Wednesday assorted links


First link in #7 goes to the negative oil price article.

Second link is for the first

The link to my article (7a) is

#9, convince me that any model of anything to do with COVID-19 using reported/confirmed cases in its dataset is not GIGO

I don't think that a convincing argument could be made. Except for anti-body results. Swabs 1) are point in time, 2) a function of testing and 3) have higher error rates.

XKCD does the rules of data garbage:

#4, We can go back and forth arguing over the validity of the studies and how accurate the extrapolations are, but multiple antibody studies all point in a similar direction: many more people have it then we know.

And now we have anecdotal evidence that it was here and spreading earlier than we knew.

Absolutely! All the moaning economists who carp about these studies ought to volunteer for the public health service duty to help track and contain the virus. Get off of Twitter and do something productive.

Another study from france -- 15% in the northeast, maybe 2% or less in rest of the country.

Italy -- maybe 65% in Bergamo province; not sure about the total in Lombardy.

These studies are more useful when the underlying population is heavily infected. A good place to do this would be the Bronx in New York. We know there are significantly more infected than the recorded cases, but how much is important. Is it 2x, 5x, 10 x, 20 x ?
The Santa Clara study , didn't seem to use a true random sample. It used volunteers recruited from social media. The LA study cannot quote a sensitivity and specificity for the test and the results may well have large errors. Most aB tests out there can generate a significant number of false positives when the underlying true rate is low and it is in this case.( < 5%).

My working assumptions/estimates within order of magnitude-ish. CFR=5%. Ratio of cases to infected but asymptomatic 10:1. IFR=0.5%. RO= 2.5. Re currently due to mitigation =0.7. The seroprevalence studies, even
with their problems, tell us that likely only 5% have antibodies. So we have a virus that is roughly twice as contagious as the flu and about 5 time as deadly. I suppose you can call that a ‘bad’ flu (like a ‘bad cancer’) but in a population that is 95 % naive there’s a lot of havoc to be had. We can start to reopen somewhat (going to happen anyways) but keep some social distance and hand washing protocols (going to happen anyways) and try to keep Re below 1. If we get to the end of the year with 100k deaths I’d say it was worth it. Seroprevalence from NYC is the likeliest coming data that would make me adjust.

the antibody studies showing higher prevalence are correct
we gonna have to consider the possibility that we gotta lotta more
asymptomatic spread of the virus than previously thought

also time to start thinking about defaulting on a lotta that u.s.
debt that china owns

7. Thank you. Public transit lives!

Yes, New Yorkers can continue to ride the subway, but people protesting against Democratic governors are suicidal, skate parks must be disabled, and playground users in Idaho should expect to be arrested. Because New York's economy is special, and the rest of us should just shut the hell up about our economic concerns.

social distancing for thee, but not for me?

"people protesting against Democratic governors are suicidal"

They are also protesting Republican governors. The issue is not that they're suicidal but that they might be homicidal, unintentionally or not.

Same could be said with the regular flu. We’re only arguing over the %s.

It's always a matter of degree, obviously. I don't have a 100% chance of killing someone when i drive at 110 miles per hour, but it's enough to constitute a crime.

Yet, that would be negligent homicide. Not familiar with anyone brought up on homicide charges because of the flu.

How about charges of terrorism? A NJ man got charged with terrorism for coughing on a grocery store worker a while back. SARS is scientifically not the flu and the authorities aren't legally treating it like it is because it isn't.

Legally, if you commit a misdemeanor by violating a public health order and infect someone with a lethal case of covid-19, that could certainly be treated as criminal manslaughter in a number of states. No different than violating traffic laws in such a way to cause another person's death. Whether most prosecutors would bring such a case is a different question.

The people protesting have noticed how people like you never say things like that about people on the NYC subways.

Do you have proof of that or did you make that one up?

>The issue is not that they're suicidal but that they might be homicidal, unintentionally or not.

That's a one-sided view. My relative's self employed business doing mostly external home repairs was shutdown by an overzealous governor. He might have gone to 2 or 3 homes per week. Now, he has to take a job at a supermarket and interact with hundreds (if not thousands) of people a day. He is in his late 50's and his 90-year old mother lives in his home. These policies and their execution have direct negative effects on them. And yet, the state-run liquor stores are open. But he can't go fix peoples windows unless they can prove its an emergency. That makes sense...

Home repairs sound essential to me. Supermarkets too. As long as everybody masks up, why the double standard?

Not really. I agree the proof offered isn't very strong, but we now have to throw out social distancing and everything else we know about its transmission to get to where the subway would not have been a major vector of spread. Occam's razor is still in effect.

Exactly. The implication is that people packed into close proximity to each other isn’t a prime factor in the virus’ spread.

Well obviously the Coronavirus is shy! It's fine to spread as long as only two people are sharing a car, but it's afraid to come out on a packed subway.

