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Some Predictions about Downstream Effects of COVID-19 Shutdown: 1

May 20, 2020 12 comments

Since I have been recently writing a lot of posts about the COVID-19 shutdown (link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4, link 5, link 6), I thought it might be a good idea to write down some more and specific predictions about the downstream effects of COVID-19 shutdown. So here are some of them, in no particular order of importance or significance. Just so you know, most are pretty depressing.

1] As I have mentioned many times in the past, jobs in the service sector dominate the economic landscape of post-industrial western countries. Just think about how many people you know who work in a place which makes a real physical product or processes some raw material vs all those who work at some shop, mall, hotel, restaurant or something similar. But this goes even further, as the largest employers in most towns and cities in this country are either hospitals, universities or school districts. While these more “credentialed” jobs might seem to be something other than service sector jobs- they are just that and you will see why that matters later in this post.

While jobs in the service sector might seem too heterogeneous to be hit by the shutdown and its aftermath, they share some common features that make them especially vulnerable to economic disruption. Firstly, majority of business in the service sector operate on much low margin of profit compared to some other sectors. For example, there is no service sector equivalent of Apple or Microsoft with a few hundred billion dollars stashed into overseas accounts and obscure financial instruments. In other words, consumer sector businesses and employers lack the very deep pockets of corporations in other sectors.

Secondly, as a partial consequence of the first, they are heavily dependent on highly predictable levels of businesses activity and are usually (especially in west) financially over-optimized to the point that they cease to be profitable or even viable when capacity utilization levels are not close to maximum. This is a fancy way of saying that restaurants, bars, hotels, airlines, most shops in malls etc become money pits if they are not operating at close to their maximum capacity for a good part of the year. FYI- this is less of an issue in some Asian countries where the proprietors often own the premises and are not so heavily financially leveraged.

But why does this matter? Well.. because even if they can survive a couple of months of being closed down due to helicopter money from the government, they are just not viable if forced to operate at 25% or 50% capacity for even couple of months. Sure.. restaurants which do mostly takeout (pizza joints, chinese) might survive, but the vast majority will simply close it down because there is no way a sane person would operate, for more than a couple of months, under poorly thought and uncertain regulations made up by bozos without any skin in the game.

And it gets worse.. the service sector is far less monopolized than other sectors of the economy, and the majority of business in it are either small or medium sized. Given that government largess seems to preferentially benefit the large and politically connected in every sector, it is likely.. almost certain.. that many small to medium sized businesses will go bankrupt or close forever. What makes this outcome especially problematic is that those business account for the majority of jobs in that sector. In other words, we will a large rise in long-term unemployment in the very societies which have decided (about four decades ago) to abandon their economies to the “free market” aka financialism and monopolization by choice.

To add insult to injury, the vast majority of people in this sector are under 60 years of age and therefore the least likely to die (less than 1 in 1,000 chance) from COVID-19. And here is what will happen next.. tens of millions will be unable to pay their rents, mortgages, student loans, car loans etc for a prolonged time. Of course, trying to throw so many people on the street and out of their cars will have some very nasty political repercussions- more so because the majority are young. Some of you might say.. but what about unemployment insurance? Well.. that amount paid by most western countries (but especially USA) is not adequate for covering majority of their bills- more so if you live in a medium to large city.

And it gets worse…

2] The whole “social-distancing” and “quarantine” bullshit along with dubious measures such as requiring everybody to wear mask in public perpetuates the atmosphere of a perpetual crisis. I liken these measures to the security theater we saw in USA after 9/11- but with the potential to cause infinitely more economic problems. Think about it.. would you eat out at restaurants with same frequency as before if you server was wearing a face mask and every alternate table was closed off with big stupid stickers? Would you go to a pub as often? What about a movie theater? What about shops in malls pestering you to disinfect your hands every time you walked into them? Would you buy as many clothes as before if you couldn’t try them out in fitting rooms?

What about airlines? would you take a flight as often if you had to deal with all that bullshit? What about vacations? Would you stay at hotels as often even if you still had a job? And all of this security theater for what end? To maybe slow spread of a highly infectious disease with an gross population IFR of less than 0.5% and mostly problematic in people over 70 and 80? A disease that does not cause symptoms bad enough to seek any medical attention in over 90% of those infected. A disease that is functionally asymptomatic in most people it infects? A disease that the vast majority recover from without any therapeutic intervention or long-term sequelae.

The vast majority of disease control measures deployed to stop this pandemic are closer to ritualistic virtue display than good science. Consider for example, face masks. Do they benefit people under 70 to the same extent as those over 70? And given the highly infectious nature of this disease along with very low mortality in most age cohorts, isn’t it a good idea to let non-vulnerable people get the illness and recover from it. thus conferring them immunity than wait for an effective and safe vaccine- which will likely take at least a few months. Now let me ask you another question- do you think I am the only one thinking along these lines?

It is becoming increasingly harder to maintain lock-down in many parts of the world and while those regions might suffer more death at first- it will become increasingly obvious that letting people under a certain age get infected while protecting the more vulnerable minority is the least bad option. Notice I said ‘least bad option’ because there is no realistic good option in the near future. You are really choosing between options that front-load death or those which spread far wider economic misery over a much longer time-scale. Personally, I choose the first and you can be sure that the majority will eventually choose it because the second one sucks far more.

Noe let me ask you a related question- what happens to the credibility of the people and institutions who pushed the second option. As many of you know, it is my opinion that Trump’s rise of power had a lot to the non-recovery of most people from the GFC of 2008 and continued neoliberal policies under Obummer. Imagine what such a crisis and much bigger repudiation of “credentialed” people and institutions would do for the political scene in this country. You might remember that in a previous post I made the case that rise of fascist and strong-men type leaders in continental Europe during 1920s and 1930s had everything to do with high rates of unemployment among men combined with a repudiation of the elites who led them into WW1.

You think Trump is bad? Just imagine the type of right-wing ‘populists’ that will arise in response to these stupid and ruinous lock-down policies. In future posts of this series, I intend to write about the impact of these stupid policies on schools, universities, future of “left”, effects on certain parts of manufacturing sector, municipal bonds, velocity of money, effect on rates of drug use and much more. But before I finish this post, let me say something else. If you think that a crisis of this extraordinary magnitude will make corporate-owned western governments question their faith in neoliberalism- think again.

And another thing.. this crisis will destroy whatever residual faith people in many countries still have in the WHO- but that is the topic of another post.

What do you think? Comments?

COVID-19 Pandemic has Bared Intellectual Bankruptcy of LIEbrals: 2

May 16, 2020 5 comments

In the previous part, I wrote about how the especially disastrous response to COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the intellectual bankruptcy of LIEbrals. To summarize the gist of that post, the most ardent supporters of LIEbralism in west come in two main flavors- the very rich (billionaires and multi-millionaires) and their professional managerial class (PMC) lackeys. Sure.. more than a few partisan followers of these two groups do also self-identify as LIEbrals- but are largely irrelevant since they have little real power. I also promised to talk about how LIEbral mental shortcomings can explain their disastrous response to this pandemic. These include, in no particular order, the LIEbral obsession with ineffective lock-downs which have far more to maintaining the appearance of action than making a real difference. As you will, later on in this series, the shortcomings are a result of the peculiar mental gymnastics necessary to maintain belief in LIEbralism.

But before we go that far, let us talk about the most obvious but deliberately ignored question- namely, is the response to this pandemic justified by its mortality rate? If you have watched any of the fake corporate “news” outlets, you might have seen what can be best described as a ‘death clock’ which shows how many people have allegedly died of the pandemic to date. Oddly enough, those bullshit counters do not show you the age distribution of those who have been diagnosed with that infection vs those who with very adverse outcomes such as ending up in the ICU and death. But why does that matter and what does it have to with LIEbral intellectual bankruptcy? As it turns out.. a whole fucking lot! See.. much of the statistics these LIEbrals are peddling on corporate media have no basis in reality. To understand what I am talking about, let us quickly go over a few basic concepts in statistics as it applies to epidemiology.

Infectious diseases come in two flavors- one in which almost every successful infection results in a clinically evident illness and another in which most infections result in an asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic disease. Examples in the first category include diseases such as smallpox, chickenpox, measles, herpes, influenza, ebola etc. Examples in second category include diseases such as polio (especially in children under 8), meningococcal meningitis (surprisingly!) and infectious mononucleosis (another surprise) etc. Infections which cause an asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic disease do so in people who were not previously immune. A superficially similar but mechanistically different phenomena known as mild self-limiting infections occurs if you are immune to a closely related strain of the offending virus and is the basis of vaccines for rotavirus infections and genital warts. With that out of the way, let us talk about COVID-19..

Everything we know thus far about COVID-19 suggests that it clearly falls in the second category. And here is where it is important to understand which type of epidemiological data allows you to make what sort of conclusions. See.. calculating the Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) for any disease with a high percentage of asymptomatic cases requires different criteria from one in which almost every successful infection causes an symptomatic illness. In the later, we can assume that total number of cases = total number of people with specific set of symptoms. For the former, we cannot make that assumption and this has huge consequences for calculating the IFR. In the case of COVID-19, the number of positive PCR-tests from areas with high rates of positive test suggest that not enough testing has been done. So places with 30-50% positive tests such as NYC, Detroit, Northern Italy at beginning of epidemic etc are totally useless for calculating IFR.

To make a long story short, even the most basic calculation of a disease with a known high rate of asymptomatic illness requires test positive rates of below 10%, preferably less than 5%. Luckily there are certain areas of the world where the positive test rates have seldom exceeded 10% and are usually around 5%. These include the western provinces of Canada, Germany and South Korea. We also know that these jurisdictions have done a decent amount of testing since the majority of positive cases are between 20-60 years of age. Based on data from these three well-tested populations we can make a determination of the upper limit of IFR by age group. It is as follows: 0-10 = 0.0%, 10-20 = 0%, 20-30 = 0.1%, 30-40 = 0.1%, 40-50 =0.1%, 50-60 = 0.2%, 60-70 = 0.3-0.5%, 70-80 = 3-5%, 80+ = 5-20% (more in institutionalized people).

In other words, death rate for anybody between 0-50 years of age with COVID-19 is less than 0.1% or 1 in 1000. For those between 50-60, it is less than 0.2% or 1 in 500, and upto 1 in 200 for people between 70-80 who are not institutionalized. And remember.. these are the maximum rates. What we know from serological tests done around the world suggest that there are 10-50x undiagnosed and spontaneously cured infections for everyone caught in the act by PCR-based tests. Even if we take a conservative 5X multiplier, the IFR of COVID-19 now becomes less than 0.02% (1 in 5,000) for those between 0-50, 0.04% or (1 in 2,500) for those between 50-60, and a maximum of 0.1% (i in 1,000) for those between 70-80 who are not institutionalized.

