Chris Wallace announces he is leaving Fox News, joining CNN+, a Great Match

(CNN) Chris Wallace announces he is leaving Fox News, joining CNN+.

This gets ahead of the careful build of Politics Part 1, –> Politics Part2–> … , but you have to play the ball where it lies. It comes on the heels of (CNN) News outlets should be openly ‘pro-democracy,’ journalism professor says.

CNN, firmly  pro-democracy for quite a while now, has suffered a disastrous decline in ratings. (Deadline) Fox News Tops Third Quarter, But All News Networks See Year-Over-Year Declines. Quoting (Forbes) Fox News Easily Wins November Ratings As Cable News Networks See Steep Declines From 2020,

According to ratings data compiled by Nielsen, Fox News delivered an average prime time audience of 2.578 million viewers in November, followed by MSNBC (1.091 million total viewers) and CNN (654,000 viewers).

On the tech side, CNN is addressing this with development of a new streaming  platform. But why does CNN lose to Fox on cable?

In mass media, the voices of reason are disadvantaged compared to incendiary voices. As a species, we are quick to anger in response to simplistic memes that propagate in ignorance, or in secretive subversion, as the January 6 committee is revealing. The opposing political force, principled outrage, is not the reciprocal; it’s an entirely different process. It takes time to find wisdom, and more time to sell it.

This is what CNN is selling. They are not doing a very good job.

My exposure to CNN is the website. The print journalism is all over the place; the anchors are from the top of the profession. Their characters project humility and likeability. They are earnest, and at the top of their games with politics. They aren’t selling because the pitch is off, the pitch that is baked into CNN.

The insight came from analyzing my own reaction when I hear main moralizers Jake Tapper, John Avlon, or Anderson Cooper explain  Republican transgressions. Their explanations are cogent;  the deliveries impeccable. There are things on CNN I disagree with, but not these guys. So I am bored. They are preaching to the choir. The size of the choir does not increase from preaching.

The antidote to boredom is not schadenfreude filler. It comes from an understanding of rage. Two types are consuming the country: Red Rage and Blue Rage. They are not opposites. This is significant to the ratings war.

If you’re stalwart Blue, you listen to CNN. Or maybe you feel you know what they’re going to say before they say it. One thing is certain: Your Blue Rage is not fire-in-the-belly burn-the-house-down Red Rage. All you can do is grit your teeth, bide your time…, maybe look away… –while elements of Fox are stoking fire.

Journalism has a history of frequent, though not inevitable political bias. CNN is these days self-consciously liberal. Liberalism is not by itself the foundation of U.S. political discourse, which is a perpetual state of teeter-totter. To best defend democracy, CNN should build  bridges to those moderate Republicans who believe  defense of democracy is of supreme importance. This can be done by providing a cross-party debate platform on a scheduled basis.

Some  ideas of moderate Republicans may not be music to our ears. But with compromise gone from the halls of Congress, CNN could help bring it back. And it would be interesting. Chris Wallace says he wants to venture beyond politics, but he certainly knows how it could work.

So there you have it, CNN:

  • A recipe for controversy instead of boredom=higher ratings.
  • Bridges, with a platform that promotes compromise.
  • Possible  strengthening of the beleaguered Republican moderates.

Oh, and one more thing, CNN: Hire me.

 

 

 

Politics Part2

My next bookshelf find is a textbook, Ancient History (Robinson, Macmillan, 2nd ed., 1967), of six parts.   A page count:

  • Prehistory, 30 pages.
  • The Ancient Near East, 72.
  • Hellas, 256;  the Hellenistic Age,  33.
  • The Roman Republic,  102.
  • The Roman Empire,  120.

Intending pedagogic balance, Robinson’s book is 37% things Greek, spanning perhaps 900 years. Reasons for this focus: A break with myth as the sole source of explanation, foundations of Western thought,  thought for the sake of thought. The sardonic, unappreciative termite adds another view:  fun for scholars.

The termite notes that Greek philosophy is the first body of thought that eludes universal comprehension. Myth, manufactured for everybody, had only one level, the flat non-logic of given truth.  Though Thales, the first to displace myth, shared this simplicity, a Cambrian Explosion of thought favored complexity (sophistication!) with shrinking accessibility. There had been arcane ritual with mythic pseudo-knowledge. Now, birth in the West of new, intricate modalities of thought,  the question replacing the answer, and a new custodial class of scholars.

Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living, presaging  the epiphany of The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. But whose life, examined by who? Not the average Athenians who condemned Socrates to death.  Licensed therapists were 2000 years in the future.

The innovation of elite thought condemned the philosophers to long eclipse. The Romans reverted to politically inspired myth; philosophic stasis ensued, followed by a millennium+ of ecclesiastical rule.  The advent of Introspection was delayed to the 19th century, competing with the  bicameral mind still evident in Freud’s hysterical  Vienna.

Shortly after the mind became a thing, groups of  minds became a thing. Marx, the first sociologist, authored what is the arguably the first modern, partisan political literature, the Communist Manifesto, swiftly printed on the new steam-powered Koenig  press in  time for the revolutions of 1848. It has a quality  divinity academics ascribe to sacred literature; to the receptive mind, free of competition from other ideas, it is self-revealing. Every partisan author aspires to this.

The self-revealing quality was the unintentional result of Marx’s fervent idealism, advantaged by novel ideas that had not been shown to fail. The next step was to be the same quality achieved with recycled ideas of lesser or doubtful promise. This required a future leap of social technology.

Raucous machine politics of the late 19th century was inspiration for Walter Lippmann, in search of how the democratic process can approach the ideal of the informed decision. In Public Opinion, he asserted that the same is manufactured, which implies manipulation. Controversially, and perhaps darkly, he thought this was a good thing. His reputation survived; see Saving American Democracy, Part 1.

Though  political propaganda predates Public Opinion, the book defines the goal and technology in a democratic system. It’s there to use. So is  political media all propaganda, as some claim, unless proven otherwise? The massive propaganda organs of undemocratic regimes were uncontested monopolies. Ours are eminently contestable.

In a well-oiled totalitarian state, the citizen has no choice of what to believe. In our society, people believe what they want to hear.  Is this enough of a difference?

Next. The influence of Socrates on modern politics.

 

 

 

Politics Part 1

You don’t read Intel9 for politics. My politics are of no interest, except possibly for curiosity about the author. Personal politics slip easily into rant, with no relevance to the niche analysis that brings you here. So I have  avoided politics, except in cases of inextricable collision with issues for which niche contributions are possible.

My termite instinct, to undermine, has been fruitful with COVID. I’d like to tunnel a little into politics, targeting not the foundations of democracy itself, but the reflective awareness of which the media is such an integral part.

Hiding on one of my  dusty shelves, or possibly banished to a box, is a book of Bronze Age history. I found it in a Strand outdoor bin for a buck. A fun way-back perspective? I  lugged it home and read about 35 pages. The perspective was archaeological. Since Minoan palaces were singular, and mud towns were ubiquitous in the Middle East, the book is a probe into rubble, describing the remains of these places like bulldozed taco stands:

,…in XXXX BCE a thriving community….trade with Indus…religious figurines, fertility figurines with stylistic influence of …. apparent…mud wall dates to XXYY…destroyed in XYXY…pottery shards indicate Scythian influence…ruins repopulated around YXYX…diminished prosperity…population dispersed around YYYX with no signs of conflict…

This goes on for about 2000 years or 400 pages of shattered pottery and salted earth,  ending in the Bronze Age Collapse in 1200 BCE. We don’t know what these people looked like, since realistic art had not yet evolved. We don’t know the reason for the collapse; political strife is never so thorough. Volcanism or drought are possibilities, perhaps in concert with plagues. Historians should more often reach for Rats, Lice and History. It could have been amplified by a virus.

We don’t know what they thought. Yet their genes survive in us today; some may literally walk among us, the anonymous presence of prehistory. Figurines, altars, and decorative expression hint. Narrative literature existed, but not about the self;  it had the purpose of propagation of myth.

To an agnostic like myself, myth encompasses and extends beyond religion, encoding as memorable fiction much of the firmware most individuals require to function in society. Other contributions are courtesy of Hammurabi, and “upbringing.” Since this was before the advent of recreational or creative thought, it completes with the basal concept of authority, “might makes right”, formalized as the divine right of kings and ecclesiastical authority. It is functional myth, where disobedience gets hammered.

