Saturday, March 21, 2020

TRILLIONS! Bailouts for Airlines & Boeing and Banks? What, me worry?

== Wisdom about markets and all those concocted trillions ==

Where will we 'get' the trillions about to be thrown into the economy, to prevent a deflationary depression? Let's share some perspectives from one of the newsletters I get (and I have a column there, from time to time) - Phil’s Stock World. Phil is a master trader who grasps puts, call, hedges and all that. He has this to say about market panic right now: 

Let's say 80% of the people still get paid.  US payrolls are $6.5Tn or $500Bn a month and Bernie says give us $600Bn a month so - THANKS!  That's why Yang (and me!) is right that $1,000 a months for people over 18 (210M) would be a more realistic $210Bn a month or $2.5Tn a year, which is by no means a crazy number in a $20Tn GDP - a simple 10% VAT would take care of it and redistribute the wealth from the people who spend to the people who don't have any money." (DB note: it would have to be accompanied by increased taxes on the wealthy and yes, international wealth transparency.)  

“In any case, if we do hand out $210Bn/month for the duration (seems to be the current plan in Congress) and 80% of $500Bn a month continues to be paid out - that's $610Bn - more than people are getting paid now.  

“So there's no reason for the economy to collapse based on that though I imagine that each month 10% less people will get regular paychecks as more and more businesses begin to shut down.

“Then the real problem becomes spending.  $500Bn a month only becomes a $20Tn GDP (there's other income besides wages, of course) due to the money multiplier effect, which is roughly 3.5x.  In other words, you get paid $5 and you give it to SBUX who pays the barista who goes to the supermarket to buy a whole pound of coffee for $8 (because they are not a sucker like you!) and the Supermarket pays the cashier who combines it with food stamps (because those wages suck) and they get a turkey, etc..."

DB note: This multiplier effect is crucial. It leads to money velocity which is high when you spend billions on infrastructure jobs - long -thwarted by the GOP - and MV drops below zero for the billions handed over to the rich by Supply Side never-once-right voodoo. See below.

“So money moves through the economy and poor people spend whatever they get so they move money the best but, when you give money to rich people they put it in the bank (0x multiplier) or, even worse, they put it into an instrument that produces NOTHING and demands interest, which sucks even more money out of the economy (-0.1x).  Since the rich have 100x more than the poor - that's a lot of sucking!

Still, unless we are heading into a real Zombie Apocalypse, where humanity wiped out and replaced by a mindless hoard with no interest in food, fashion or fun - we will survive - even if surviving means locking ourselves in a bubble and shopping via Amazon drones with our Universal Basic Incomes.  

“Even THAT would still have our GDP around $12Tn, down 40% from where it was but certainly not $0 - that's why a sell-off past these levels is silly and can't last - and that's the worst possible case - the actual case is probably quite a bit better than that - we just have to get through the next few months."

DB followup points:

1) Since infrastructure jobs offer the best multiplier effect with well-paid jobs that ripple through the economy and that actually build stuff we’ll actually use for a century, can we do that EVEN DURING A PLAGUE? 

Elsewhere I offer the Pothole Gambit. Get thousands of workers busy doing a zillion repairs in our cities in small, carefully managed teams of just 2 or 3. Such jobs can be managed with a lot of “social distancing” among workers!  Hence, there is zero reason any city should have any remaining POTHOLES or bad sidewalks or ill-maintained schools after Covid 19, since small teams of 3 or so can handle such gigs. Especially if they are not only trained in sanitation but given priority testing.

Seriously, YOU should help spread this idea for how to make use of this urban down time, keep folks busy, employed and doing something useful, while staying safe.

2) We all need to realize that the Reagan and Bush and Trump Supply Side tax cut gifts to the rich were a scam robbing us and our economy of tens of trillions.  And not those fake-ghost trillions “created” by the Federal Reserve, but the real things, outright stolen from us all and plowed (as Adam Smith said the rich always do) into non-productive “rentier” investments that have zero money multipliers. Any remaining Supply Siders should be put in straitjackets and given 20 meter social distancing. Or a padded cell. Their meme plague has hurt us all.

== Bailouts? Demand equity! ==

Back in 2009, Republicans were furious when Obama and democrats ‘bailed out” US automakers to keep them out of bankruptcy and saving tens of thousands of jobs. Those “Obama bailouts” were in a few tens of billions and they were LOANS, with real ownership collateral. And all got paid back. 

Goppers had much less negative to say about the TARP programs of Obama era take-up of toxic banking assets… well, bankers and goppers overlap a lot. But even so, the US government made a lot of that money back from later sale of those assets. In other words, we had relatively sane leadership, then.

Now compare that to the screeching hypocrisy of Republicans - who are never, ever more fiscally responsible than Democrats, (and that’s never) - rushing to support TRILLIONS in wholly created “funds” to firehose at both citizens and (much more) to bail out corporate friends. 

See 'No, the airlines do not need a bailout.' Airlines who wasted almost all their profits and the 2017 tax gusher on stock buy backs that only wound up benefitting the CEO caste. Boeing wasted 43 BILLION dollars this way, that could have cushioned their current problems. (The Greatest Generation under FDR banned such buybacks, for excellent reasons that the Reaganites and worse Bushites and even worse MConnell-Putinites railed against and “reformed” away.)

In fact, okay, we must for the sake of jobs. But use the Obama pattern. Demand collateral! If they fail to pay it all back, then shareholders take the fall -- which they deserve for voting in CEOs who did those massive buybacks. If we bail out these companies to save the workers and engineers, we owe nothing to the CEO castes and greedy corporate raider types who squandered these corporate crown jewels to enrich themselves. If we must wind up co-owning Boeing and Delta, as citizens, is that such a bad thing?

See how now they are promising to stop doing the evil-stupid things, in exchange for billions of bailout… but no mention of equity shares.

Aaaaand… Nikki Haley quits Boeing board, citing disagreement with company’s bailout request. Positioning herself to say “that train-plane wreck? No, I had nothing to do with that! Make me veep!


... and finally...

== Ways to pass the time ==

Virtual Tour of Ten Museums:

and many more museums

But there's no better way than this.  ;-)

83 comments:

Chris Heinz said...

Yes, this may be Modern Money Theory (MMT)'s monent.

Re virtual tours:

http://mcn.edu/a-guide-to-virtual-museum-resources/

Alfred Differ said...

Fill the potholes, fill the cracks in the road, clean up and trim along he shoulders, fix up the parks, repair and re-level sidewalks, pick up the trash, fix the sprinklers...

...rake the forests...

Heh. Some of those don't take a lot of skill and training. Few will want to do those jobs forever, so they won't siphon useful labor away from the rest of the economy once we get past the panic and first couple of surges of infections.

I suspect some of this stuff can be done by the richer states without a federal mother-may-I.

If Progressives don't make good use of this crisis to point out our interdependencies and WHY we support each other, they shouldn't be trusted with burnt matches. Same goes for Liberals who fail to point out that we can do many of these things at local levels through community organizations with a bit of creative funding.

David Brin said...

CH in fact I am very dubious of MMT. I think it's flat out wrong and a betrayal of the democrats' generally responsible approach to Keynsian fiscal policy, saving up a little (or reducing relative debt) in good times and spending to stimulate in bad ones.

As opposed to the GOP's ALWAYS STIMULATE! mania, but doing it in ways that only enrich the rich, bring money velocity to zero, expand wealth disparities and send debt skyrocketing. And that is always. And I urge Kremlin shill goppers to take that as a bet.

Lorraine said...

I'm not sold on MMT, but I think they're right that public debt is preferable to private debt. I wouldn't go so far as saying deficits are a feature, but public debt being a lesser evil than private debt is something I hold more or less as an absolute.

duncan cairncross said...

Just a small nitpick - the "Greatest Generation" were not "in charge" When FDR banned the buybacks

They were between 9 and 40 years old - they bore the burden of WW2 - but were not the decision makers of that time

The "Greatest Generation" were in charge in the 70's and 80's when they were the 56-89 year group that has the actual power in corporations and politics

David Brin said...

