Why I Support Dr. Anthony Fauci

In the U.S., government is the activity of the political establishment Politics is not the only establishment.  Dr. Fauci is a member of the scientific establishment.

The start of The  Enlightenment is marked by some as the year 1637 with René Descartes’ Discourse on the Method. Thus begins the genesis of modern thought, and the growth of these establishments towards the forms they have today. Descartes wrote Cogito, ergo sum, I think, therefore I am.  With this single sentence, he freed the human mind from the bondage of belief.

If you value freedom of thought, if you are engaged with the scientific method, you are a spiritual heir of René Descartes. If you prefer to follow or believe, your roots are elsewhere. Dr. Fauci, as a research physician in the modern mold, is one of Descartes’ heirs.

  • In politics, people are the problems and also the solutions, more so than even ideas. People are the currency of politics. Organizational charts take on the illusion of fundamental reality.
  • In science,  personalities hardly count. What counts is a kind of naked truth  never found in politics, which would be a lie if it did. Such were the lies of fascism and communism.
  • The two establishments  tolerate each other from mutual need. Science values truth and needs money. Politics can’t sell truth to voters; it needs deliverables.
  • Politics tends to look at science as a label for job programs.
  • When “technocrats”, meaning scientific types, have attempted to apply science to problems of government, the results have been mediocre or worse.

Since the U.S. response to COVID-19 became a mess, it is natural for politicians to think of it as a people problem.  It would be a mistake to think of  it this way.  Everybody who has said anything about COVID has been wrong. This does not imply universal incompetence.

Blame the virus. In all their years of planning, nobody in the whole wide world planned for a pathogen with  the COVID characteristics of:

  • Contagiousness
  • Severity
  • Stealth

Never was it imagined that one bug could combine the three. There are sound scientific reasons for this, which we will explore with the Astrodome experiments: COVID Resurgent: Of Hares and Foxes; Primer for Policy Makers, Part 3.  Had COVID been Ebola, a different combination of contagious and deadly, the public health systems would have been less stressed. Shortcomings in response would have been noted as glitches, not catastrophes.

Blame epidemiology the subject, long on retrospection and short on predictions for novel pathogens. It lacks the mathematical tools for modeling all but the most simple scenarios. If it is possible to develop better models, it will require individuals who have looked at a lot of data for a very long time. Besides impersonal data, clinical experience is key.

COVID has  outrun the competencies of epidemiology. To advance the competencies requires the best and most prepared minds.  Louis Pasteur,  one of the fathers of  epidemiology,  said, “In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.

Dr. Fauci has been working at NIH for 52 years, with many achievements of distinction. He is a rightful heir toCogito, ergo sum “. That’s preparation.

Cogito, ergo sum .” Try it, you’ll like it.

COVID Resurgent: Of Hares and Foxes; Primer for Policy Makers, Part 3

We continue from COVID Resurgent: Of Hares and Foxes; Primer for Policy Makers, Part 2.

The Houston Astrodome is ideal for what scientists call a controlled experiment. With the entrances sealed, it becomes a world unto itself.  We can study a situation analogous to the relationship between communicable disease, and the people, or animals, that are infected.  This experiment will help us explore five questions:

  • How can a virus appear to have an intelligent strategy, when it isn’t even alive? Does Darwin’s theory of natural selection play a role?
  • What drives virulence, and what holds it back?
  • Public health policies can influence a pandemic. Can we also influence the evolution of the virus itself?
  • Why has most of the early advice and predictions been so wrong?
  • (NY Times) Europe Said It Was Pandemic-Ready. Pride Was Its Undoing describes the failure of models that predict the course of a pandemic. Are better models possible?

Our Astrodome experiment is arranged like this:

  • Underbrush and hay cover the floor, which is also stocked with rabbit feed.
  • A few hundred hares are let loose, and allowed to make themselves at home.  Then the dozen foxes are let loose.
  • The keepers return each night to tidy up and restock the rabbit feed.

In the natural world, hares eat plants. If the plants are overgrazed, the hares destroy their food supply, and starve to  death.  To better mimic the natural world, we add this twist:

  • If the keepers discover that the hares have eaten all the feed, they do not replace it. The replacement feed is proportionate to the amount that remains.