So their minds were stocked from a primitive pantry, some of which survives today, in flesh as well as mind. How different were they? The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (Jaynes, 1977) proposed that humans were not introspectively aware until the 2nd millennium BCE. Before introspection, Jaynes asserts, the impulse came from an imagined entity. A mythic entity.

I think it is partly true. Jaynes’ extreme manifests as schizophrenia, acceptable in an age when myth was breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It grades into mild/slight/no mental health issues, towards a mind ruled by belief to the exclusion of reason, which is well accepted in U.S. society, if not by readers of this blog. Such minds compose a good portion of the electorate.

So when you bump into some crusty old friend on the street, with  the impression he hasn’t changed a bit in 20 years, make that 2000. To be continued shortly. In the meantime , I managed to locate a 2000 year old man who will amplify these points.

The Two Thousand Year Old Man

 

 

 

 

Retrospective Thanks to Bob Dole

Dear Senator Dole,

The recollections of your friends and associates testify to your broad, genial, collaborative contribution to the vibrancy of the two-party system we formerly enjoyed. The sincere humanity of your extemporaneous “off script”  expressions has always been rare in politics.

I did not appreciate this at the time. But who would have thought things would get this bad?

Regards,

Number9

 

Omicron, a Good Thing?

From (2/2020) COVID-19, Live Vaccine Possible from Wild Serotype Overlap?,

With that taken care of, Indonesia’s claim of zero  native cases (ABC, First case of corona virus linked to Bali after report Chinese tourist returned positive test). is no more than carelessness combined with wishful thinking.

But is it? If confirmed by more  instances, the explanations are limited to three:

      • Some people are genetically more susceptible than others.
      • Some groups have cultural practices that protect.
      • There are in circulation, one or more corona viruses with overlapping serotypes.

A widely circulating, yet comparatively benign Omicron, providing it retains a serotype that cross-reacts with earlier strains, could function somewhat like a vaccine. What it lacks in efficacy it could make up with omnipresence.

This was written in February 2020, and proved to be false.  It is now possibly true.

 

 

Will COVID Vaccination Prevent Mutation? Napkin Calculation #7

Preface: This is not an anti-vaccine argument. The conclusion implies we will need more vaccines and vaccinations, not less.

Will COVID vaccination prevent mutation? This has been touted as a reason to get the whole world vaccinated.  There are other good reasons; we challenge only the idea it will prevent mutations. The challenge is presented in the form of a napkin calculation. Since it is more involved than previous calcs, the last half of this is  labeled for techies only. The first half is for everybody. Let’s start with a simple visualization — pesticide resistance.

In areas with rat infestation, bait laced with warfarin, was used as  rat poison, in a cycle like this:

  • See rats.
  • Set the bait.
  • Almost all the rats die.
  • Problem solved, for a while.
  • Rats come back, repeat with bait.
  • Eventually, after many cycles, the bait loses  effectiveness, failing to kill rats.

If rats could actually be extirpated, as has been managed on a few small islands, this example would not be useful. But rats are mobile, repopulating areas where they were exterminated. Some new rats have random mutations.   Controlling rats with this poison confers a survival advantage to a warfarin-resistance mutation. From (Wikipedia) Warfarin,

The use of warfarin itself as a rat poison is now declining, because many rat populations have developed resistance to it,[94] and poisons of considerably greater potency are now available. Resistance is due to an autosomal dominant on chromosome 1 in Norway rats.[94]

Pretty soon the poison resistant rats take over, so another poison must be used. Predicates, with analogy to COVID:

  • If warfarin made rats go extinct, the mutation would not have occurred.
  • If warfarin were not poisonous, the mutation would still randomly occur, but would not confer a survival advantage, so the majority of rats would never acquire it.
  • In between these extremes, warfarin could be mildly poisonous, effective against rats most of the time.
  • By analogy, COVID vaccines are effective against COVID to varying degrees. A breakthrough infection is analogous to a rat that takes the bait and survives.
  • Unlike rats, with COVID, breakthrough infections to date have only partly been the result of mutations. Mutations occur in the course of infections, but it is impractical to identify the individuals.