Yes Duncan that's been pointed out. But the GG term and the reverence reflexively given them is polemically extremely useful. Moreover, while he lived, FDR truly was their favorite person.

Don Gisselbeck said...

I will again boldly claim that effectively none of the predator class are anywhere near as skilled and hardworking as the average Montana rancher thus none of them should be anywhere near as rich.

David Brin said...

I have no objection to a sliding scale of wealth rewarding those who work with smart engineers to develop new goods and services or deliver market efficiencies or even cater to public tastes.

But wealth tends to enable cheating... from crime and things that SHOULD be crimes all the way to just the huge advantage of hifalutin contacts and friendships.

Each zero added to the place figures in your wealth should get HARDER and be every more under scrutiny and ever more correlated with the good that your endeavors do.

duncan cairncross said...

"Each zero added to the place figures in your wealth should get HARDER and be every more under scrutiny and ever more correlated with the good that your endeavors do."

That would be negative feedback and would be stable

Unfortunately every increase in wealth makes it EASIER to get more

There used to be a theory that there was a limit to this - unfortunately the analysis that Piketty did for his "Capital in the 21st Century" - found that counterbalancing force was just a fiction

TCB said...

Washington Post: This wouldn’t have happened if Hillary Clinton had won

There were scattered warnings before Pearl Harbor and 9/11 of what was to come. But nothing like this. My Post colleagues report that throughout January and February, the U.S. intelligence community was warning Trump that the pandemic was going to hit America. “The system was blinking red,” one official said.

But Trump wasn’t paying attention. “It will all work out well,” he blithely tweeted on Jan. 24 while credulously thanking Chinese President Xi Jinping for “working very hard to contain the Coronavirus.” (A British study suggests China could have eliminated 95 percent of its cases if it had acted three weeks earlier, when a doctor first called attention to the epidemic in Wuhan.)

Because of Trump’s negligence, the United States lost two months of response time — precious days that should have been used to test the population, produce more N95 masks and ventilators, and build new hospital beds.

BUT BUT BUT HILLARY'S E-MAILS!


In 2016, Hillary's E-mails revealed that prior to a 2010 speech, she found an error the scientific experts had overlooked. Probably it was about whether vitamin A should be given to children suffering severe diarrhea. Recent research had shown it to be ineffective for that use (oral rehydration therapy is the gold standard treatment) and the paper she was about to cite didn't reflect the newer finding.

Clinton appears happy with the speech: "It is so much better — thank you," she writes. But then Clinton raises a number of questions. Most interesting, she catches what appears to be an error: "Is the Vitamin A research on p. 8 accurate given recent research that raised doubts about it [sic] efficacy?"

Hours later — and only minutes before Clinton was scheduled to speak — came a reply: "You were right about Vitamin A, no surprise (although a bit surprising that none of the experts noticed it)," Rooney writes. "I've changed it to oral rehydration therapy."

Oooohhhh SNAP.

TCB said...

How to make a cloth face mask, like they used to use before disposable ones came along. Way better than nothing. These are sterilized and reused.

Don Gisselbeck said...

Was the thin-skinned doofus negligent or was he buying time so his family and cronies could unload stock? A commentator on LGM called him "maliciously stupid".

yana said...


David Brin thought:

"Phil’s Stock World"

Huh, look at that. Never heard of Phil before this week, and there's the second reference i've seen in a week. The other one was also a trustworthy source. Might be on to something, that Phil guy.

His progression has a gritty nit, that 80% still get paid now and his delta is -10% per mens. I believe it'll be much steeper. In this disruption, the concept of 'work from home' will lose relevance. Money Velocity is not an absolute thing measured in dollars, but comes in denominations. Think about it, a single $10 bill travels through several hands each day, but a $100 bill is likely to be spent once and deposited in a bank the next morning.

Same in online commerce, the number (and value) of <100$ transactions far outweigh the number of large ones. With an emergency UBI, the denomination of Money Velocity becomes smaller. The people who have jobs which can be done from home are not in the 5-and-dime businesses, they are skewed to the more high-dollar enterprises. Trickled up, those jobs are going to be the second wave of layoffs, not in 6 months but in two.

I have to be out and about, lucky/unlucky as that may be, and what i've seen this week has been pretty interesting. Met a wide range of folks, from $100K/yr earners prosaic for the moment, to a lady who lost both her jobs driven into genuine flowing tears. Met people who would not come within ten feet of me, and 70+ y'olds who were close and downright chatty, nigh exuberant.

Met young bohemians, yes "neohippies" indeed, who are completely unconcerned. You know how sometimes parents have a Chicken Pox Party to get all the kids in the neighborhood exposed all at once and get over it? That concept is gaining currency, and very quickly. I would advise against it, but it's there and spreading fast, so keep in mind.

Started encountering hibernators almost two weeks ago, well ahead of the curve. Today, late evening, only saw four other cars in a half-hour. The 1st Saturday of Spring, and only 4 cars. Whoah. Recall 9/12, not a cloud in the sky that Weds, and not a single planetrail against the blue. That's what it was like today.

The 3 grocery stores i saw today are filling back up. Two reasons, the hoarders have run out of room and the reasonables are staying home. Pity the hoarders, those latter day Preppers, who will have to eat all that frozen crap. Two weeks ago, started to hear gossip that grocery stores were already sold out of all food, and it's still not true, so the ridiculousness of the Sudden Survivalists should be over soon. Not just ridiculous, but worthy of ridicule, it is everyone's civic benefit when you chuckle at hoarders.

95% of people are being greatly awesome about this. Years ago, worked where both the heights of the human spirit and the depths of degradation were a daily display. Seen people move far beyond how they saw themselves, learned the reasons why others turn back from the chance. This crisis is not different. 5 percent of people are going to see a better version of themselves glimmering in the tomorrow, decide that they are not worthy of being that person, and do goofy things. Mental health is always as important as medical health.

yana said...


David Brin thought:

"non-productive “rentier” investments that have zero money multipliers"

Zero might be an extreme descriptor. Credibility depends on a baseline of accuracy, perhaps "few" or "very, very few money multipliers" could be more accurate. We agree that parking money perpetuates knots of wealth genealogically to general detriment. But lessors do circulate money, of course to a far lesser extent than is healthy to an economy or a society. There is a benefit to give people an incentive to amass wealth. Rich old men are good for society because they spend on culture, and because they leave rich young men who spend faster.

The pothole idea, applause but it's not gonna fly. So many, many regulatory and liability issues, and it means crushing contracts with local public labor unions. It's just not going to happen the way you want. I'm all for it, but perhaps there's a better way to absorb excess labor. 300,000 waitresses could be answering phones at 1-800-US-COVID to reassure several million of our more skittish citizens. They're waitresses, they already know how to do the "nice voice".

Financially, what we've seen is a pullout of stocks and commodities, and some favor to cash over bonds. Not surprising, if WeWork.com hadn't collapsed in October, it would've just now. We only need to see what the world will be like in 6 months, to invest today.

In my Stock World, don't buy groceries. Grocers large enough to be traded on an exchange were the first to run out of valupak toily paper. And then the pasta/sauce, then the meat, then frozen and then dairy, and lastly the produce. Grocers are the only ones hiring, but sales will soon tank, leaving the industry with a million former bartenders as overnight re-stockers, suddenly with nothing to do.

Not that the grocers can be faulted. They see a great opportunity in a fundamentally tight labor market and are going to cull it into a crop of high quality employees, some of whom will stick around. Smart. Like Germany being open to 2 million immigrants a few years back, that was long-term smart.

In my Stock World, don't buy healthcare. Pharma and providers and insurers and drugstores have long used America as a cash cow to jockey for market share in other countries. That's about to end, because it is why our healthcare system is so inefficient. Upheaval is coming to the whole sector, and upheaval is poison to the investor.

In my Stock World, don't buy internet. Established meeds companies lost less valuation than the whole market, so they're lesser bargains. The physical climate limits clout for new designs, and dampens the spread of new apps, so breakout startups will slow.