The mortal combat between foxes and hares has these constraints:

  • Hares can eat only rabbit feed. If the hares run out of feed, they all die.
  • Foxes can only eat hares. If there are no more hares, the foxes all die.
  • The more numerous the hares, the harder it is for them to hide, and the easier for foxes to catch.
  • When there is more food for foxes, the foxes produce more baby foxes. The population of foxes skyrockets.
  • All those foxes eat more rabbits, until fox food become scarce and lots of foxes starve to death.
  • If all the foxes die, the hares overpopulate, eat up all their feed, which is then not replaced, and directly starve to death, or die of disease from starvation.

If we run this experiment for a few years, we find that:

  • The populations of foxes and hares see-saws back and forth. This situation was first described in math by the predator-prey equations of Lotka-Volterra  in 1925, and have been verified as reasonably representative of real situations involving wild animals.
  • If either hares or foxes dies out completely, the food supply of the surviving species dies out too.  So neither foxes nor hares can exist without the other.
  • Usually, neither the foxes or rabbits die out completely. This is the balance of nature.

The predator-prey equations are ancestral to epidemic modeling. They are not used directly, but inspire the present. There is a correspondence:

  • COVID is the fox, and you are the hare. Rather than eaten, you are infected.
  • You could die,  but you most likely become immune, which still means you are not available to the “fox” as food.
  • If your immunity wears off, you again become an edible “hare.”
  • Unlike the hare, you are not dependent on COVID for survival.

If you are a decision maker, the above could replace:

  • A blank feeling about how things work.
  • Emotionalizing as if we’re fighting an opponent:”We beat back the virus.” The equations and the virus don’t care.
  • Hoping “This too will pass.” The Lotka–Volterra equations say the pendulum will swing, until science makes it stop.

This describes the basic situation. With elaboration, we will use this framework to address the five initial questions.

How should we think about COVID-19 ?

Let Kingsfield be your guide.


COVID Resurgent: Of Hares and Foxes; Primer for Policy Makers, Part 2

We continue from COVID Resurgent: Of Hares and Foxes; Primer for Policy Makers, Part 1. Of relevance,

(CNN) Kazakhstan denies Chinese government report that country has ‘unknown pneumonia’ outbreak more deadly than Covid-19

(The Diplomat) China Missteps With Wild Allegation of a ‘New’ Deadly Pneumonia in Kazakhstan, Certain of total falsification, the article blames aggressive diplomacy.

So is  “unknown…more deadly pneumonia” reliably false? Quoting CNN,

In a statement later on Friday, the Kazakhstan health ministry acknowledged the presence of “viral pneumonias of unspecified etiology,” but denied that the outbreak was new or unknown.

Condensed and paraphrased, this is “We don’t know what they/it are but they/it aren’t new.”   But if they don’t know what it/they are, how can “authorities” authoritatively know it/they aren’t new? The political penalties of admitting or denying anything related to COVID-19 are huge. When we stir it all together, a disquieting soup emerges:

  • The existence of a  more deadly pneumonia in Kazakhstan cannot be completely discounted. China’s loudmouth ambassador may have actually noticed something. Anecdotal evidence is one of the doors to the scientific method.

Companion thoughts:

  • Whoever writes an article will focus on what they know. For The Diplomat, it’s diplomacy.
  • As  Dr. Fauci has remarked, we are still in the first wave of a pandemic.  (CNN) US is still ‘knee-deep’ in the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Fauci says.
  • A second wave, which has not yet occurred,  has a very specific character: an initial geographic focus, spread along travel routes, with some change in symptoms and outcome.
  • Pandemics of the past had second waves of increasing virulence.
  • Kazakhstan has all the characteristics of a place where a second, more deadly wave wound start.

While the medical community has learned a lot about COVID, there are still places in the halls of power where knowledge is scarce. So I’ve come up with a dramatic demonstration. We’ll need to rent the Houston Astrodome. It should be cheap, because it’s practically falling down. There is a phone number on the web. Also, pick up a few hundred hares or rabbits, a dozen foxes, lots of hay and loose underbrush, and a year’s supply of rabbit feed.