An escape mutation allows the virus to evade the vaccine. Per each exposure, there is a chance of a single escape mutation. How is this a function of vaccine efficacy? In this napkin calc model,

  • The calc is for a single, vaccinated individual, for whom the chance of infection is a constant.
  • Everyone in the whole world is completely vaccinated.
  • The complexities of the real world are ignored.
  • If the  vaccine is 0% effective, an escape mutation may occur, but without survival advantage that would cause it to out-compete viruses without the mutation.
  • If the vaccine is 100% effective, there are no cases, hence no mutations. Most epidemiologists seem focused on the neighborhood.
  • In between these extremes, what level of vaccine efficacy is most likely to produce an escape mutation? Intuitively, it’s a number not right up against 0% or 100%, but somewhere in between.

Napkin calcs are not to be trusted. We use this one for a legitimate purpose, to undermine the assertion that practical levels of vaccination and vaccine efficacy can make a dent in variants of concern. The number is 50%.  In our simplified world, a vaccine that works half the time is most likely to result in a COVID escape mutation in a single person.

The actual chance of  occurrence of an escape is very small, like 1 in 500 million.  Get vaccinated!!!

If you are not a techie, the takeaway for you  is 1/2. A vaccine that works half the time is close to the real situation, which does not involve people fully vaccinated with a perfect matching vaccine. You should now go have a beer. What follows is for techies only. Or maybe I should say, like CNN: Warning. Contains disturbing numbers. Viewer discretion is advised.

For Techies Only

Our napkin calc lacks a model, so we use a common trick of the statistics game: We impose a statistical distribution motivated by intuition, and see how well it compares to the real world. In this case, comparison is impossible. We use a Gaussian  distribution with the tails chopped off. Definitions:

P( something )  = probability of something.

“|” means “given”, or “conditional on.”

“^”,  means raised to the power of.

break = “breakthrough”

escape = occurrence of escape mutation

Conditional probability: P( escape )= P( escape | break )*P( break )

Our trial Gaussian- inspired distribution is

P( escape) = C*exp[  – (break – alpha )^2/beta^2 ] + D

where alpha, beta, C, and D are to be determined.

Boundary conditions:

If P( break ) = 0,  P( escape ) = 0   (case of perfect vaccine)

If P( break ) = 1,  P( escape ) =0   (case of vaccine dud)

For a vaccine with small break,  P( escape ) = P( break ). In words: If a vaccine is almost perfectly protective, an infection is likely to have an escape mutation. This provides an enhanced break = 0 boundary condition for the first order expansion of

exp – [ ((break – alpha)/beta)^2 ]

At break = 1,  to 2nd order, the boundary condition for the expansion is,

1 – ( 1 – alpha )^2/beta^2 = 0

This gives

alpha = beta = 1/2

With these boundary conditions, the goal is to find the value of break that maximizes P( 0 < break < 1).

Insert alpha and beta into the full exponential. Determine D so that at  break = 0 and break = 1,

C*( exp[ – (break – alpha )^2/beta^2 ] + D ) = 0

, re-satisfying the boundary conditions. We get

 D  =  -1/e

It is not necessary to determine C by normalization; we only want the maximum.

Substituting,

P( escape ) = C*[exp – ( (2*break – 1)^2)  – 1/e ]

which is maximum at break = 1/2. This implies a vaccine with 50% breakthrough is the most likely to produce escape mutations. Since this is a really tough problem, the most we can say is,

Or something like it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Covid-19 variant; Start the Clock on Omicron/B.1.1.529

(CNN) A new Covid-19 variant could show immune evasion and enhanced transmissibility, South African scientists warn.

COVID Winter Predictions; Napkin Calculation #6, Part 2 does not mention  a new variant; this is not yet predictable. This may change after a few years of virulent variants, or research into the potential of viable mutations. The record so far is roughly one mutation of concern per 6 months.

In COVID Winter Predictions; Napkin Calculation #6, Part 2, I wrote,

When a system of thought produces a decision as wrong in delay as the FDA decision,  it demands critical examination — of the system, not the decision.  Otherwise, the system will continue to deal out similar, deadly errors, correct in form, wrong in hindsight. No decision process should have sanctity. Figure it out.