Counterintuitive, but don't buy food, medicine or netflicks. Stocks, that is.

yana said...

So what to do with your money? If you were not part of the market selloff, just hold your stocks or Tbills. If you are a Republicheat lawmaker who got out just before the bear, spend your money on a lawyer. But if you've got clean cash, there are opportunities.

In 12 months, everything in aeronautics will have an absurd return on an investment now. When they revive, with oil at $32 a barrel, they will repay the loans we give them now, in record time.

Buy construction. Home starts are always a finnicky thicket, the people at the top of real estate development are not noted for sober decision making. Obviously the sector is tanking now, but two things are coming. First, there will be a turnover from older homeowners, leading heirs or new owners into a flurry of improvements. Next, a buttload of new health care campuses (campi, campii?) are shortly to arise. Heavy equipment manufacturers, construction companies, and building supplies. If the leftward wing of the turkey takes power later this year, then we'll finally get massive infrastructure work done at 0% interest, boosting the whole sector further.

Among Dow Ind components now, Boeing and Caterpillar are the best values. But don't be afraid of the undercard. Anything in the air or dirt is trash now but will be divine later. Just don't invest in existing property. Home Properties is traded, a big company that runs rentals across the land. But a million tenants are about to inherit houses. Kind of a comedy, to run a census now. It would be much more valuable next year.

Web services will spike, but that's already calculated into their valuation. No bargains to be had, although there is one niche with standout potential. Online education has been a solid riser past few years, and it appears that some thousands of empty dorm rooms will soon become hospital rooms. Will they turn back in September? University education with onsite residence was already on its way out, here is the kick in the dupa. Online education has not become a bargain stock, but it has a bright longterm potential.

Where the financials bleed into politics, the common assumption will still be that this shock is not the orange guy's fault. Everything was going good until... you know. If the party of sanity wants to get control, they have to paint an image easy to imagine. Like, Obama got a rusted brokedown old jalopy and painstakingly restored a 60s muscle car, then the kid down the street wraps it around a phone pole.

Looks like it's up to Biden to paint that picture. Wish he wasn't an old white man. No cost for the Bern to stay in as long as it's sans travel costs, so expect him to stay in as long as May. No fools, Biden's team will chart a low-adoption course to the more politically costly Sanders planks. But they still have to make an image people can get hold of.

After the all-clear comes, either by proclamation or vaccine or general disregard, there will still be profound changes to society. Habits will persist in distance and sanigels, and by then we'll know that covid19 will become covid21, then covid23. The message which will drown out the nutright: That muscle car was too much power for a child, and health care for the least of us is good for the most of us.

Larry Hart said...

TCB:

BUT BUT BUT HILLARY'S E-MAILS!


"Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: 'It might have been.'"

Or as a Roger Whittaker song once put it:

And will the grass be gone from underneath the sky?
Will the golden flower wither soon and die?
Will the fire burn out the land?
Will the sea fill up with sand?
Will the last word ever spoken be 'Why?'

Larry Hart said...

Don Gisselbeck:

Was the thin-skinned doofus negligent or was he buying time so his family and cronies could unload stock?


He can be two things.


A commentator on LGM called him "maliciously stupid".


Or threee.

yana said...


Last, want to pass on a new word, it might be Webster's Word Of The Year 2020 in about ten months. "Microquarantine" is when someone within a home under restrictions is confined to a single room.

David Brin said...

Wow, Yana. Interesting stuff. Thanks.

scidata said...

Just a whimsical thought on Starship SN3, now nearing flight readiness (maybe SN2 will soon appear on eBay). Musk is really pushing Raptor engine production; they're rolling off the line like Model Ts. The clean burning methane flow should allow for embedded (shrouded) use in the bottom of the Starship. I don't really understand the staged full flow design - it's weird, sort of 'turbos all the way down' [trademark]. I suspect that Musk is trying hard to make Starship look less like a missile and more like the beautiful finned, view-ported, glistening, clean-lined ships of 1950s sci-fi book covers and movies. Might I suggest a spaceship-and-sun logo. It's pretty neat. This guy truly gets the psychological-gut-gonad side of space exploration, which is how the red state romanticists will ultimately be won over. He's turning Texas blue. Maybe he can build a site in Kentucky or Cape Hatteras.

David Brin said...

scidata, beautiful notions. Some of you appear to be waxing poetical in the plague year.

Larry Hart said...

I passed the link about making cloth masks on to my wife. She's way ahead of me--already part of an online group dedicated to sewing such masks. She also told me that when she went shopping for the materials a few days ago, they were already hard to come by.

Way back when the earth was cooling last week, when I still went into the office, some of us were bandying humorous ideas around at the level of "Alcohol kills viruses, so be sure to keep drinking." One of my colleagues mentioned that salt is a way of killing viruses, so he wanted to keep eating salted sunflower seeds. I told him he'd better not spread that around, or the next thing you know, sunflower seeds will we gone off of store shelves.

Acacia H. said...

Query for the physicians among you... given there is no viral treatment for COVID-19, what is the best treatment for someone with shortness of breath and/or fluid in the lungs at this point? Outside of going to the hospital, that is.

Acacia

David Brin said...

Acacia, I’ve been working with Peter Diamandis and his team in discussions about a possible "Ventilator Xprize" that might propel innovation in do-it-yourself (DIY) respiration assistance. Here’s a video of project already underway, by my friend Steve Harrington at Flometrics. His prototype is made entirely from parts obtainable from Lowes:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=036UAwQ6PZw&authuser=0 and the writeup :
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Tjte77PRUQlOjLPXg_dQXKG8pi-QqPIj/view

As for the produce apocalypse...

Our garden produces one leafy green copiously, year round. Kale. Go figure. Getting some lettuce now. Soon artichokes. But VERY far from self-sufficient. Must buy a herd of goats. WHile money is still good.

Alfred Differ said...

Acacia,

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html

Don Gisselbeck said...

I'm curious about which of Jim Wright's demands would be acceptable to the defenders of the predator class on this blog. https://www.facebook.com/100000762374540/posts/2868471369854914/

duncan cairncross said...

As far as stocks and shares go - I don't have any spare cash and I'm NOT going to borrow to buy shares but if I did have some spare cash I would take advantage of the drop in price of Tesla shares

locumranch said...


Although it seems like a throw-away, David's quip about 'While the money is still good' points to a very unpleasant underlying reality:

Money has no inherent value.

People like Yana assume that currency has either objective or intrinsic value, even when it does not. It possesses proxy value, but only as a relative medium of exchange between the supply of goods, the availability of services & the need for human labour.

Alter this relationship one bit, as in case of quantitative easing, confiscatory taxation or universal basic income, and money may cease to have predictable value, insomuch as taxes, quantitative easing & universal basic income distort the relative relationship between currency, goods, services & labour.

What happens next to the cost of healthcare or a loaf of bread is anyone's guess.

And, if you disagree with my assessment, consider this:

The current value of a fancy dine-in restaurant meal is ZERO, mostly because dine-in restaurant meals are not presently available during the COVID-19 scare.


Best

Pachydermis2 said...

Acacia

Take all health advice over the internet with considerable skepticism. I was pretty smart once but even then I knew not to try and diagnose remotely.

New shortness of breath actually is a rather ominous thing. Chronic issues maybe not so much. If for instance a person has known asthma and is having a tough day that's different. Many such have back up meds such as prednisone on hand.

The problem is that shortness of breath is non specific. Is it heart failure, kidney failure, lung infection and if so bacterial/viral/fungal? No one treatment fits all and most of the things that are of use can't be done at home. There is even, as I strive for completeness, anxiety to factor in.

If you are speaking for yourself and actually sick, get looked at. Many clinics are "clearing the decks" by cancelling elective stuff and it may be that your local health care system is still operational.

Odds of it being coronavirus or something worse (and there are worser things!) are small, but depending on your age and where you are, perhaps non trivial.

TW

David Brin said...

DonG who are you accusing of being defenders of the predator caste?

