464 thoughts on “Open Thread For March”

  1. I recommend you watch
    “We’re not getting more ventilators anytime soon” at Youtube , see “A different bias”.
    Bojo has ignored the invitation from EU to join in their joint program to order ventilators, for *ideological* reasons. Meanwhile the NHS only has 8000 ventilators, they need 20000 more.

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  2. Using ECMO for oxygenating the blood can reduce the mortality, but I fear the current and near future capacity has the same shortage problem as everything else.

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    1. Even more so; it’s a very specialised procedure. Even use of the ventilator required highly trained and skilled staff.

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  3. My English just went to shit.

    Gym manager rang me to tell me that the gym I go to has been closed, purely as a precaution/social distancing measure (which it has been inherently – hardly anyone has been going there lately), so I have spent most of the last two days sleeping, and now I can hardly keep my eyes open. Gym manager says that the gym will only be closed for 2 weeks. I’ll believe that when I see it.

    We’re heading into a progressive step-wise lock down. Should just do it, the sooner the better.

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  4. 401

    This will put the cat among the pigeons good and propah.

    https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3077442/coronavirus-pathogen-could-have-been-spreading-humans-decades

    Numerous Septics (Australian rhyming slang: Septic = Septic Tank = Yank = American) including a certain Pompeo are absolutely outraged at any suggestion that the coronavirus might not have originated in Wuhan, let alone might not have originated in China. (It really pissed off a lot of them to learn that there are people in northern Italy who eat horseshoe bats. Italian people. It’s a tradition, apparently.)

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  5. The reason that HK is not yet in lockdown is that a high proportion of infected people are HK returnees, who are now all tested on arrival, those infected are put into isolation wards in hospitals, and the rest are quarantined, even though testing negative on arrival.

    Problem: we are running out of isolation beds in hospitals.

    Possible solution: shut down the airport completely, and don’t even permit the HK returnees to land here. Well, that’s my idea – I doubt that Our Glorious Leader will see it that way. But then she has a track record of creating problems rather than solving them.

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    1. Aylward got hit by a tidal wave of abuse, simply because after his fact finding WHO mission to China, he put out a relatively favourable report on how they were dealing with the pandemic there (but still listing a series of things he thought that they need to do and follow up on – it was a good report card, but certainly not a perfect one). Saying anything good about anything in China is just asking for trouble. The fact that his findings were vindicated by China’s subsequent success in fighting the disease in the Mainland did absolutely nothing to dissuade the critics, who just switched to saying that you can’t believe anything coming out of China, that they are lying about all of the data, that they are covering up huge numbers of deaths (despite that being impossible), and blah blah blah. You can’t reason with those people and it is futile to try – they have a vicious hatred of China and everything Chinese, and no amount of trying to talk objectively to them will change that.

      Aylward is a medical guy, a very accomplished one, not a politician – a quite courageous one; he went to Wuhan at the height of the disease crisis there, in order to be able to deliver an informed factual report on the medical issues at the epicentre of the pandemic in China.

      Taiwan is not a member of the WHO simply because China has insisted that it is represented by China and should not have its own representation, as unrealistic and unreasonable (not to mention dangerous) that is. China can’t possibly represent Taiwan at the WHO because it has no control and nothing to do with how Taiwan is dealing with the pandemic. That is blindingly obvious. China is absolutely wrong to force the WHO not to give Taiwan its own representation, and the WHO should not allow itself to be blackmailed on this by China – they should just insist this is about health, not politics. Of course, that would risk China pulling out of the WHO, which no sane person would want, but they need to keep hammering away at it until China sees reason and allows Taiwan its own representation. If Taiwan can compete as an independent entity in the Olympic Games, surely this is far more important, no?

      Aylward can’t deal with that, and it is not his problem to deal with it – it was none of his doing, and not something he can deal with questions about, but that Hong Kong journalist was hell bent on cornering him and trying to force him to address the political question. Is it any wonder that he side stepped it, toed the official line he has been given, and then hung up on her when she persisted? What else could he do?