In other words, we can readily identify those at greatest risk from bad outcomes based on age, general health status and certain pre-existing conditions (poorly controlled type II diabetes, serious obesity, COPD, recent treatment for cancer etc). Some of you might say.. but what about our hospitals getting overwhelmed? Well.. as it turns out the risk of hospitalization for each age group, based on PCR-test only, is as follows: 0-50 = less than 2%, 50-60 = 3-5%, 60-70 = ~ 5-10%, 70-80 = ~ 20%. If we use the serological test 5x multiplier, only those above 60 have a hospitalization rate than exceeds 1%. But what about rates of ICU use? Well.. once again using the PCR-only data, only 0.2-0.5% (1 in 500 to 1 in 200) of patients below 50 end up in the ICU- and most of them have serious pre-existing illnesses. For those between 50-70, it is about 1-2% (1 in 100 to 1 in 50)- again mostly with serious pre-existing conditions.

It is only once you get in the 70-80 group, that ICU use starts reaching 10%. And remember.. this is based on PCR-positive cases. You can divide those numbers by 5 to get an estimate based on serological tests. To put in another way, for anybody below 50, COVID-19 poses a lower risk than yearly Influenza A epidemics. For those between 50-70, the risk is about what you might expect in a bad influenza season. It is only once you reach the 80+ age cohort, especially those in very poor general health that the mortality due to COVID-19 starts looking gnarly. But, you see, there is a much easier way to protect that group and others with high-risk co-morbidities. We could provide them good protection by staffing nursing homes adequately, testing the staff who work there frequently, maybe give free face masks and hand sanitizers to everybody over 65. Perhaps we could give free restaurant and grocery delivery to those over 65.

My point is that there are many ways to protect the most vulnerable in our society without shutting down the economy, causing 30-40% unemployment rates and all its attendant socio-economic and political sequelae. But the problem, you see, is that LIEbrals are incapable of objective analysis and rational response, because they do not fit the fashionable “consensus”. It does not take a genius to figure out within next few weeks to months, it will be obvious to most people that COVID-19 is no more lethal than Influenza for those below 65. It is at that time, and with unemployment north of 30%, many will start asking whether all these interminable lock-downs, massive job losses, career-ruining turns and social distancing bullshit was worth it. I don’t think LIEberals have thought that far, because they are intellectually bankrupt. But the 30-40% of those without jobs or a future won’t stop asking them and it won’t be a pretty sight.

In the next part, I will go into why the LIEbral opposition to use of Hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 was such an incredibly bad and stupid idea. Will go into why the promotion by Remdesivir by that stupid conman.. I mean Fauci.. is going to haunt them. Hope to also discuss antibody tests- specifically their specificity and sensitivity for detection antibodies to COVID-19.

What do you think? Comments?

COVID-19 Pandemic has Bared Intellectual Bankruptcy of LIEbrals: 1

May 14, 2020 5 comments

Most of you will have read my previous posts in which I predict that the disastrous response to COVID-19 pandemic will ultimately destroy residual credibility of mainstream corporate media in this country, increase political divisions, have a large effect on the 2020 elections and very likely hurt the democratic party’s prospects in that election and the one in 2022. While writing those posts, and reading them later, I noticed an interesting thread which ran through all those posts and even a prior series I had written. To make a long story short, the horrifyingly inept response of western countries (and to fair, even many east-Asian ones such as China) represent a failure of the ideology of LIEbralism and its institutions. But before we go further, let us talk about what LIEbralism is and is not. This will allow us to get a better grasp of the ideology rather than talk about it by invoking totally wrong stereotypes as done by most idiots in this country.

Firstly, LIEbralism is NOT Socialism, Communism or any combination of them. In fact, LIEbralism does not require democracy, as 18th and 19th century England was a LIEbral society without having anything close to universal suffrage. Similarly openly slave-owning societies such as pre-1865 USA were LIEbral societies. Pre-1945 France, Netherlands, Portugal with their colonies in Asia and Africa were also LIEbral societies. So how do we define LIEbralism? How can LIEbralism exist without democracy and alongside slavery and racism? LIEbralism is best understood as the successor ideology to CONservatism which in turn succeeded Feudalism. The biggest difference between CONservatism and LIEbralism has to do with the rationale given by those in power to justify their position. Under CONservatism, elites justify their existence by invoking tradition and history. Under LIEbralism, elites justify their position and ill gotten gains by claiming that they are somehow “better” and “more deserving”.

To bolster those claims, they support lots of token causes which sound nice such as individual rights, rule of law, meritocracy, religious tolerance and equality. Of course, none of this means that they actually give a shit about making the world a better place- though they frequently claim this to be their goal. A better understanding of LIEbralism can be gained by examining what it actually supports in the economic realm. LIEbrals are strong believers in limited government, “free trade” and “free markets”. This is why, for example, it is was possible for wretched parasitic and highly unequal societies such as as 18th and 19th century UK to correctly call themselves LIEbral. Similarly, the founders of USA could write a nice sounding constitution and still be perfectly OK with slavery. Countries such as Belgium could claim to be civilized and LIEbral societies while simultaneously exploiting and killing millions of people in west Africa. LIEbralism is best understood as a worse form of CONservatism, but with secular humanistic facade and tons of double-think to justify its existence.

With that out of the way, let us focus on why the response to current COVID-19 pandemic will be incredibly damaging for LIEbralism in the west- including its most current incarnation aka neo-LIEbralism. So who are most prominent supporters of LIEbralism in the west? Well.. the most prominent and ardent supporters of that ideology fall into two groups- the very rich and those in sinecured professions and jobs. Let me expand on that a bit. When I am talking about the very rich, I am talking about those who will be bailed out of any financial loss by the government. So, that includes billionaires, multi-millionaires in certain sectors, top management of most large corporations.. basically anyone who personally call up elected politicians to bail them out- directly or indirectly. Somebody like Bill Gates, your average CEO of a multinational, large shareholders in Disney etc. Notably, it does not include the vast majority of people who operate small- and medium- sized business and we shall see why that matters later on.

The other group which supports LIEbralism most vocally is the PMC (professional managerial class). This group is defined by being credentialed at “prestigious” educational institutions, inhabiting the ‘right’ social circles and being employed in secure professions or positions with a highly subjective and elitist entry barrier. Fauci is a good example of such a creature, since he has been effectively a senior bureaucrat (and not a scientist) for the past four decades. Other examples of such critters include the vast majority of upper-level management-types in corporations, universities, hospitals etc throughout this country. While they lack the same type of access to government largess at billionaires and other really rich people, they make up for that by being far more numerous than the very rich. Members of this group are defined by a carefully cultivated image of competence alongside a simultaneous and shocking lack of even minimal competence in their supposed areas of expertise.

So why do I think that the ongoing botched response to COVID-19 pandemic will expose the intellectual bankruptcy of LIEbrals to an hitherto unthinkable extent? To understand that, we have to first understand why CONservatism lost the battle to LIEbralism, Communism and Fascism a century ago. You might remember that me saying that the people making decisions about public health measures during this pandemic remind me of the horribly incompetent generals who led armies during WW1. As it turns out, the vast majority of incompetent generals, political leaders and all the others who led the world into that disastrous war were outspoken supporters of CONservatism. This was especially the case in countries which suffered tons of casualties during WW1 (France, German Empire, Austria-Hungary, Russian Empire, Ottoman Empire, Italy). Consequently, CONservatism lost the battle for public relations in those countries and the old regimes were replaced by ones who subscribed to other ideologies.

Since we are at almost a thousand words, I will continue this discussion in the next part of this series- which I hope to post within next couple of days. In it, I will show you how LIEbral mental pathologies and shortcomings can explain their disastrous response to this pandemic. You will, for example, see how the desire of LIEbrals to continue lock-downs has a lot to do with them trying to avoid looking incompetent rather than any real objective measure of efficacy. You wills also see how the mental pathologies and double-think inherent in LIEbralism can explain why its most vocal exponents avoid talking about the need to temporarily cancel rent collections of all types. I will also show you how their unwillingness to honestly and objectively assess risks has a lot to do with their real-life incompetence. And we also talk about the various strains of secular apocalypticism which pervades the mind of LIEbrals under late-capitalism in the declining west.

What do you think? Comments?

Aftermath of Pandemic Will Destroy Residual Trust in Mainstream Media

May 9, 2020 7 comments

In the past, I have written many posts about why (and how) the majority of people have now lost faith in a range of supposedly “objective” and “impartial” institutions. The takeaway from those posts was as follows: 1] No institution can be “better” than the average person who populates them; 2] All institutions, given sufficient time, will end up being run by cliques of incompetent sycophants; 3] Institutions created to solve any problem will always end up perpetuating that problem in order to remain relevant, 4] All institutions, given time, will either lose or expel their competent members and replace them with clever-sounding but ineffectual cock suckers, 5] These changes make said institutions increasingly incestuous, fragile and ineffectual. 6] While decaying institutions can keep going for some time on social inertia alone, sooner or later they will face a series of real-life challenges exposing them for what they have become.

The above stated pattern holds true whether the institution in question is the democratic party, presidency, AMA, Google or the mainstream corporate media. While I have a few things to say about the WHO, let us leave that for another post and focus on the corporate mainstream media. But before we do that, let us define the term. In my opinion, mainstream corporate media often referred to as MSM is best understood as official propaganda in so-called “democratic” countries. The scam works as follows.. to maintain the pretense of a “democratic” and “free” society, the corporation-controlled government allows certain trusted ass-kissers to label themselves as “objective” journalists. To demonstrate their alleged “objectivity”, these clowns are occasionally allowed to write or publish content that is slightly adversarial to those in power. But don’t worry, these presstitutes will never publish anything that will truly challenge the malfeasance of those in power or expose their sheer incompetence.

This is why, for example, very few journalists challenged the official narrative about the Vietnam war until it was obvious that USA would lose. Something similar happened in 2003, when almost no journalist would contradict the official bullshit about the Iraq War until it became painfully obvious that USA was going to lose this war too. Now you know why the media cheerlead the housing boom of mid-2000s until that house of cards crashed or why it supported an endless slew of “free trade” treaties until pissed off people in the MidWest elected Trump in November 2016. People who work in corporate media outlets are best understood as the modern equivalent of minstrels and troubadours whose livelihood is dependent on remaining in the good graces of their real patrons while they sing songs and tell stories about their patron’s nobility and competence to the masses. However, while the medieval audience of minstrels and troubadours saw them as nothing more than entertainment, more than a few people today (usually older) still see their modern counterparts as courageous truth-tellers.

To be fair, the decline of residual public trust in MSM began sometime during the 1990s. But why the 1990s and not say in the 1950, 60s, 70s or even the 80s? Well.. the early part of the 1990s was the first decade which saw a slow decline in living standards of some Americans. While this decline was initially restricted to blue-collar workers in some flyover states, it was different from other ones in past because it was irreversible. The thing is.. most people will go along with a lot of government bullshit as long as they believe that their present is secure and future is hopeful. The 1990s was the first decade in which some Americans had to finally face the fact that their lives were not going to get better. But why should that fact affect their ability to trust MSM? Well.. belief in the MSM is like belief in any religion or cult. People stop believing in religions and cults once those belief systems cannot satisfactorily explain the reality they face.