I posted this an hour ago on FB:

"Marat don't make us wait anymore..." Play the song.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvW2v9dUjI8

And know that Millions, soon billions, may be eagerly quaffing bitter brews of revolution. Oh, that’s not yet “written.” But take it from this expert futurist that there are four roads in front of us. Just four.

(1) First, the stupid half of the oligarchy succeeds in their overwhelmingly blatant putsch, re-establishing the horrifically moronic governance model - feudalism - that mangled nearly all of the last 6000 years;

(2) Or else… the VERY stupidest oligarchs get their own masturbation-fantasy, an apocalypse. One that they are so sure their wealth and prepper obsessions will help them to ride out, having spent billions on Patagonian, Siberian and sea-state redoubts.

(3) Or… getting around to the Judy Collins song… pushed to the edge (and maybe over) we who survive will remember the spirit of 1789 (since the oligarchs seem determined to cancel 1776 and 1865). Realizing we’ve been left no other course we drop the sophisticated version of ‘revolution’ that made America a wonder. Instead, tumbrels roll, guillotines flash… and missiles will strike every one of those ‘hidden’ aristo-prepper redoubts. We - the smart people - know where they all are. And we’re the fact folks who know nuclear physics, genetics, cybernetics and all the rest. Mere boffins my ass.

(4) Or else… finally… the smarter zillionaires realize that it has come to this, and they choose to side with us, much in the same way that the smarter rich dudes - both out of decency and fear of Marx - sided with FDR and the Greatest Generation to reform it all, vesting average citizens with a stake and real power, so that the rich could remain pretty darn rich in a society of justice and progress and science and decency.

And yes, if we are helped past the Putin-Murdochian-salafist putsch by aristos who do have neurons and foresight and step up, to help us survive the imbecilic ones, then we all do have a chance for a mighty and wondrous future. And perhaps win the Galaxy.

A silver lining to the Stupidgarchs’ all out war against smart people - civil servants, intel folks, scientists etc. - is that the latter folks have no more illusions who the enemy is. A world mafia run out of more than just Moscow. In my novel EXISTENCE I portray one way the smarter rich might choose not to let the stupid ones drag them down, into hell.

Play the song.

Acacia H. said...

My friend has fluid in his lungs. This happened a couple days ago. He's avoided coughing to aggravate the issue, and has also avoided taking NSAIDs ever since he detected the fluid. We can hear this as when he tries to exhale, he is fine until near the end when he has a wheeze. He also had an aggravated snore the first day of having fluid in his lungs. He does not want to go to the hospital and wants to avoid ventilators at all cost. (Now we make sure he sleeps at an incline to avoid having it aggravate.)

He's had few symptoms. If anything, my symptoms have been more severe (occasional cough, chills, dizziness, and fatigue). Seeing my friend is stubborn, I would much rather make sure he doesn't get worse and keep an eye on him. My thoughts at talking to Contrary Brin here was to listen to professionals and see what they would recommend (outside of going to the hospital which is not going to happen).

As an aside, I have a theory about the potential negative impact of NSAIDs with COVID-19. The virus may be causing inflammation of the lungs. NSAIDs are anti-inflammatory in nature. Well, isn't inflammation caused by increased fluid intake in the cells? If lung cells are inflamed, then using an NSAID would reduce the fluid in those cells... and that fluid could be excreted into the lung itself and thus create pneumonia-like symptoms.

This is one of the reasons I've avoided ibuprofen like the plague during this time, even though Tylenol doesn't work on me.

Acacia

David Brin said...

Alas, Don G, this is not a time when Jim Wright’s propensity for dramatic revolutionary rhetoric is much use.
NOT bailing out such companies screws the workers and the economy, as would have happened when the GOP in 2009 said “let US automakers sink!”

What Democrats did instead was to couch many of the bailouts as SECURED LOANS, with the stockholders and managers taking the brunt of the risk. Fail to pay back (the automakers did pay back) and the equity goes to the US taxpayer.

Oh, I was furious that large parts of the 2009 bailouts WEREN’T like that!. But we even made back some of the money from TARP ‘toxic assets.”

What’s needed is an agency the PRE-sets up such interventions as insurance policies that are required of major too-big-to-fail corporations, the way consumer banks must buy into FDIC. And the CEOs etc who guided insanities like Boeing’s 43$billion stock buyback should be personally liable for all of their wealth.

And sure, Jim Wright’s prescription could be viewed as a simplified version of that.

David Brin said...

BTW, who was that fellow pretending to be locumranch? While dyspeptic and sour, he actually said things vaguely pointed toward .... valid enough for sane conversation and argument? Give us locum back!

TCB said...

So that open source ventilator uses a shop vac. I was wondering if it needed oxygen, but I guess not. Sooooo...

You could rig up car or truck innertubes or tires to provide a few minutes' worth of pressurized air, if for whatever reason you lost power for a while or had one shop vac for multiple patients. It seems to me.

Also, how about respirators that use the same sort of mask and check valves, but run to a backpack made from a pillowcase, inside which is two top-grade furnace or air purifier filters such as these, facing each other, taped together, and the air drawn from a plenum between.

I suspect you could get many days of good use out of a respirator like that before the filters crap out (they are meant to last two or three months in a furnace). Still have to clean the mask etc.

David Brin said...

Design guru Don Norman suggests a design principle: "We do the MVP approach” The minimally viable product that handles some % of the need — perhaps just the easy cases - freeing up the expensive machines for the hard cases."

The 1st stage Flometrics design uses maybe $150 in parts readily available but can't help anyone having trouble voluntarily breathing or needing oxygen. Our next step is to go further... but still a long way from a full ICU ventilator.

TCB said...

...actually, an air mattress holds even more air, and the patient's own weight will create the pressure. And some people have these self-inflating air beds around, which are functionally like a shop vac with a reservoir. Pretty sure there's an old one in my closet.

David Brin said...

Bagpipes?

duncan cairncross said...

Bagpipes!
You are going to scare the virus into submission

scidata said...

Is anyone working on an artificial lung (membrane oxygenator)? Surely there's been some progress since the 1800s. The bagpipes suggestion jolted me from Starship dreams into more immediate needs. My heart is in the highlands where ever I go, but my ears definitely are not.

Howard Brazee said...

First, *never* consider helping shipping companies using foreign flags or don't follow U.S. labor laws. And second, if a company is too important to be allowed to fail, it should be nationalized.

Don Gisselbeck said...

I'm probably overreacting, but any defense of the Republican party is defense of the predator class.

Darrell E said...

scidata said...
"I don't really understand the staged full flow design - it's weird, sort of 'turbos all the way down' [trademark]"

Full flow staged combustion is sort of the holy grail of chemical rockets because it gets the most energy possible out of ALL of the propellants. Rocket engines use propellants at a prodigious rate, so prodigious that just the propellant pumps themselves take a huge amount of power. The methane pump on the Raptor requires 25 MW (37,550 hp) and the oxygen pump requires 34 MW (45,590 hp). That's the power required just to get the go-juice into the combustion chamber at the rate and pressure required to run the engine.

An interesting comparison, the Rocketdyne F1 engine used on the 1st stage of the Apollo stack was much larger than the SpaceX Raptor and had a thrust to weight ratio of 94.1 and the pumps together required 41 MW. The much smaller Raptor has a t/w of >170 and the pumps together require 59 MW.

The way rockets power their pumps is to combust some of the propellant in what are typically called "pre-burners" and run the pumps off of these pre-burners. The pre-burners are basically small rocket engines that run at lower temperature and pressure than the main rocket engine. In the simplest designs the exhaust gases from the pre-burner(s) are simply dumped into the exhaust nozzle. This is inefficient in that there is still potential energy that could be extracted from those exhaust gases since the pre-burners are not capable of running efficiently enough (hot enough, high enough pressure) for the most efficient combustion possible.

