travel; workers returning from Iran, Mexico and Asia infecting the elderly people in their care. If someone is tested and found to be infected, they are contacted daily by a public health nurse until they are tested clear. The lockdowns are only as rigid as necessary. Not very often do I openly praise governments for their actions, but the BC public health operations have been excellent.

Alberta saw it's first cases through travel to Asia. Not specific to China. Ontario and Quebec are getting hammered right now. Lots of travel from Europe and the middle east. Quebec has a winter break in February, turning Florida into a french speaking state, which happened to coincide with the beginnings of the outbreaks there, bringing it home.

Canada has about the population of California spread over a land mass larger than the US. The outbreaks are localized in the large urban centers. California has slightly fewer cases but close enough to say they are about the same. California is at the top of the curve, but eastern Canada hasn't peaked yet.

An interesting situation. The Canadian Federal Government were contemplating taking Emergency powers, where they could cross the lines into Provincial jurisdiction to deal with the pandemic. The provinces refused. The best way to describe the Federal response is ridiculous and incompetent. The Provinces are mixed, some better than others.

Québec has an earlier spring break. An important Arabic population. A large Italian minority with strong ties to the mother country. And a big factor was a great back and forth from Montréal and New York by Hasidic Jews , some of whom held public gatherings despite the confinement and the instructions of most of their religious leaders (everybody has its own version of Southern evangelicals.)

Canada , like Australia, is not less dense. It’s made up of large cities on the edge of forever wasteland we never visit. I’ve been to Europe more time than in a forest. We have less deaths from pneumonia bc we have far less misery and universal health care.

"less misery"

I doubt it

"Canada is less dense and colder and this could be a factor."

Wait, now the theory is that the cold limits the spread!? The fact that the virus spread early in China, Iran, South Korea and Northern Italy during the winter months while largely dodging the tropics was previously cited as evidence that warm weather limits the spread.

But we do have travel bans now, so when was the tipping point for you?

Wouldn't travel restrictions have made more sense in the early stages of a pandemic, when there was still a faint hope of geographic containment, compared to now, when a million horses are already out of the barn door.

People from New York City shouldn't even travel to upstate New York now, but visitors flying there from Wuhan in February would have been fine?

China currently bars nearly all foreign visitors, and rightly so, despite having hardly any new cases other than their own returning citizens.

Do we have bans?

Someone just told the story of being repatriated by the State Department, and being shocked at the transition from a fully PPE State Department plane, and into a custom system that just said "welcome back."

You're on your own, no quarantine, no track and trace.

No wonder state governors have to try to pick up the ball.

Same in Canada. The province is allowing people out only when they have written and signed a document describing their quarantine measures. It is a legal document, and they are expected to comply.

This started very recently, this week. It seems there are large numbers of people expected to come home over the next while, and the Federal authorities haven't done anything practical to deal with it.

The powers of quarantine have been on the books for a long long time. How to do it hasn't been thought through. Where do you put them all, how do you administer it? At one time they just stayed on the boat for a set time.

A handful of marooned citizens are being repatriated. Other than that there's a ban.

With exponential growth you have to react early. Early testing would have made a huge difference, so why not early travel restriction?

The earlier the better, surely. We do have far heavier restrictions now and the January critics are now silent, so what changed in their view and when?

No one is articulating any coherent policy. It's all just hyperpartisanship.

I think you are missing what I'm saying. I'm saying that "shutting down" China was not a sufficient solution. You'd have to completely 100% shut down international travel, which was indeed impossible.

But too many pretended that a "China ban" accomplished the same thing.

Realistically a "China ban" only buys you time to implement a response.

Did we? Did we order ventilators and institute national track and trace at the same time?

Hmm. Maybe there should be a vote for next time. A viral infection that kills people shows up. Do we close down air travel, or do we put 10 million people out of work and have 30-40% of businesses go bankrupt? Which way would it go?

The problem isn't that it would not have worked. It is that by the time it was seriously considered it was too late.

We are contrasting with arriving traveler quarantine, and national track and trace.

Those both can be done first, before shutdown is necessary.

"despite having hardly any new cases"

Says who?

The CCP and its lackey WHO, that's who. Who are you going to believe?