When you’ve got it all set up, with the lease signed, preferably by later today, get back to me and we’ll continue.

It should be most enlightening.





Russian Bounty on U.S. Soldiers in Afghanistan; Unit 29155, Part 3

We continue from Russian Bounty on U.S. Soldiers in Afghanistan; Unit 29155, Part 2.

In deference to readers in the Russian government, this is not a judgment of  their domestic policies. But Russian foreign policies are malign to the West, with no better justification than Richelieu. In the West there seems to be increasing understanding that Putin is not a potentate; he is the designer of a nation. He has the kind of power that like money, is diluted by use, and concentrated by conciliation.

Future historians may analogize Putin  to Lycurgus, author of the constitution of Sparta. Both were scientific endeavors. Both fall short.  See Putin, Balance of Power, Richelieu, Lycurgus, the Ruble, and War, and Putin,…, Lycurgus, the Ruble, and War, Part 2. 

Lycurgus created an obsessively military state. Russia  is very loose-jointed with violence. The old Soviet Union was  held together by stolid, phlegmatic old men. The new Russian foreign policy is alive with the metaphor of switchblades, box cutters, guns, poisons, and all sorts of improvised weapons, deployed with casual abandon. Salisbury was not an accident. It is an institution.

Since Putin is not a potentate, there is the intriguing possibility that as with Special Tasks, the Kremlin is fearful of  processes they cannot completely control, yet addicted to their use. The Skripals were poisoned in March of 2018. In the kind of bungle that Unit 29155 has become renowned for, the targets survived, multiple areas of Salisbury were contaminated, and an innocent person died.

In November 2018, Igor Korobov, head of the GRU, in charge of Unit 29155, died of undisclosed cause.  There are open source notes to the effect that Korobov was severely reprimanded by Putin some months before his demise. Pick your own reason for his liquidation:

  • To neutralize an insubordinate power center.
  • As punishment for failure.
  • As defector Viktor “Suvorov” thinks, at risk for defection. Possible, though “Suvorov” does not bat 1000.
  • Victim of his own poisonous garden.

The abandonment of glasnost is a factual tragedy of Russia. In consequence  there exists no way to

  • Adjudicate Korobov’s offenses.
  • Punish him openly without admissions Russia is too small to make.
  • Develop, by precedent, the myth of the most advanced countries, that justice will prevail.

Russia seems stuck on Stalin’s solution, described by Anatoly Rybakov as “Death solves all problems,. No man, no problem.” Hence, poison is likely. Yet Korobov’s probable liquidation did not stop the bounty killings which occurred in 2019. “Suvorov” scores a point. This is the backstory of the Afghanistan bounties.

Did Putin know or approve of the bounties? Open source has nothing to say. If clandestine know more, they aren’t tipping their hand.

Were the bounties intended to hurry U.S. withdrawal? This is the mainstream analysis, probably correct.  It is  possible to imagine the opposite. The U.S. neutralized the Taliban as a threat to Russia. As precedent, I refer to a former U.S. secretary of state, who is reputed by some to have said about the 8-year Iran-Iraq War, “It would have been great if it had gone on forever.”

It is also possible that the bounties had no reasoned purpose other than someone’s good idea.

Will U.S. punishment of Russia deter this kind of behavior? It does not appear to bother Russia in the least that it has become a pariah in the West.  It is more significant to Russian strategists that harrying the enemy is producing results. That is what they think.

Quasi academician-apparatchik hybrids  exercise think-tank creative freedom to prove that the decline of the West is all their work. They have been shaking the tree pretty hard, and we provide the evidence with our own behavior. Our response also falls short in technical comparison:

  • Apart from the violence of units like 29155, the Russian art is psychological  manipulation. We call it subversion, but the art has outraced the term.
  • U.S. sanctions, which emphasize material damage, have little or no psychological effect.

The counters to manipulation and violence:

  • Convince the Russians of our great faith in ourselves, which we will do by acting on that faith.
  • Meld  sanctions, and other forms of material policy, with applied psychology. A visible scoreboard is required to translate from the numerical purity of sanctions to psychological impact, manipulation  in kind.

