Wednesday, April 1, 2020

April Fools' Day Links

  • The 'weaponized autism' of all these internet people has dramatically outperformed our official institutions. It has done this, mostly, by just massively signal boosting relevant signals. It's not even really a failure of our institutions, it's just, like, (to use an analogy) we're here using the newfangled telegraph to communicate things in real time, and our institutions were built during an era of courier'd mail. It's not that they're even doing anything badly, it's just that we are moving faster than them because of fundamental differences in our toolsets. [Reddit]
  • So where is all this heterogeneity coming from?  Is it all just bad data?  That seems hard to believe at this point, and Iceland seems like a plausible source of reasonably good data. As for concrete conclusions, these heterogeneities should make us more skeptical about any models of the situation.  But it would be wrong to conclude that we should do less, arguably risk-aversion could induce us to wish to do more, including on the lock downs front. It is also worth pondering which heterogeneities are “baked in,” such as heat and age structure of the population, and which heterogeneities can be altered at the margin, such as forms of social mingling.  It is at least possible that studying these heterogeneities could make policy far more potent. Overall, I do not see enough people asking these questions. [Marginal Revolution]
  • I had never discharged multifocal pneumonia before. Now I personally do it 12-15 times a shift. 2 weeks ago we were admitting anyone who needed supplemental oxygen. Now we are discharging with oxygen if the patient is comfortable and oxygenating above 92% on nasal cannula. We have contracted with a company that sends a paramedic to their home twice daily to check on them and record a pulse ox. We know many of these patients will bounce back but if it saves a bed for a day we have accomplished something. Obviously we are fearful some won't make it back. We are a small community hospital. Our 22 bed ICU and now a 4 bed Endoscopy suite are all Covid 19. All of these patients are intubated except one. 75% of our floor beds have been cohorted into covid 19 wards and are full. We are averaging 4 rescue intubations a day on the floor. We now have 9 vented patients in our ER transferred down from the floor after intubation. [link]
  • In a chapter titled "This Will Kill That" of Notre-Dame de Paris, Victor Hugo presents his thoughts on the death of architecture, or rather, on the migration of civilizational content from the walls of the building to the pages of the book. Historical events, religious laws and cultural symbols were all, up until the fifteenth century, embedded in architecture. Statues, bas-reliefs, murals, and all the manner of other decorative techniques were used to inject the symbols of civilization into the architecture of a building, to let the stones carry and spread their meaning. With the invention of the printing press, that content migrated to the pages of a book, and this happened not only because printing was cheaper and easier in comparison to architecture, but because it was also more permanent. This was a new sort of permanence, not the permanence of the stone, which erodes and wears away over centuries, but the permanence of replication, the ability to produce an unlimited number of copies of the same thing. [link]
  • The modulus of rupture. The distance a shout carries in the city. The distance of a whisper. Everything possible about Hatshepsut's temple (try not to see it as 'modernist' avant la lettre). [link]
  • Over the years I've cultivated partnerships with friends and neighbors and worked with them to install freezers anywhere space was available. Then we made bulk purchases of poultry, pork, lamb, and beef directly from farmers. The meat is distributed between us and the cost is shared. Buying a whole cow, pig, or dozens of birds is the best way I know to get top quality local meat at the best price while supporting small scale diversified agriculture. City people need rural communities. And rural communities need the city. One byproduct of this arrangement is that we’re much less dependent on highly leveraged and centralized international corporate blah, blah, blah. [Granola Shotgun]
  • Only $377 billion of the $2 trillion package is directly targeted to this goal. These are loans to small firms (fewer than 500 employees), which are forgivable if the funds are spent on payroll, rent, mortgage interest and utilities. By using 2017 census data (the most recent available), we calculated the total expenditures in payroll, interest expenses and rents of U.S. small firms amounts to $258 billion a month. Unless the Trump administration introduces criteria for selective targeting, the money allocated in Cares will run out in a month and a half. [WSJ]
  • Clinical information has also emerged from Covid treatment. During the initial Chinese outbreak, Wuhan doctors observed that patients with lupus—a disease for which HC is a common treatment—did not seem to develop Covid-19. Of 178 hospital patients who tested positive, none had lupus and none were on HC. None of this Wuhan hospital's dermatology department's 80 lupus patients were infected with the novel coronavirus. The Wuhan doctors hypothesized that this may be due to long-term use of HC. They treated 20 Covid-19 patients with HC. Their result: "Clinical symptoms improve significantly in 1 to 2 days. After five days of chest CT examination, 19 cases showed significant absorption improvement." [WSJ]
  • The reason that the Constitution is so goofy is that the Federalist promoters who planned it cared about only two things (protecting property and getting revolutionary war debts paid off at par), and they did not think it would last that long (the Articles of Confederation hadn't), so they just did not put much thought into many of the provisions. The provisions that did get a lot of thought, debate, and negotiation were the ones where big/small states and northern/southern states were clearly at odds. [CBS]
  • There have been a few events where a single person infects tens of other people all at once. This should not be possible under droplet theory because droplets do not travel that far and it is highly unlikely that the infected individual spread droplets everywhere. Aerosols would provide a better explanation as it explains how somebody was able to infect others without standing close to them. An additional theory is that singing generates more aerosols than normal breathing. The super spreading events at a Korean church/cult and in an American choir practice are relevant to this theory. [Glenn Chan]
  • Anecdotally, almost all of my financier and tech friends have fled NYC. I think it's an open question exactly how effective the US lockdown is. That it can increase the doubling time from 3 days to something longer I have no doubt. 5 days? 7 days? At the cost of dispersing the virus all across the country? [Steve Hsu]


Allan Folz said...

I absolutely agree with Marginal Revolution on heterogeneity.

I don't know what I've found more upsetting, that so few people have noticed it, or that after it gets brought to their attention even fewer people seem to care.

So far as I can tell everyone uses the heterogeneity to reinforce their cognitive bias, and that's the extent of it.

I know I've staked my claim that WuFlu is overblown and being used for propaganda. But I think I've been equally clear that there's a lot about it that doesn't add up and is very concerning. For sure I have had countless moments of self-doubt, especially early-on when new reports with data counter to my conclusion would come out. Since then I've gotten used to catching the caveats, which when the rest of the story eventually comes out the exceptions actually support my conclusion.

Having said that and taking a moment for some self-reflection, I suppose I have not been broadcasting every time I've seriously questioned myself on my position. I suppose if most folks are doing the same, then maybe the net result is it seems like everyone is out there reinforcing to their cognitive bias a lot more than they are? Something to consider.

Regardless, this does feed into one well-established problem with Social Media: it is very easy to publicly stake a claim. The problem with that is human's cognitive bias is such that once a claim has been made public, we are loathe to walk it back.

On that aspect, I also know a good way to guard against it in oneself is rather than make your claim be a conclusion, make your claim be a set of events or priors to look for which would cause you to draw a conclusion.

I tried to follow this principle with my WuFlu reports, though I suppose it's up to the readership to tell me whether I was successful or not.

Anonymous said...

You guys listen to the mainstream media and think your so smart with your numbers and logic, you are relying on Chinese numbers and don't even know it, I live in NYC, it is a walk in the park, no problem.

Hey you see that hospital ship over there in the harbor?

With any luck that is a prison ship here to take away the deep state thieves that have been stealing trillions from us over decades.

The Enlightenment really has begun, stay tuned and pay attention.