It's hard to prove and both may be dangerous. In a proven case in March 15 2003, a 72 year old airplane traveler with SARS infected 23 people. The flight was from Hong Kong to Beijing and lasted 3 hours. The infected generally sat close to the index patient with 8 sitting in the 3 rows in front of him.
This makes sense droplets are expelled forward while talking or breathing. Of course this was 3 hours and the average subway ride may be 10 minutes.
Droplets are carried by airflow. There was another study ( I can't find the link) that linked infections with sitting in the path of AC airflow in a restaurant.
In the choir infection in Washington State, participants sang forcefully ( expelling more droplets than breathing normally) but didn't have any physical contact. In 2.5 hours 45 out of 60 got infected.
We know many MTA workers were infected in New York. I can't tell if it's just from work or being in the same corridors/trains as the passengers.
If taking a crowded subway is not particularly dangerous, then we have to ask what is.

Hmm, does short subway exposure explain the low Manhattan rates vs the high rates/longer rides elsewhere in the city?

How many subway riders are wealthy enough to either travel internationally or hold parties entertaining international travelers?

Did citizen Trump, Bloomberg, and residents of the million plus apartments in Trump towers, etc ride the subway?

Did the attendees, executives, sales?, of the Boston medical company meeting get there by subway, like they do every workday?

Where initial SARS-Cov2 outbreaks were contact traces, the parties had not gotten together by subway, whether in greater NYC, Chicago, Florida spring break, New Orleans Mardi Gras.

Those who ride the subway are more likely to get infected in the office where they work from those who get to work by car.

I don’t think the study is conclusive. Riding 15 min with an infected person in a car, especially if talking and with the climatization on recirculate is also problematic.
In every public place, I think masks are effective. Another study of contamination of influenza A(H1N1) on airplane flights suggests significant protection.

Where's the clever writer who can exempt subways but implicate "manspreading"?

2. regarding medical supply shortfall in viral pandemics
can sumbody mebbe explain to uncle paulie (harvard,
that the u.s. needs to get their pandemic medical supplies from a different country than the country that supplies the pandemic virus.

2. The bigger problem is that your uncle and others will draw the wrong lessons from this crisis. The severity of the pandemic has been made worse by failures of the CDC and WHO to do their jobs to maintain preparedness, state governments failing to maintain stockpiles, and the FDA (and CDC) restraining innovations in testing and the development of medicines and vaccines. It’s really all about government failure. But the perverse lesson being drawn is that more government restrictions are needed. Hence toying with clever mechanism designs to allocate scarce resources. Anybody remember the price system? For those unfamiliar with the arcane history, that was the system that helped spur vast advancements in wealth, pulling most of the world’s people out of abject poverty. The price system raises the quaint notion that people in “hot spots” would outbid those in “cool spots” for resources, and that higher prices would spur increased production. How 20th century. Nothing for all those smart people to do except cry “Externality!” and promote the schemes they are so confident are superior to what the common run of man understands.

-we knew uncle paulie (harvard) had lost his marbles when he chose
china over the American Midwest.
-That "failure" you speak of is
a business philosophy taught at harvard for thirty years
called "just in time"

I thought government stockpiles were bad?

The US government stockpiles of everything but oil were virtually eliminated by the final sell off of helium, which killed off helium mining from helium rich natural gas fields in Louisiana as I recall. Even though this was well know, shortages drove prices up over a decade until Canada mining companies and I think Angola government mining started producing to meet demand, priced at costs.

Government stockpiling is a logistical nightmare unless the inventory is a stable commodity like rare earths, titanium, aluminum, oil, helium.

My suggestion is 1 year inventory bonds bought by the Fed backed by 1,000,000 nitrile gloves, 100,000 PPE gowns, 100,000 IV bags sterile saline, etc, with the quantities of bonds for each set by the CDC, FDA, EMS, with hospital systems encourage to form inventory coops to sell bonds.

The Fed bond purchase auctions would get bids promising to buy the set quantity of new from factories and hold in inventory for a year, at which time they are sold, ideally to hospitals.

Set the quantities to 1-2 weeks national consumption so 25-50 contracts are outstanding at multiple storehouses connected to consumers, hospitals and clinics. All inventory is consumed in 12-18 months, well within shelf life. By promoting consumer coops, the inventory bought and held for a year will have the best customers paying the highest price.

With advance notice of auctions, and delay until inventory in house, factory runs of items produced only a few times a year would be scheduled. Timing of bond purchases and sales would be adjusted based on regional, national, and global supply and demand.

Based on the Fed solving every "capital" problem, inventory being capital.

Agreed that government stockpiles are typically a waste. But the reaction to depleted *state* stockpiles was not “let’s let the market work” but rather “we need a bigger *federal* stockpile!”

I’m not sure I understand your “fed PPE bond” proposal. What you may implicitly have in mind is a futures market in a PPE index. That could be a good idea as a possible way to generate information about upcoming pandemics. But if pandemics are rare events (let’s hope) then such a market might be too thin to be sustainable, in which case a little government subsidy to cover market costs might be good.

7. East Asian megapolises have more mass transit than anybody and they live shoulder to shoulder but they are weathering this pandemic well enough. I think people are just lazily assuming "density = bad" without realizing that people can learn and adapt.

3. It's nice to know one is appreciated for taking an unorthodox approach to grant making in this time of crisis. But what's more interesting is that, according to the link, rapid-response grant making produces research results no less productive (often more productive) than the typical snails-pace grant making. And as an added bonus, rapid-response grant making doesn't waste so much of the researchers time, time that could be devoted to research. I was skeptical when Cowen first revealed Fast Grants. Lesson: trust Cowen's judgment.