 If  within the Kremlin there are voices opposed to subversion of the West, a sophisticated U.S. strategy could empower them. There are established techniques. See Advice for a New Secretary of State, Part 6; How to Use a Skinner Box.

With our persuasion, perhaps they can finally bury Stalin’s words.


Russian Bounty on U.S. Soldiers in Afghanistan; Unit 29155, Part 2

We continue from Russian Bounty on U.S. Soldiers in Afghanistan; Unit 29155, Part 1.

The Stasi  archives that pertain to the 1986 West Berlin discotheque bombing reveal that the participants were known to the Stasi, and one, Musbah Abdulghasem Eter, was a Stasi agent. The most provocative open source comes from (AP) Report: East Germany Allowed Libyan Attack On Discotheque. Quoting,

WEST BERLIN (AP) _ Ousted East German leader Erich Honecker and his secret police chief allowed Libyan terrorists to carry out the 1986 discotheque bombing that killed two American soldiers, a leading newspaper reported today…The report in the West Germany paper Die Welt was the latest in a string of disclosures on relations between international terrorists and Honecker’s Communist regime.

Multiple sources state that while the Stasi provided no active assistance, it  was instructed not to interfere. Still other discountable sources, remnants of the Communist propaganda machines, describe an outraged Stasi on discovery of the involvement of their agent.

Surviving KGB veterans  claim that terrorism was forbidden by KGB policy, though it had many relationships with groups that did use terror. When specifically asked about the Berlin disco bombing, they uniformly deny. Yet Soviet compartmentalization was so extreme, few had complete understanding of their own times. The opacity allows for rogues and cliques.

The  Stasi, though an independent intelligence and security agency, was not ocean-going-with a world view. Their native concerns were restricted to Eastern Bloc security, and external espionage in West Germany. Libya meant nothing to them. It would have been a remarkable exception in their society of ultimate control, to allow foreign conspirators to commit a terror act in West Berlin, which at that time was a West German enclave, completely surrounded by East Germany.

So  the plot was allowed to proceed at the behest of a power with a world view. The choice most compatible with Occam’s Razor is a person or power center within the Soviet Union, but not the Kremlin  itself.  This was early in the tenure of Mikhail Gorbachev as General Secretary. He had no sympathies with terror or grudges with the West.

The order probably came through a backdoor channel, as simple as personal acquaintance of the resident KGB, or as elaborate as the Gavrilov Channel, a backdoor phone line between the CIA and the KGB, who proposed it in 1983. But who was at the Soviet end of the channel? Vladimir Putin doubtless knows. I’ll trade him a Starbucks gift card for the answer.

In his absence, the only hint is in the rapid change that came with the assent of Gorbachev to General Secretary. Early in his tenure as General Secretary, his challenge was to gain dominance over an elderly and conservative Politburo, which he did by shuffling and forced retirements. During this period, someone on his way out, or some clique with personal losses in Afghanistan, may have had a need for revenge against the U.S. The Soviet-Afghan war  began in 1978. U.S. arms deliveries to the Mujahedin began in 1980, though deliveries of the Stinger MANPAD did not begin until after the Berlin disco bombing.

This rogue or clique-based authorization of terror without approval of the Party is an early marker of breakdown of the Soviet system. In 1991, the breakdown became almost total. Russia’s short experiment with democracy was aborted by those who sought to reconstruct a country more related to traditional Russia.

To build a country out of the wreckage, they grabbed  all the myths they thought serviceable, which included paternal government, Slavic nationalism, Orthodox Christianity, militarism, and a “great power” myth. Unit 29155 is simply reassignment of the mythic role of the Yasha Group.

If the bounties are a fact, (change to my highest class of real world certainty, the almost-fact) the builders grabbed the wrong myths, and repurposed them in the wrong way. The error is above and beyond a clique or single individual who may have authorized. This is Russia today.

Next: Towards an understanding; techniques to counter; balms for our souls.


Russian Bounty on U.S. Soldiers in Afghanistan; Unit 29155, Part 1

Note: for the sake of clarity, traditional Soviet acronyms, such as KGB and GRU, are used. The name changes were frequent and of little consequence.