I've sort of shifted my view on this question a little. Travel ban on Chinese travel unquestionably helped (that's why American clade is largely via Europe and there isn't much more of it), and agree this helped the West Coast of the US.

However it's hard for me to see any universe where they'd have successfully contained via travel bans, as would have meant banning travel from every vector that this thing had already slipped out of China into, and where it was locally spreading already.

The China travel ban was a good thing and bought the US some time and probably offset at least to some degree the economic harm (the view that it did not and was the wrong decision is just not credible; the complainers about it were flatly just wrong), but a world where this thing had been contained entirely via travel bans is hard for me to see. The spread was too innocuous given asymptomatic / mildly symptomatic cases, and the lag of the incubation period. They'd have had to foresee that it was already spreading everywhere (which the data seems to be suggesting it was) and shut down travel from everywhere, for it to work.

"There were 1,300 direct flights to 17 cities before President Trump’s travel restrictions. Since then, nearly 40,000 Americans and other authorized travelers have made the trip, some this past week and many with spotty screening."


You can't/don't need to catch them all. but for every halving of the infected that arrive, you buy yourself another week of preparation.

Reducing the rate arrival of infected is key. It's like social distancing on steroids.

Case 1: On Jan 1, 64 flights arrive and each has 1 infected passenger.

Case 2: On Jan 1, 16 flights arrive and each has 1 infected passenger.

You just bought yourself 4 weeks of prep time with case 2.

The vibe I'm getting is "we 'shut down' travel with China, what more did you want!"

Ah, something that worked?

> Ah, something that worked?

Nobody could have delivered that, because the country didn't have the stomach to completely shut down movement from outside the country on Jan 20. Remember, the media, other world leaders and the entire dem party resisted the shutdown in late January. In spite of it buying us weeks of prep time.

Had Trump moved even sooner, it would have been even better.

What we know for certain: Trump moved sooner than Pelosi, Cuomo, Biden and any other name you might come up with the left.

The left had to decide: Pursue a 3 week iimpeachment they knew with 100% certainty they were going to lose based on charges (obstruction of congress and abuse of power) that every president has done to date. OR they could have passed on that and fought the virus.

They picked NOT the virus.

We got the best we could have got with Trump. If EU leaders behaved as he did, the NYC would have been in much better shape.

Wow such ignorance. As Mulp said, travel ban did nothing, once you have infected people in your country it's all over. What helped California vs New York was the former instituted a lockdown in early March, while the latter did not. Remember how exponential numbers work, the grains of rice doubling on the chessboard story. Without a lockdown, the only thing a travel ban does (once at least one infected person is inside your country) is delay the disease by a few days, and with exponential numbers, unchecked, a few days is nothing. Lockdown is the only thing that kills C-19. Enough said, as this is an ignorant thread...

Travel ban on China is overrated. People with close ties to China, and those returning from China, were already on high alert in January. The places with most incoming Chinese travellers (west coast in USA and Canada) have fared better than the rest of the continent. A travel ban on Iranians and Italians in January would have been more helpful. But to be fair, who knew that in January?

Banana bread a status symbol? Good God. A black dormmate once asserted to me that banana bread was "the official quickbread of the black race." I did not contradict her, though I felt it was a pretty pan-Southern thing.

And here I am thinking, that leaving the brown bananas to rot on the countertop, purchased but unused, would be the greater show of "privilege."

Now sourdough may separate us into higher and lower mortals. In my one attempt I was unable to master it. The starter - following the internet I used a mix of regular flour and some rye - did not speak to me. I divided it and fed it, and some days it was prodigious and bubbly indeed; but I had no feel for where it was at, in the development process. After a couple or three weeks, I grew bored of the ritual and went ahead and baked a leaden loaf with it, having broken its spirit somehow.

"I did not contradict her, though I felt it was a pretty pan-Southern thing."

I don't know about all the South, but it's common around this area. I've never heard it called out by race.

My Polish-American wife's banana bread recipe:
1) Buy more damn bananas than we can possibly eat ...

My wife just scoops up the over ripe bananas when they mark them down to half price.

If you tire of banana bread, a blogger Jenn Segal "Once Upon a Chef" has a good banana pancake recipe on her site.