A lot of regulatory infrastructure is being called into question these days. I suspect this climate won't last, though.

Someone will have to pay the regulators.

What happened in Canada from the mid 80's to the end of the 90's is that government revenues had to cover the costs, and regulators were found to be a real dead weight loss. Regulation is a tax, a cost imposed on economic activity, and the Laffer curve applies. Regulations that were necessary were no problem as they encourage economic activity, but rules and costs with no return were actively unenforced to keep revenues coming in.

The same will apply to the dead weight loss of bloated administration as well. The 90's was characterized by the disappearance of middle management in the US and Canada; all those stories of 50 yr old guys who had spent their working life getting a nice job getting fired.

The US has essentially turned itself into a nation of middle managers, and there will be a serious mucking out. No one will pay anyone to say no.

I figured it would work (once), but won't continue to work. The predators will realize how to game the system if given the opportunity. Classical Game Theory.

9. Fancy modeling tricks is the cocaine of bored researchers. Like cocaine, it causes long term brain damage. A coffee filter is more useful than a Kalman filter in these times.

1. so freedom is measured in units?
can any sociologists in the house define a "freedom unit"
in the paper the sociologists sez a freedom unit is "arbitrary"

11. The small-business aid program (PPP) is a fraud. So why did the Senate decide to add another $310 billion to the program last night? Change the name of the program to Grift For Grifters, and the name of the Senate to Grifters for Grifters. "We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us."

The banks make a nice percentage like 4-5% for processing these bailout applications. A tiny percentage of trillions of dollars is a lot of money. Banks always win because our government is either too dumb to give money directly to people or too corrupt by steering the money first to its most favored friends on Wall Street who then steer it to their best big business clients first keeping them solvent so they can keep pocketing their fees. Astounding.

Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan have cash handouts ready for their people. Are the East Asians going to set the standard for government competence once again?

9. This seems like crap. Anything still showing Italy being above or near 1 isn’t working.

1. This article is flawed because it doesn’t seem to look at economic freedom at all except for a passing reference to “private property” but instead “freedom of opinion, association, assembly, censorship, press to the rights of private property.” While you’d expect some correlation between those types of freedom and economic development, economic freedom is really the type of freedom that would be more correlated with development. There is no way that a measure of economic freedom would rank China as one of the least free countries in the world (the Heritage Foundation economic freedom measure has China ranked 103/180 and more free than India—putting it only slightly below the world average, and not coincidentally China’s GDP per capita is also around the world average).

The other issue is that you’d expect the freedom-prosperity correlation to be strongest for small peaceful countries without ample natural resources, because those countries had to get rich the way a private individual would—through building services or products others wanted to buy—and nothing beats the free market in doing that. Of course countries can also get rich without freedom if they have some other asset. For example, Saudi Arabia can be rich without freedom because of its oil riches. But many large countries also got rich through rapid expansionism during the post-1800 period where they were able to use the windfall of conquered resources to fuel their own industrialization. This is why the industrial revolution began in the UK and US, and also why the USSR, heir to the Russian Empire, was able to achieve a relatively high level of wealth given its very low levels of freedom. I bet you’d have a much tighter correlation between prosperity and an index that included freedom + value of economically extractable natural resources per capita + the maximum size of a country since 1800 versus the country’s size in 1800 as a proxy for its industrial-era expansionism.

We just need to cut to the central variable. Essentially nations are measured by their ability to convert resources (capital and labor) into "value". Nation's that do that reliably at the least possible cost are rewarded with stable and increasing currency valuations.

So then the game becomes how to motivate labor to be maximally productive. Inducement and/or coercion are your only levers. Technology has reduced the cost of coercion while Maslow has capped how much umph you get out of greater inducements technology provides, because once you get fat and happy, fatter and happier doesn't seduce as strongly.

Isn't that what the author is really cutting at, monetary rewards of freedom? The freedom coefficient has shifted.

Zaua: But many large countries also got rich through rapid expansionism during the post-1800 period where they were able to use the windfall of conquered resources to fuel their own industrialization.

Of course they didn't actually capture resources and use them to fuel only their own industrialisation of course. They extracted them (from their own metropoles and colonies) and sold them on the open market.

Because that's what you do if you're a fuel and resources trader looking to make profit. Obviously.

Countries which were already productive in agriculture and cottage industry could and did buy machinery and energy on the open market and catch up. This was a virtuous cycle where in the best cases the more agriculture became productive, the more surplus for export and workers freed in cottage industry, the more capital available to import and develop.

If you're Japan, or Sweden, or Germany, that's what happens. It's what happened.

If you're China and you just can't do productive agriculture or much cottage industry relative to the sheer size of the population because the Qing have spent two centuries promoting population boom combined with a deepening stagnation and decline in real agricultural productivity, and this sort of ruralized society was the idealized state of things, you don't. (And in fact you don't do much of anything for a long, long time until you get people into government who can solve the problem of sorts of agrarian backwardness unknown across much of the rest of the world, with a *lot* of help from Western tech).

(I've never seen someone like Zaua who seems to adopt both Lenin's mostly incorrect ideas about imperialism as the capture of resources, with a generally Smithian view on everything else and general faith in capitalism. It's a very strange combination.)