More efficient designs recycle the byproducts of the pre-burners and combust them in the main combustion chamber along with the virgin propellants pumped in by the pumps. There is a pump for each propellant and a pre-burner for each pump. The fuel side pre-burner runs fuel rich and the LOX side pre-burner runs oxygen rich. There have previously been designs flown that fully recycle either the LOX side or the fuel side, but not both. The Russian RD-180 used on the Atlas V is an example of a LOX side, or oxidizer-rich, staged combustion engine. The Space Shuttle Main Engine RS-25 is an example of a fuel side, or fuel-rich, staged combustion engine. These designs are called "Staged Combustion" designs referring to some of the propellants being burned in stages, 1st in a pre-burner and then again in the main combustion chamber. The Raptor is the first design that has flown that fully recycles both sides, and that's why it's called a "Full Flow" Staged Combustion engine.

David Brin said...

DG and where have I or any of the normal folks here "defended the Republican Party"?

Adam Smith? Sure, I've done that. Fiscal responsibility and some other classic 'conservative' values? Yep All of which have been utterly betrayed by the undead were-elephant, a rabid-vampire zombie pachyderm that needs extinction if America, the world, creative-competitive enterprise, freedom and even decent conservatism are to thrive.

Mick Darling said...

David, you need to get on Fox News and pitch the Pothole solution. Talk about potholes, and schools, and forestry management, anything you can think of. But, the more you talk about potholes and sidewalk repair and everything that might increase the value of Trumps real estate the better. Repeat the concept a half dozen different ways and make it clear it will allow the government to pay to increase the value of our buildings. Trump would eat it up and run with it. It has to be Fox News and you may have to dodge and weave other topics but if you can get booked it could really make a difference to the country.

David Brin said...

I do NOT vouch for this! But as unsubstantiated things go, it seems reasonable to heed one of the more interesting (or amusing or both) anecdotal reports... that losing your sense of smell may be a key early harbinger of COVID. I mean, it hurts nothing to sniff a garlic daily. Unless you are a vampire ;-)

https://futurism.com/neoscope/doctors-first-symptom-sense-of-smell?mc_cid=0704319fa6&utm_term=0_03cd0a26cd-0704319fa6-245786297&utm_medium=email&mc_eid=67de8498f4&utm_source=The%20Future%20Is&utm_campaign=0704319fa6-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_03_23_06_59

David Brin said...

MD... Alas, my 'reach' in getting ideas out there is limited. You all can help by cross posting. Otherwise, I am at a loss.

Acacia H. said...

Just as a heads up, I contacted my physician's office today. They took my information and then said a nurse practitioner would call me back. Several hours later, she did and I learned that unless I was someone at-risk of significant complications of COVID-19, I would not be tested for this. Further, she also let me know that this thing hit at the same time another virus was making its way around with remarkably similar symptoms.

I'm to self-quarantine for 14 days from when I started having symptoms (fatigue last Thursday). The same holds true for my flatmate (who has fluid in his lungs but is still breathing okay). And I was told to take Dayquil and Nightquil. (When I mentioned I was taking Tussin I heard her flinch over the phone as she feels it tastes truly wretched. Given how bad Dayquil and Nightquil tastes... that's saying something!)

Meanwhile Trump is talking about easing back on isolation measures after 14 days because the impact on the economy will be worse for long-term isolation until an effective vaccine and/or treatment is found than allowing 4 million people die of this thing. I can only guess that his children and those who married into his family have invested heavily into the funeral industry.

I have two friends who are immuno-compromised. I've a former friend who is obese, severely asthmatic, and has two elderly parents who will die if they contract this. This can be laid FULLY on Trump's doorstep. Yet there are Bernie Bros who are claiming Biden is Trump. I swear, the worse thing that Sanders could have done for this country is run for President this time around. He's more divisive than a bunch of fanficcers quarreling over whose ship is most valid, and his supporters are about that mature.

*sigh* Ah well. I hope you all stay healthy and safe. :) And that goes for *all* of you.

Acacia

David Brin said...

Good luck Acacia!

TheMadLibrarian said...

DH's shop, which has 2 3D printers, has downloaded from Thingiverse blueprints for creating commonly used ventilator parts, and can crank out 1 an hour from each machine, if there turns out to be a need for it. On the not so nice hand, in Italy where they are running short of said parts, someone reverse engineered one of the required valves and started cranking them out on their 3D printer because the supplier couldn't provide enough. The valve patent owner is charging them with patent infringement.

Larry Hart said...

Acacia:

Given how bad Dayquil and Nightquil tastes... that's saying something!)


I don't know what to say, but for what it's worth, Dayquil and Nyquil are available in caplet form, which don't taste like much of anything.

Get well.

Thin Spirit said...

A federal appeals court in New York on Monday let stand a ruling that prevents President Trump from blocking critical voices from the Twitter account he uses to communicate with the public.
The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit denied the Trump administration’s request to revisit an earlier holding that Trump violated the First Amendment when he blocked individual Twitter users who were critical of the president or his polices.


https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/legal-issues/trump-cannot-block-critics-on-twitter-federal-court-affirms-in-ruling/2020/03/23/83ac302c-6d0b-11ea-a3ec-70d7479d83f0_story.html

PS Serves him right. That treasonous hypocrite.

But it seems... there is precise system in this madness.

The Trump administration barred a top US disease expert from speaking freely to the public after he warned the coronavirus might be impossible to contain

Fauci's public remarks on the novel coronavirus in recent days have struck a markedly different tone from those delivered by Trump, who has played down the likely impact of the illness COVID-19 and is reportedly concerned that negative messages from public officials will spook financial markets.

...

Trump on Wednesday said the US was "rapidly developing a vaccine" for the coronavirus and "will essentially have a flu shot for this in a fairly quick manner." But in an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, Fauci had said the process of developing a vaccine could take up to a year and a half.

...

"Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama trusted Tony Fauci to be their top adviser on infectious disease, and the nation's most trusted communicator to the public," Ronald Klain, who led the Obama administration's response to the 2014 Ebola crisis, also said.

"If Trump is changing that, it is a threat to public health and safety."
!!!

https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-anthony-fauci-trump-admin-stops-discussion-2020-2

Luís Salgueiro said...

Hi

My name is Luís Salgueiro, and I'm a family doctor from Portugal I usually only lurk here and haven't posted in years.

Regarding loss of smell the analysis of confirmed infected and interned patients in my local university hospital (unpublished data) suggests higher prevalence of loss of taste end smell in SARS COV-2+ patients compared with other interned patients. It is not pathognomonic but should raise suspicion. It is a more common sign than either cough, fever or shortness of breath. I’m currently in quarantine because of contact with another doctor that became sic with covid19 she reports that most striking feature was the sudden loss of smell. Also, diarrhea seems to be prevalent. The official symptoms in confirmed tested positive patients are as follows:

Cough: 70%
Fever: 58%
Muscle pain: 42%
Headache: 34%
Weakness: 27%
Shortness of breath: 24%

@Acacia – if you have shortness of breath and is worsening you should insist with your family doctor. Shortness of breath is a subjective symptom, but you can easily verify your oxygen levels with a small cheap device called pulse oximeter it costs around 20 dollars. Normal is >95% and lower than 90% is bad.
There is no specific treatment for SARS COV-2 however hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine are being used experimentally, but you should consult a doctor before using any medication.

@DrBrin – Cheaper ventilators are needed, my government just paid 20k per ventilator. However, what we really need is an advanced AI to help triage, decide what patients to test and how best to model the course of the disease.

Stay safe everyone

A.F. Rey said...

Discipling my son has gotten worse these past few days.

He was acting up the other day, so I threatened to ground him. He told me, "What do I care? The Government's already done it!" Didn't have an answer to that one. :(

Fortunately, he's 23 and has a black belt in Tang Soo Do, so it isn't much of a problem anymore (except for how to keep him from acting up). :)

Acacia H. said...