If this  were any other decade, and but for (NY Times) Suspicions of Russian Bounties Were Bolstered by Data on Financial Transfers, I would be skeptical. The other open source evidence is based on interrogations of captured Taliban. The captives were caught in proximity to large amounts of cash. I would have wondered if the story of the captives was intended to conceal a drug-mule operation.

But the reality of Unit 29155, and likely spinoffs, cannot be denied. It has turned Britain and Germany into a hunting ground, where Russia claims the extraterritorial right to assassinate. Most of the victims are Russian citizens, but not all. Slavs, and troublesome spies are eligible. Britain is looking at a whole slew of unsolved deaths.

If it weren’t for the unsolved deaths, the reputation of Unit 29155 would be of paramount bunglers, leaving in their wake trails of failed hits and ID’d operatives. So it does not disqualify that the estimated U.S. toll in Afghanistan centers around a handful.

Unit 29155 exists because it always has, though the organizational chart follows a wide historical arc. In concept, it began in 1920 as the “Yasha Group.”  It was actually a third intelligence service, though under the control of the NKVD.  Although all the names have changed, the GRU also dates to this era. In the Soviet Union, no power center could be allowed to exist outside the Communist Party. As the enforcer of political discipline, the NKVD was closely tied to the Party. The greater distance of the military from that center of power was enforced, at first by hierarchical design, later by the purges.

Hence while the GRU was more numerous, the NKVD was higher in the power hierarchy. The para-military activities of the Yasha Group, which became the Administration for Special Tasks under Pavel Sudoplatov,  parallel the modern GRU-29155. During World War II, Special Tasks included a motorized brigade level commando force.

But the capabilities of Special Tasks, which included sabotage and assassination, were inherently dangerous to the Party. Special Tasks was the principal client of the KGB poison lab, run by Grigory Mairanovsky. (Guardian) Russia’s Lab X: poison factory that helped silence Soviets’ critics. (The lab was such a hideous idea, the Soviets kept changing the number on the org charts.) Hence it was considered safest to subordinate it to the the NKVD.

With the death of Stalin, the Soviet Union returned to an unstable collective leadership with ingrained fear of the repressive instruments of the purges, which included the use of poisons, and the necessity of propaganda  to apportion blame for Stalin’s atrocities, in which they were all complicit to varying degrees. The poison lab was denounced, and continued with a different number on the door.

With the death of Beria a short time later, the leadership moved to reassert total Party control, by destruction or reformation of institutions associated with Stalin and Beria. Ranking members of Special Tasks were imprisoned, partly due to association with Beria, partly from fear of the group’s lethal expertise, and from the desire of Khrushchev to use the group as a scapegoat for his own share of atrocities.

For a long time, a real question of the leadership, which shows the fear Special Tasks inspired, was, how many had they actually killed? The Soviet system was sufficiently opaque to confuse those who had lived close to the center of power.

Soviet/Russian presence on the world stage can be divided into four periods, with some overlap, as actors from a previous period persisted into the next until final removal:

  • 1918-1922, World revolution, Leninist dogma, strongly  influenced by Trotsky.
  • Stalinist, 1922-1953  — Build Soviet communism first, world communism later. While10 years elapse for Stalin to obtain total control, Trotskyism gradually fades, ending with his assassination, an early achievement of Sudoplatov.
  • 1950’s to breakup: Phlegmatic collective  leadership with infighting; “peaceful coexistence.”
  • Modern: Aggressive, lacking in principles, resource starved  yet genuinely threatening to the West, though not devoid of positive domestic qualities.

From the 50’s, up till the fall of the Soviet Union, Soviet foreign policy is described by Kissinger as ponderously bureaucratic. When did the mission of Sudoplatov’s Special Tasks, formerly under the thumb of the NKVD, move over to the military GRU?  It could not happen as long as the Communist Party was in control. Curiously, they seemed as personally abhorrent of poisons as the rest of us, fearful that personal loyalties were insufficient protection from that form of diabolism.

Bulgarian dissident  Georgi Markov was assassinated by the Bulgarian secret service via a novel ricin delivery system in 1978. The rather credible testimony of defectors Oleg Kalugin and Oleg Gordievsky assert that the KGB provided the poison. Hence, a date stamp; as late as 1978, the GRU was not what is now referred to as the “go to” resource for clandestine violence.