I thought cornbread was at least as much a quickbread banana bread. Guessing at the meaning of quick bread, but each take about the same time to get into the oven, while cornbread needs only half the time there. And in my East Coast experience, it is corn bread that is southern, not banana bread.

Cornbread and pork, sure, but too pedestrian for honors. And cornbread starts with c and that rhymes with d, and d stands for ... diarrhea, dementia, and death, the three D's of pellagra, which is kinda associated with a diet of lye-rinsed cornmeal, I think. During that period when the South wasn't doing too well, but that's mostly forgotten, of course, or thought to have been just desserts, I suppose.

leftist self loathing academics will always find a reason to hate on middle class women. but yes, instagram pics of sourdough is definitely a threat to equality...

Is capable of writing that actual (though new) data should be considered as hypotheses.

"2. Citizen’s handbook for nuclear attack and natural disasters. Do we need a new version of this?"

Yes, we need something printed out that is readable when the power is out.

And usable when the TP runs out.

With 10,000 turning out for a San Antonio good bank, is too little attention being paid to immediate aid?

That could be a helicopter drop $, or a national plan for food distribution.

Things could get bad.

When the pandemic is over maybe we can talk about why autocorrect is so bad.

This is BS AI, where it changes good words to bad because it thinks the bad words are more "likely."

A Food Bank is indeed a Good Bank though.

It would also be nice to be able to edit comments. If so, my "thing" would be "thinking."

Unemployed are getting an additional $600 per week in benefits, Drum did the math and low to lower-middle earners are actually earning more now than they did when they were working! Then throw in an additional $1200 in TrumpBux.

San Antonio is having a food bank rush for an obvious reason: illegal immigrants aren’t included in any of the benefits.

And in San Antonio, that’s 85,000 people.

I've heard about overwhelmed and backlogged unemployment systems.

And it isn't just cities with Spanish sounding names:

"Food banks are reporting a 40% increase in demand, on average, said Katie Fitzgerald, chief operating office at Feeding America, a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs nationwide. Some say they are seeing double to quadruple the number of people asking for help."

11. My former wife made sour dough bread; indeed, we always had a loaf in the bread box. She used starter she got from her mother. At the end of last week, my new neighbor brought me a loaf of sour dough bread he had made. I told him about my former wife. Later, I sent him the link to the article Cowen had linked here, and discussed in the link at item 11. My former wife treated the cup of starter in the back of the refrigerator as as family heirloom because she had inherited it from her mother and fed it like it was her child.

2. Since this started, I've been thing of "When the Wind Blows," a graphic novel/animated film from the '80s. Here's the trailer:

5. Dictatorships do well during a crisis. The Romans knew that. The rest of the time, they're not so great.

15. Oh, my! There is no normal to go back to. Not now, maybe not ever. And clearly not before the "the development of vaccines or therapeutics" (Ezra's conclusion at the link), and Cowen's conclusion as reflected in his blog posts and his Emergent Ventures grants. I should also point out that Ezra seems sympathetic with the dilemma Trump faces in trying to develop and sell a strategy that necessarily includes lots of cost and pain. Oh, my!

I've been thinking about this a lot today in part because it is Good Friday. Suffering. A suffering Messiah didn't strike His people as either appealing or, more importantly, convincing: a Messiah doesn't suffer, a Messiah triumphs over suffering. The word "passion" is usually substituted for "suffering" in this context. Passion does mean suffering, but it also means intense feeling (including sexual desire), the latter meaning most associate with the word. Christians believe Jesus suffered to save mankind. Connecting those dots is a challenge, even for the most talented preacher. At the time of Jesus, Jews offered animal sacrifices. Was Jesus a human sacrifice? Are those who die from coronavirus human sacrifices? When one is sacrificed in the cause of war there's at least an explanation for it. What's the explanation for sacrifices from a contagion? I read where one preacher said members of his congregation were willing to be sacrifices in stating his opposition to social distancing orders applying to religious services. I watched Trump at his daily news conference a couple of days ago, and I was struck by his passion, his intense feeling as reflected in his facial expressions and in his rage at the media. Maybe Trump's passion isn't his intense feeling, but his suffering, suffering because so many Americans are suffering under his watch. Or is it His watch?