Yeah. When I talked to the nurse practitioner, she mentioned that there are *two* viruses with similar symptoms hitting at the same time. Heh, Plague Inc. should include such a scenario - competing viral/bacterial infections. ;)

The problem is there is a shortage of COVID-19 tests. It seems *someone* who shouldn't be in the White House dropped the fucking ball. You know, the same someone who is freaking about the Stock Market crashing and is insisting "one percent dead isn't that bad, the economy is more important" while his talking allied sphincters are claiming "old people would rather die than watch their grandchildren suffer economic hardship!"

Well, let me set things straight. I feel like crap. I feel like crap that someone stepped in and then scraped off in the sand. And I'm not bad enough to require hospitalization (though I suspect if I was living alone and less ornery I might have gone to the hospital). (If you put enough pillows behind you, you can have a nice elevated bed to sit/sleep in!) If someone were in worse shape? They will die gasping for breath and in pain and misery all because the Cheeto in Chief is afraid of stock market numbers.

More, it's easy to say "only 1% of the population will die" but let's parse that into real-life numbers. Three million people, minimum, will die. It won't be fast deaths. It will be lingering painful deaths. Many of these people won't be in hospitals. Some will die in alleyways and in cars in parking lots because they have no homes. Others may end up abandoned in nursing homes as employees flee those as more and more people become critically ill. And people will be left to die from *other* conditions.

That 1% is a second-to-best-case-scenario. If this spreads too fast, it's 4% of the population. That's 12 million people. And of those who "recover" well, some will never fully recover. They'll always face shortness of breath and a broken immune system. There will be walking wounded from COVID-19 because someone in charge felt money was more important than lives.

A good number of those who die will be nurses, doctors, and support personnel who are so busy trying to save lives that their own immune systems are compromised and they succumb as well. America's health care system will be fractured and it will take *a decade at least* before it recovers.

And that ignores the fact that COVID-19 may mutate into COVID-20 or COVID-21 and in a couple years sweep across the world to kill those wounded by COVID-19 and do the next culling of the world's population... including another 4% or more of the U.S. population. It will most likely be 10% if the Cheeto in Chief manages to get another four years in office.

Acacia.

Don Gisselbeck said...

Sorry that my inept phrasing implied that you would in any way support the predator class. Some of your latest Facebook posts sound quite revolutionary. Many of the excerpts I've read from locum really can have no other meaning. The inability to find a redline in theast decades of Republican party actions can mean nothing else.

TCB said...

@ Acacia, the researchers are VERY interested in knowing whether SARS-CoV-2 aka COVID-19 mutated before or after it jumped to humans.

Based on their genomic sequencing analysis, Andersen and his collaborators concluded that the most likely origins for SARS-CoV-2 followed one of two possible scenarios.

In one scenario, the virus evolved to its current pathogenic state through natural selection in a non-human host and then jumped to humans. This is how previous coronavirus outbreaks have emerged, with humans contracting the virus after direct exposure to civets (SARS) and camels (MERS). The researchers proposed bats as the most likely reservoir for SARS-CoV-2 as it is very similar to a bat coronavirus. There are no documented cases of direct bat-human transmission, however, suggesting that an intermediate host was likely involved between bats and humans.

In this scenario, both of the distinctive features of SARS-CoV-2's spike protein -- the RBD portion that binds to cells and the cleavage site that opens the virus up -- would have evolved to their current state prior to entering humans. In this case, the current epidemic would probably have emerged rapidly as soon as humans were infected, as the virus would have already evolved the features that make it pathogenic and able to spread between people.

In the other proposed scenario, a non-pathogenic version of the virus jumped from an animal host into humans and then evolved to its current pathogenic state within the human population. For instance, some coronaviruses from pangolins, armadillo-like mammals found in Asia and Africa, have an RBD structure very similar to that of SARS-CoV-2. A coronavirus from a pangolin could possibly have been transmitted to a human, either directly or through an intermediary host such as civets or ferrets.

[...] If the SARS-CoV-2 entered humans in its current pathogenic form from an animal source, it raises the probability of future outbreaks, as the illness-causing strain of the virus could still be circulating in the animal population and might once again jump into humans. The chances are lower of a non-pathogenic coronavirus entering the human population and then evolving properties similar to SARS-CoV-2.

In other words, we hope it mutated AFTER crossing over to humans. We can stamp it out and it probably won't come back. If it mutated before, then it will still be out there in some natural reservoir, still dangerous, waiting.

David Brin said...

Thank you Dr. Salgueiro!

AFR our kids have 2nd degree Tang Soo Do belts.

DG no sweat.

Acacia we are pulling for you!

TCB your scenarios omit the obvious one, arising from the fact that Wuhan holds China's only P4 contagion research facility and (I'm told) the bat viru most similar is from bats in a region far from Hobei. Draw inferences for betting purposes... NOT for conclusions.

locumranch said...


Now that the COVID-19 virus has escaped quarantine, Dr. Salgueiro well knows that further viral testing is both futile & unnecessary, mostly because test results do not effect treatment options.

It makes no difference as to whether or not an individual tests positive or negative for COVID-19 when the only medical treatment that science has yet to offer is SUPPORTIVE CARE, aka 'rest, fluids, antipyretics & respiratory assistance'.

We can also 'rule out' Flu A & B and treat secondary bacterial infections, but every other proposed intervention for COVID-19 is unscientific emotionalism driven by panic & unrealistic expectations.

As exemplified by the deranged PBS News Hour announcer tonight, those who demand a "100% safety guarantee" before resuming normal activities are 100% delusional, leaving President Trump (with his acceptable risk realism) as one of the few adults left in the room.


Best

David Brin said...

"Now that the COVID-19 virus has escaped quarantine, Dr. Salgueiro well knows that further viral testing is both futile & unnecessary, mostly because test results do not effect treatment options."

Any excuse for indolence and dyspeptic laziness. Oh, no, tracking spreaders and hotspots won't do any good! Finding virus free zones where the economy can be allowed some leeway, that can't matter. Getting the pandemic data we need in order to understand this and future events... nah.

I could name a dozen ways that the wide testing - that we could have had if not sabotaged by a screeching-stupid traitor president and screeching insane traitor party - would have been useful six... or four, or two weeks ago, or even now. Only here's the crux. Locum could name them, too. He just says shit. Because he can.

Acacia H. said...

I personally wish I knew for certain if I was suffering from COVID-19 or something else. Why, you ask? Because once I recover from this, if it was COVID-19, I could help at-risk people by buying groceries and running errands for them! I could also help the sick and those at risk of spreading the disease!

Oh, wait. Locu doesn't believe in the basic trappings of civilization. I forgot, I forgot. So basic human decency and kindness is sort of beyond his comprehension.

When chatting with my flatmate, he admitted he deliberately went out to be exposed to this early on for a specific reason: he wanted to come down with this sooner, when the hospitals still have beds available and grocery stores still have most food products, rather than later when there may be shortages on hand. I did tell him next time something like this happens I'm duct-taping him to the chair for a couple weeks. ;) He had a good laugh over that, but I'm fairly serious about that. My poor dog has been without company for the last couple of days as I've hibernated in my upstairs bedroom and he's not allowed up here (he gets bored and then finds mischief to get into). Our cat has also been going nuts lately out of boredom so... yeah.

But on the plus side, I'll be there for people in need later on. In a couple more weeks I'll be able to donate blood plasma (AB+ isn't exactly in demand but our plasma is quite valuable apparently). So a little misery now just means I'll be there for people later.

Try that, Locu - being there for people. Who knows, maybe your metaphorical heart will grow a couple sizes and you'll realize there's more to humanity than your cynicism believes.

Acacia who kind of feels guilty as after she admitted to being sick, the commentary here kind of just fizzed out....

A.F. Rey said...

AFR our kids have 2nd degree Tang Soo Do belts.

Cool. My son would have had a 1st degree black belt, but he got a cold the weekend of the test. Then he transferred to SDSU and didn't have the time for classes anymore. :( Perhaps after he graduates...

TCB said...

I'm no expert, but I gather that people who are experts have concluded that COVID-19 is NOT deliberately or accidentally man-made.

In the months since COVID-19 turned up in Wuhan, China, speculations have popped up around its origins, with some wondering whether the strain stemmed from a lab escape or alternative non-natural source.