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  6. Coronavirus cases dashboard https://ncov2019.live/data From Mano Singham:
    “There is a lot of stuff being written about the Covid-19 pandemic and hard data threatens to get lost in the noise. Here is a dashboard that shows clearly the rates of positive tests, deaths, and recoveries using data provided by the CDC and the WHO for each country and for regions within some countries. Interestingly, this dashboard was created by Avi Schiffmann, a high school student in the state of Washington, who is clearly using his time at home to sharpen his computer skills. “

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  7. Alan Merrill, the original singer of the hit “I love rockn’roll” has died of the virus.

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    1. Joan Jett ended up hating that song, even though it is the one that made her famous. That’s what happens when you have to play the same thing 10,000 times.

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    2. Trivia: Joan Jett sounds like one of the world’s best stage names, but it is actually her real name. She took her mother’s maiden name Jett after her parents divorced. I know far more about Joan than I ever wanted to because my daughter was a fan for a fairly short period (fairly short because Joan is not actually very impressive as musicians go; her main claim to fame was as a ground breaker when girl bands were having a very hard time breaking into rock), during which I had to accompany her to watch the screening of a very unimpressive film about the Runaways (the first band Jett was in, in which she was neither the singer nor the lead guitarist) in some seedy arthouse theatre in Perth where my clothes stuck to the seat. Ugh.

      I have nothing against Joan, and even like a couple of her songs. But she really isn’t very impressive in anything except attitude. She has a whole lot of attitude.

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  8. A relatively famous Swedish woman who picked the music for many radio programs, including the major radio sports program has died of the virus. She was 70, but another Swede who died recently was only 26. These things have the power to bring home the potential for danger.
    There does not seem to be an increase in the rate of people falling sick the last few days, but we need more time to see any clear trend.
    As for other countries, I begin to think colonel von Stauffenberg had the right idea about retiring incompetent leadership.

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    1. I agree for some people it will take famous people dying of the virus to make the reality sink in.

      Among US musicians, John Prine is critically ill with coronavirus and has been put on a ventilator. I don’t know his music that well, but several other artists cite him as an influence. Jackson Browne has also gotten the coronavirus but appears to be recovering.

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  9. Update on comet ATLAS:
    To describe the springtime path as seen from Earth, imagine a line between the Big Doppet and Auriga. On one side is Gemini, om the other is the path of the comet, roughly parallel to the line and eventually reaching Perseus. Right now the comet is roughly halfway between the Big Dipper and Auriga, it may become visible to the naked Eve by the end of April.
    Meanwhile, Venus shines like a klieg light in the evening sky for yet another month or two.

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    1. So my prediction about Malmö was basically a load of bullshit.

      Consistent with my usual performance.

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  10. This could be important.

    Conclusion: Get thee to a sauna. Just make sure it’s not full of people when you go in. Pity my gym is closed, which means the wet and dry saunas are also inaccessible.

    Also, if you get infected and have fever, don’t take pills to reduce it. Let it rage. Difficult if you have severe chills and myalgia, I know. According to the latest info from Birger, if you have severe myalgia, you should probably be in hospital and under close observation.

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  11. If I divide the total known deaths by an assumed mean fatality rate of 1.4%, I calculate that about 2.5 million people have been infected now globally. Sounds like the right ballpark – total infected must now be in the millions. If ultimately 60% of all people are going to end up being infected, there is still a very long way to go.

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      1. That must be the hope, because I don’t think 60% of global population infected would be tolerable – there would be people dying in the streets in their millions. 60% is what you would need to get ‘herd immunity’, so people still talking about that as a national strategy really need to get a reality check. No hospital system anywhere in the world could cope with anything like that.

        One thing that looks favourable is that SARS-CoV-2 looks like it is a slowly mutating virus, not a rapidly mutating one like influenza viruses, so there is even the hope that a vaccination could confer lifetime immunity, or at least for say 10 years, which would be brilliant.