By 1986, as Party control imperceptibly weakened, there is a hint of change or loosening of the control of special ops, with the West Berlin discotheque bombing, the casus belli for the 1986 United States retaliatory strikes against Libya 10 days later. It required opening of the Stasi archives in 1990 to provide sufficient evidence for prosecution of individuals.

What did the Stasi archives reveal? This is the perfect cliffhanger, so stay tuned!

For Pros Only: (CNN) Fauci says task force seriously considering new testing strategy; Vilfredo Pareto

The is for professionals only.  It has significant math.  This is not the continuation of COVID Resurgent: Of Hares and Foxes; Primer for Policy Makers, Part 1, which will follow shortly. If you’re not a pro, skip this article.

(CNN) Fauci says task force ‘seriously considering’ new testing strategy. Quoting,

“Something’s not working,” Fauci said of the nation’s current approach in an interview with The Post. “I mean, you can do all the diagramming you want, but something is not working.”

All testing,  pooled or no, is good, and the more testing the better. This article looks beyond the testing strategy, for problems in the model. All models, even of simple systems, are wrong. A model seldom deals with fundamental processes. It works at the higher level of convenient simplification, or even fiction.  The only criteria is how well it works.  Albert Einstein: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.”

If  a model does not produce useful predictions, we can try complicating it with features of the situation which might have been thought unimportant.  The mainstream of thought centers around these parameters:

  • A(t) is the number of active cases
  • R_o, the basic reproduction number, is the number of cases infected by each active case
  • C(t) is the increment of cases that recover.
  • S(t),  which I will divulge after you have a look at the next equation.

With each time step, the model predicts,

A(t+1) = R_o*A(t) + A(t) – C(t) + S(t)

where C(t) is proportional to A.

This is the standard equation for a mostly naive  population. Later on, when herd immunity has a significant influence, it is replaced by a model of  higher dimension. It’s all quite familiar, except for a new term,  S(t), which is the source of our problems, why the predictions of testing on the model fail so miserably.

S is a guess that even at this early stage, COVID-19 is not adequately simulated by a piecewise linear model.S” could stand for “secret” or “seed”:

  • Secret, because it characterizes the 90% of COVID-19 cases that are invisible.
  • Secret also because we know as much about how it works as dark matter.
  • Seed, because, with asymptomatic transmission, the secret process seeds the one we know about.

Cynically, adding S to the model could make it work better simply because there are more parameters to play with. But it allows us to incorporate a reference to the fundamental processes of infection which the standard model cannot accommodate. It is motivated by the prominent relationship  of drinking establishments with COVID spikes.

The number of COVID virions required to produce infection may have no threshold greater than zero, but it is still thought to influence disease severity. The simple classification scheme of infected/clear handicaps modeling. Defining a series of disease states makes it possible to incorporate a threshold function based on the  number of  virions in the exposure:

  • Not infected.
  • Latent, viral load undetectable.
  • Asymptomatic, non communicable, sheds non viable viral detritus.
  • Asymptomatic, communicable, sheds live virus.
  • Symptomatic, communicable. The 10% which have been mistaken for the main event.

We could graph these states on the Y-axis, from 0 to 4, against an X-axis of virions per exposure. Do we expect a straight line? Linear systems are very special and rare. Without knowing anything more than the way the universe works in general, we can say the curve is not linear. Occam’s Razor has two more suggestions:

  • The graph is monotonically increasing.
  • There is a threshold, a level of exposure that sharply increases severity.

Would a threshold pop out with the above scheme of 5 disease states? Maybe, maybe not. But as serology becomes more attuned, it’s likely that someone looking at some graph will see it. This refines the model.

Louis Pasteur said, “In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.” So let’s prepare, by writing a model that can approximate more of reality. In the  secret process S, the simplicity of a constant R_o will not exist. R_o is replaced by F(S). The model becomes nonlinear. This is an inevitable consequence of a threshold. So where:

  • S is the number of people in the secret state of infection.
  • F(S), a random variable, is analogous to R_o for the linear model.
  • C_s(t) is the increment of S who recover completely.
  • I is the increment who transition to obvious infection, adding to A.