The researchers' analyses argue against that possibility, pointing instead to human infections stemming from either pathogenic SARS-CoV-2 viruses that were transmitted from an animal vector to humans or from initially non-pathogenic forms of the virus that evolved in humans to become pathogenic — possibilities that will be explored further in the future.

These are not MY scenarios. I'd happily blame all this on inept Chinese researchers, but short of getting an advanced medical degree myself, I gotta assume this new reporting is more accurate and they are off the hook.

The Chinese government is NOT off the hook, however. Their initial secretive/punitive response was a bungle, if not of Trumpian proportions... I read somewhere that they could have prevented 95% of their deaths by responding openly and swiftly instead of silencing the first doctor who tried to warn the public. The late Doctor Li Wenliang has been officially vindicated but it looks like they'll just punish some low-level officials.

Between them, the authoritarians in Beijing and Washington and a number of other capitals have guaranteed a global crisis and almost certainly a Second Great Depression.

TCB said...

Sounds like good news: Scientists say the coronavirus is not mutating quickly and might respond to a single vaccine

Pachydermis2 said...

David

Everyone is a little on edge these days, but sometimes I have to chide a bit. Locum knows whereof he speaks. And with the available info (always wishing there was more and better) you are being.....anti scientific.

First things first, even the rather Trump unfriendly Politifact rates the claim that Trump fired the pandemic team and shunned WHO test kits as "mostly false".

https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/17/instagram-posts/celebrities-are-sharing-misleading-post-about-trum/

It's not as if WHO is some sort of super medical Amazon where you order things and they show up on the doorstep of the WH! They are a clearing house for info, offering what other countries have done for testing as guidance. The CDC decided to create their own test. You and I both respect the science and dedication of the CDC, but they did not shine with this one. The CDC test had lots of false positives, detecting other viral entities. As such it looks as if they held it back from wider release.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/cdc-created-covid-19-testing-criteria-that-masked-the-numbers-contracting-the-coronavirus-in-us-2020-03-23

The CDC is not perfect. I don't expect them to be. But honestly, false positives are not the issue. It's false negatives. If you don't have a way to determine if an individual is "all clear" then you will not be able to track disease flow or to eliminate hotspots. I'm not talking about the sick on a ventilator person who is going to get max precautions and care anyway, I'm talking about the health care worker with minimal symptoms who then goes back to work....or a dozen other scenarios with people well intended or dumber than a box o' rocks. So....what is the real false negative rate of asymptomatic Covid-19 testing? It's a hard question to answer. Some tests require a deep nasal swab that patients might refuse (see box/rocks). But the numbers I was able to parse out were concerning...

Early tests in China had at least a 3% false neg rate based on people who later tested positive. A better study of people who were severely ill showed initial negative results despite classic findings in an epidemic setting...with 7% later developing confirmatory antibodies. But these were people intensely tested and in situations where refusing a deep NP swab or bronchial lavage were not on the table. One study I looked at suggested that in mildly ill people the false negative rate could alarmingly be as high as 30%.

Here in WI we have competent public health services and a bit of lead time. The current positive rate of Covid testing is 5%. But....there was a disturbing bump in "influenza like illness" with negative influenza testing starting in January.

Well, those are numbers. I'd frankly prefer that we be "in this together" rather than using hard times to continue to flog our political opposite numbers.

The advice of people (Locum and your humble correspondent) who have actually been in the ER front lines for a few epidemics are worth consideration if you indeed are interested in hearing from Fact Using People. If you just wanna Screed, well it is your blog.

TW



Zepp Jamieson said...

$2T bill bans bailouts for properties of Trump, Pence, cabinet or Congress.
https://www.alternet.org/2020/03/1143005/

Thank you, Democrats.

Larry Hart said...

locumranch:

Now that the COVID-19 virus has escaped quarantine, ...

...leaving President Trump (with his acceptable risk realism) as one of the few adults left in the room.


The so-called "adult in the room" is responsible for the fact that the virus has escaped quarantine.

Thus, the Republican strategy. "We made sure the country is in such bad shape that it simply isn't possible to hold an election in which we could be held accountable. Leaving us in charge is the only option.

Guillotine futures rose sharply in morning trading...

Acacia H. said...

Given new research into the virus behind COVID-19 shows it is fairly slow to mutate, it seems likely that of the two scenarios in TCB's article, the first is more likely - an already-highly-contagious and potentially deadly version of the virus exists among an animal vector and managed to make the leap to humans. As such, if another outbreak hits before a proper vaccine is developed, I suspect we'd have a greater mortality rate as COVID-20 or COVID-21 ravages those with weakened lungs and immune systems from a moderate COVID-19 infection.

Though it also depends on which country gets infected. Thanks to Trump, I'm willing to bet if COVID-20/21 finds its way to the U.S., it would sweep across our nation as he dithered and played his metaphorical stock market fiddle. But nations such as Italy, South Korea, and Japan will likely have planned for this and will institute new quarantine procedures to stop it before it spreads far.

Acacia

scidata said...

TCB: Sounds like good news...
You had me at "Scientists say"


"Easter is very important to me."

Perhaps the most cynical, vicious, evil sentence ever uttered in the sordid history of demagoguery.
The abyss is gazing back - bigly. Hypatia weeps.

Larry Hart said...

Acacia:

When chatting with my flatmate, he admitted he deliberately went out to be exposed to this early on for a specific reason: he wanted to come down with this sooner, when the hospitals still have beds available and grocery stores still have most food products, rather than later when there may be shortages on hand.


So, did he get you sick?


Our cat has also been going nuts lately out of boredom so... yeah.


How can you tell? :)

Larry Hart said...

TCB:

I'm no expert, but I gather that people who are experts have concluded that COVID-19 is NOT deliberately or accidentally man-made.


Which is good, because "It was deliberatly engineered by the Chi-coms" has become a right-wing talking point, and I'd hate to agree with them.

At first, I jumped to the same conclusion, but once I heard Limbaugh foaming at the mouth about it, I needed a drink and a shower.

Jon S. said...

Tim, Trump did indeed fire the NSC team responsible for pandemic response - unless, of course, you don't believe the President of the United States can be held responsible for actions committed by his administration. (Technically, it was John Bolton who fired them, but at the time Donnie praised the action as a cost-cutting measure.)

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/trump-fire-pandemic-team/

I also recall Donnie's comments at the time the outbreak began. He did indeed refer to the virus itself as a "hoax", and intimated that this "hoax" was being spread by the Chinese and Congressional Democrats specifically to embarrass him. He tried to slice and dice his words later to claim he'd only referred to Democrats as a "hoax", but that doesn't even make sense - people who actually exist and are talking to you can't be a "hoax" unless you're on an old episode of Scooby Doo.

Acacia H. said...

Larry, I'd say he didn't get me sick, seeing that his symptoms arose a day or two before mine. So I probably got exposed when doing grocery shopping. It also doesn't help that my hot water heater has been dead for months so my hand-washing routine is not as extensive as it could be (ice-cold water in the middle of winter hurts). I mean, I can boil water for baths several times a week, but I'm less likely to do that just to have water to wash in.

Next time something like this happens I'll make sure to isolate earlier. Having just one person sick at a time is far better than two people sick at the same time.

Acacia

Pachydermis2 said...

Hey Jon

Here's the full quote and Poltifact's take.

https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/15/joe-biden/ad-watch-biden-video-twists-trumps-words-coronavir/

Now, Trump says a lot of things that are foolish. Calling the existing testing Perfect for instance.

Snopes tends to be a bit more partisan than Politifact, but neither are particularly friends of Trump....or any Republican really.

TW

Larry Hart said...

Tim W:

Snopes tends to be a bit more partisan than Politifact, but neither are particularly friends of Trump....or any Republican really.


Now that we know that, what do we know. You and I probably draw different conclusions as to why a fact-finding organization would not be friendly to Republicans. I guess it depends on whether one prefers facts or Republicans.

Darrell E said...