This is why material affluence does far more damage to continued belief in Islam and Christianity than continued poverty. Another example would be how urbanization has done far more damage to belief in caste system than any reform movement in Hinduism. Or why the plague pandemic in 14th century did more to damage to the hold of catholic Church over Europe than anything before that or since then. But back to the topic of this post.. many believe that the internet (especially Google, FakeBook etc) struck the fatal blow for MSM by depriving them of money made through advertising. While it is true that the Internet in general, and Internet monopolies in particular, did irreversible harm to the previous business model of many MSM outlets, they did not destroy its credibility. That was a self goal.

See.. media overreaction to 9/11, shilling for the Iraq war, shilling for the housing bubble, shilling for financialism of the economy, shilling for Obama, shilling for LIEbralism in an environment where the fortunes of most people in this country slowly but irreversibly went south was the real reason why it lost so much credibility- especially among people who were born after 1970. People went looking in the internet for alternative news because the establishment mouthpieces were clearly, deliberately and repeatedly misleading them. This is also why a reality show clown.. I mean host.. with a sketchy past could win the presidential election against a “qualified” and “credentialed” establishment insider in 2016. Partisan democrats (MikeCA) still want to believe that the election of Trump was an inexplicable aberration rather than the highly predictable consequences of establishment politicians (of both parties) ignoring the needs and interests of a large section of the population. And this finally brings us the topic of this post.

Many of you might have noticed that an endless parade of “professional journalists” seem to have a deep emotional and material investment in keeping the economy closed during this pandemic. While I won’t go into the details of why this is such an incredibly bad idea in this post (read my previous posts on covid-19), let’s just say that shutting down the economy without a definitive and feasible exit plan or crippling it with restrictions for a diseases that kills less than 1 in 400 people below 65 has far more dangerous medium- and long-term consequences than these ivy league morons can imagine. For one, unemployment rates over 20% (closer to 30 or 40%) in a country without a decent social safety net is a disaster waiting to happen. Trying to shout down and at people who want the economy to open in this environment is more risky than striking a storm-proof match in a room drenched with gasoline.

Then again.. this turn of events is highly predictable. The vast majority of presstitutes alive today fall into one of three categories- 1] People from rich families who attended the “right” universities and don’t need the money, 2] People from a less-privileged but still solidly upper-middle class background who aspire to ge in the first category and 3] Social climbers without much money but who still want to emulate the second type so they can become them. Notice that all of them are in it for the fame, prestige, exposure and yes.. some money. My point is that the vast majority of journalists today are in for for giving each other blowjobs, according to a strict hierarchy- of course. But notice what they are not interested in.. “objective” journalism.. you know that thing they all claim to be their guiding principle. But how can I be so sure that is the case?

Well.. just have a look at the bullshit.. I mean “news stories”.. they are peddling. It is all about ‘how COVID-19 is much worse than we think’ or some fake scare story about ‘how it is mutating into increasingly dangerous forms’. But wait.. there is more. If you start asking them about how the results of serological tests affect our perception of the real IFR of this disease, they will tell you with great certainty that all those tests used to determine the results they don’t like are bad- even though these dumbfucks haven’t studied medical microbiology. These pathetic losers are enthusiastically pumping up doomsday stories peddled by aspy shitheads with delusions of grandeur such as Bill Gates or dishonest guinea dagos who haven’t touched a single laboratory instrument for the past four decades such as Fauci.

And they are doing this while either ignoring the real and massive harm done due to shutdown of everything from elective surgeries and cancer treatments to places that offer haircuts and food. Ask them about how to help the tens of millions whose lives have been turned upside down for no fault of theirs to perhaps protect protect a couple of million (at most) very old and dying people warehoused in nursing homes. Do they have a plan or idea to help the far more numerous group? If not, why not? How do these dumbfucks think people are going to buy food, let alone pay rent in a few months from now? Sure.. opening the economy right now might kill 10-15% of all people living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. But what is their fraction in the population compared to all those whose lives are being destroyed by this lockdown. Also think about what will happen once it becomes obvious that the IFR is much lower than these presstitutes are claiming it to be. Do they think that tens of millions will just forgive them for helping ruin their lives without adequate compensation.

You might not like my argument because it is too coldly utilitarian. But let me ask you another question.. given the way things are setup in this country, and how the course of events have proceeded thus far, do you have a better and more feasible idea?

What do you think? Comments?

Economic Fallout of COVID-19 Shutdown will Dominate 2020 Elections

May 3, 2020 17 comments

As many of you know, I have consistently held the opinion that social and economic fallout from overreaction to this pandemic is going to be far worse and consequential than the final death toll. In case you need a refresher, here are a few links (link 1, link 2, link 3). While yet another post about this general topic might seem tediously repetitive, it is my opinion that even supposedly non-corporate media-types are too fixated on the deaths of 81-year-olds in nursing homes to notice the absolutely unprecedented socio-economic damage and long-term consequences of this shutdown on many western countries. And yes.. the negative effects of this shutdown will be far bigger in western countries and wannabes such as India than their East-Asian counterparts.

1] Many serological surveys in areas with high rates of deaths due to COVID-19 have consistently shown that the number of people who were infected by this virus (and developed antibodies to it) but did not develop symptoms sufficient to seek medical attention is about 10-50 times higher than number who tested positive for the virus with PCR-based tests. Note that PCR-based tests can only detect active infection (in all patients) or post-infectious viral shedding (in a small minority). In other words, asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic infections account for the vast majority of cases. To make a long story short, serological surveys from even the worst hit areas with an older population suggest an Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) of less than 0.5%.

Even in areas of northern Italy that are full of old retirees and nursing homes, the chance of an infection leading to death is less than 1 in 200. Now I am sure that some of you are going to tell me that the present generation of serological tests have high error rates etc. And this is in spite of most of you never having performed a serological test let alone have an understanding of the factors which lead to false positive and false negative results in those tests. Once again, to make a long story short, the tests used in most of these surveys were independently validated by the researchers who used them and almost every single one had false positive rates below 1%. To put it another way, while some of the tests could be better, the vast majority were good enough to detect rates of seropositivity over 2%.

In many heavily affected areas, these surveys show rates of seropositivity in the 10-15%, 20-30% and even 50% range. Moreover, the geographical distribution of seropositivity rates in each survey tracks the death rate in those areas. But what does a discussion of seropostivity trends and extrapolated IFR contribute to a post on how the socio-economic fallout of this pandemic will dominate 2020 elections. Well.. let me spell it out for you. An infection, however contagious, with an IFR of less than 0.5% and most likely closer to 0.2% is not much worse than a bad strain of Influenza. Since the end of WW2, we had at least 4-5 Influenza pandemics with similar or slightly higher IFR rates. While some of these pandemics necessitated shutting down schools etc for a few weeks etc, none resulted in a generalized economic shutdown of the kind we are seeing today.

2] Given that the 2020 elections are in early November, which is about six months from today, you can be certain that general experience and many more serological surveys with even better tests will reveal an IFR of around 0.2% (1 death per 500 infections). Since this is no worse for most of the population (below 80 years) than an especially bad Influenza season, people who have been ruined and impoverished through the loss of their jobs and businesses will start asking some very inconvenient questions about the “official response” to this pandemic. Was a general shutdown really necessary? Given the mild presentation and low infectivity of this disease in children and young adults, was the closure of schools and universities really necessary?

Weren’t highly targeted actions meant to protect the most vulnerable (65+ and chronically ill) the better option- especially since we knew, even early on, that the disease caused the vast majority of fatalities in those groups? Given that this virus can easily spread in aerosols beyond 2 meters, how was this whole “social distancing” bullshit any different from post 9/11 security theater in airports. How was the decision to close “non-essential” retail and restaurants a good idea, when studies show that most transmissions occur in private residences, nursing homes, hospitals, cruise ships, aircraft carriers and other unusually crowded and enclosed areas. And the questions will keep get more problematic..

Why did so many elected officials not have a well-thought out (if somewhat unemotional) plan to reopen the economy? Even today, politicians from states such as NY and CA to TX and GA do not have a coherent and well-thought of plan for definitively reopening the economy- the key word being ‘definitively’. Do these elected dumbfucks think that pausing the economy for 12-18 months is possible? This question becomes especially important when it becomes obvious that the IFR is about 0.2% and there is a very clear way to identify those with the worst outcomes? Do these dummies have a plan to successfully develop, mass produce and mass vaccinate hundreds of millions? Given how badly they have bumbled thus far, why would you believe them? Why would you trust people whose poor decision-making skills have already ruined your life?

3] Talking about those who have suffered due to incompetent leaders making poor decisions.. how can all these unemployed people afford to keep on paying rents, mortgages, car payments, health insurance payments, university fees etc. While it might be tempting to point out that the Trump administration has been especially incompetent and stingy at delivering cash payments to average people- even countries which have done a much better job have not been able to make average people whole again. Small business in this country face a similar problem, because most of the trillions in government aid has gone to large companies and multinationals. Long story short, even if the economy all over this country was opened tomorrow, there would tens of millions who would be unemployed and many millions whose small businesses had failed for no fault of theirs. Do we have the political will to implement a decent social safety net?

Democrats, such as that corrupt dago from NY and that neoliberal from CA, are now positioning themselves as the new ‘resistance’ against Trump. They keep on mumbling random bullshit, which they don’t understand, such as “science based plans” for reopening economy etc. Are you fucking serious? Have these democrat dumbfucks even performed a back-of-envelope reckoning of the number (and percentage) of newly unemployed people and failed business in their state? Are they stupid enough to imagine that people won’t blame them for destroying their livelihoods? Then again the democratic party was stupid enough to nominate HRC in 2016 and that dementia patient.. Joe Biden.. in 2020. So, I guess it is possible. Also note how establishment democrats such as that hag with bad plastic surgery.. Nancy Pelosi.. and her compatriots have pretty much disappeared from the public arena. It doesn’t help that these losers haven’t come up with anything beyond a few “means tested” and very inadequate programs to help those affected by biggest financial crisis since the great depression.

Yes.. you read that right. The COVID-19 pandemic, specifically its aftermath, is the biggest financial crisis since the great depression of the early 1930s. The GFC of 2008 now looks almost quaint compared to how bad things have gotten so far, and we are nowhere near the end of this one. And you something else.. when such a large scale disaster or crisis strikes any country, affected people always look for scapegoats. The last time we had an election with over 20% unemployment in this country was in 1932, about 88 years ago- and we know how that went. Heck, even a now minor one like the one in 2008 made many people vote for a black guy who sounded good on TV than anyone remotely connected to that mess. Some partisan democrats (MikeCA) might think that this crisis will translate into a victory for his cult. I wouldn’t be so sure.. because in this crisis, democrats have visibly fucked up at least as much (if not more) than their republican counterparts- and it shows.