We might write,

S(t+1) = F(S)*S(t) + S(t) – C_s(t)  – I(t)

Now Pasteur gives his attention to the bar, the innumerable social interactions within, and the COVID explosion that comes out. He goes in with a sampling gadget that looks beyond the transient life of suspended droplets. It could be something like flypaper that captures droplets as they fall out of suspension. Our modern Pasteur goes to that bar for a week, takes a sequence of measurements, and discovers something amazing. Over the course of a week, the sequence  COVID concentration is (M-T-W-TH-F-SA-SU):

0,  0,  M, M^2, M^5, M^7, M^(off-scale)

where M is the measurement on the first non-zero day. This is enough for Pasteur to speculate that there is a significant threshold on the 3rd day.  Before then, bar patrons were pretty safe. By Thursday,  they are doomed. This situation cannot be modeled by R_o. It requires F(S), dependent on the above sequence.

What goes into F(S)? We may as well make it a random variable, which requires a probability distribution. Pasteur’s observations require a threshold.  Since we are still far away from fundamental processes, aesthetics count. If we can forgive Vilfredo Pareto for advising Mussolini to march on Rome, the Pareto distribution is beguiling.  It served Pareto well, even though he didn’t know why either.

The Pareto is actually a family of distributions:

  • It has a threshold, adjustable from a vertical cliff to a rolling rise.
  • The higher order moments are large or infinite, reflecting the association between bars and COVID black swan events.
  • It has only two independent parameters, the median, and alpha, which allows us to substitute faith for the  inscrutable.
  • Pareto invented it for problems in the social sciences, where it has been repeatedly validated, even where the fundamental processes are unknowable.

The Pareto distribution predicts a constant seeding of black swan events.The fundamentals will remain unknowable, relying in detail on every aspect of society and life that make the U.S. different from China. An enterprising mathematician might use the Pareto for a few plausibility arguments:

  • In a contest between testing and masks, masks win hands down.
  • Close the bars until COVID-19 is history.










COVID Resurgent: Of Hares and Foxes; Primer for Policy Makers, Part 1

Many accounts of plagues of the past conclude with mysterious vanishing. Since science based medicine did not exist, accounts of contemporary historians exhibit ignorance of mythic quality, of which the historians, biblical and secular, had not the slightest hint.

The terror of ancient plagues, coupled with complete ignorance of the causes, has persisted into the current. If you don’t know anything about epidemiology, the myths occupy a corner of your mind, to be dragged out when fear is great and critical thinking is weak.

(CNN) 90% of Americans have prayed for healing, study finds. You don’t have to deny yourself the emotional support of prayer, provided public health policy is based on science. Passover is a great story.

The knowledge vacuum  persisted until the advent of epidemiology, which became a rational field with the advent of Koch’s Postulates, a set of criteria required to prove that a microbe causes a disease.  With a little modification, and accommodation of exceptions and complications, the Postulates remain valid today.

In ancient times, there were only a few legitimate causes of plagues:

  • The Gods were angry.
  • Chastisement of the Devil.
  • Bad vapors or waters. In ancient times, a lot of things smelled bad, and most water tasted bad.
  • Passage from one person to another.

In a world without science, these  were complete explanations. The Postulates marked a transition; they were eagerly taken up by early epidemiologists, who in a mere half-century managed to discover why many of the historical plagues vanished without apparent cause.

Yet epidemiology, so rich and precise in describing epidemics after the fact, has  weak powers of prediction. This is why WHO couldn’t say COVID-19 would escape China. This is also why someone in a CNN video, asked why he was not wearing a mask, replied, “God will heal this country.” A stronger science would have left no room for this.

Epidemiology is almost totally divorced from biochemistry. The COVID-19 genome was sequenced in a week, but there was and is no way to use a genome for prediction without clinical experience. Epidemics, like elections, are mostly studied with statistics. This is not great news, but it has an upside. It means the policy maker can largely understand some things, such as:

  • COVID-19 isn’t going to “mysteriously vanish” like plagues of yore. Hint: COVID doesn’t involve vermin.
  • As time goes on, epidemic predictions become more accurate.
  • Virulence varies from time-to-time and place-to-place. (Reuters) New coronavirus losing potency, top Italian doctor says.
  • Like all viruses, COVID has no ability to think, yet has complex “strategies” to overcome the defenses of an infected person.
  • How public health policy can actually influence the virulence of COVID.