        Young Chinese girl practising the ocarina while sitting outside. It’s surprisingly loud, and surprisingly musical. She is very good and makes it sound like a proper, attractive sounding instrument, but she is driving my daughter mad because she is trying to have online conference sessions with workmates scattered around various parts of the globe, and they keep asking where the music and practising of scales is coming from.

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      2. At this point I do not see any way to fully stop the spread of the virus short of herd immunity, whether that happens by people getting the virus, vaccination, or some combination thereof. We are likely to see flare-ups after restrictions are relaxed–that seems to be happening in Singapore, for instance. The idea behind “flattening the curve” is to keep the infection rate slow enough to prevent acute care systems from being overwhelmed, as that makes a big difference in the mortality rate: below 1% in places that have been able to do that (China ex-Hubei, South Korea) vs. several percent in places that have not (Hubei, Iran, Italy).

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  12. Brilliant Mercedes Formula 1 car racing team in association with the NHS in the UK have invented a new type of CPAP machine, and are gearing up to producing thousands/day. CPAP is a lot less risky than the intubation procedure required for ventilation, for which I understand the patient needs to be anaesthetised. Small machine that just clips onto an oxygen line and pumps it under pressure into the mouth and down into the lungs of people who can’t breathe normally.

    Deserves recognition – they should get medals or something.

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  13. https://www.gnxp.com/WordPress/2020/03/30/the-deep-origins-of-east-eurasians/

    Good simple explanation, or as simple as it can be, which is likely an over-simplification of what really happened.

    I keep being surprised by the recurring realisation that, when my wife and I were married, we united two lineages which had been very largely separate and isolated from one another for 45,000 to 50,000 years. And yet we are far more alike than we are different, in every respect that you can think of. One of the biggest differences I have noticed is susceptibility to some diseases and parasites, which should be unsurprising but which always surprises me, because my unthinking and completely unwarranted default assumption is always that we are physiologically identical, aside from the obvious, as if the act of getting married somehow transformed us from ‘different’ to ‘same’. Someone please tell that to the dysentery amoebae, which lose no opportunity to attack me with glee while leaving her completely unharmed.

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  14. Q: “Do you think there is blood on the president’s hands?”
    Idiot Joe Biden: ” I think that’s a little too harsh”
    .
    His only qualification is that he is not Bernie Sanders. Good luck getting voters enhusiastic enough to go voting for him in November. The MAGA hats will vote enthusiastically, even if their grandparents have just died and Trump will be re-elected. the establishment Democrats will sooner lose to trump than win with Sanders.

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  15. Really helpful advice from dentists in Australia: “Try not to get a toothache for the next few months.” Because they won’t be available, that’s why.

    Pretty much what my dentist said to me last week: “Don’t come back again [it sounded like she meant ‘ever’] unless you get pain that is unbearable.”

    Good to know there are people you can count on if you really need them 😦

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  16. Sobering to read: “Spouse of friend went to a coronavirus party where young people try to infect each other to get through it and get back to normal life. Of 22 in attendance, 2 are dead and 6 are in the hospital. Friend’s spouse is sick at home. All of them were under 35.”

    Hello? Do not go to coronavirus parties, no matter how young and healthy you are. If you get enough viral load into your respiratory tract, or if your immune system happens to be suppressed (something you can’t know just by how you feel) it will kill you.

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    1. And more importantly for us who do not care about these particular people, the stupid fuckers will have contributed to a greater and earlier overall spread of the contagion.

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      1. Yes, that too. But I was assuming that people who are stupid enough to go to coronavirus parties couldn’t care less about that, and who else they might infect. So long as they develop immunity themselves, well hey, it’s all good. Unless they become dead first, of course.

        I have even read comments by people who say the economy will be better if all of the old and sick people die. They are too stupid to have thought it through.

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      2. These idiots are not even eligible for Darwin Awards because (1) their method lacks excellence and (2) a high probability that their stupidity will end up removing innocent bystanders from the gene pool.