Tim / Tacitus,

No doubt about it, the Biden add diced and spliced the Trump rally footage. Quoting out of context like that always looks bad. But I think PolitiFact is themselves are wrong on their rating of this issue, and I come to that conclusion based on the information they themselves provide at the link you provided.

Here is there "If Your Time Is Short" summary.

"The video makes it look like Trump called coronavirus “their new hoax.”

In fact, there was nearly a full minute between when the president said “coronavirus” and “hoax” during a Feb. 28 rally in North Charleston, S.C.
"

Politifact explains . . .

"The video cycles through a slew of soundbites from Trump. One clip shows the president’s Feb. 28 rally in North Charleston, S.C.

"Coronavirus — this is their new hoax," Trump is pictured saying.

The video makes it seem like Trump is calling the disease itself a hoax, which he hasn’t done. The words are Trump’s, but the editing is Biden’s.

During the North Charleston rally, there was nearly a minute between when Trump said "coronavirus" and "hoax."
"

Then they provide a transcript of what Trump said in a fuller context.

""Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus, you know that right? Coronavirus, they’re politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs. You say, ‘How’s President Trump doing?’ They go, ‘Oh, not good, not good.’ They have no clue. They don’t have any clue. They can’t even count their votes in Iowa. They can’t even count. No, they can’t. They can’t count their votes.

"One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia.’ That didn’t work out too well. They couldn’t do it. They tried the impeachment hoax. That was not a perfect conversation. They tried anything. They tried it over and over. They’d been doing it since you got in. It’s all turning. They lost. It’s all turning. Think of it. Think of it. And this is their new hoax."
"

Then they add a little post initial comments context.

""During a press conference Feb. 29, Trump was asked about his remarks.
"I'm not talking about what's happening here; I'm talking what they're doing," he said, referring to Democrats. "That's the hoax."
"

So going by this so far it seems as if Politifact is saying that Biden tried to make it look like Trump said that COVID-19 itself was a hoax but that what Trump actually said was merely something like that the Democrats criticisms of his handling of it and or what the Democrats have been saying about it (i.e., the seriousness of the crisis) constitutes a hoax.

And for these reasons they rate the Biden video a pure "false." I don't agree and I don't know how any unbiased assessment could. For one, Politifact starts with the premise that the most common viewer interpretation of the Biden video will be that "Trump claims that COVID-19 itself is false." Frankly, I think that's weak. I didn't interpret it that way.

And then they add further context which only adds to my confusion about how they reached a verdict of flat out "false."

"Trump’s comments feed into a conspiracy theory that claims Democrats and the media are fabricating the threat of COVID-19 to hurt the economy and, by extension, the president’s re-election chances. And the president appeared to downplay the threat of the virus at several points in recent weeks.

But the Biden campaign’s ad is misleading.
"

Darrell E said...

Tim / Tacitus,

continued . . .

I agree that the Biden ad is misleading. But it is not nearly entirely false. Going by their own stated criteria it should have been rated as either half true or even possibly mostly true.

I know you didn't need me to quote all that here since you provided the link. Just figured it would be convenient for anyone else who might read this.

What I wonder is why you think this bit of quoting out of context is significant enough to keep you comfortably on the fence, given that even the full, in context, quote of Trump is damning. But, no, you don't see it that way do you? You don't see it as any worse than what the Democrats do. Which is a delusional position to maintain at this point. But though you always say something of the sort, "both parties are comparably bad," you always give the benefit of the doubt to the Republicans and never to the Democrats.

I also noticed that you didn't respond to Jon regarding the fact that Trump (his administration) did indeed fire the NSC team responsible for pandemic response, which you earlier claimed was also false.

David Brin said...

“slow mutation” is a trait of all corona viruses, including SARS and MERS and the common cold. But coronas have another problem… immunity amnesia. For some reason our bodies “forget” this kind of virus. No one knows why.

——
“I'm no expert, but I gather that people who are experts have concluded that COVID-19 is NOT deliberately or accidentally man-made.”

ALL of the “rebuttals” I’ve seen concentrate on why such a plague might have a path to evolve naturally. None (that I have seen) talk about why a man-made version can’t have been responsible. Offering an alternative explanation is cumulative but NOT a refutation, especially given that China’s level 4 facility is in Wuhan, where accidental releases have happened before.

——
Acacia yes, Covid ‘survivors” - which is 97% plus - ought to supply a vast pool of helpers and contribute to getting the economy re-ignited. Alas, there are two rubs:

1) We don’t know yet if the prelim tales are true that survivors can remain contagious. If so, we are in real trouble.

2) We need testing to FIND that vast pool of newly immune survivors so they can go back to work. And that aspect of testing, all by itself, renders locum’s shrug-off of testing utterly insane. Ignoring all other reasons.

Tim’s support of this rightist talking point is nonsense, sorry man. You are doing what RASRs frenetically have done for half a decade, cherrypicking just one specific - purported refutation of Trumpist refusal of WHO test kits - as an excuse to ignore the generality… that creating vast numbers of test kits should have been a national emergency priority around January 31.

Likewise, a certain rate of false positives is FINE for early versions. So it tells too many folks to be cautious and limit contact till they can be second-tested with another version? So? Seriously? THAT is a reason not to test early and get some handle on the super spreader sites?

Yes, false negatives are worse but that did not seem to be the problem, early on. And you are STILL waffling, my friend. No money or priority was given to emergency test creation. Had Obama shown such catastrophic lack of leadership, you'd have been incensed.

Even now, Trump is encouraging bidding wars over supplies, among states and cities... bidding wars that benefit his pals, rather than nationalizing the supply problem.

That is unforgivable and WOULD BE A RED LINE if you ever, ever ever had one. Which you will not. Ever. Till they haul us away.

David Brin said...

“Snopes tends to be a bit more partisan than Politifact, but neither are particularly friends of Trump....or any Republican really.”

Ah, the party line. Never, ever considering the possibility that fact-checkers find more Republican lies for one simple reason. Because Republicans LIE vastly more.

I have for a decade demanded:
“If you call all fact-checking services ‘partisan,’ where is your offer to negotiate parameters for a non-partisan fact-checking service? One you’d agree IN ADVANCE is above reproach?

Don’t we need one (or more) to get past the unreliability of facts in American life?

If the right contained ANY honest persons, they would want this and help design one, choosing renowned and sagacious conservative retired judges and Generals to serve. But no voice of the right has ever, ever offered to cooperate in that endeavor.

Why?

Because they know that facts are deadly antibodies against their entire movement.

duncan cairncross said...

TCB - said
"The Chinese government is NOT off the hook, however. Their initial secretive/punitive response was a bungle"

The first cases were in November - but that is in hindsight - at the time they were "flu"
The first case when they knew there was a new virus was the 27th of December
The Chinese central government responded - FOUR DAYS LATER

For any large organisation THAT is like greased lightning!!

No organisation can react BEFORE that or the entire planet would be on shutdown 100% of the time

The local government did spent a couple of weeks trying to hush things up when one of the doctors started agitating - but at that point it was just a suspicion - a handful of cases of "flu" that looked "odd"

The guys in charge in China are "survivors" of the previous epidemics
They were regional leaders - "survivors" in the fact that the leaders who were "inept" in the last outbreak lost their jobs

locumranch said...


Self-Quarantine in 4 Simple Steps:

(1) Dig hole;
(2) Climb in;
(3) Refill hole;
(4) Remain in place 3 to 4 weeks.

It's the preferred course of action for the already dead, all because a "97% plus" chance of coronavirus survival & recovery is considered a YUGE RISK by numerical illiterates who require 100% safety to exist.


Best

David Brin said...

Blah blah blah

David Brin said...

Onward


onward

Luís Salgueiro said...

@Acacia – new research just published yesterday from France that coincides with our anecdotal observations: azithromycin added to hydroxychloroquine reduces viral shedding by 95% the French team investigating the results talk about almost miraculous https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/927033?src=mkm_ret_200326_mscpmrk_eumonthly_int&uac=215405MT&impID=2324118&faf=1