#8. The show is much more subtle than the NY Times piece.
I have watched it and what I think is it's major accomplishment, not failure, is it's willingness to present an impartial take on a very complex story. It would have been very, very, easy for the show's producers to present Joe Exotic as the bad guy, and Carol Baskin as the hero. They refrained from doing so. They don't make Joe out to be the hero, they just don't present him as an unambiguously evil guy who abuses tigers. Rather they present all of the major protagonists as a mixture of good and evil. Joe Exotic comes across as a guy who genuinely loves tigers, though also a redneck idiot who doesn't run his zoo very well. "Doc" Antle comes across as a womanizer who sexually exploits his staff, but otherwise operates a well-run establishment (even if it's a mystery what happens to tiger cubs when they get older). Carol Baskin comes across as a well-meaning individual who, (like many liberals and progressive) takes her own moral opinions about what constitutes "abuse" a little too much as the objective truth and sets out to basically run everyone else out of business, while operating what is essentially her own zoo (and charging admission).

The thing which is exquisitely subtle about it is that the characters all represent different points of the political spectrum and so act as a microcosm of the political divisions associated with the culture war. And because the show refuses to take sides among any of these varied points of view, it acts as a kind of culture Rorsharch test. You can side with the gay redneck with his band of poor and disabled lower class workers, as many on the right will, and see Joe as the American white working class being persecuted by the progressive left, or you can see Carol Baskin as an environmentalist/animal rights hero taking on capitalism and big business (and crude gun toting right wing assholes) exploiting poor defenceless tiger cubs. It's up to you.
The Times clearly sides with the later and is simply unhappy that they didn't explicitly make the case that Joe is the BAD GUY.

But personally what I loved about it is that it allows you to wonder what the heck is supposed to be so terrible about petting tiger cubs. it was Carol who first went after Joe Exotic by virtually stalking him as he traveled around the country giving animal shows. It was she who set out to essentially drive him out of business, because of an exaggerated confidence in her own belief that what he was doing constitutes "abuse". Joe, who comes across as largely an idiot, responded in a way that ultimately destroyed him. But he wasn't wrong that she was trying to destroy his way of life.

Quote from the article:
" She and other advocates are leading efforts to ban cub petting and phase out private big cat ownership through a bipartisan bill currently under review in the House."

Exactly. Carol Baskin thinks it's immoral to own big cats and to let people pay to pet a tiger cub. That is certainly an opinion they have a right to - but they're trying to make it the law. It's not obvious that owning big cats or petting tigers is morally different than owning domesticated cats or petting zoos of any kind. Since tigers are an endangers species, if anything breeding more of them ought to be considered a positive. This really isn't much different than the arguments of any animal right advocates that ALL private pet ownership is immoral, since it results in animals being abandoned or euthanized when they get older. The Humane society exists because people buy puppies and kittens and then don't want them when they get older. Tigers are bigger and of course more dangerous, but you certainly could operate a Humane Society for Big Cats. Carol Baskin could do that - but instead she wants to literally make it illegal to own them, except in public zoos.

+1 Fantastic summary and response to the NYT article.

+1, very informative for those of us who have never watched the show. Maybe after we binge through Picard.

She left out the part that Carol very obviously murdered her husband -- just observe her psychotic laughter whenever she is asked about it -- but otherwise, yes, not a bad summary.

The show sort of presents it that way. However, what I inferred was that he likely was engaged in some illegal activity and laundering money.
i.e. He has (or had) a pilots licence, he owns an aircraft, which he flies illegally over the Gulf of Mexico, he has a lot of money, like in the multiple millions, which is he is secretive about, nobody know how much, he stashes cash around the house and burries it on the property, he has a "magic touch" with business and "everything he touches turns to gold", but spouses are not terribly specific about what exactly he does.
I mean, you do the math.

Yes. The show also implies that he met Carol when she was working as a prostitute (who sleeps with some guy you meet randomly on the street after fighting with your husband?... Come on)

I don't see anything wrong a priori with petting a tiger cub. I do question the morality of euthanizing a never ending stream of tiger cubs so that you do not have to take care of adult tigers.