        I’ll have to go Captain Obvious on the other idiots who think killing off old people will be good for the economy. Dead people do not spend money. That is definitely not good for the economy.

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      3. Oh, but in Australia they do – the Royal Commission into the banking industry found that banks had continued charging fees and commissions to the accounts of customers who had been dead for years.

        What happened to them? Nothing.

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  17. More stuff to watch during social distancing. A must-see: “Brandon’s Cult Movie Reviews: Hanuman v 7 Ultraman” at Youtube.
    This is the weirdest shit anyone has ever filmed, weirder than “Plan 9 From Outer Space”, worse than “Chrystal Lake 2” or “International Guerrillas”.
    There are films made as spoofs by drunk college students that are more skillfully done.

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  18. Bewildered by this:

    “US President Donald Trump’s approval rating recently hit its highest point during his presidency, according to Gallup. In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson saw his approval rating jump to 72 per cent, according to Number Cruncher Politics UK.

    In Italy, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte had an approval rating of 71 per cent in a survey by Demos, while South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s approval rating also rose as his government succeeded in controlling infections, according to the Realmeter survey, getting back to just under 48 per cent by mid-March.”

    Of those four countries, the only one whose government has performed well in controlling the disease is South Korea, which has won it international approval and admiration. Yet Moon’s approval rating is only 48%. Johnson’s performance has been appalling, and Trump has plumbed new depths. Both Trump and the CDC have performed so badly that Americans don’t know who to believe, and yet they don’t seem to mind. There is no national coordination, so all of the states are doing their own thing, having no other choice.

    NY’s governor Cuomo’s performance has been praised, but it’s all relative – in absolute terms his performance has hardly been creditable, and he now seems to be falling apart very publicly. My spy in NYC says that the upper class have bailed out and headed for either Florida (with traffic jams reportedly on the roads leading in, so expect to see cases spike in Florida) or their personal mega-yachts, the middle class are hunkered down in their apartments, being serviced by the working class with food deliveries etc., and the working class are still going out to work because they have no choice financially. And they are still riding in crowded subway cars and not wearing masks because equally they have no choice. NY state and NYC are train wrecks, but I’m told that NYC is very patchy in suburban terms – some suburbs are disaster areas (apparently the Bronx is a mess, but then it is the poorest), while others are relatively still OK.

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    1. There is a tendency to rally around leaders during a crisis. George W. Bush had approval ratings as high as 90% immediately following the 9/11 attacks. That Bush ignored a briefing explicitly titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US” did not factor into that response, mostly because the public did not learn of that briefing until later.

      Same thing here. What Trump and BoJo have done so far has been ineffective at best, and frequently counterproductive. Nevertheless, they are Doing Something, and for many people that is enough. We also haven’t seen the worst of the coronavirus yet, particularly in Florida, whose governor has been particularly egregious in not locking down the state (some counties have done so on their own). People may reassess their opinions once their neighbors, friends, or relatives die of this. In addition, do not underestimate the effect of the media, who should know better but nonetheless continue to treat Trump as a normal President.

      I think New York City was screwed no matter what. That city simply cannot function without its subway system, because housing costs are so high as to make it impossible for most workers to live anywhere close to where the jobs are, and Manhattan is too dense to even think about trying to solve its transport problems with cars (not that that works anyway, as Los Angeles residents can tell you). At least Cuomo understands that he needs to listen to expert advice and act accordingly.

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  19. Before there was penicillin, some guy was awarded a Nobel Prize for treating syphilis patients by infecting them with malaria.

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  20. My previous adopted cats came via an elderly couple who worked full-time finding homes for abandoned cats; both of them have passed away. Now, their son is in a hospice in Umeå after his cancer has stopped responding to treatment 😦

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  21. Analysis of Haplotypic Variation and Deletion Polymorphisms Point to Multiple Archaic Introgression Events, Including from Altai Neanderthal Lineage.
    https://www.genetics.org/content/early/2020/03/31/genetics.120.303167

    What they are saying is that there was archaic introgression into different modern human groups after those groups separated from one another, and that has resulted in some phenotype differences in modern human groups. This idea is evidently gaining traction.