Which of the above is most important to you?

To be continued shortly. And yes, hares and foxes will figure in the telling.







(Reuters) “SAFE” Type of ultraviolet light kills airborne coronavirus NOT SAFE!

(Reuters) Type of ultraviolet light kills airborne coronavirus; effect on platelets helps explain blood clot issues.


Ceiling fixtures emitting a safe form of ultraviolet light called far-UVC would be very efficient at killing airborne coronaviruses, according to a study by researchers at Columbia University. “A very low exposure to far-UVC light killed well over 99.9% of the exposed virus,” lead researcher Dr. David Brenner told Reuters.

This is a dangerous assumption, justified by one of two competing ideas. I have worked with these sources. In germicidal applications, the lights are mounted in enclosures that contain the material, or air, to be irradiated. In this context, UVC is safe. There is no more danger from air that has been irradiated when blown through an enclosure than there is from irradiated food, which is nil.

Brenner’s creative wiggle room may be in the phrase, “very low exposure.” There is a standard reply to that. UVC is in the broad class of ionizing radiation, which includes blue light, all UV, X-rays, and gamma rays. Two ideas compete about the existence of an intensity threshold for radiation damage to occur:

  • Radiation intensity below some threshold is harmless, or even salutary — radiation hormesis.
  • There is no threshold; any level of ionizing radiation is harmful.

These competing ideas are in complete contradiction with each other. No middle position has yet been elucidated. The specious certainty that low level UVC is harmless may stem from the weak ability of UVC to penetrate the cornea. A quote from WHO (What is UV) helps. (In lab wavelength jargon, “far” is equivalent to “short”):

Short-wavelength UVC is the most damaging type of UV radiation. However, it is completely filtered by the atmosphere and does not reach the earth’s surface.

If Brenner has his way, UVC, to which there is no natural exposure, is to be introduced at low levels into public spaces, without the confinement of sterilizing enclosures.

I doubt this will  happen. But Reuters should take care with the word “safe”.  We already read of people drinking bleach. The equivalent can be anticipated with “safe” UV.  LED UV flashlights are cheap and widely available for mineralogy and curing adhesives.

The Reuters article could instigate the use by the uneducated of commonly available UV lights that can cause eye damage and promote cancer.




(CNN) Trump Homeland Security official says he believes George Floyd would not have been spared if he were white

(CNN) Trump Homeland Security official says he believes George Floyd would not have been spared if he were white.

I beg to disagree. In my opinion, George Floyd would almost certainly be alive if he was white.  There is no factual basis for Ken Cuccinelli’s opinion, or mine, except for one thing. In 18 years with the department, George Floyd is the first person Derek Chauvin killed.


“…And I have a funny feeling, I don’t know anything about his professional history, but I have a feeling that we’re going to find that he wasn’t necessarily that well thought of as a role model among law enforcement through the time of his career, to say the least.”

Since there were 18 prior complaints, this is virtual fact. But does it mean that we can know whether Derek Chauvin’s action was racially motivated? The mind of the individual is ultimately unknowable, which is why we have statistics. The latest tabulation is:

  • George Floyd, who was black, is the first person Derek Chauvin killed.

Cuccinelli says (CNN) systemic racism is not an issue in US law enforcement. Fine, I’ll go with that. Non-systemic racism  is deadly enough. The U.S. is in chaos, and we’re debating whether there’s a system?

It seems to be hard to juggle the multiple aspects of the cop problem. Policy makers, keep in mind that the solution is a three legged stool, Police Brutality Part 4. 

  • If you just legislate, you will fail.
  • If you just “reform”, you will fail.
  • If you don’t fix the people problem, you will fail.

Institutionalized racism is not the problem.  So what is?  There are several. The most urgent is de facto racism (names left blank for future use):

 [Black Person] is the first person [White Cop] killed.

If it wouldn’t be to much trouble, let’s also work on the other problems,  manifest in recent peaceful demonstrations.


Intel9's world view

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!