This applies not just to boosters, but also to modification, semi de novo vaccines for a new variant. We will shortly have the results of in vitro antibody neutralization tests against current vaccines. The results will  offer preclinical estimates of vaccine immunity evasion. If the tests show  current vaccines neutralize Omicron/B.1.1.529,  the story ends here.

If Omicron evades current vaccines, the story continues, with vaccine development a hybrid of now-tested platforms against a new target, spike protein with an unprecedented number of mutations. The clock starts in a race between enhanced COVID mortality and the risks of partly de novo vaccines. The booster question was decided in strict accordance with FDA protocols, delaying rollout relative to feasible, with the yet-to-be-seen consequences.

Let’s explore what may become a real world sequence of administrative decisions in vaccine development for Omicron:

  • In vitro tests imply antibody evasion.
  • Case-control studies look at vaccination history of individuals with Omicron infection, for confirmation of in vitro tests.
  • Omicron continues to spread, confirming real-world selective pressure for the variant.
  • Vaccine makers select spike protein targets. Small quantities of antigens are made, to test against Omicron in the dish.
  • Pilot (small scale industrial) vaccine production.
  • Animal trials, then human.

Moderna partially and ethically overlapped animal/human, with Stage 0 human trials – can-it-work?, before completion of animal trials.  (Stat) Researchers rush to test coronavirus vaccine in people without knowing how well it works in animals. It saved lives, a potential example of foreshortening strategies. Stages 1,2, and 3 follow, double-blind, where neither the participant or the investigators know who got the shot and who got the placebo until the stage is unblinded.

  • Stage 1 safety trials on volunteers with ethical consent.
  • Stage 2 trial, does it work?  Months elapse as the study cohort is followed until statistical confidence is obtained.
  • Stage  3, efficacy compared to no or other vaccine.
  • Mass production/EUA, or EUA/mass production.

There is risk, and opportunity to save time, by overlapping stages. Techniques of data fusion, applied to multiple stages and studies, can shorten time to statistical significance. In Operation Warp Speed, the big players were capitalized to risk mass production before EUA, risking only money.

Before EUA, the risk of skipping/overlapping steps is limited to study volunteers, and financial loss. The public remains at risk to  COVID.  If in vitro tests were accepted as temporary proxies for case-control studies, several months could be gained, at no risk.

The delay by the FDA of boosters, with implications for Omicron, signifies blind adherence to what Hippocrates never said: “First, do no harm.” We need sighted adherence to the same: First, do the least harm and the most good. Within our sight is one question, which may cut the knot, leaving the remaining risks, of the vaccine platforms, pretty well known and tolerable.

The mRNA vaccines cause cells within the recipient to  produce fragments of spike protein as the antigen, in the case of Omicron, a highly mutated form.  Spike protein is  toxic. (PubMed) Be aware of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein: There is more than meets the eye.

Released into tissues unbound to an adjuvant, spike protein fragments have higher mobility than the antigen of a typical protein based vaccine, diffusing through body tissues. The vast majority of mRNA recipients have experienced no untoward side effects. While the current mRNA vaccines are an unqualified success, the Omicron spike protein is an unknown risk factor.

Is there a way to telescope this risk evaluation into a smaller interval than typified by FDA protocols? One stratagem is very high dosing of animal models,  including higher primates, such as the African Green Monkey. (Nature) Animal models for COVID-19.

We will shortly know if the Omicron clock has started running. Vaccine researchers will undoubtedly identify more issues. Omicron may require the fullest exploitation of knowledge to shorten the development cycle, to abide a sighted version of the Oath:

First, do the least harm and the most good.

COVID Winter Predictions; Napkin Calculation #6, Part 2

We continue from COVID Winter Predictions; Delta+/AY.4.2; Prediction Follies, Part 1.

This paints a picture:

A picture of the failure of COVID vaccines to benefit public health in the way they benefit the individual, which is indisputable. While medical knowledge of the disease is significant and growing, it paints a picture of almost total ignorance of the epidemiology of COVID. The distinction is important, since the medical profession is under siege by a large contingent of the public who have descended to idiocy, exacerbated by unscrupulous politicians and social media.