Establishment types in the democratic party seem to believe (almost as a matter of faith) that Trump’s fuckups will somehow magically hand them the presidency in 2020. However, as I mentioned in the previous paragraphs, there is more than enough blame to go around, and this will be very apparent by early November. At that time, many tens of millions of impoverished and angry people will want to find and lynch a scapegoat.. any scapegoat. Chances are that Trump’s rhetoric of “opening the economy for business” might sound far better to them than “lets keep it all closed (or close to that) until some undefined date in the future”. This outcome is especially likely once it becomes obvious that the IFR is somewhere between 0.2-0.5% and even lower (0.1%) in working-age population. In any case, the economic fallout of the response to this pandemic is going to totally overshadow the number of deaths from it by November 2020.

What do you think? Comments?

Aftermath of COVID-19 Shutdown will Deepen Political Divisions in USA

May 1, 2020 12 comments

Here is another prediction I am willing to make.. ready? I predict that the COVID-19 shutdown, specifically its aftermath, will greatly deepen existing political divisions in this country. To better understand what I am talking about, and get an appreciation of how far things have deteriorated, let me take you back to November 1984. In the presidential election of that year, Ronald Reagan won the electoral college in 49/50 states and got almost 60% of the popular vote. Interestingly, despite such a landslide victory for the republican candidate in presidential elections, democrats held their majority in the house and even gained a few states in the senate. If I told anyone who is not old enough to have remembered this particular election, perhaps someone born after the late 1970s, they would find this particular result to be highly implausible. But why was this the case in 1984 and more importantly.. what changed between 1984 and 2020 (or even 2000).

To understand what changed between 1984 and 2000, we have talk about the peculiar political environment prevalent in this country between 1945 and the late 1980s. To make a long story short, during those four decades there wasn’t much difference in the public and private positions of members from both parties. You could find tons of CONservative racist democrat legislators (even after 1968) as easily as you could find socially LIEbral republicans who were not especially racist. Even when attitudes changed (such as embrace of neoliberalism after late 1970s) there wasn’t much light between the positions of democrats and republicans. This is why republican presidents such as Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan got along well with democratic legislators and JFK and LBJ got along pretty OK with republicans. When some living fossils such as Pelosi and McConnell bemoan the lack of “bipartisanship”, they are referring to this era.

Of course, the flip side of this bonhomie was that both political parties developed a knack for repeatedly screwing over the majority of their constituents, to benefit their donors, under the guise of bipartisanship. To make matters more interesting, the realignment of late-1960s also resulted in both parties gradually cultivating different voter bases. There is a reason why the republican party is today associated with the white working class in non-coastal states, while democrats are the party of affluent white coastal professional types + inner city minorities. 1984 was pretty much the last major national-level election where the majority of voters still saw themselves as part of a larger group. We can argue about which party abandoned which group or vice-versa but it is clear that by the late 1980s, the emerging divisions between political parties (and their bases) were ideological rather than socio-economic. But what does any of this have to do with future political divisions and how is any of this related to aftermath of this pandemic?

Sometime ago, I tweeted about something which can be summarized as follows: Trump’s electoral success was largely due to his realization that american politics was about providing empty reality-show theater, rather than competent governing. In other words, he figured out that most people had lost all hope in the system actually working for them and were only in for the stupid drama and dumb pet peeves indulged in by both parties since early 1980s. Since that time, politicians from both parties have been busy pushing for ever increasing levels of job outsourcing, de-industrialization while simultaneously defunding social safety nets, destroying job security, increasing costs of higher education, making housing less affordable and much more. Electoral turnout in this country is so low because people correctly assume that elections have no effect on public policies. The only way either party can get anyone to vote for them, nowadays, involves empty posturing on meaningless or minor cultural issues such as gun control, abortion or vague and equally meaningless ideological position such as ‘diversity’, ‘patriotism’ or support/disbelief in one set of charlatans.. I mean.. “experts” vs another.

Basically, this country and most other western countries are run by two (or three) “teams” of D-grade actors on the payroll of same corporate masters. This might sound cynical but just have a look at how poorly the political systems of most western countries have dealt with major systemic crisis for the past 2-3 decades. Now.. it is much easier to go slowly go downhill if you you start at a higher point than others. But ultimately the course of events throws up challenges which expose the decrepitude and incompetence of the underlying system. In the past two decades, we had at least three major events (9/11 and its aftermath, GFC 2008 and its aftermath and COVID-19 and its aftermath) that have exposed the allegedly competent western systems for their reality. But what does any of this have to with ever deepening political divisions in this country?

Well.. it comes down to how politics in this country has evolved. Long story short, it has become a meaningless team sport played by an increasingly geriatric and dumb group of elected leaders posturing against each other to win applause from their own crowd of partisan morons (such as Mike CA) rather than come up with even a half-decent solution to a problem- especially if such a solution angered their corporate masters. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, but more so in its aftermath, this has taken the following forms..

1] Neither political party in this country has a clear exit plan from the lockdown and its massive associated job loss, some of which will be long-term. On one side, the ‘scientism’ worshiping democratic morons are working themselves up into a frenzy every time somebody suggests that the broader economy has to reopened soon or the disease is nowhere as lethal as they want to believe. On the other side, republican idiots believe that simply opening the economy after such an unprecedented shutdown will miraculously restore the economy to its previous (and let us be honest.. pretty shitty) state- because of “free market” and “american capitalism” pixie dust. But more importantly, neither party has demonstrated any clue as to how to reopen the economy and keep it open while simultaneously fixing the very real human misery (a good part of it medium term or longer) caused by this shutdown.

And here is why this will matter. In Chapter 17 of the ‘Prince’ by Niccolò Machiavelli, he wrote “Men sooner forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony”. Let me explain that in terms of the COVID-19 crisis.. in the end, most people care far more about the effect of this pandemic and ensuing shutdown on their own financial status than the possible demise of their 81-year old parents or grandparents who have been warehoused in some nursing home. As many of you might have figured out by now, the aftermath of this crisis will cause a large sustained increase in unemployment in sectors of economy that have a lot young people- such as tourism, hospitality, retail and many part-time/ seasonal gigs (concerts, festivals etc). This will occur even if the lock down is lifted today. To make matters worse, there will be an unprecedented number of small-business bankruptcies which, once again will, occur even if the lockdown is lifted today. The point I am trying to make is you will sustained unemployment rates of over 30% in people under 40 and millions of small business owners whose whole sense of self-worth and livelihood will be destroyed for no fault of theirs. As you will soon see, this has an interesting historical precedent- specifically continental Europe in the decade after end of WW1.

Have you ever wondered why so many fascists came to power in continental Europe between 1920 and 1932? Well.. in each case (and this include countries in Eastern Europe) there was a massive increase in unemployment among young men, old and sometimes new political systems that were unable to adapt to new reality, tons of small-business owners who has experienced business failure due to finance-based consolidation and.. oh.. a party that appealed to these disaffected groups- often led by some charismatic individual. Italy had Mussolini, Poland had Pilsudski, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania had their own dictators, Hungary had Gyula Gombos, Austria had Engelbert Dollfuss, USSR had Stalin, Spain had Franco and Germany had Hitler. While each took a slightly different manner to power, the overall circumstances and forces which let to those outcomes were remarkably similar.

2] And this brings us to why the existing political system or establishment in those nations was unable to stop the rise of all these strongmen to power. The simple answer is.. the pre-existing political class of those countries was largely insulated and disconnected from the dire struggles of their fellow citizens during that era. They simply could not care, did not want to care and thought they could get away with it while still retaining their old positions in those societies. Today we are seeing something similar, among members of both political parties- but especially democrats. You might have many instances of members of the sinecured LIEbral classes lecturing to and scolding white working class and small-business types who are desperately looking for any sign of the economy reopening and things getting back to normal. These LIEbral shitheads, holed up in their nice suburban houses and condos while being paid via various secure streams of money for their useless jobs have the temerity to confidently tell everyone else that the economy is not going to reopen for 12-18 months while vehemently denying every bit of information that points to a different outcome truly deserve the Guillotine.

But the underlying problem is worse.. if that is possible. These LIEBrals (mostly of the democratic party persuasion) spend time fantasizing about the imminent death of working class people just because they want to get a regular paycheck. Did I mention that USA has a deliberately shitty social safety net and that the number of people without their regular income is closer to 50-60 million, instead of the 30-something million official number) right now. But wait, it gets better. These dumfucks, who decry the desire of working class and petit bourgeois for a return to ‘normal’ have no plan of helping them through measures such as cancelling rent, mortgages, auto and health insurance payments.. let alone give them some sort of universal basic income until the economy returns to some level of normalcy. AS I mentioned in one of my previous post, it would not be surprising if these LIEbral attitudes led to an electoral defeat for the democratic party in 2020 inspite of running against orange man and a bunch of assholes.

I will wrap up this post by giving you one more example of how clueless and disconnected these LIEbals are from reality. You might have heard about how some meat-packing plants have been temporarily closed because of local outbreaks of COVID-19. While I do not support the way these plants are run, especially the working conditions within them, I understand why keeping them open and running at this time is necessary to prevent food shortages, more panic buying and social disorder. But what do LIEbrals think? Well.. these retards are busy lecturing to poor people about their “excessive” meat consumption. I even saw a few urging people to adopt a vegan diet! Yes.. even in the midst of such a massive crisis, rich LIEbrals are busy performing virtue displays. If you still believe that political divisions in this country wont intensify in aftermath of COVID-19 crisis, I have a bridge in London to sell you.

What do you think? Comments?

A Very Intriguing Theory about Possible Artificial Origins of COVID-19

April 26, 2020 28 comments

A couple of days ago, I came across a rather long medium post about how COVID-19 aka SARS-2 might have been created in a laboratory rather than through natural selection. While I considered posting a link to it yesterday, it was prudent to do some due diligence first. See.. part of my job and training involves using software tools similar to the ones used in that post, so I decided to first independently verify a few of the main sequence alignments, structural models of proteins and publications etc before promoting it. Well.. while I have not re-verified every single point of data in this post, whatever I have done to date suggests that its main conclusions are correct.

Here is the post: SARS-CoV-2 Genealogy Through the Lens of Gain-of-Function Research

Since this post is very long and technical, let me summarize it- very briefly. The author starts by pointing out the unusual coincidence of an absolutely minimal furin cleavage site evolving at the junction of S1 and S2 subunits of the Spike protein in SARS-2. This is suspicious since gain of function by natural mutations usually tend to first create less than optimal sequences for new functions before being optimized via evolutionary selection. But this virus is too new for such an optimization to have occurred naturally- at least, that is not the most likely explanation.

He then points out that the two viruses which SARS-2 is most similar to ones discovered a few years ago (2014 and 2017/2019) in two different parts of the China. The Bat virus (RaTG13 with 96% similarity) came from a faecal swab from bat droppings from some cave in a part of China that is over 1,000 km from Wuhan, while the Pangolin virus (MP789 – 70% something similarity) came from autopsy of a bunch of smuggled sick pangolins from Malaysia in 2017. He then compares their sequences and while the Bat virus (RaTG13) is very similar to SARS-2, the Pangolin Virus has considerable dissimilarity with SARS-2 in first quarter of sequence for Spike Protein. Homologous recombination in a host infected with two viruses of same “species” without a segmented genome requires them to be very similar to each other.