But... I mean, why should you infringe on his "liberty" to do so? Shouldn't we just resolve this situation by offering resources to take care of an ending series of post-infant tigers, rather than make it illegal? It's his "Way of Life", after all, to factory farm and then mercilessly euthanize scores of tiger cubs! And what does "liberty" mean if not defending his right to continue this "Way of Life"...

Does America really have a significant problem with a surplus of adult tigers being abandoned by people that can't care for them?
I'm not really seeing it from here.

Anyway since tiger's are endangered, what's wrong with running a sanctuary for tigers and just saying "give me all your excess tigers for free"? Sure would be a lot safer to just give free tigers to Carol Baskin than illegally euthanize them.
I think it's far more likely that they are being sold. It's illegal to sell them but an adult tiger is worth like $3000-$4000 on the black market apparently. That doesn't sound like there's a surplus of tigers out there that people are trying to eliminate.

In fairness, I've not seen the trash TV in question and am band-wagoning on djw's comment (presuming it's true from this and a previous article on the odd character that is Joe Exotic).

As a point of general principle, Libertarian arguments that no one can/should impose minimal welfare / breeding standards on animals breeding and should have no recourse to solve the problem other than trying to buy the unfortunate animals off the puppy mill proprietor in question are... super-odd.

When I see a guy at a dog meat market in China holding up animals and threatening to kill them in order to extort money from dog-loving Chinese (a real thing), I do not feel that the answer should not be that the dog-loving Chinese should have no recourse but to pay them off, and that in general this is a fine exercise of liberty and a "way of life".

Of, sure, there should be minimal welfare standards, and there's a real question as to whether Joe Exotic would meet them given that he was feeding them roadkill and expired meat from wal-mart. I did get the impression that he did actually care about his animals and probably would abide by those rules if enforced. The original dispute between him and Carol Baskin was that he would take tiger cubs on roadshows and let spectators play with them (for a fee). The animal rights community believes that this encourages too much tiger breeding and wants to ban it. It's THAT which is what is termed "abuse" of tiger cubs - allowing humans to "pay to play" with them. Now there are some legitimate arguments that maybe raising cubs and then "dumping" them on the market when they get too old to play with results in a lot of adult tigers living in substandard conditions - but I'm not sure that's a great argument for banning it entirely. If you're interested in preserving an endangered species - why NOT buy up adult tigers and put them in a sanctuary? This not "i'm going to eat this dog unless you buy it off me". It's more like "I've raised a bunch of rare african dogs, which are now for sale. if you don't buy them, some carnival sideshow will."

The "way of life" aspect is: he loves big cats, which he enjoys keeping as pets, and has found a way to turn that into an income, by running a zoo. So if that gets banned, he will no longer have an income, and no longer be allowed to keep big cats as pets, which is pretty much his whole life.

It's possible the show was leaving something out, but it does not appear that's what was happening. Joe euthanized 5 adult tigers - which he said we sick and had to be put down. There wasn't any evidence of tiger cubs being euthanized. They may have been sold. Which is illegal (but should it be?). "Doc" Antle may have been euthanizing tiger cubs, but he's not the one in prison. (He might have been selling them too).

#11) Another form of status seeking is writing woke articles and commentary that baking bread, along with everything else, is a sign of privilege. Before the pandemic, of course, we read plenty of commentary about unchecked privilege. Now, it turns out, the pandemic also favors the privileged, who have time and resources to bake bread. So, pandemic or no pandemic, everything unfalsifiably reflects unchecked privilege.

I had almost the same reaction as you. This kind of critique gets stale after a while.

Baking bread is one of those things a lot of people want to do but can never find the time. A lot of people now have more time.

I fail to see it as some notable form of status seeking.

Tried to pick up some yeast yesterday and was told they have been sold out for a month. I just wanted some warm pretzels.

TC's status has marginally increased by being cited (even if criticized). Citations are the coin of the realm for academics.

It would have been interesting to have seen what Tom Wolfe would have made of status seeking during this pandemic.