Quoting from COVID Winter Predictions; Delta+/AY.4.2; Prediction Follies, Part 1,

This is one of those occasions where it is constructive to undermine. To allow the predictions to remain unchallenged invites possible public health whiplash, as happened with (CNN, 2021/05/14) The CDC says masks are no longer needed inside or out if you’re fully vaccinated. By now, we should realize that COVID has more fake-out moves than the Harlem Globetrotters.

A model is a means to simulate a real world process, usually on a computer, sometimes on a napkin. The current state of the art, COVID-19 ScenarioModelingHub, Round 9, takes as input the plateau-uptick that began on 10/23/2021. But as of  11/20-present, the uptick barely registers in the predictions. In isolation, you may be forgiven your trust. But you can’t ignore Europe, which is not fundamentally different from the U.S. A sinking suspicion invades your brain: You can do better reading the news.

The predictions of COVID-19 ScenarioModelingHub, Round 9 look no better, and possibly worse, than a math technique that dates to about 1960, the linear Kalman filter.   In the 60’s, this mainstay of systems engineering was a game toy, used to predict things like weather, for which it should not have worked at all. It worked better than nothing.

I’m not going to bother you with the meaning of “linear”, except to note that many problems can be broken into linear pieces. This is why the ScenarioModelingHub models seem to work — until there is a change in the trend. The inability to predict a change in trend is characteristic of a bad model. Only the simplest part of the models work, the crude linear approximation. Garbage in, garbage out. 

Our napkin calculations are guilty of same, but they make no pretense of accuracy.  The wisdom of John von Neumann applies: “There’s no sense in being precise when you don’t even know what you’re talking about.” A napkin calculation is not to be believed, but usefully undermines pretenses of sophistication.

Let’s enumerate recent public health pronouncements for contradictions:

  • Two shots are all you need. This was recently turned on its head.
  • Cell mediated immunity, plasma cell growth, and antibody quality continue to improve long after antibody titers decline, providing durable protection. On its head.
  • The reproduction numbers, R_o and R, are useful in prediction modeling. False beyond trivial napkin calcs.
  • A vaccination sequence that works when people stand 6 feet away works when people stand 3 feet away. Numbers, breakthrough versus distance, versus date of vaccination, unknown.
  • Three shots are all you need. Doubtful.
  • Breakthrough cases are  minimally infectious. Correctness,  with normal waning of immunity is  unknown.
  • When, after this winter, in analogy with  German Health Minister Jens Spahn, (CNBC) “probably by the end of this winter, pretty much everyone in Germany will be vaccinated, recovered or dead…”, we will finally be done with COVID. Doubtful.
  • COVID is like other respiratory diseases. Manifestly false. It seems to re-arm after a short interval.
  • Herd immunity will happen. Not to the extent you might hope.

Taking note of this poor state of knowledge, we paint what went wrong with a broad brush.

Empirical. Diligence in social distancing has declined. At the Willow Grove, PA Home Depot store, 80% of employees faked the wearing of masks, nose uncovered, or around their necks. At the Moreland Road Walmart, 50% compliance was observed.

Theoretical.  Quoting Becker’s Hospital Review) States ranked by percentage of population fully vaccinated: Nov. 23,

“As of 6 a.m. EDT Nov. 22, a total of 196,398,948 Americans had been fully vaccinated, or 59.2 percent of the country’s population, according to the CDC’s data.”

Not anymore, they aren’t. In the crude world described by John von Neumann, where we don’t know what we are talking about, cut that in half, to 30%. It will do for argument. Now dredge up Napkin Calculation #4, which resides at (CNN) White House frustrated with Irresponsible Delta Variant Coverage…Napkin Calculation #4. The relevant equation:

    • Effect of a vaccine: R = R_o * (breakthrough%)/100.

With loss of social distancing, we have to pick a number for R_o. Estimates have been as high as 9. (Journal of Travel Medicine) The reproductive number of the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 is far higher compared to the ancestral SARS-CoV-2 virus offers the result of a survey, R_o = 5. Since some people are still wearing masks properly, let’s fold it into R_o, as R_mask = 3.5, so we can see what the vaccine does.

