URLs du Jour

2020-05-12

[Amazon Link]
Why is my Bing picture a stained-glass window of Florence Nightingale? Ah, it's the 200th anniversary of her birth in Florence, Italy. And it's also International Nurses Day. Probably too late to order our Amazon Product du Jour in honor.

  • At National Review, David Harsanyi is pretty happy with the Flynn outcome; he considers it an example of the Rule of Law Upheld.

    ‘There is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free,” former president Barack Obama reportedly told members of the Obama Alumni Association. “That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic — not just institutional norms — but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk. And when you start moving in those directions, it can accelerate pretty quickly as we’ve seen in other places.”

    This is, at best, shameless projection.

    We now know that the Obama administration engaged in unprecedented abuses of power, not merely in its persistent attempts to circumvent the other branches of the United States government, but in its weaponizing of government institutions for partisan ends, including our intelligence agencies.

    Hey, don't worry: President Biden will get us back to that.


  • At Reason, Jacob Sullum wonders: Does Questioning Official COVID-19 Statistics Make This Doctor a ‘Denialist’? (Yes, Betteridge's law of headlines applies.)

    Are COVID-19 deaths undercounted? Yes, especially if people with other illnesses die at home and are never tested for the virus that causes the disease. Are COVID-19 deaths overcounted? Probably also yes, especially when physicians try to compensate for the lack of testing by inferring that COVID-19 caused a death without laboratory confirmation, but also when they assume that the disease killed someone who tested positive, even if the actual cause might have been something else.

    Judging from excess mortality in places hit hard by the epidemic, the first problem is bigger than the second problem, although those figures are ambiguous, may be incomplete, and so far are limited to relatively brief periods of time. In principle, the accuracy of COVID-19 death tallies is an empirical question, albeit one that may never be conclusively answered. But like virtually every other pandemic puzzle, it is also a political question, as illustrated by a recent New York Times story that charges Scott Jensen, a Minnesota family doctor and Republican state legislator, with aiding and abetting right-wing "denialists" who think all the hoopla about COVID-19 is a conspiracy cooked up by Donald Trump's enemies.

    Jacob notes that (unlike COVID-19) "confirmation bias and motivated reasoning" are universal problem in human brains, equally likely to afflict New York Times writers and Republican doctors in Minnesota.


  • And even my friends at Granite Grok are not immune. For example, this article by (obviously pseudonymous) "Percy Blakeney": This coronavirus is the biggest scam ever perpetrated upon the American public. Here's where I stopped reading, in a section titled "Compare for Yourself":

    Compare it to all the diseases and events that cause death in the world. Don’t let yourself be duped. We are witnessing the idiocy of health bureaucrats, fake news media, and politicians. This faux crisis is all about power, control, and money.

    Look at the list of causes of deaths worldwide. It is a way to gain a perspective on this manufactured crisis. National Geographic magazine says your lifetime chance of being struck by lightning is 1 in 3000. Your chance of dying of COVID-19 this year in Texas is 1 in 50,000. You are 16X more likely to be killed by lightning than by this coronavirus in Texas.

    The comment I left:

    With respect to "Compare for Yourself": You are not comparing apples to apples in your risk calculation.

    That National Geographic Flash Facts About Lightning demands my e-mail address, so I passed. But I assume the National Weather Service (How Dangerous is Lightning?) risk numbers aren't much different.

    According to the NWS Storm Data, over the last 30 years (1989-2018) the U.S. has averaged 43 reported lightning fatalities per year. Only about 10% of people who are struck by lightning are killed, leaving 90% with various degrees of disability. More recently, in the last 10 years (2009-2018), the U.S. has averaged 27 lightning fatalities.

    And I'm sure you can compare Covid deaths with that as easily as I can.

    It's possible to harshly criticize statist overreaction and deadly government blunders without falling into conspiricism.


  • For example. At AEI, Charles Murray: Dealing with the pandemic is not entirely rocket science.

    The pandemic is complicated. Deciding on good policy is complicated. But a basic aspect of the American experience is not complicated and ought to be decisively affecting policy: the relationship of population density to the spread of the coronavirus. The relationship means that a great deal of the discussion about why some cities are doing worse than others is beside the point. These analyses may satisfy a natural urge to assign blame, and some of them surely have merit, but the role of one underlying demographic variable, population density, is immune to manipulation by the smartest policy.

    Mr. Murray does the numbers, and I've got no reason to doubt the very straightforward bar graph he generates:

    [not rocket science]

    Which caused me to look up the numbers for Strafford County, New Hampshire.

    Population130,633 (2019)
    Area382.6 mi²
    Reported Cases (2020-05-11)196
    Population Density341.4/mi²
    Cases per 100K1.50

    Check my math, but this puts my county very firmly on that leftmost bar.


  • And finally, Michael Graham has underpublicized news as well: DHHS Confirms: Not A Single Healthy Granite Stater Under 60 Has Died From COVID-19.

    Numbers don’t lie.

    And the shocking number about the true impact of the coronavirus pandemic on New Hampshire comes from the NH Department of Health and Human Services: The total number of Granite Staters under 60 and without some co-morbidity who’ve been killed by the coronavirus?

    Zero.

    Not a single, healthy New Hampshire resident under the age of 60 has died from COVID-19, despite estimates that approximately 60,000 of the state’s residents have been exposed to the virus.

    Click through for additional details. Things turn out to be iffy for me: yeah, sure, I live in relatively safe Strafford; but I am (ahem) no longer under 60. Not even close.


Last Modified 2020-05-12 4:45 PM EDT