More curiously, the new furin cleavage site in SARS-2 is a “gain of function” mutation, which means that it allows the virus to be more pathogenic (more infectious or capable of infecting a wider range of hosts/ cell types). It should be noted that more than a couple western research groups tried to insert similar enzymatic cleavage sites into other Coronaviruses such as SARS, MERS etc in the past. So it is not unreasonable to assume that the Chinese group in that Wuhan lab might have also tried it. In fact, we know that multiple research groups in Beijing tried that same gain of function mutation in a chicken Coronavirus. Oh ya.. and they also showed that putting that site into the S protein of another bat Coronavirus allowed it to infect human cells.

He then goes on talk about the whole field of Coronavirus research including many publications by a prominent researcher named Ralph Baric, who pioneered many of these techniques used for creating “gain of function” mutations in Coronaviruses. And yes.. he collaborated with the head of that Wuhan Coronavirus lab over the years, so it is makes perfect sense that you would see some his techniques are used in the later’s lab. Long story short, they looked at many “gain of function” mutations which made the resultant viruses deadlier. Also, Baric’s work seems to be have been “inspirational” to the lab in Wuhan since they kept trying out his ideas on Bat Coronaviruses.

The author then goes on to point out that accidental “leaks” of viruses from secure labs are far more common than most people realize, and are almost always due to poorly or hastily trained staff. So the idea that a poorly trained or careless researcher getting infected, but not developing serious illness and going on to spread it outside the lab is far more plausible than many would like to believe. He also points out the restriction enzyme map of nucleotide sequence, necessary for many types of genetic engineering, is rather similar for SARS-2, Bat and Pangolin coronvirus. And there are some other unusual similarities between the nucleotide codons used for certain amino acids- The explanation for which is a bit technical and complicated.

To summarize, the likelihood that this virus was created (along with others) to study effect of various “gain of function” mutations in Coronaviruses but then accidentally released into community through the actions of a poorly trained junior researcher is much more likely than it evolving naturally from a bat Coronavirus found in some remote part of the Yunnan province in China somehow magically recombining with a Pangolin Coronavirus from Malaysia and gaining just the right fragment of the Spike protein from it.

What do you think? Comments?

Yet Another YT Spoof Which Turned Out to be Eerily Prophetic in 2020

April 24, 2020 9 comments

I am sure more that more than a few of you have seen the 2006 movie ‘Idiocracy‘. In fact, when Trump was elected in 2016, more than a few ‘blue checks’ on Twitter pointed out the functional similarity between the character of President Camacho from that movie and Trump. Anyway, the actor who played that character (Terry Crews) did a few more YouTube spoof clips. One of them, from about a year and half ago, is proving to be scarily (in unintentionally) accurate.

In this clip, the character of President Camacho promises to end poverty and inequality in USA by printing money and giving a million dollars to each person- since (paraphrasing it) “people don’t need jobs, they need money”. His plan involves making the federal reserve print money and give it directly to people rather than pass it through banks or businesses. While both LIEbrals and CONservatives might find this idea horrifying, it makes total sense (Modern Monetary Theory) and might be the only way to save the economy in aftermath of shutdown due to COVID-19.

Enjoy! Comments?

Response to COVID-19 Will Destroy Democratic Party in 2020 Elections

April 20, 2020 74 comments

I was going to post an article about the stupid western LIEbral reaction to use of Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine to treat SARS-2 disease in its initial stages. FYI- there is a rapidly increasing amount of evidence from different parts of the world that standard dosages of both drugs started within first few days of symptomatic SARS-2 illness do significantly reduce (by about 4-5 times) the risk of hospitalization in its later stages. This is a big deal, as the percentage of older people who die after becoming sick enough to be hospitalized is much higher than those below 65. While writing that article, which will be hopefully post next, I had an interesting epiphany. In its briefest form, it is as follows: the reactions (and in cases, the lack thereof) by establishment LIEbrals to the economic crisis created by current dumb and ineffectual measures deployed to contain this coronavirus pandemic will likely sink the democratic party during 2020 elections.

While this particular take on what is clearly a rapidly evolving and multifactorial crisis might seem premature, especially since the election is almost 6 months away- my analysis is based on solid factors which most LIEbrals are ignoring at their own peril. I am sure some of the more ardent worshipers of LIEbralism (MikeCA?) would like to tell me how the republican party will suffer the biggest electoral losses in generations since Trump (and by association, that party) botched the initial response to this pandemic. To which I say.. sure, Trump and the republican party certainly botched the initial response to this pandemic and ensuing crisis- but so did every other major western country (from UK and France to Italy and Spain). But let us be honest about something, we have already passed the point where the initial botched response still matters to most people. What matters now is how the political parties in power in those countries deal with the massive economic fallout caused by measures instituted to allegedly contain this pandemic.

Some of you might say.. isn’t the mortality due to this pandemic still the biggest cause for concern. Well.. based on a preponderance of evidence, it is not and let me explain how I reached that conclusion. A number of recent population studies which look for specific antibodies generated in response to SARS-2 infection seem to strongly suggest that the percentage of population who were exposed to this infection and went on to develop an asymptomatic (or mildly symptomatic) form is about 10-50 times higher than the cases who were ill enough to be tested by the PCR tests used for detecting viral RNA. In other words, rate of functionally asymptomatic infections for SARS-2 is at least 10 fold higher than previously thought- especially in otherwise healthy people below 60. While there is no shortage of doomers pretending to be “statisticians” who want to tell you that all that data is somehow wrong, the number of studies from different countries (using different test kits) which support the high rates of asymptomatic infection is now so high that a non-biased person would have to admit that it is true.

So why does this matter? Well.. it immediately changes the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of SARS-2 from 1-3% in countries with extensive PCR-based testing to lower than 0.3-0.1% or even lower for those under 65. While a CFR of about 0.2% is higher than most yearly influenza epidemics, it is in the range of major influenza pandemics such as the one in 1957-1958. That pandemic killed about 100k people in USA when its population was almost half of what it is today. At that time it was seen as an unfortunate, but still acceptable, body count and things improved quickly once it was over. My point is that, heartless as it might seem, a body count of 200k (mostly old people) is not going to have a long-term adverse effect on this country. However a prolonged shutdown which creates 30-40% unemployment rates on top of massive number of business failures is going to cause far more problems that burying or burning the corpses of 200k mostly very old (and white) dead people. And yes, I have factored in the differences in rates of death by race as well as the percentage of each group in population.

But what does any of this have to do with why the official response to this pandemic will likely destroy the democratic party in 2020 elections. To better understand what I am going to talk about, let us first spell out a few obvious facts. Firstly, elections will occur in early November 2020, when the economic impact of the shutdown due to official government response will be a far bigger issue than the number of old dead people. As a consequence, the way both parties respond over next few months to the growing economic disaster will be far more relevant than it is right now. But.. wouldn’t that favor the democrats, since they are allegedly the working class party? Well, in case you haven’t been reading what I have been writing for last few years- the democratic party became the party of credentialed suburbanites + professionals a long time ago. Sure.. some black people vote for them- but that is largely due to historical affiliations among older black people. Neither the democratic party, or its republican equivalent, cares about black people or most white people for that matter.

So what have the democrats have been doing so far?

1] It is no secret that democrats haven’t been doing much, if anything, to help the working class they claim to represent. Most of the two-something trillion dollars in first bailout bill has gone to large business pretending to be small ones. In fact, republican dipshits such as Marco Rubio and Josh Hawley are the reason why it even contains a provision to bail out small business. But it gets worse.. democrats did not seriously try to pass a 2k/month universal unemployment provision in that bill. That number is important because every west-European country, Canada, Australia etc made sure that even their gig and contract workers could easily get at least 2k/ month in addition to generous (75-80%) support for both large and small business to keep their employees on payroll. Now LIEbrals (like MikeCA?) might say that such a measure would not have passed in the senate. Well.. they never tried seriously, so we don’t know. But even if it hadn’t passed, trying hard to pass it would have shown potential voters that the party cared about them- especially important in a presidential election year.

Instead democrats are totally banking on Trump screwing up the response to this pandemic. Yes.. you heard that right. Thy have no other plan to win the 2020 elections other than hope and pray that Orange Man fucks up so badly that people will just vote for their dementia patient aka Joe Biden. To make matters even worse, if that is possible, their response to the crisis has been either cringeworthy or downright repulsive. Some of you might have seen Nancy Pelsoi displaying the expensive contents of her super-expensive refrigerators on national TV at a time when about half the country don’t know whether they can afford food within few weeks and food banks in many cities have been swamped by tens of thousands who had never used such services in the past. Or look at that stupid cunt who is the current governor of Michigan acting like an out-of touch autocrat or the governor of Virgina using this opportunity to push through ‘gun control’ legislation. It is as if democrats at both the national and state level are completely out of touch with the needs and demands of their supposed constituencies.

2] Many of you might have also seen the decrepit MSM giving tons to air time to Andrew Cuomo and to a lesser extent- Gavin Newsom. They are doing so to project both of them, especially the former, as future potential presidential candidates. The only problem is that they are both very mediocre and borderline incompetent leaders with serious electability issues at national level. Don’t believe me? Let us go through their records. Cuomo is a part of a political dynasty which benefited from being in the 2nd most openly corrupt state in USA- after neighboring New Jersey. Andrew’s biggest achievement has been his full throated support for neoliberalism and working with the republican party to keep in his state to maintain that status quo. Did I mention NY is one the most unequal states in this country. As far as his supposed ability to contain this pandemic.. well, it was Cuomo (who against the better judgement of Bill de Blasio) delayed any serious response to the pandemic in NY state by about 2-3 weeks. Under Cuomo, NY reduced its hospital bed count by over 20k in the last few years to build luxury condos and now he also cut Medicaid funding in the most recent state budget.

Gavin Newsom, while not as venally corrupt as Cuomo, is nonetheless a highly problematic potential democratic party leader at national level. From his support of severe ‘gun control’, SJW causes such as trangenderism to being ineffectual at actually solving real problems such as very high levels of homelessness and economic inequality in that state. At best he is a neoliberal who is not as bad as Nancy Pelosi or Joe Biden, assuming the later still knows who he is. But the much bigger problem, as far as 2020 elections are concerned, is how they are acting right now. See.. both are trying to position themselves as ‘resistance’ to Trump, which means opposing everything put forth by Trump- irrespective of the merit of each idea. That is why both are opposed to any concrete and defined plan for reopening the economy in their states. But why would this matter? Well.. because other states, especially those run by republican governors will reopen sooner and while they may initially suffer from outbreaks of SARS-2, their economies won’t be as thoroughly trashed as those of NY and CA. And this will matter come election time.