6. "Every #RWRI we discuss the situation how *oil above ground* (hence the front oil future) can sqeeze suckers and have a negative value because it can be impossible to store during a glut and impossible to abandon because of EPA.
Negative optionality from liability." Nassim Taleb.

The story isn't about the price of oil, it is about the finance side of fracking. The price will stabilize when production is throttled back. There will be a series of bankruptcies and New York will have another issue on their hands as the financial institutions have to swallow the losses. If the past was any indication these cash flows were probably leveraged 40 times so we will see cascading failures again, this time in commodity markets.

So if anything you really need to feed people, whatever depends on a commodity, try to figure out if you will be able to get it in a few months at any price.

"So no, negative oil prices are not the end of the world. But no way do I see them as good news."

Everything is exponential now.

Grocery stores are slowing down this week. People stocked up or people running out of money?

87 deaths in the province where I live.

My judgment is that the subway result will hold up for also those commenters that want then to.


Welcome to our dystopian Novel where our betters assure us that a mom walking her kids must be arrested in an Idaho park for everyone’s safety but subways in hot zones are fine for grandpa.

A perfect demonstration.

That Seoul has a major subway network has obviously escaped your attention. As a matter of fact, by ridership, it is 1/3 larger than NYC -

More Covid19 deaths were Seoul subway riders than kids park walkers in all the world combined.

That is true, particularly considering how playgrounds throughout Europe have been closed.

That and kids don't die of covid19. And neither do their young moms.

But we have to play along with your stupid LARP ensuring us the reason they don't die is because you saved them from walking in European Parks?

Next you're gonna piss on my leg and tell me it's raining.

Or that the current data shows that kids are extremely unlikely to be affected by the virus.

Schools, playgrounds, etc didn’t close until mid March. The virus was here before that.

Regardless of zip-code data analysis, how could mass transit possibly be acceptably safe while restaurants, theaters and stadiums are unacceptably dangerous?

Maybe we could agree that it people should be able to BOTH go to parks and ride the subway. They're not in competition with one another. We need a better strategy for coronavirus other than complete lockdowns.

The mask requirements are a good first step. Annoying, but at least people can mostly go about their lives without wreaking havoc on civilization.

Because a lot of essential personnel use mass transit at 2am to get to work at places even worse than restaurants, theaters and stadiums - hospitals, morgues, or nursing homes. NYC already knows what it is like when just part of the subway system is no longer functional for more than a couple of hours.

So should there be an order in place that ONLY essential workers may use subways and buses in NYC?

#1. Seems somewhat consistent with the Solow model of economic growth. Poorer countries are catching up faster in terms of capital accumulation because TFP growth has slowed for Western countries whose growth is more determined by the production frontier.

This is an interesting phenomenon, where it seems like we are seeing Marx in reverse. As expected, the Capitalist economies did export capitalism to the developing world to try and continue the capital allocation portion of growth in their growth model. However, now that developing economies are catching up, they are actually exporting their authoritarian growth models back to the developed world.

The problem is that authoritarianism may work where the path to development is known (it should not be surprising that an enlightened despotism like China could copy western growth models while avoiding some of the pitfalls). This does not mean that authoritarianism works at the frontier, and it could further strangle growth in TFP, putting more pressure on freedom and democracy and creating a death loop for liberalism and growth.

What is the path out of stagnation?

Typing the same time as you, similar thought.

China’s leadership doesn’t like to advertise this, but part of the reason for their success is likely due to the fact that they do have elections and competing centers of power within the Party. The elections and competing centers of power aren’t anything like those in liberal democracies, but they are more than most authoritarian nations have and do enough to provide a level of accountability that you lacking in other authoritarian nations like Russia or North Korea.

1. I think there are two kinds of growth. There is groundbreaking growth done in the advanced countries, and catch-up growth done in all the rest.

The 2019 chart shows the free countries as wealthiest. I'm going to say because they are doing groundbreaking growth.

I think the one neat trick totalitarian countries learned in the same time was that they could adopt many free country practices and get some wealth, while not adopting all.

I see myself as a semi-optimist here, that freedom will always have the edge in creating new things.

But I suppose that could be disproven in time, if Russia suddenly produces the best sports cars. lol.

In reality places like China and Vietnam are freer when it comes to doing business than the democracies of the west. The ideas come from the open societies, but the nuts and bolts implementation don't. Or haven't. I think this might be changing as we speak.

Sure sure, right up until you disappear.

1 the wealth/freedom correlation is weakening!

Sure. Vancouver is full of Chinese cash from people who don't trust the communists. But China is full of US manufacturing.

Maybe it is a judgement call. They are sure to be f**ked over by the US regulatory agencies, but taking a chance of being disappeared in China.

Neither are acceptable by the way.

but historicallybeing disappeared by chinese communists is probly gonna beworse than being fubared by american regulators

I largely agree, and just wish I could be more optimistic. My biggest concern that the growth in wealth in non-democratic countries and what that is doing to western democracy. While I've never been able to determine how much of Russiagate was true/hype, I do think there is a clear warning there.