    In the case of Oceanians and Philippine Negritoes, this point is an obvious one – they show introgression from very diverged groups of Denisovans (so diverged that some people are now putting ‘Denisovans’ in scare quotes). But they are extending that model and saying that Altai Neanderthals introgressed into East Asians after the divergence of East and West Eurasians. The main interbreeding event between Neanderthals and modern humans after the main migration event out of Africa -50,000 – 60,000 years ago before modern human groups separated was with Neanderthals who formed a clade with the Vindija, Croatia Neanderthals, who were diverged from the Altai Neanderthals, who were previously thought not to have made any contribution to modern human genomes.

    Well, it’s just one paper. No idea if they are right or not.

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    1. The ‘main’ interbreeding event between Neanderthals and modern humans after migration out of Africa is inferred to have been more than one offspring within a limited, pretty tight time window.

      Other interbreeding events could well have been only one child.

      No evidence of moderns and archaics forming mixed groups that existed over a time span of hundreds of years, or an extended period of raiding each other’s groups to capture females, or any other scenario you could think of that would result in hundreds of years of serial interbreeding.

      Between Neanderthals and Denisovans in the Altai – that seems to have been a contact zone between the two, so there were interbreeding events between them that spanned over a period of 100,000 years, but then there was no gene flow from there back to Neanderthals in Europe, who show no evidence of introgression from Denisovans. ‘Denny’, the first generation hybrid girl whose little finger bone was found in Denisova Cave and who had a Neanderthal mother and Denisovan father, well her Neanderthal mother had some Denisovan ancestry.

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  22. Something I have been wondering about – in the case of influenza, I have known for a long time that how sick people get with influenza is a function, inter alia, of how much viral load they receive when they are infected. It is simple logic – the less virus you get, the less your immune system has to kill, the fewer symptoms you will have and the faster you will recover. It could also be a function of how you receive the virus – whether you breathe some deep into your lungs, or whether you just rub some into your eye.

    Chinese scientists have been hammering the point repeatedly that the main route for infection with the coronavirus is directly person to person via droplets emitted by coughing or sneezing (while not dismissing that some infection could be by picking virus up from fomites, and by breathing in aerosols in some cases like enclosed, poorly ventilated spaces), to support their message that people should wear masks outside of the home – ordinary surgical masks won’t stop everything, but the outside layer is water resistant and will stop droplets. [There is a clear bifurcation in behaviour – Chinese and South Koreans are wearing masks; Europeans, Americans and Australians don’t seem to be. There are numerous ugly stories coming out of Europe, the USA and Australia of Chinese and other East Asian people being abused or even beaten up for wearing masks in public, which is just totally nonsensical – at the very least, those people are contributing to the avoidance of infection of other people. In HK, literally *everyone* who goes out wears a mask – it has become socially very not OK not to wear one, and I notice I get approving looks from some people when they see that even a foreigner like me is behaving like a civilised person and wearing a mask.]

    Now these people [see below] are suggesting that severity of Covid-19 infection is a function of the viral load received, which also makes sense to my simple engineer’s brain. It could be helpful information for people like Martin who need to go out to do shopping for others. I would add to that and say, having previously been a skeptic about the efficacy of wearing a mask, I am now a convert. I hate wearing them, they really bug me and make my glasses fog up, but I’m doing it anyway – I have more than just myself to think of.

    I am also happy to say that the previous critical shortage of masks in HK, during which elderly people were queuing up overnight in the cold (not exaggerating) to get the chance to by a few masks, and the Hospital Authority was warning that it had only one month’s supply left for medical staff, is now a thing of the past. The good old HK “can do” spirit has swung into action, and local people are now producing enough that you can buy a box of 50 masks in any pharmacy, or pick one up in any convenience store. With a couple of exceptions (China, Russia), countries are hoarding their own mask production for their own citizens, so every country needs to do this for itself.

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