Now pick a breakthrough rate for the poorly vaccinated U.S. population. 70% breakthrough is plausible. Reduced immunity from aged vaccination status may tamp down mortality, but many breakthroughs will experience the worst sickness in their lives. Let’s plug in the numbers:

    • For Pfizer, possibly Moderna, and Delta, R = 3.5*( 0.7) = 2.45. Disaster!

On July 10, I began to agitate for a booster: Pfizer versus FDA & CDC; Booster Shot Needed Sooner than Later. On July 12, Pfizer Booster is Needed? Breakthrough Case Infectivity; Managing Public Health Communications. Quoting from  {9/15) FDA advisers consider Covid-19 booster shots Friday, 

So why the resistance? FDA/CDC are constituted to render decisions of the kind that A nationwide study… presents fact in the state of Israel. Nothing in the FDA/CDC charters permit rubber-stamping the authority of another national establishment, even one as competent as Israel.

Following form, and the requirements elucidated by Drs. Philip Krause,  Marion Gruber, and Paul Offitt, for evidence based medicine,  the FDA did not approve a booster. On 11/19, they approved boosters for everybody, though 6 months after the 2nd shot may not be timely.

When a system of thought produces a decision as wrong in delay as the FDA decision,  it demands critical examination — of the system, not the decision.  Otherwise, the system will continue to deal out similar, deadly errors, correct in form, wrong in hindsight. No decision process should have sanctity. Figure it out.

If I was prescient, napkins deserve the credit. Napkin calculations facilitate mental flexibility, because they are so easy to change. The models of ScenarioModelingHub are enormously complicated, involving automated data collection, normalization, and complex calculations. The modeler becomes a slave to the model.

As for the rest of us, we can free ourselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mike Pence and James Madison; Federalist Paper 51

(CNN) Pence says he looked to James Madison as he certified the 2020 election for Biden. Quoting,

Asked during an event at the University of Iowa who had told him to buck Trump’s plan, Pence responded, “James Madison.”…The former vice president also cited the Bible, saying, “Psalm 15 says he who keeps his oath even when it hurts.”

What did Pence mean? I thought the media would engage constitutional scholars  for a view of the inside of Pence’s head. But they didn’t, leaving Madison’s contribution in the shadow of Dolly Madison’s purported introduction of ice cream to the White House.

Madison is thought to have written 29 of the 85 anonymous Federalist Papers, widely considered the most important political texts of U.S. democracy. Pence most likely referred to No. 51, written by either Hamilton or Madison, The Structure of the Government Must Furnish the Proper Checks and Balances Between the Different Departments. The lack of formatting makes the  .gov versions  hard to read. Alternate sources are publicly available; see (The Avalon Project) No. 51. A formatted version with interpretation: (Bill of Rights Institute) Federalist Papers No. 51 (1788).

I re-read  No. 51, picking at it as Pence may have. The likely interpretation comes out of  textual order. The problem: The executive branch might seek to be self perpetuating, a form of dictatorship. Quoting,

Ambition must be made to counteract ambition…If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.

In the pivotal moment, Pence, as President Pro Tempore of the Senate, saw his obligation as control, as check on power.  Though he did not have No. 51 in hand, he backed up a few hundred words, and recalled,

In order to lay a due foundation for that separate and distinct exercise of the different powers of government, which to a certain extent is admitted on all hands to be essential to the preservation of liberty, it is evident that each department should have a will of its own; and consequently should be so constituted that the members of each should have as little agency as possible in the appointment of the members of the others.

By implication, it should not be a power of Congress, the legislative branch, to select the President,  head of the Executive Branch.

The Federalist Papers are not law.  They are essays written by some of the framers of the Constitution, providing insight into their intent not visible in the terse text of the Constitution. A scholar or jurist of  “strict construction” literalness might never refer to the papers in opinions. More interpretive jurists often refer to the Papers.

Mike Pence, arch-conservative,  chose to immortalize the intent of the Founding Fathers in tandem with their creation, the Constitution of the United States.

You may or may not like the political views of Mike Pence.  Yet history will grant him this: He was the man of the hour. 

Thank you, Mike.

 

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