How can freedom and democracy survive in a globalized financial system? Where it is so easy for these emerging authoritarian oligarches to use their growing power to bypass bribery, intervention, and campaign finance laws to influence politicians and public opinion in relative secrecy? You have to admit for anyone that Putin-stan is a hell of a super pac?

I think you're right.

The Republican controlled Senate just published a report acknowledging that Russia explicitly assisted Trump. So that part is true.

And Trump explicitly states that he fired Comey to stop investigation. So obstruction is true.

But you know, the die-hard Trumpust base will tell you that doesn't add up to "collusion."

That is definitely totalitarianism friendly.

"The Republican controlled Senate just published a report stating [x] . . . So [x] is true."


lol, don't you see what you did there?

You rejected the determination of our premier elected representative body, because it did not support the president.

Authoritarianism much?

That isn't exactly what the report said, it confirmed interference. The interference was on both sides, per the reports...

If you've been following Russiagate though, it is pretty damning for the Obama administration.

Damning because Obama should have stopped Russia from aiding Trump?

Perhaps, but Obama had what would become a recurring problem.

He was worried that telling the truth would look "partisan."

...Damning because we are finding out that Obama and his cronies submitted information they KNEW to be Russian disinformation as if it were real information.

Operation Crossfire Hurricane (AKA major part of Russiagate) is the latest in a string of Obama era malfeasance. That Obama himself will likely never end up in prison is sad. We need to hold president's accountable for their administrations. Hopefully it will begin with both Obama and Trump, but thus far it seems Trump isn't as deep in it as Obama.

Anyone wanting s synopsis can just read the Wikipedia page.

I see "found no political bias" as the theme, balanced against people who just didn't want to be investigated.

"Truth is not Partisan"

first the republican led Senate Intel committee said something.


it was on Wikipedia?

Guess it must be true.

The thing about your trolling is that it's all weak sauce. Maybe you'd be more at home on Breitbart or Huffington Post?

And certainly everyone should know that this report was not an outlier. It confirms reports from our government's premier investigative organizations.

...government's premier investigative organizations.....

God, I hope that's dripping with sarcasm. Right after we find* the FBI and Obama admin knew it was all BS and used it to spy on the Trump campaign.

*OK, it was obvious for a long time, but now we have proof.


Scrolled down to see if anonymous would turn this into yet another round of “POTUS” is a KGB asset/puppet and democracy is at stake.

“Totalitarianism friendly” and “authoritarianism much?” phrases are idiotic.
Speak clearly if you have an accusation.

-10 for yet another insult to a commenter

Here's a perfect example of someone who doesn't like the truth when he judges that it looks partisan.

Nobody has ever explained to anyone with the intellectual capacity of a baboon how it's even possible for the "Russians" to affect a US election. If the Yankee democracy is so fragile that some hypothetical Russians playing on computers can swing the results of a national election in a country of 330 million what hope is there? The fact that this matter is even being seriously discussed shows how bereft a certain segment of country is of an organized thought process.

"Affect" isn't such a high bar.

We have a lot of election laws because a lot of things are known to adversely affect voting and democracy.

And the US doesn't have some election regs that it should have, foremost being that no public employee at any level should be able to vote.

#1: An occasional anonymous post I mostly agree with.

Yes, the log wealth freedom correlation may weaken.

Unless unfree economies absolutely fail to improve at the low bound, they will always catch up faster on a log scale than rich, free economies can move away.

This is somewhat different from absolute convergence of course. But frontier countries would have to achieve the same rates of growth as catch-up economies to log divergence going.

Add to that, GDP/capita is a poor measure for "wealth" though; it's a measure of value placed on economic activity (flows vs stocks).

Real consumption / capita probably correlates better than GDP/capita with freedom. For obvious reasons; free economies are probably better at generating more "real" economic activity represented by consumption of goods and services in a territory, but not better at tax dodges and corporate profit (Singapore), or oil production (the revenues from which either leave the country or end up saved for future consumption).

Though the effect of using GDP/capita vs consumption is fairly modest, consider that final consumption as % GDP is 70% in India (a democracy) and only 53% in China, with healthy developed country averages about 77% - 84% (anything beyond that is probably very reliant on external debt). Consider -

China is a huge country, with a consumption ratio almost more typical of oil producers like the Emirates, or fincap offshoring places like Singapore or Ireland! GDP/capita is not a good indicator of living standards here.

Measured by consumption, the gap in wealth relative to the aging of the population, when compared against true Asian catchup economies like South Korea and Taiwan, is more striking than gdp...

#7 - The MIT study may be terrible, but for the second link to explicitly and confidently say "So, should people avoid public transportation in New York?...Absolutely not." seems a bit premature. His cause is public transit, so he has reason to say public transit is safe.

I'm not sure how spending long periods of time, in a confined space, densely packed with strangers is inherently safe. Seems to go against everything else we have been told about social distancing. But may I am missing something.

Riding the subway may be no more or less dangerous than any other social activity, but it seems a bit premature to imply that it is "absolutely not [dangerous]"

If the tightly packed subway wasn’t a factor in spread, why are we socially distancing again?

“ a bit premature” is a nice euphemism for “obvious hypocritical lie”.

related, it would be interesting to see if there is any correlation between length of subway rides and infection counts and severity. Outer edges of the burrows would have longer rides. Manhattanites would have the shortest (on average, I am guessing). Didn't see a discussion of that factor in either link.