#1 yes, the data right now is like the different parts of the elephant, difficult to see the big picture and is not always directly comparable between countries.
The IFR and CFR won’t be the same everywhere. The main known variables are age demographics, care quality, underlying health of infected ( smoking/diabetes/obesity/heart disease...). Other variables exist probably we don’t know yet

11.) Who is doing the more dangerous form of status seeking?:

a.) People learning how to bake bread at home and sharing pictures of it on Instagram.
b.) Journalists writing hot takes about how the rise of home breadmaking is *actually* a dangerous and boastful expression of class inequality.

3) People making masks at home that the expect to protect healthcare workers from COVID-19.
Can you say "false sense of security" and/or "liability"?

#14: "We are living in a moment of unprecedented crisis."

Not a good start for any book introduction!

For Tyler and the other Dems, the "unprecedented crisis" started on November 8, 2016.

Justifying the unending crisis since that date has been a relatively unimportant matter of fleeting details.

Karl Friston has a Covid-19 model:

4. Should be noted those were ideal conditions; in the slipstream, low humidity, only a headwind. So 5 meters for walking and 10 m for running under v. precise conditions.

Urban bus systems are requiring passengers to board from the rear door, and stop picking up passengers when ten are on board.

A typical full-size city bus is about 14 meters long and perhaps 2.5 meters wide. If the back of the driver's seat is 1.5 meters from the front part of of the bus, and if you want to maintain 5 meters between everyone in the bus, how many passengers can be accommodated at one time in that bus?

Are people walking behind each other inside the bus?

15. Tech (Google and Apple) is creating an app that tracks everyone and alerts those who have been in contact with anyone diagnosed with coronavirus. "Alert" is a euphemism: this is the app that the government will likely use to track everyone and enforce into quarantine the unfortunate ones who may have come into contact with someone diagnosed with coronavirus. Is this an example of state capacity libertarianism or is this authoritarianism?

13. For small businesses (fewer than 500 employees) who have a significant relationship with their bank, they are in the front of the line in their PPP loan applications; other businesses are out of luck. Consider Bank of America, praised by Trump this week. B of A is dividing applicants for PPP loans between favored bank customers and everyone else. Applications by favored bank customers are handled personally by B of A. The others are relegated to a subcontractor with a web site that makes the initial Obamacare web site look like a model of tech ingenuity.

Here's an example of how absurd the PPP loan application process is: on Monday, the SBA revised the loan application form to require the 2020 first quarter's 941 and related information, which few firms have filed, and isn't required to be filed until the end of April. If a small business successfully filed a PPP loan application before Monday, cooperative banks filed it with the SBA even though it did not include the 2020 941 information. Small businesses that are not favored customers who filed their applications with banks before Monday, they go to the back of the line, and must wait until they file their 2020 941 before the bank will submit the applications to the SBA. Of course, Cowen will view this as just another example of regulatory inefficiency, but those who work in the real world know it's a reflection of how delegating to private enterprise, in this case banks, creates a world of two classes.

Banks have claimed they are moving slowly with PPP loan applications because they are afraid they will be held liable for the fraud of the applicants. If you believe that, I have some stock I'd like to sell you. What they are afraid of is liability for their own rapaciousness, in full view for anyone willing to open their eyes.

#7 — this was much to do about nothing. The largest mass hysteria of all time. Heads need to roll.

#7 seems to confirm the prevailing view, not any reactionary contrarian position

Please explain.

Looking forward to the movement of the goal posts ...

Do the math. 15% infection rate X .37% fatality among infected means 0.055% of the population gets killed plus another chunk using up hospital beds and ventilators. With seasonal flu it’s 8% infected (from what I’ve seen from several sources) X .1% fatality so .08% of the population killed. This means the coronavirus is at least 7 times more deadly. It’s unclear how much the infection rate was affected by social distancing so it could be higher. Yes, this is far better than 1% of the population getting killed, but it’s still enough to overwhelm hospitals when it really hits a place hard. I’m not sure these numbers mean we shouldn’t have been cautious.

"We should be cautious" was absolutely not the summa of "the prevailing view".

Not among the self-styled advocates of "the prevailing view" who shouted down anyone who still accepted locking down (at least in rich economies, for a short period) but thought IFR was lower and infection higher.

