"How fortunate for
governments that the people they administer don't think."
"Only two things are
infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the
More COVID complaining.
Most of the cases and deaths
are in the NE, as I wrote about below. Most of the cases within CA are
in the south (LA, Riverside and SD county are the only counties with more
than 200 deaths). So, why do the other counties or states need to continue
Some of you may be old
enough to remember the concept of "peak oil," which was taught for a long
time. I remember worrying about it when I was younger. And yet, here we
are with oil futures going into the negative. Even before COVID oil prices
were very low. So, when are we going to be at peak oil? I thought it had
already happened. Of course the same smart people who predicted this will
point out that new technologies changed things. Well, that's my point in
a nutshell. New technology always changes things.
As stated before I'm quite
interested in accurate predictions. I think telling the future is extremely
important and very few can do it well. I like Nate Silver of 538 a lot,
but, to some extent, what he does isn't all that impressive. Since they
constantly revise their models to include new information, their predictions
are constantly changing. I understand why this is and accept it, but I
think the most impressive and useful thing is to extend that ability to
tell the future out farther into the past.
It's relatively easy for
someone to predict the death of a cancer patient who has started a death
rattle. It's far more useful and impressive to predict a death of that
same person before anyone even knows they have cancer. We need to be able
to do the latter. And that's effectively what these models for a population
bomb or peak oil or global warming are all attempting...long term predictions
based upon nothing changing. Somewhat useful, yes, but often wrong.
With things like COVID
and global warming I think the difference is that we are actually acting
to fix those as a result of these models/predictions. There wasn't much
as robust of a response to change the world after the population bomb prediction
or after people predicted peak oil. Instead those problems have largely
solved themselves through natural innovation in oil exploration and the
fact that richer societies naturally reproduce at a lower rate, so as countries
get more rich they reproduce less. China being the exception here with
their one child policy. COVID predictions and global warming predictions
could be off quite a bit as the response has been decent (global warming)
to robust (COVID).
Philip Tetlock is very
interesting to me as he's on the cutting edge of all this stuff. Pundit
tracker seemed like a good thing at the time, but I don't think it ever
got off the ground.
A brief timeline according
1/8 CDC issues public alert
1/9 WHO names new disease
1/22 First question from
press to Trump about virus. He shrugs it off.
1/23 The WHO recommended
that: "[A]ll countries should be prepared for containment, including active
surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing
and prevention of onward spread of 2019-nCoV infection, and to share full
data with [the] WHO."
1/24 the U.S. Senate was
briefed on the coronavirus by key health officials. U.S. Senators Richard
M. Burr, Kelly Loeffler, Dianne Feinstein, and James Inhofe allegedly sold
stock thereafter, prior to significant declines in the stock market. In
Senator Loeffler's case, the sales began the same day as the briefing.
All denied any wrongdoing, citing various reasons. Senator Burr faced calls
for his resignation.
1/31 Trump administration
suspended entry into the United States by any foreign nationals who had
traveled to China in the past 14 days, excluding the immediate family members
of American citizens or permanent residents.
2/6 57-year-old Patricia
Dowd of San Jose, California became the first Covid-19 death in the United
2/6 CDC began sending 90
of its own viral detection tests to state-run labs which discovered the
tests were inadequate and viral samples had to be shipped to the Atlanta
CDC lab instead.
2/22 I watch Outbreak
2/23 I watch Contagion
3/1 South Korea recommends
staying indoors and to not attend events.
3/1 In New York, Governor
Andrew Cuomo announces the state's first reported case of COVID-19: a woman
in her late 30s, who apparently contracted the virus while traveling in
Iran and is self-isolating at home, in New York City.
3/2 The European Centre
for Disease Prevention and Control announced that it has increased the
risk level from moderate to high for people in the European Union
3/9 Italy calls for country
wide quarantine and riots ensue.
3/11 is the day the NBA
postponed their season. Trump announced all travel from Europe (except
UK) would be banned. WHO also declared COVID a pandemic that day.
3/12 biggest single day
drop in stock market since 1987.
3/13 Trump called COVID
a national emergency.
3/14 North Carolina: All
schools ordered to close for two weeks. Governor Roy Cooper also issued
an executive order to prevent mass gathering
3/15 New York City mayor
DeBlasio announces New York City public schools, the largest public school
system in the country, will close starting Monday, March 16
3/16 Los Angeles Mayor
Eric Garcetti ordered all bars, movie theaters, gyms and fitness centers
closed, and for restaurants to limit themselves to take-out and delivery
3/17 SF called for shelter
in place order
3/18 Oregon Governor Kat
Brown issues executive order extending the closure of K–12 public schools
until April 28.
