URLs du Jour

2020-04-18

[Amazon Link]

  • Cato's Alan Reynolds asks the musical question: Did Mitigation Save Two Million Lives? (And it seems that Betteridge's law of headlines applies.) He looks at the famous chart displayed by President Trump showing a steep fatality bell curve (2.2 million dead) and a "flattened" curve (100K-240K dead). Problem: the curves were from two different, and incommensurable, models,

    If the point of comparing two graphs was to show estimated deaths with and without “interventions,” then there was no reason to use two models rather than one. The same Imperial College model that warned of 2.2 million U.S. deaths with no interventions also predicted 1.1 to 1.2 million deaths –not 100,000 to 240,000– even with “the most effective mitigation strategy.” The Imperial College recommendations for “most effective mitigation” focused on social distancing for those over 70 and isolation of only those infected and their contacts, rather than banning jobs or closing all restaurants and beaches. An effective strategy would be targeted and localized, consistent with the new federal guidelines for gradually easing restrictions on the least‐​risky counties, populations, activities and businesses.

    Welp, too late now!


  • There is some good news in the Granite State, though. The Union Leader reports Home hair cuts probably won't get you arrested.

    Not only does that quarantine haircut look like a crime, it might technically be one, though the punishment will be confined to the mirror.

    State law makes it illegal to cut hair without a proper license, but people who have resorted to home haircuts during the coronavirus pandemic shouldn’t be worried, an official said.

    Not that having your Missus cut your hair isn't illegal. It is. The letter of the law doesn't care if she does it for free. It's just that the state, in its majestic wisdom, won't lower this particular boom on you.


  • [Amazon Link]
    At Bleeding Heart Libertarians, Jason Brennan finds it amusing When Suddenly Everyone Is a Technocratic Epistocrat. Jason wrote a book, Against Democracy, a few years back that argued for "epistocracy", giving additional say in ruling to people who actually know what they're talking about.

    It’s utterly bizarre. When I say, “Here are 3000 highly sophisticated economic studies over a hundred years, performed by economists of all different ideological bents, all arguing X, but the people think not-X,” lots of political scientists and philosophers responded by saying, “Yeah, you can’t trust the so-called experts.” When I say, “Obviously, testing for current infection and mostly/entirely testing people who present themselves as sick introduces a severe selection bias, which means the resulting case fatality rate is not a good estimate of the infection fatality rate,” they say, “Trust the experts. Where’s your degree in epidemiology?”

    I hope I'm not going out on a limb here, but I don't think I've found epidemiologists that reliable.


  • And a Los Angeles TV station reports amusingly on a heinous toilet paper caper in Port Hueneme. And, fair warning, you'll moan at the excerpts from the police post at Facebook. Sample:

    The suspects tried to make a “clean getaway,” and police confirmed “they didn’t leave any skid marks when they fled the crime scene,” the post read.

    […]

    “We can’t be soft on crime when dealing with these dingle berries who’ll stop at nothing to clog our streets with this type of behavior,” the Facebook post stated.

    This is Pun Salad. We should do more of this stuff.