Tyler, I love your blog... but when you put up a paywalled link to scientific papers, why not use the sci-hub full-text link instead? Remember, the more people click on sci-hub, the more Skynet can identify as potential dissidents. TIA. ;)

#12...After reading "Epidemics: Hate and Compassion from the Plague of Athens to AIDS'"By Samuel Kline Cohn, I would hesitate to draw general social and civil assessments of the pandemic at this time. I can hardly follow much of the conversation on the pandemic, but the social response has been amazing. I've used my FB, which is dedicated to seeking out art, to befriend a large number of artists all of the world . Added to the friends I already had, the result has been my being able to discuss the pandemic, the role of art in a crisis, etc, with individuals all over the world. If I stop to think about it, I can't believe it. So many people had block parties, keeping social distance, that it seemed a consequence of the virus. No one worries more about nationalism and authoritarianism than me, but I'm not I'm not ready to pull out the few hairs left on my head yet.

The baking bread piece is dangerously stupid. Why oh why, when people are locked in their homes, would they resort to producing their own food? I know! It's to make them look good for their friends! That's a galaxy-brain take if I've ever heard one.

In the midst of the pandemic, I am baking my own bread because bread is highly perishable, I eat a lot of it, and I would prefer not to break my quarantine going to the bakery a couple times a week.

The author writes that baking sourdough takes lots of time. This reveals that he does not know what he is talking about. It takes a long time to go from raw ingredients to a loaf of bread, but the vast majority of that time is spent waiting for the bread to rise. It takes me 1-2hrs of active effort to produce 4 days worth of bread -- not a big time investment at all.

Why didn't I do this before the pandemic, then? Simple: while I work 1-2hrs to produce 2 loaves, that work is spread into multiple small tasks which must be performed on a strict schedule lasting about 20 hours. When I was going to work every day, I had to rigorously plan and carefully schedule my hours so as to be at home at just the right moments. Now, I work from home, so it's not an issue.

#3. "BP"? "BP"???? Did we really need some academics to conjure up an acronym for "ago"?

Thanks, just looking at Tyler's cite, out of context, I couldn't figure out what "BP" meant.

I basically agree, but maybe historians use it as a space-saving abbreviation? I.e. if you're trying to squeeze a bunch of columns into a table that will fit on a skinny page, you can save a few millimeters by writing "BP" instead of "ago".

OTOH, the rise of the use of "BCE" instead of "BC" contradicts that story.

I don't have access to the article but the abstract looks fascinating. There's been ever-increasing evidence of how much human development occurred in the Amazon in the millennia before western contact. There aren't any big pyramids sitting around as there are in Egypt and Mexico but they may have had substantial cities that are now swallowed by rain forest. And archeologists are finding more and more pieces of evidence. "The Lost City of Z" is a good book and decent movie about one of the early explorer/archeologists, Percy Fawcett, who disappeared a century ago while searching for evidence of such a lost city.

13. What interest rate is the Fed demanding on debt secured by 13-35% credit card debt?

How do credit card borrowers get their debt wiped out and the Fed made whole by the US Treasury a year from now when they finally get a job and now need to get out from under mountains of debt, starting with the extremely high interest credit card debt, run up to pay for food, car repairs, medical care, while unemployed?

As a boomer, I grew up learning debt always required capital, aka assets, aka durable goods, plus income to service the debt. Ie, an actual new car plus a job to get a new car loan.

What advocates of a Fed "solution" for this and every other economic problem logically require is the Fed running cash welfare.

It's big government welfare putting money on customer pockets so capitalists get paid to stay in business selling food, cars, and renting or selling housing and business real estate, but without the "government", any taxes, deficits, or national debt, nor legislators creating agencies that pay workers to write computer programs.

In 1980, COBOL was the best business computer programming language at the time Reaganomics took over and government paying workers became an evil forced on Republicans by Democrats and unions.

Today, the systems that pay money to people used by US Treasury, CMS for Medicare, Social Security, and for IRS tax and welfare spending, are still frozen in 1980 and programmed in COBOL.

Since 1980, policy uses "words" not paying workers to implement actual programs.