3/19 California: The state
has ordered the closure of all museums, malls and other all non-essential
workplaces effective March 20 11:59 p.m. All 40 million citizens in the
state are ordered to stay home. More than 900 state residents have been
infected and 19 have died
3/23 Michigan: Governor
Whitmer issued a stay-at-home order to go into effect at midnight on March
24 and last until April 13.
3/25 Stimulus bill passed.
Notice that the first death
in the US was on 2/6. The first case in NY was 3/1. Cuomo, who is supposedly
doing a great job, didn't exactly use the time between 2/6 and 3/1 to prepare
I also have to point out
that Newsom is supposed to be a maverick. He took on the Feds with gay
marriage when he was mayor of SF. If he was so clairvoyant on COVID why
didn't he take charge earlier? Instead he closed down non-essential workplaces
6 days after Trump called COVID a national emergency. He runs the 5th largest
economy in the world and he's a super genius and an amazing leader...why
didn't he work with private enterprise to build more ventilators or get
more masks or tests? Why didn't he work with neighboring states sooner
to buy masks and testing supplies in bulk?
How is my Monday morning
quarterbacking Newsom different from the Monday morning quarterbacking
others do with Trump? Please explain.
It seems like February
was largely squandered by the CDC. They issued a test of their own (rejecting
those from other countries because that's what they've always done and
it's always worked in the past), and it didn't work. This was a major blunder
and setback in retrospect. Trump has never been on the ball and never will
be. However, he did call COVID a national emergency before any governors
did anything of substance, as far as I can tell.
timeline is kinda interesting, though it uses cases instead of deaths
and that's very limiting since cases depends more upon testing. It shows
that South Korea and the US got COVID pretty close to each other and that
the US actually took measures before anyone else...though, in true Trump
style, it was travel restrictions that were done before anything else.
He's good at restricting travel and he actually got flack for it, but,
in retrospect, it was probably a good move that most won't give him credit
for. He did that on 1/31. If he had been as strong in other ways and as
early then we'd be in a different situation now.
I forgot perhaps the best
example of someone being made for a moment and rising to the occasion and
that is Slumdog Millionaire. That's actually a perfect example.
COVID is still the big
news of the day. The death toll numbers are a lot less than I originally
speculated, but this is because the response has been a lot more than I
thought possible. So, that's good news in a way. However, the economy,
mental health, etc. have suffered as a result of the extreme measures taken
by most governments.
Long story short, I think
we're beyond the point where we need to start allowing more people back
to work. The government doesn't seem to understand choice anymore. You
can inform the public and then allow them to make their own decisions based
upon the curated information you give them. This assumes that you think
the public is comprised of adults that are capable of making their own
decisions and worthy of determining their own outcome in life. Sadly, I
don't think most people in the ruling class think this is an option anymore.
I talk a lot about the
elites. I use different terms for them, but they are largely all referring
to the same class of people: intelligensia, polite society, ruling class,
elite, influencers, etc. These are the people who are college educated.
They run the government. They run business. They run the media. They determine
what we're talking about in the news most days and they frame the discussions.
Originally our COVID response
was about flattening the curve. That meant, at one time, to spread the
infections out over time so as to not overwhelm the healthcare system.
With an overwhelmed healthcare system people would die because they wouldn't
have enough access to doctors, equipment, etc. Ventilators were extremely
important. Cuomo asked for 30,000 ventilators from the federal government
and complained when he got 400. Masks were discouraged and we were told
that they wouldn't do anything. I remember one expert pointing out that
the virus is smaller than the mask could filter. Those were the original
Later the story became
that masks are helpful, but should be reserved for healthcare professionals.
Then the story became masks are mandatory everywhere you go.
These are the reasons why
I have pointed out before that during emergencies you can't rely on the
government. Take what they say with a grain of salt. They are saying things
to calm the public, not to actually help you as an individual.
Now we're beyond flattening
the curve and onto complete suppression. It's actually quite amazing and
depressing to see otherwise smart people swept up into this out of fear.