I'd also look for effects radiating from the crowds at the key transfer points, in Queens (Roosevelt), Brooklyn (Atlantic/Pacific), Times Square and Fulton St.

Here is a little anecdote for Tyler and Alex:

"I'm about to have to cancel a webinar because I'm not allowed to use the webinar software NOAA uses and NOAA isn't allowed to use the software DOI uses. No joke."

# 5 "Poems for Pandemics" Starts off as if it will be be tour thru plague literature and the contrived extended metaphors of Donne and then there is the stunning Maggie Smith poem,contemporary as hell and appropriate.

“I can tell something bad is happening in the world when my poem is surging,” said Smith in 2016 when her poem first got noticed on Twitter.

"With the farming of a verse/Make a vineyard of the curse" said Auden "In Memory of W.B Yeats" (1939)

Tell us, Professor Cowen- if the subways aren't a big factor- people crammed in close together for 20 minutes-1hr/day, then why the fuck are we on lockdown in the first place? You can't hold both beliefs at the same time and be considered a serious person.

The biggest revelation from this event is just how fucking stupid some people are. The lengths some people will go to trying to rationalize contradictory belief systems isn't a surprise to me- what is a surprise to me is that such people are literally everywhere I thought they weren't.

Tell us, Yancey Ward, if the subways are a big factor- people crammed in close together for 20 minutes-1hr/day, then why the fuck is Seoul doing so much better in the first place? As noted at the link above, Seoul's subway carries a third more passengers than the NYC system. And there might be answers, in which case they would be useful for all the other riders of subways in the world, not just in NYC, but in Moscow, Shanghai, Berlin, etc.

'The biggest revelation from this event is just how fucking stupid some people are.' No contradiction there, though the main revelation was seeing how many people seem unaware of how we actually ended up living in a modern world where cholera, typhus, yellow fever, polio, measles, TB - I'm sure you can name at least 10 other diseases off the top of your head - have been essentially banished from modern society.

Less lethal strain
Age/health of population
Better hygiene practices

Lots of potential factors.

Point still stands that its really f’n difficult to say that the subway didn’t matter yet we need to social distance.

Do you go grocery shopping? Do you still think we need to social distance? Is it difficult to say we can do both?

Grocery shopping here involves brief moments when other shoppers pass by no closer than 6' away (an advantage of living in an area where supermarkets have plenty of room and wide aisles). Can subway riders really maintain 6' of separation any of the time?

Masks. Lower ambient infection rate. Personal behavior to avoid infection. Yancey Ward is right. If the infection isn’t spread by prolonged close contact in confined spaces then we are completely wrong about how it spreads and completely wrong in our response.
It is spread that way though, and these weak tea articles don’t prove otherwise.

Where is the claim that the virus isn't spread by prolonged close contact being made? As far as I can see that's only be claimed in certain precincts of the far right, based on nothing ,ore than sheer cussedness and wishful thinking. Get back to us when there's actual scientific evidence to that effect.

Here is the claim
“So, should people avoid public transportation in New York?...Absolutely not.”
It's in other places too.

If that's true, they why aren't doctors and nurses all getting the disease? They are literally stuck in the same building with verified cases.

wouldn't expect "all" doctors and nurses to get infected but a lotta of them are according to u.s. news &w.r.
"In Pennsylvania, 4.4% of the health care workforce had COVID-19 as of Monday. In Oklahoma, 10.6% of confirmed coronavirus patients worked in health care; in Ohio, that share is roughly 20%. Rhode Island, roughly 70% of COVID-19 tests are going to medical personnel, and they make up a quarter of all confirmed cases in the state."

Suppose I get on a New York subway car and bond instantly with everyone on board. We become such good friends that I invite the entire crowd to my home for a party, to a restaurant for dinner, or to a church service. We all get off the subway car at the same time and walk together to the new destination.

Would that be dangerous? Obviously not, since those are the exact same people I rode with on the subway and you just told me it was perfectly safe.

Seriously, if you wanted to organize a small get-together with a group of friends, the "safest" way to do it without anyone bothering you would be to board a subway car together and take a round trip to nowhere. Preferably when the car is crowded, so you can blend in unnoticed.

Lockdowns create extortion opportunities for politicos.

That's why we are on lockdown.

That's right. Republican fundraiser Mike Gula dropped out of the circuit to form his own company selling PPE. Pandemics are a great opportunity for political cronies.

"Thomas declined to specify how he and Gula had managed to obtain masks that have become so rare that some hospitals have resorted to reusing them or having health care workers tie bandannas or scarfs around their faces. “It’s just relationship-based,” he said. “I can’t say anything else.”"

"relationship-based". I think we know what that means.

You can literally google and find PPE brokerages... It isn't too difficult if you want to buy in bulk and can afford to do so.

The issue is govt agencies and large corps may not be able to push through deals quick enough.

That is a process problem and an organizational problem, not a lack of supply.

On what planet do you live on, prior? There's been a lack of supply for months now and governments are hoarding, banning exports, and outright stealing whatever they can lay their mitts on. Here's some un-possible math for you.