Ie, fighting viruses is done by cutting govrrnment regulations and by cutting costs, not by paying workers to do research, develop and test potential solutions, paying workers to build factories and warehouses, and paying workers to manufacture drugs and other supplies for current future potential needs on a constant basis because everything depreciates due to natural law if not consumed.

But since Reagan, paying workers costs too much, and the high costs kill jobs.

So, today, every solution involves the Fed buying debt and nevrr paying workers so unemployed and underpaid workers can afford to buy stuff from business who have cut labor costs to create jobs someplace else.

Nothing the Fed does can every be connected to paying workers, because that would be like FDR big government and Democratic big government, and Keynes actual policy, not the right-wing rewriting of Keynes.

8) One question I had about Tiger King:

When exactly did the federal agents hear about the murder for hire plot and was this before or after Joe himself heard about it?

If we are to believe what we see on screen, Joe's scumbag business partner got into trouble with the feds and got sentenced several months before the plot developed.

The date of sentencing is important because that's the point at which he has already struck his deal with the feds.

He then calls up google maps and decides on the ambush spot, brings in a potential hit man, tries to persuade Joe to give the guy any money at all ("even $5" -- a quote from the show). He then brings in a second hit man who already works for the zoo, has Joe give him $3000 for undisclosed reasons (Joe's story) and has the guy go off on a trip (to the wrong state).

Did the feds know about the first murder for hire plot? Seems like they'd have to, wouldn't they? But it seems pretty clear that Joe *didn't* know about the plot, or take it seriously enough to actually give the guy any money.

The whole story seems infinitesimally close to entrapment to me. The guy who comes up with every element of the plot has already struck a deal with the government, is in constant communication with federal agents, and is altering parts of the plot at their request.

1. Balaji on heterogeneities and data integration.
Have to find the tree trunk before abstract tree, This is what this i about.

Why is it "smart" people like to say "heterogeneity" and not "difference"

In the context of conversations about math or statistics, difference means X minus Y.

#1: The author puts too much faith in Big Data. It doesn't matter how many billions of observations you have, nor how many tens of thousands of variables that you have, nor how fancy your deep learning AI software is, if you don't have the correct variables, measured with the necessary degree of granularity and accuracy.

We've been there and done that: Google thought it had a superior model for early detection of influenza epidemics. But people's behavior changed and the Google Influenza model failed the next year.

And unless we have sensors that can measure in real time those tens of thousands of variables for those billions of people, our models are always going to be lagging the real world.

That doesn't mean that we would fail to learn anything from such a project. But the costs and benefits are way out of alignment here: how would we even (legally and ethically -- HIPAA anyone?) assemble his unicorn data file? Especially because the truly important variables might be ones that we have no hope of gathering, e.g. maybe we need to know the time and date and number of virions that John Doe uptook, and what the state of his immune system was at that hour. And even if we had that sort of data, we'd need the scientific knowledge or at least a model of why that specific combination made John Doe deathly ill while Jane Roe fought off the infection asymptomatically.

The machine learning people think their programs can mine the data and find the patterns. Well you can search any data set and find all sorts of patterns, and almost all of them will be meaningless and useless for out-of-sample forecasting, unless and until you get a structural model telling you what's really going on. And structural models of human behavior are extremely challenging, that's why social sciences will always be less accurate than the natural sciences. And epidemiology, though working on top of a biomedical foundation, is ultimately a social science.

That doesn't mean that data are useless or research is useless or the social sciences are useless. But he over-estimates the utility of his proposed unicorn dataset.

#10: I'm still a little puzzled why older econ professors seem to love the One Hoss Shay metaphor so much. Maybe they had to memorize the poem when they were in school and we younger people did not?

Yes, it's a supremely simple way of modeling capital depreciation. But wouldn't a linear -- or maybe even better, exponential -- schedule of depreciation be almost as simple, more realistic ... and more mathematically tractable? Maybe it depends on whether one is using discrete vs continuous time models.

#13 This may explain why the Fed has not yet done enough to create expectations of a recovery: get the TIPS break-even rate up to at least a 2% PCE inflation equivalent.

Tyler, it looks like that Medium article is rather wrong.

Medium is completely uncurated. Any idiot can post there, even me.

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