They haven't noticed the moving of the goal posts. They haven't looked
at the actual death rate numbers from primary sources. Remember day one
in essay writing when the teacher told you to use primary sources? Don't
write about what the pundits say about an event, write about the actual
facts of the event. In this case, the actual facts are the deaths, hospitalizations,
etc. If people are scared by the actual 0.5-0.7% mortality rate then that's
fine. But what people are actually scared by is some yucky pictures of
sick people or stories about Tom Hanks getting COVID and Roy Horn dying.
People don't know that 50% of US deaths are in the tri-state area. They
don't know that 75% of deaths are those who are 65+ years old. Perhaps
our responses should target these areas and populations?
Does anybody remember the
stat from The Big Short wherein Brad Pitt's character is saying that for
every 1% increase in the unemployment rate 40k people die? That was the
kind of thinking that was prevalent when the economic crisis was the result
of rich bankers. Planet Money editor Adam Davidson fact checked the movie
and he said that the stat was true enough (on an episode of More or Less
podcast), but couldn't be 100% verified. Where are those people now that
the unemployment rate is twice what it was at the height of the Great Recession?
Why aren't more people talking about the mental, emotional, and economic
effects of shuttering large parts of the economy for so long? Crickets...because
it's not convenient to have a nuanced conversation about COVID.
As is true with most things
these days this has all now become not just politicized, but partisan.
So, if you want to reopen the economy then you support Trump. If you want
to rigidly reinforce social distancing and mask wearing then you're with
the scientists. It's idiotic thinking that puts all this stuff into the
binary, but that's where we are.
Another thing...the epidemiologists
seem to be running the response to this stuff, which is nice if the only
thing that matters is the virus, but it's not. Maybe economists and psychologists
and other scientists should have more of a say in determining how we react.
Sure, from an epidemiological point of view the best response is for everyone
to stay put for as long as possible until we get a vaccine, but maybe there
are other things to consider?
Lastly, we got a payment
from the government for some reason. All the information I saw indicated
that we weren't eligible, and yet a check came in the mail. I'm amazed
by how much shitty information is out there. That, or the government fucked
up an gave us money for no reason. Either way, this is a total shit show.
Yesterday was pretty rough.
Worked from home the first
half of the day and then left to go to SF to hang some lights for a job
Meryl got. Coasting along 580 at 80mph when things came to a sudden stop.
As I looked ahead of me it was apparent that there was some kind of disturbance
up ahead. I saw a few people running around on the highway and I initially
thought it was some debris in the road. I worked my way through the traffic
pretty quickly trying to get around it as soon as possible and as I got
closer I saw that it was a pretty big crash. Must have just happened because
traffic was down to a single lane and it was moving very slowly - in part
because a minivan had their camera out the window taking pictures/video
while slowly driving past the crash. Must have just happened and here's
what I saw:
I honked at the minivan
twice to move along for a few reasons. I didn't think them taking pictures
was essential to anything that was going on at that point. And I also saw
several guys around the car trying to open the door and wanted to get out
to help. They had a large digging bar pried between the jamb and door,
which was a good idea, but I also knew that I had more tools in my car
that could potentially help.
I stopped ahead of the
crash and went up to the car to look at what was going on. The guys there
seemed to be focusing on the back door which was stuck in place and in
really bad shape. The girl (about 8) was breathing and bloody. In the front
seat there was a boy (10?) who wasn't moving and no one seemed to be paying
attention to him. I looked at the back door and saw the door lock was still
engaged with the latch. You know the kind:
And even with the solid
steel pry bar (I have one at home and they are no joke) they weren't getting
it unlocked. The guys there were yanking on the door 2-3 at a time and
it just wasn't opening. I ran to my car, grabbed a battery, reciprocating
saw, and new metal blade and ran back to cut the latch. Got through it
pretty quickly and they got the girl out.
I went to the front seat
and looked at the boy again. I didn't see his chest moving at all. I checked
for a pulse. I pressed on his arm to see if there was any perfusion. I
didn't get anything and he was really pinned in there. I went to the other
side of the car and looked at him from the driver side. I saw it was going
to be pretty tough to get him out. He was twisted and bent in such a horrible
way. I saw his left arm was clearly broken.
Next to the car I saw what
I presumed was the mother/driver on the ground. A lady was holding her
head down in what appeared to be an effort to stabilize her neck. The mother
was crying and I can only describe it as agony. The woman was holding her
head and preventing her from getting up. She kept telling the mom not to
get up. "I care about you too much to let you get up." Another woman was
telling her to keep breathing.