"China is the world’s largest producer of them, with a reported daily capacity of 20 million pieces, but by the estimate of its manufacturers domestic demand alone is around 50 to 60 million per day."

A little googling around:

"In the capital, Seoul, officials banned major downtown rallies and shut down a big park to avoid mass public gatherings where the virus could spread. Workers in protective gear also sprayed disinfectant in the city's subway."

That link was from Feburary. If anyone cares enough to look for actual facts maybe we could find out if they have been disinfecting frequently since then. Ill bet they are.

Here is some video

As for the seroprevalence tests- they are only revealing what common sense would tell a rational person- that not everyone infected takes a RT-PCR test. The infected just about have to be 10 times the number of people confirmed by the PCR test- it was never rational to expect most people with symptoms would try to get tested, and it was never rational to expect most people infected even believed they were infected once we knew that there were so many with no symptoms or very mild ones, which we knew from The Diamond Princess outbreak almost a month ago. And now the the actual antibody experiments are finding that 10X was too low.

I will make a prediction right here- when the seroprevalence tests show that New York City residents test positive for antibodies at 30-50% rates in multiple studies, we will still have the critics saying that false positive rates of 1-2% could mean all the 95% of positives in New York City could be false results. The politics practicly require them to fight to the death to preserve that fatality rate at no less than 0.5-1.0%, so no argument will be too ridiculous to try out.

#7) NY officials will likely just be giving this piece a listless my-eyes-glaze-over skimming -- until that penultimate paragraph urging higher tolls gets their adrenaline pumping

#10) excellent
recent Flula Borg: Hand Washing Song!

8. Journal of Controversial Ideas is now open and accepting papers.
I am supposed to write a paper on Abstract Tree. It is the Theory of Everything, but the pros know this stuff, wait a week and it won't be contraversial. The pros owe us one more paper.


This equation and it integer solutions define the optimum 3D world. From this equation, Planck, Avagadros and Bottzman are defined in units of counts, the count of actions (In the Plank sense) needed to keep a 3D world with a round tree.

There are equivalent equations for every dimension going up. These sets of equations define the various particles and constants for a 4,5,6... Dimensional world, including an equivalent approximation if the each world were flat, the relativity adjustment. Each world , greater than 2D, has a one or more Boitzman and a Planck and a Avogadro..

All the pros need to do is look and they will have the Ah Ha moment, even before I could write a paper.

Also, Plank's curve can be derived from the Diophantiine. Also gravity falls out as does the gas law.

If there is an equivalent equation for all dimensions (I think so), then this says black holes increase dimensionality indefinitely, to the limit of local gravity. I am not sure if this can happen, I dunno.

thanks for the link to kalman filter estimation of R!

O/T. Trump grants the federal mega-surveillance project to the conservative billionaire, Trump supporter, and Facebook board member Peter Thiel.

Thiel is notorious for his love of government surveillance and his work with law enforcement, NSA, and other Deep State (tm) spook operations to enhance their access to citizen tracking and big data collection.

So I am wondering how Trump supporters will spin this to blame it on the communist Democrat virus hoax conspiracy .

The contract reportedly also helps bail out the struggle company owned by this Trump crony.

Take your meds George. There’s about 10 Turing test fails in one comment.

The government is going to pay to use Foundry. Talk about the ultimate dog bites man story.

Oh, of course. Not going to try and spin this one directly. But take the "non-story" angle instead. I can see why you'd choose that approach. Don't touch the facts and implications, because that a sure loser for you. Ok, that's unsurprising.

On the topic of troll tests. Someday, when I am at the Gates with St. Peter, I am looking forward to receiving the answer to the eternal question of whether trolls think that they are fooling people with their juvenile arguments, or if they just don't care that they are seen as morons.

The company you're discussing is one of the premier surveillance company's in the world...

Why would you NOT give the deal to the best of the best?

As to your commentary on the hoax thing, I'm not sure what this has to do with Trump - he isn't a member of the media. The media will call whatever they want a hoax and invent the 'facts' to go along.

Keep spinning those wheels.

The only people who can't see the situational hypocrisy of the MAGA crowd is the MAGA crowd.

But I must say, the way you guys pivot from outrage to nothing-to-see-here is truly impressive. I mean, in the same way that watching a budding sociopath pull the wings off of flies is impressive.

Have you ever used Foundry? Do you know what it is? This conversation is prima facie absurd, in a pretty comical way. Again, take a deep breath, take your meds, and look up what Foundry actually is.

The facts and implications are..that the government will pay to use Foundry. Makes sense, it's point and click and web-based with a easy to use UI. Powered b PySpark IIRC, although it's been a while since I've been on a Foundry project.

The rest of your comment is just juvenile insults, so probably not worth addressing.

Top kek though for technological illiteracy and hyperventilating.

We'll note that you have not disputed the facts of the story.

The Trump admin has awarded a contract to Thiel's company to provide technology to track the movements of individual citizens in their daily lives. That company has a track record of working with government security agencies on big data and surveillance project in the past.

I do not expect you to acknowledge the cognitive dissonance this ought to trigger for Trump supporters, if they were capable of cognition.

"We'll note that you have not disputed the facts of the story."

Why bother? It's a typical Gizmodo story.

Actually, it's worse. It's a story from the DailyBeast, which is a biased Left wing web site.