As I have repeatedly mentioned in my previous posts on this general topic, USA has neither the bureaucratic framework or ideological bent to quickly provide effective levels of financial help to its citizens in times of crisis. Consequently, this shutdown is going to an incredible amount of socio-economic damage to everyone in this country who is not rich, well connected or has a sinecured job. Sure, some will be hurt more than others but even most doctors are seeing their income plummet because of the cancellation of scheduled surgeries, normal medical procedures and reduction in appointments. The same is true for supposedly resilient entities such as universities, municipalities and many more. Even if the government decides to bail them out, under the present set of rules, most of the money will not reach the people it was intended to help (employees, contractors, small business dependent on them etc). In other words, a prolonged shutdown will cause exponentially increasing amounts of damage to economy and those states which are closed for a longer time (to show their resistance to Trump) will inflict the most suffering on their residents. And this will be weaponized by Trump reelection campaign.

3] Talking about the ‘resistance’.. it is an open secret that corporate media and democrats want Trump to fail. To be clear, I am not suggesting Trump is competent- but then again, there is no evidence that his predecessors were any better than him. Sure, they were somewhat “better spoken” in public, but their policies were just as neoliberal, poorly thought out and shitty as his. You might have seen these ‘resistance’ bullshitters convert each press briefing into an adversarial nightmare and constantly question his actions. The problem with such behavior is that it highly counterproductive. Because the corporate media is so openly adversarial to Trump, he can claim false persecution and thus divert attention from this many actions which are actually stupid and shitty. There is a reason why “RussiaGate”, “Mueller Report”, “UkraineGate”, “impeachment” and now this crisis has not had any impact on his popularity. The relentless but totally ineffectual media attacks on Trump are, ironically, what keep his popularity from going down.

It does not help that all the losers clamoring for prolonged shutdowns in media, and on social media, are limo LIEbrals who have enough money and other resources to weather them. These dumbfucks have little, to no, connection or understanding of how the majority of people make a living. This position is going to become increasingly problematic as more and more evidence from other countries will show that specific antibodies to this virus in asymptomatic people (evidence of exposure and recovery) are far more widespread than currently believed- which implies that CFR is significantly less that 1-1.5%. At that point, I predict that these resistance dummies will try to sabotage testing of people for antibodies or claim that “antibodies in recovered patients do not offer protection” because they want to prolong shutdown and cause more economic damage to make Trump lose is reelection bid. Needless to say, such behavior is only going to make Trump and the republicans look like the better option in November for most of the country.

In summary, the reaction of establishment LIEbrals and corporate media to this pandemic is very likely to severely damage the electoral prospects of democratic party in the 2020 elections.

What do you think? Comments?

Inept Western Response to COVID-19 Will Result in Public Backlash: 4

April 13, 2020 26 comments

In the previous post of this series, I made the point that all of the dumbshit “democratic” western countries and their sad imitators (India etc) have not thought through the full consequences of shutting down most of their economies in response to the SARS-2 pandemic. Because, if they had performed any due diligence, it would be obvious that stopping the collection of all types of rents and bills had to be done before shutting down other things. It is also no secret that some large countries (USA and India) lack both the bureaucratic and financial infrastructure to deliver timely and sufficient money to most of their people who have lost income because of this shutdown. Even those who have done a far better job in this regard (Denmark, Canada, UK etc) are still half-assing it by not covering all their people and cancelling economic rents. Bad as these things are, these are not their biggest failures- so far.

In my opinon, the single biggest failure (thus far) has been the complete lack of any exit plan- something which Kim Iversen alluded to in one of her many videos. Any politician, bureaucrat or “credentialed epidemiologist” who cannot present a definitive and feasible exit strategy from this thoughtless lockdown is not living in the real world. While there will be ample opportunity to dunk on politicians and bureaucrats later on this post (or series), let me start by exposing the utter incompetence of all those “credentialed epidemiologists” who staff the public health departments of western countries. You know who they remind me of.. WW1 generals. If you have read a significant amount of history, you will be aware that the vast majority of generals in WW1 on both sides were epic disasters and clusterfucks whose decisions caused far more casualties than if they hadn’t been born. But why were they such massive disasters? Well it has to do with how they ended up in their positions and careers prior to 1914.

See.. for almost 50 years prior to WW1, there was no large scale warfare in western Europe. The only real action most soldiers and generals in that part of world saw from end of Franco-Prussian War in 1871 to the start of WW1 in 1914 was restricted to putting down rebellions in colonies and a few small skirmishes in the Balkans. Therefore, an entire generation of western generals had never faced anything beyond dark-skinned tribals with spears and a few old firearms. To put it another way, the upper military ranks of western countries were filled with shysters and dummies who had reached their position via family connections, patronage and bribes, flattery and good social manners etc. Sure.. many of them had attended “prestigious” schools and universities and were capable of accurately reciting back whatever they had learned in them. To put it another way, they were incompetent posers who could nevertheless give the appearance of competence. But reality cannot be fooled and WW1 exposed them in a most unflattering manner.

The current crop of “credentialed epidemiologists” in USA and other western countries are, in many ways, similar to WW1 generals. Here is why.. firstly, neither has actually faced a large scale challenge of this magnitude in their entire careers. Sure, there have been bad influenza seasons and occasional outbreaks of some exotic diseases in Africa or East Asia- but dealing with routine or small-scale problems does not prepare one for making decisions during large scale meltdowns. Secondly, just like their military counterparts a century ago, the bulk of these “credentialed epidemiologists” went to “prestigious” universities where they learned to regurgitate the alleged “wisdom” of those who had fought past wars while also building up their social networks. Most importantly, their training and experience leaves them particularly unequipped to think outside the box of “conventional wisdom” and “established norms”. You know.. in some ways, they remind me of the current democratic party establishment.

But why does any of this matter? The brief answer is as follows: any strategy or plan is always subject to the constraints of the system it operates within and available resources. Sure.. you can always find new ways to unlock resources that were previously unavailable or partially bypass existing constraints, but in the end the feasibility of any given plan is dictated by what exists and is available at that time. Let me explain that concept with a couple of examples- the stalemate of trench warfare in WW1 was ultimately broken by using shock-troop tactics by Germans and combined arms operations by the other side- but both approaches, though new, were extensions of what was feasible at that time. Similarly, in WW2- the development of jet aircraft made it possible to fly faster, V1 and V2 demonstrated that cruise and ballistic missiles were not pipe dreams. However, once again, they were extensions of what was feasible at that time.

My point is that physical, logistical and technological feasibility of any strategy or plan of action is central to success- whether you are waging war or trying to control a pandemic. With that in mind, let us talk about something almost every commentator in mainstream media seems to have missed. Ever wonder how you can motivate people to follow a plan of action which might be painful in short-term, but potentially rewarding in long run? The more delusional of you might think that fear would work. However any close reading of history shows that fear by itself, at best, can only buy you a short time (weeks to months). So what else can? The answer is hope.. specifically hope for a better future. In other words, a leader with a reasonably feasible plan to overcome whatever adversity they are facing will always motivate people to go along for a far longer time than somebody who is using only fear. Hope trumps fear. With that in mind, let us go through their stupidities, not necessarily in order of importance.

1] ‘Social distancing’ and shutting down most of economy is unworkable over any period longer than a few weeks. Even countries which provide far more generous direct monetary support to their population than USA have been either unable/unwilling to provide full income replacement. Consequently, any shutdown that goes on for more than a few weeks will definitely have very nasty downstream and knock-on economic effects. But why does this matter? Well.. here is why. SARS-2 aka COVID-19 has a maximum fatality rate of about 1.5% in populations which conduct extensive testing + factoring in asymptomatic or very mildly symptomatic patients who recovered (not counted in official positive numbers). Compare this to massive and inevitable job loss in the service sector due to ‘social distancing’ guidelines and the inevitable closure of many small business.Long story short, shutting down economy for more than a few weeks gives results in unemployment rates reaching 30% and beyond. Note that this will be on top of all the other problems caused by many people being unable to pay rent and other bills.

To put it bluntly, the number of severely pissed off people who are unemployed and in poverty will exceed the potential number of who might die by a minimum of over 20 times. Continuing the bullshit charade of ‘social distancing’ and shutdowns until we develop an effective vaccine a year or more from now is not a viable option, regardless of what dumbfucks such as Faucci or Bill Gates want to to believe. We are already seeing lineups of thousands (who own cars) in many american cities to use food banks- and this is just the beginning. Let me remind you that similar combinations of unemployment and non-existent safety nets have, in the past, led to the rise of people such as Mussolini and Hitler. Unless the “credentialed epidemiologists” come up with a viable plan to reopen the economy real soon, things will develop a momentum and direction of their own- in ways that are not controllable.

2] ‘Social distancing’ and ‘flattening the curve’ loses its utility after a few weeks. Slowing the spread of a highly contagious but not-especially-lethal disease (in the absence of effective treatments or vaccines) for more than a couple of months merely prolongs the outbreak. While such measures can buy us a few weeks (at the beginning) to get things in order, find a better protocol for treatment or develop better measures to protect the most vulnerable groups etc- it cannot stop the inevitable. This becomes much more relevant once you understand that excess deaths due to ignoring other diseases and conditions, because of a misguided focus on SARS-2, will keep on increasing and quickly eclipse the extra mortality due to the later. People don’t stop having heart attacks, strokes, needing anti-cancer therapy, requiring elective surgery or receiving treatment for other acute and chronic conditions because there is a moderate pandemic of some sort. Anything which takes resources away from other medical issues will increase total mortality.

To make matters more interesting, most people above 80 who require incubation due to severe presentations of SARS-2 don’t make it- at least with currently used therapeutic interventions. This groups also makes up the majority of deaths due to that disease. At some stage, people will start asking whether intensive therapeutic interventions in severely ill people over a certain age is desirable given that it takes those resources away from people with far more treatable disease conditions. In wretched countries such as USA and India, the loss of income in a system without a decent safety net will cause additional problems such as many people being unable to purchase medications, seek medical help or even buy food. Do not, even for a minute, believe the idiots who are trying to tell you that such deprivations won’t cause widespread and violet social unrest.

Since this post is already close to 1700 words, I will stop now. In the next part we will talk about why legal enforcement of ‘social distancing’ and shutdowns are going to cause far more problems than you realize- especially after next two weeks. Will also go into why the fear of looking bad due to covid-19 deaths after shutdown is lifted might cause decision paralysis among the “credentialed” leading to further collateral damage. Might also go into the scientific and clinical evidence behind using Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine to treat SARS-2 in early stages of disease. Here is a quick spoiler, there is considerable evidence that both drugs are very effective at reducing the number of those who require hospitalization and ICU care, but only if given within first few days of initial symptoms- and this actually supports their known mode of action.

What do you think? Comments?

Assorted Observations about the COVID-19 aka SARS-2 Pandemic: 2

April 9, 2020 25 comments

In the previous post of this series, I briefly touched on some things we still don’t fully understand about the disease caused by SARS-2 virus. Also, I am going to start calling it as the SARS-2 virus instead of COVID-19 since it displays high genetic similarity (sequence homology) to the original SARS virus. Most notably, the similarity extends to the main host protein used by both viruses to enter cells, main organs affected as well as pathological changes and diseases process caused by them. Therefore, SARS-2 is best understood as a significantly less lethal but more easily spread version of the original SARS virus. This is not to say that SARS-2 evolved from SARS- far more likely, both evolved from a common ancestor. With that out of the way, let us start by talking about ventilators or why they are of limited utility- at best.