I looked inside the minivan
- it was empty.
I went back to the girl
and people were doing something with her on the ground. I don't really
remember what. I collected my tools since I had dumped my blades on the
ground to find a fresh one meant for cutting metal. I looked up again and
the cops were on site and doing CPR on the girl. I'm sad to say that this
is when it first occurred to me that she probably wasn't going to make
it. I remember a podcast wherein they talked to various doctors and they
all pretty much agreed that they didn't want CPR performed on them because
so few people make it back and it often breaks your ribs, etc. Seeing it
being performed on a little girl...I can tell you it's not pretty.
I looked at the boy again
and the cops were working on getting him out by cutting the seat belt.
They got him out and there were EMTs on site by this time.
I stood back for a minute
and realized my job was done and I was probably not being helpful anymore
so I should probably leave, so that's what I did. As I did more Highway
Patrol, Fire, and EMT vehicles were coming up the freeway (the wrong way,
from the next exit down the line).
So, this is the first time
I've seen a dead body (other than funerals). First time I've seen someone
die. Turns out the kids were 8 and 13. article
here. Apparently there was one more kid in the car with them. If they
were anything like my kids they argued about who got to sit in the front
seat or the back or behind mom or whatever. The one behind mom got to live.
The one in the front probably died pretty quickly and the one in the rear
passenger seat got to live for a few minutes probably not really understanding
what was happening to her as strangers were trying to get her out of the
car. Confused about where her mom was and what had just happened.
I've seen a lot people
die online. I vividly remember seeing Nick
Berg die online in 2004. It was jarring. But there's definitely a difference
between seeing deaths online and seeing an 8 year old die.
So for the last couple
days I've thought a lot about it. I wish I was there sooner. For all intents
and purposes I had the key to open the door and maybe things would have
been different if I had gotten there earlier. At the same time I regret
being so calm. It's a double edged sword because I know some people who
would just freak the fuck out if they came into that situation. On the
other hand, I regret not understanding how dire of a situation it was more
quickly. I remember looking for a pulse and perfusion and not getting any
positive results. My reaction to this was partly to think that the boy
was dead, but a bigger part of me thought I wasn't doing it right. I took
a CERT class last year so I know
some things, but I'm not expert enough to trust my findings.
I keep going over it in
my head. I did some things right and there were other things I wish I had
I wish I had honked more
aggressively to get to the accident more quickly and clear out the looky
I wish I had acted more
proactively to get the boy out.
I wish I had gotten my
blood clotting sponge and applied it to the girl. I sorta doubt she died
because of blood loss, but it occurred to me later that maybe that was
part of it.
I wish I had gone into
the "life or death" head space more quickly.
I wish I had told the other
people on the scene that they did a good job trying to help.
I wish I had hugged the
On the positive side I
stayed calm. I had fully charged batteries. I had brand new metal cutting
blades. In those ways my preparation paid off. I properly assessed what
would open the door and got it open pretty quickly. I checked on others
on the site. I left when I was no longer needed.
Nothing any of us did saved
any lives. A lot of people were there trying to help and none of it mattered,
in a way. None of our efforts saved those lives, and that's probably the
most important thing. Sure, we can all live knowing we did our best. We
all know that next time someone else will probably be there to help us
and maybe things will turn out differently. But, this time, none of it
One idea that really resonates
with me is the idea of a person finding what they are perfect for. Relatedly,
the idea of a person accumulating knowledge towards no known purpose only
to some day find that they actually have the precise knowledge that is
Some movies/stories with
Thus Spoke Zarathustra
It's kind of a right person
at the right time theme. In Wee Gillis it's about a kid who learns all
these seemingly disparate skills only to find out that they come together
perfectly for something that he happens to fall in love with (being a bag
pipe player). In Karate Kid it's learning all the individual, seemingly
unconnected, skills that just happen to make him great at karate. In Taken
and Die Hard it's about a guy who has just the right set of skills for
the moment that he finds himself in.
I've always hoped that
some day all that I've done and accumulated in life will come together
for a single great purpose. I think being a dad is the closest thing I've
gotten to that. At some point I started looking at my collection of movies
and CDs and wondering if I should get rid of them. I'll never watch them
enough times to have made it worth the money. However, now my kids have
a pretty well curated, free, and vast library of movies and music to explore
for the next 20+ years that they will care about/have time for such things.