Top kek. Doubling down on stupidity, I love it.

1) I'm not a Trump supporter

2) That's not what Foundry is. You....have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. Are random white American Boomers really this stupid? Do they just hear 'data visualization' and 'PySpark' and just lose their shit and start fantasizing about George Orwell and Terminator? Are millions of Americans cowering in fear of Tableau? Lmfao.

Time for a voter technology-literacy test requirement. If you think Foundry is Skynet you lose the right to vote.

The Trump admin has awarded a contract to Thiel's company to provide technology to track the movements of individual citizens in their daily lives.

Literally every phrase in this sentence is wrong. You’re extrapolating from your own sheer idiocy.


Besides being a troll. You're also wrong.

Chinese doctors in Wuhan, where the virus first emerged in December, say a growing number of cases in which people recover from the virus, but continue to test positive without showing symptoms, is one of their biggest challenges as the country moves into a new phase of its containment battle.

Those patients all tested negative for the virus at some point after recovering, but then tested positive again, some up to 70 days later, the doctors said. Many have done so over 50-60 days.

The prospect of people remaining positive for the virus, and therefore potentially infectious, is of international concern, as many countries seek to end lockdowns and resume economic activity as the spread of the virus slows. Currently, the globally recommended isolation period after exposure is 14 days.

They would show antibodies if they had a form of immunity. The better idea, a vaccine , would be to show immunity to a harmless deactivated form of the virus.

People testing positive after recovery can mean A) the tests are giving us false positives or B) the people still harbor viral fragments, especially viral RNA. However that does not imply a live virus that can be spread to others. There's no ethical way to experiment on that with human beings, but are there are animals that can be infected with this virus we could test whether such positive tested subjects can in fact spread live viruses?

I support Trump. What part of this mega surveillance program situation do you find objectionable?

I did not say that I found it objectionable.

I said that many Trump supporters do, or rather did until this morning, and they formerly argued that the virus was a Democrat plot to implement the sort of surveillance that Trump is in fact now pursuing.

And so now they'll need a new shtick. Which I have no doubt they'll invent shortly.

Perhaps you missed the "liberate" protests recently. Check them out. You can find them on the interwebs. One theme on many of the signs they waived related to their objection to big government survielance.

Aren't you tough with your flame thrower in a field of straw men?

The part where Trump and Thiel take turns shredding the Constitution.

6. The phrasing of the article is incorrect. The final owner of a futures contract does not merely have the right or the option to take physical delivery of the underlying asset (e.g., oil), they have the obligation to do so.

That's why prices went negative: you pay money to get a hot potato off your hands. The glut of oil has to be stored somewhere and there's just nowhere to store it anymore.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - As the novel coronavirus spread through New York City in late March, doctors at Mount Sinai Hospital noticed something strange happening to patients’ blood.
A clue. Is this the virus or the cytokine storm?

Influenza A virus (IAV) infects the respiratory tract in humans and causes significant morbidity and mortality worldwide each year. Aggressive inflammation, known as a cytokine storm, is thought to cause most of the damage in the lungs during IAV infection. Dysfunctional coagulation is a common complication in pathogenic influenza.

A search and likely answer.

In re "strategic stockpile", why not just pay manufactures whatever they would lose on JIT savings or unsellable inventory to keep a 30 - 180 (or whenever) day supply of some amount of critical goods like masks, gowns, or pharma precursors. This is a variation on the approach that used by USDoD to get airlift for crises without requiring spare specialized aircraft -- they pay for the added fuel costs entailed by the additional systems and equipment needed on the aircraft so they are all ready to go when they are needed and sometimes to keep the aircraft in service when they aren't as economical as more modern aircraft.

* Yes, USDoD does have some specialized ships that are part of the NRDF but those are ships that really don't have any commercial equivalent, are actually being used, or that they will be needed so quickly they can't wait for them to return to port.

Yes, then the stock is rolled and kept fresh. The costs as you say are holding costs.

Not enough scope for graft and corruption, so it won't be done.

Without going into blame, it s a profound national/global tragedy that the path of this event would have been radically, radicalyl different with adequate preparation in terms of supplies, equipment, surge capacity, and testing.

7. It's a shame that peoples judgement of these papers is being affected by their stance on mass transit.

It is all noise. There isn't data to prove anything, so it comes back to your judgement and priors.

True. Co-worker of mine posted this today:

The shame is that TC and AK keep posting this garbage click-bait

Why was Roaring Lion singing "wash your hands and clean your fingernails" in the 1930s? What was important about fingernail hygiene in Trinidad at that time?

Hypothesis: running water had recently come to Trinidadian households, so what was new about hand-washing was not its importance but its feasibility. There is a reference to cleaning up "business" from the night before, which suggests to me that this was before flushing toilets.

As all things calypso, you need to listen between the lines. It's a bit of a joke. Over the last 70 years, Melda has a recurring character who is never up to anything wholesome and always a bit on the filthy side.

Obeah Wedding is a good story about Melda as well, by Mighty Sparrow

#10 Thrilled to see Trinidad getting a shout. We punch so far above our weight in sports and culture.

Poor Melda, she get mash up by every calypsonian since Invader. Sparrow ruined her in Obeah Wedding.

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