1] During the past 2-3 weeks every politician and public figure has been incessantly talking about how we need tens of thousands more ventilators. To be fair, western countries which adopted the “neoliberal consensus” over past two-three decades ended up starving their healthcare systems to vary degrees. Hence a chronic shortage of ventilators have been a fact of life for many years especially during bad influenza seasons. While we could cerainly use more ventilators, ICU beds, more hospital beds and other medical resources in general- a large increase in those resources is unlikely to have a beneficial effect on the course of the SARS-2 pandemic. Here is why..

Based on a examination of multiple studies from countries such as Italy, Spain, UK and China- it appears that ventilators (at least as they are used right now) don’t help much with the survival of the most vulnerable group of patients. Let me put it this way, about 70-80% of people of people over 80 who end up on a ventilator due to this disease die. For those between 70-80, the number is closer to 50%, while the majority of those below 60 survive their stint on the ventilator. But why do these numbers matter. Well.. because the vast majority of those ill enough to require ventilators are over 60. To be clear, I am not claiming that nobody below 60 requires a ventilator. It is just that they are a small percentage of that age group of patients.

In other words, ventilators have poor efficacy in the age group who needs them the most. Unless significantly better protocols for medical intervention in very old and ill patients are developed, we should reconsider the wisdom of putting people above 80 with serious multiple comorbidities on ventilators- especially if there aren’t enough of them. People above 80. but without significant comorbidities. and in otherwise OK health have a better than 50% chance of survival as are those between 70-80. Any body below 70 who is not in poor health has a pretty good (better than 60%) chance of coming out alive. We should make resource allocations accordingly. I am not suggesting we go all soylent-green, but a realistic assessment of the chance of survival for each patient in the ICU with SARS-2 is necessary.

2] Talking about pre-existing conditions, it seems that the previously reported strong link of poor survival to hypertension is mostly an artifact. See.. most people above 75 have a slightly higher blood pressure than what is defined as “normal”. More relevantly, there is no evidence that blood pressures upto 150/95 are associated are bad for those over 75. Indeed, supposedly healthy systolic blood pressures below 130 have a link to slightly increased in those over 75. Having said that, there is now good evidence that the link between increased mortality from SARS-2 and cardiovascular disease and Type II diabetes is real. Infact, given that ACE2 receptors (which allow the virus to infect cells) are found on the endothelial lining of most blood vessels, it appears that the quality of baseline endothelial function is a significant factor in how ill a patient will end up.

Disturbed microvascular perfusion and tiny clots in lungs which disturb normal oxygenation of blood might also explain why so many patients in ICU due this virus have normal lung tissue compliance but really low oxygen saturation in their blood. All the cytokines released due to this infection in some patients (Il-1 and Il-6) don’t help microvascular function either. To make a long story short, very impaired microvascular perfusion and oxygen exchange in the lungs due to damaged and dead endothelial (and related) cells + severe inflammation and small clots is likely what puts most people in ICU. Clearly, we need a different and better treatment protocol for this disease than treating it as if was not different from the most common presentations of ARDS.

3] With those things out of the way, for now, let us talk about therapeutic options for SARS-2. As luck would have it, the vast majority (over 80%) who are symptomatic do not require anything more than bed-rest and anti-pyretics. This is especially the case for those below 60 years, who account for the majority of population- even in old and demographically stagnant western countries. Furthermore there is emerging evidence that the number of people who develop and recover from an asymptomatic form of this disease might be far higher than previously believed. But what about all those patients (15-20 %) who have symptoms which require some degree of medical intervention? Well.. this is where things start getting controversial.

But before we go there, let me say something else about potential treatments. It is my opinion that drugs that have to be injected or biological in nature (antibodies, recombinant proteins) are unsuitable for mass treatment of this disease because quickly scaling up facilities which make injectables or antibodies/ proteins etc is not easy. This does not mean that such drugs have no role in treating this disease. It is just that they would be most useful for people who are ill enough to be in an ICU. But as I mentioned in the earlier parts of this post, most older patients who end up in ICU end up dying- at least with current treatment protocols. The key, then, is to keep as many patients from deteriorating enough to need the ICU. In other words, we require effective orally available drugs to have a significant effect on the mortality rates due to SARS-2.

So what are the options? Well.. the most hyped drug, Remdesivir, does have activity in animal models of many viral diseases including Coronaviruses. However, it cannot be administered orally and hence will be used only in very ill patients- and that is a bad thing. See.. viral infections unlike their bacterial counterparts have to be treated early since peak viral levels are reached (and most of damage has been done) around the time people are sick enough to be require hospitalization. You can see why a drug which cannot be administered orally (and therefore used only in hospitalized patients) might provide very little therapeutic benefit in later stages of the disease. Now let us talk about Chloroquine (CQ) and Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ).

While Trump haters in media and bureaucracies are trying their best to discredit CQ and HCQ, the reality is that we have known that both drugs have decent activity against coronaviruses at concentrations achievable with normal anti-malaria or lupus dosages since 2003 (link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4). It doesn’t hurt that both drugs also have an immunomodulatory/anti-inflammatory effect. Multiple reports from China (mostly preprints) strongly suggest that normally used doses of both drugs are effective at treating SARS-2 in human beings. To be more specific, they are most effective at reducing the number of people who go on to develop severe disease if given within first 4-5 days of symptoms. No serious person is suggesting that they are miracle cures for patients ill enough to need intubation and ventilators. However, it also quite obvious that they speed up recovery from disease, reduce peak viral loads and significantly reduce the risk of complications when given early. It also helps that they can be given orally and synthesized very easily and on a large scale (by the metric ton).

Since we are already past a thousand words, I Will write about other potential drugs and therapeutic options such and convalescent plasma, monoclonal antibodies and vaccines in next post of this series.

What do you think? Comments?

Assorted Observations about the COVID-19 aka SARS-2 Pandemic: 1

April 3, 2020 27 comments

Since I have been following this viral pandemic pretty closely, and actually possess professional expertise in the topic, I thought it might be an good idea to create yet another series for posting about assorted bits of news and my musings on them. With that in mind, let us start now..

1] We still do not understand why children under 10 years of age or even teens and youth under 20 seldom get seriously ill, given that cells in their bodies also express the ACE2 protein which is used by this virus to enter cells. Sure.. man in his 80s with serious cardiovascular issues might express more of that protein on their cells, but not that much more and in any case the difference is not enough to explain the very different course of infection in the below-20 vs the above-80. Variations in amount of ACE2 expression is totally inadequate to explain why many in the younger age-groups don’t even have symptoms versus why many above 80 quickly go into respiratory failure and then cardiogenic shock so quickly.

2] Many of you might also have noticed that rich and middle-class people between 20 and 80 are noticeably less likely to develop the more serious forms of the disease than the poor or working class people. Why? Why does the course of this disease vary so much with socio-economic status? What part of being from a higher social-economic status translates into the more benign form of this illness and which aspects of being poor or working-class result in a substantially higher percentage becoming seriously ill? This is especially relevant since we do not, yet, have good and specific treatments for this infection. Also, why is mortality among blacks in USA noticeably higher than whites or latinos. Yes, this observation is based on fairly preliminary data from certain states such as Michigan and New York– but it is just too obvious to ignore.

3] We also still do not know what percentage of those infected experienced an asymptomatic or mildly-symptomatic version of the disease. This is important since the vast majority of testing in western countries is still limited to those showing some symptoms, usually serious enough to seek medical attention. But we already know that a significant minority of the infected don’t even develop symptoms and then go on to develop immunity to it without experiencing the disease. What is the percentage of those who never develop even a fever or cough serious enough to seek medical attention and why is the course of the disease so mild or nonexistent in them? What makes some people resistant to the disease even if they have no prior immunity to it?

4] How many older people who died of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) due to an unidentified reason (not bacterial pneumonia, influenza etc) in the past two months in USA, and countries such as Italy or Spain, actually died from COVID-19. I suspect that the number of such deaths might be far higher than most “serious people” are willing to accept right now. There is evidence that doctors in Italy were seeing isolated cases of serious viral pneumonia that could not be attributed to influenza or other common virus, as early as November and December 2019. In USA, this is especially obvious in certain urban areas such as Cook County and New Orleans. We require far more extensive testing of the population- both for the virus and resultant antibodies.

5] If you look at the “official” symptoms of COVID-19 or SARS-2, you will see stuff such as fever, dry cough and difficult breathing. However even a cursory glance at published data and accounts of medical professionals attending them paint a different picture. For example, symptoms such as sudden loss of smell (anosmia), some GI symptoms in elderly patients, anomalously low blood pressure, puffy allergy-like eyes carry far more diagnostic significance to this disease than typical symptoms supposedly associated with it. For example, patients who display hypotension are far more likely to progress to more serious forms of the disease than those who don’t. What is the mechanism behind these unusual symptoms and their correlation with disease severity?

In the next part, I will write about potential drug therapies to treat this infection as well as possible routes for rapid vaccine development.

What do you think? Comments?

YT Clips about Problems with Current Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

March 28, 2020 27 comments

Here are a couple of interesting YouTube clips about the absolute inadequacy, and highly magical thinking underlying, current official responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first clip, Kim Iversen, correctly makes the case that the virus in question is already so well distributed in global human population that it is impossible to contain it without an effective vaccine- which won’t be available for at least a few months or a year. Her point is that you just cannot shutdown entire countries without very serious, and far worse, collateral damage to the lives of everybody else and the economy. It seems she got a lot of flack from virtue-displaying dumbfucks aka modern western nosy leftists aka proto-SJWs for pointing out the obvious.

Clip #1: Is THIS Really Our Strategy?

The second clip is about whether we should do a cost-benefit analysis for measures to control this pandemic, especially given its rather low mortality (at the population level). She correctly points out the hospitals and doctors who spend all their time on trying to help COVID-19 patients are doing so by neglecting others with much worse illness- from heart attacks and strokes to cancers. She also points out that short of shutting down the world economy till we develop a vaccine is a really bad idea with even infinitely worse consequences. Similarly the bullshit idea known as “social distancing” does not help in the long term- and, in fact, might make acquisition of herd immunity much harder. Some of you might like it, but she is correct. FYI- one of my degrees is in Microbiology and a lot of the stuff pushed by so called “experts” about controlling this pandemic has always sounded like a lot of wishful aka magical thinking to me.

Clip # 2: Plan B For #COVEXIT

What do you think? Comments?

Inept Western Response to COVID-19 Will Result in Public Backlash: 2

March 24, 2020 38 comments

In the previous post of this series, I promised to write about how the poorly thought shutdowns in combination with inadequate income support will likely cause epically bad public reactions all over USA in the next two to three weeks. Let me quickly update that prediction by saying that the bad public reactions to shutdowns in countries doing an even shittier job of income support, such as India, will be worse. Having said that, there will be far more public anger and discontent in this country than any other major developed country. So let us start talking about the many reasons that thoughtless governmental reaction to this pandemic is likely to discredit both them and other associated institutions even further.

1] One of the most important lessons that western governments have not learned is that, over past three decades, an increasing distrust of them by public as well as vastly increased flow of information makes lying a really bad choice. See.. it was far easier for governments to lie during first half of 20th century because mass media was new and people had not become so cynical and atomized. For example, analysis of the absolutely pathetic quality of military leadership during WW1 took over a decade to even begin entering into the sphere of public conversation. Something similar occurred with WW2 where it took almost two decades for critiques about it (especially for the “victorious” side) to start entering into popular culture. Public critiques about Vietnam war took a few years, Gulf War 1.0 about 2 years, Gulf War 2.0 less than a year.

But how is any of this relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic? Well.. by now I am sure you must have heard or read screeds by numerous media busybodies about how even young people can die from COVID-19 infection. This bullshit usually takes the guise of some breathlessly retweeted article about how one or two under-40s died of it in Italy or Spain, or how some unnamed doctor is tweeting about how there are many young people in the ICU because of respiratory symptoms due to this infection. But the hard data (graphed in this tweet) tell a very different story. To put it bluntly, less than 1 in 500 people under 50 years of age with symptomatic COVID-19 infection of any type (fever, cough to respiratory distress) verified by PCR -based tests end up dying. Even those under 60 experience a mortality rate of somewhere between 0.4 to 1.3%.

These patterns holds irrespective of country or continent. Don’t forget that a good percentage of infected people either don’t become symptomatic or the symptoms are mild or vague enough for them to not seek medical attention or testing. To put it another way, it is realistic to assume that the mortality rate for people with COVID-19 infection who under 50 is below 1 in 500 and likely closer to 1 in 1000, once you factor in the untested asymptomatic (or mildly symptomatic and untested) individuals. The same is probably true for those between 50 and 60 years, with the real mortality rate (for all infected individuals) in this group approaching somewhere between 1 in 200 to 1 in 400. Officials pretending that mortality is not low in individuals under 60 is going to hurt their public credibility- when they need it the most.

2] Now let us talk about the topic of money, or more specifically how most people are going to have enough money to survive let alone pay bills during this shutdown. Given that the economy and most jobs in western countries is based on mass consumption, it is darkly comic to see that not one government (even among the supposedly socialist nordic countries) seems to have a fucking clue about how they plan to replace the income of every person in their country. Yes.. you heard that right! Every person, not just every person who can file an unemployment claim. This is especially important since a pretty sizable minority of people under 40 in those countries do not have regular well-paying jobs. Given that this group is also the one least affected by COVID-19, any decrease in their already meager lifestyle will make them ask questions about the utility of boomers and older people- to put it mildly. Did I mention that western countries are already socially atomized and most of them just don’t care about old people.

Even paying 80% of the salary of those not yet been fired from jobs is insufficient. And I am also pretty sure that the neoliberal mindset which pervades political and bureaucrat types in these countries will not consider a worthwhile universal basic income (albeit, temporary) until it is too late. To put it bluntly, any governmental measure to replace lost income which does not actually put enough money in the pockets of people by mid-April in USA and mid-May in most European countries is going to be basically useless- as far as the longer term is concerned. Many idiots like to believe that crisis bring people together, however a reading of history suggest that this occurs only when the crisis is well-manged by governments in charge. Don’t believe me.. just read about what happened in the aftermath of WW1, where even countries that were on the winning side (Italy, Spain, many countries in Eastern Europe) experienced long-term civil strife which led to authoritarian governments. That is why so many dictators arose in 1920s and 1930s.

This is even more relevant today since the 2008 global financial crisis destroyed the faith of many people (especially those under 40) in the previous systems and its institutions. There is a reason why Trump is the president and Bernie can get donations from millions of supporters. Expect the trend of people under 40 (and even 50) distrusting institutions to increase, not decrease. Should also point out that a pretty significant number of those under 40 don’t have kids and family and are therefore likely to go much further than those who might have something to lose. It does not help that an open-ended shutdown of most parts of economy is a very bad idea, even when faced by something like pandemic. People will not come together in solidarity if there is no light at end of tunnel and have nothing to gain by playing nice.

Let me spell that out a bit more clearly. See.. unless most under 40s (and under 50s) see a much better future at end of this particular tunnel, they will stop complying and playing nice with the system- especially if they see no compensation for the loss caused by measures which might reduce the mortality among boomers and older people. And you can’t blame them- what do they have to lose? It should also be noted that social atomization in western countries has long since reached levels where majority of people don’t really care about their old parents. Now try making people care about the welfare of old people to whom they are not related. This is also why I believe that Trump’s idea of slowly opening economy will get far more public support than most LIEbrals realize, even if doing so resulted in the death of many old people.

Will write more in next part about why Trump’s idea of opening the economy much sooner than recommended by “credentialed experts” might actually be one of his best brainfarts. And yes, he is absolutely right to ask whether the human loss and ruin caused by shutting down the economy is worth the lives saved by controlling this specific open-ended but low-mortality pandemic.

What do you think? Comments?

Inept Western Response to COVID-19 Will Result in Public Backlash: 1

March 22, 2020 25 comments

Initially, I considered making this the next post in my previous series about how the coronavirus pandemic will cause the most damage to USA. But upon further thinking, I realized that while the USA is going to suffer the most direct and indirect damage from this pandemic, so would most other western countries- if on a smaller scale. Then it hit me.. the most important reason behind why the western countries would suffer far more damage than east-Asian counterparts has a lot to do with differences in how government is structured (and works) in those two systems. The west, especially in past four decades, have become truly capitalist in that the needs and demands of those who have capital (corporations and very rich) supersede those of everybody else. In contrast, east-Asian countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan etc are not capitalist in the same way as western counties, because the demands and needs of society will frequently supersede those of their moneyed classes. Let me explain..

1] Initially, the provincial administration in Hubei tried to first minimize and then cover-up the impact of this outbreak, but failed. Once this became obvious, the central government in China just stepped in put and put incredible amounts of physical and monetary resources to control the outbreak. Most importantly, they did it without any concern to the cost of doing so or potential economic losses which their own moneyed class might suffer. To make a long story short, they put the welfare of majority above the needs and demands of their moneyed class. Their ability to marshal resources to get personal protective gear to affected areas, stop price gouging, maintain law and order, ensure people are fed and taken care of during the ensuing lockdown, remove affected people into quarantine, start dozens of clinical trials is very impressive. Most importantly, they let people who understood the problem (medical experts in infectious diseases) make all important decisions rather than let commercial interests and local capitalists hinder or dilute their recommendations for controlling the outbreak.

But they did not stop at just epidemiological measures to control this outbreak. Soon after the central government got involves, it ordered banks to stop collecting mortgage and loan payments and well as made sure that utilities stopped collecting bills. They made sure that people did not have to worry about pay rents or not having enough money for food and other necessities. To that end, they poured hundreds of billions (at least) into their economy to make sure that people kept getting paid even when they could not work due to being under lockdown. They went so far to make sure that food was regularly delivered to apartment buildings in areas under lock-down and that important functions such as garbage collection, food transport etc were not interrupted. My point is that the Chinese government did a lot to make sure that its own people (at least the majority) did not suffer from the consequences of not being able to work or move about freely when under lockdown because of the outbreak. To summarize, they did everything a competent government which cared for its own citizens would have done.

2] Now compare this to the shitshow currently playing out in western countries. First, they were delusional enough to believe that the outbreak would not spread to the west. This was also when their presstitutes were busy writing editorials about how China’s response was either too much, too little or otherwise “not correct”. They also spent the next two months doing almost nothing useful such as developing and distributing diagnostic tests etc. Then some of these idiots were spending time fantasizing about how this outbreak would destabilize China or Iran. Of course, China has never cared about what some idiots in declining western countries have been saying about them for decades. I remember how even two weeks ago, many credentialed losers in the field of biomedical research in west were busy writing editorials about how China’s approach to testing any drug which might have some therapeutic effect in those patients was a bad idea. We now know who was right, don’t we?

But it gets worse. When it became obvious that the virus had reached and was spreading in parts of northern Italy, governments in the EU were more concerned with potential losses suffered by their capitalist minority than the health of the majority. It does not take a genius to figure out that a sharp but brief shutdown of northern Italy along with a simultaneous massive increase in testing (perhaps with kits imported from South Korea) could have prevented much of the spread we are now seeing in Europe. While Italy, Spain and some other European countries have since implemented such socialist ideas such as freezing mortgage, utility, loan and in some cases rent payments, along with income support, it took them much longer than China to take these obvious steps. My point is that they could done this much earlier and with far better outcome, but a combination of magical racist thinking, obsession with interests of capitalist minority and general lack of competent people in their bureaucracies prevented them from making the right decisions at right time. But, at least, they are finally catching up with reality.

3] The response in USA has, thus far, been the biggest shitshow of them all. And let us be honest about something else- Trump’s contribution to this farce is minor, at best. Many features of the american system which contributed to this farcical response predate Trump, in many cases by a least a couple of decades. The current round of downsizing in public health institutions began under Obama- not unlike putting brown children in cages. Similarly, many governmental programs for developing drugs to treat emerging infectious diseases have been downsized for almost a decade now. Also, institutional sclerosis which prevents the government or companies from trying out new ideas under extreme circumstances has been a feature of biomedical research in USA for over two decades. We also cannot forget how concentrating research money into a few “prestigious” universities filled with mediocre credentialed but highly politically connected researchers has destroyed the quality of research in this country.

The response in USA to this pandemic has similarly been pathetic and comically inept. They have closed down the livelihood of over 100 million people (most of whom live paycheck to paycheck) without offering them prompt economic relief in the form of no-strings attached governmental money. They are still pretending that young people have the same risk of death from infection as boomers- something, which is going to backfire real soon. They are trying to bail out corporations without making sure that average people are bailed out first. They have offered no timeline for the return of normalcy. They have offered no hope to people in the form of of-label use of drugs which might reduce mortality in high-risk groups. Trump promoting Hydroxychloroquine or Chloroquine + Azithromycin to reduce viral loads and thus mortality is the probably the only good thing that has come out of the government, so far. And ya.. there is enough evidence that these drugs have some therapeutic effect- especially if given early in course of disease.

In the next part, I will write about how the poorly thought out shutdowns in combination with inadequate income and other support for most people will likely cause epically bad public reactions all over USA in the next two weeks. And yes, I am willing to bet that the legislative critters in Washington DC won’t be able to get their shit together and pass something that will stave off the beginnings of widespread social unrest in about two weeks. FYI- two weeks is about the length of time most people in USA can go without a paycheck. Did I mention that public trust in institutions (governmental or private) has never recovered since global financial crisis of 2008.

What do you think? Comments?