Don’t Just Run the Country – Do Something!

7.30 last night the French prime minister went on TV to urge citizens to “show some discipline and get their act together” – by staying at home. He announced that all cafés bars restaurants and other “non-essential commercial outlets” were to close at midnight until further notice. The government will compensate them and their employees in various ways, promising that workers subject to “partial unemployment” will not lose pay, and that all essential services will continue. Churches will remain open, though all gatherings of more than fifty people are banned (no problem there) and today’s local elections will go ahead, the reasoning being that you don’t have to get up close when voting. The telly shows us scenes of election officials marking off the floors of primary schools with duct tape at one metre intervals so you don’t get within spitting distance of your fellow citizens. Sounds reasonable, but you have to see how a French election works.

Piles of ballot papers for the different candidates (often a dozen or more) are laid out on a table, and you pick the ballot paper of the person you’re voting for, go into the booth, stick it in an envelope, put the envelope in the ballot box and sign the voting roll. So that no-one knows who you vote for, you typically pick up the ballot papers for all the candidates and throw the unwanted ones away after having voted. Now, I challenge you to pick a dozen sheets of paper from a dozen piles without once licking your fingers. Or to do it with gloves on.

Insane. The second round of the election is next week, by which time the number of infections will have quadrupled and there’ll be no more duct tape to be had to keep us all one metre apart, because all the DIY shops will be closed. “Essential services” will be maintained, except for plumbers, electricians, builders and a thousand other specialists who can’t get the stuff they need. Kids will be educated at home on-line, except for the ones without computers, or whose computers are broken and can’t be repaired because… and so on.

But of course, the people who keep our hospitals, water, electricity, gas, sewage, transport, post, delivery services, and supermarkets running will still be risking their lives providing us essential services, working overtime because their colleagues are sick, while their neighbours who are teachers, barmen and shopkeepers are sitting at home on full pay. They just won’t have anywhere to eat at lunchtime, and the number of buses and trains to take them to work will be cut back, because of “lack of demand.” And the TV this morning is showing interviews with boozy Saturday night sheep enjoying a last glass and agreeing that it’s a good idea to effectively shut down half the country’s economy so that a few thousand people will get ill in April instead of March.

In times like this one needs government by a Committee of Public Safety, consisting of people practised in questioning the competence of experts and the sanity of our elected leaders. Stand up Sceptics. Enough of quietly using our Big Oil finance to sow doubt in the media and otherwise subvert science and the popular will. It’s time to rise up and seize the reins of power.

And don’t forget to bring a guillotine. (The stationer’s is closed, but you can buy one on-line.)


  1. How do you make it so funny?

    The second round of the election is next week, by which time the number of infections will have quadrupled and there’ll be no more duct tape to be had to keep us all one metre apart, because all the DIY shops will be closed.

    Etc. Peter Hitchens is saying similar things in the Mail on Sunday about the UK:

    I am quite sure that many of the current panic measures do far more harm than good. They create the idea that we are in the midst of a terrifying plague that will kill us all, when the truth – though disturbing – is far less frightening.

    Their worst effect is to savage the economy by scaring people away from normal activities.

    I went to the cinema last Sunday evening and there were six people in the theatre for what ought to be a successful film.

    A florist known to me has just lost hundreds of pounds in business from cancelled events this weekend.

    We have all seen the staggering, tottering behaviour of the stock markets, possibly triggered and certainly worsened by virus frenzy.

    As for myself, I was looking forward to watching my team, Spurs, play Manchester United this weekend. The way the Premier League caved, not to the UK government but to alarmism, I thought was highly unimpressive. The Blitz spirit not.

    I didn’t know Hitchens was such a health faddist. The coronacrisis is revealing all sorts of stuff about us. And I think the GWPF isn’t alone is seeing the positives for future climate debate, as long as we don’t collectively commit suicide before that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Two further points, if I may. First, to underline your comment on Tony’s post on Freeman Dyson’s career during WWII:

    My post war baby boom generation knew about these kinds of choices at second hand from the previous wartime experience of our parents’ generation. The Extinction Rebellion generation has never met anyone who had to make a choice more difficult than whether or not to cycle to work or cut down on foreign holidays. They could read about it though.

    Thus the possibility of a tiny percentage of footballers getting ill for a week and recovering, in the next three weeks, is treated as Armageddon. The dumb and dumber safety-first crowd that we run into all the time in the climate debate knew better than (in this case, to our surprise) the government’s own experts, who clearly were taking into account the dangers to an already-fragile economy.

    We should have followed doctor’s advice but we didn’t have the fortitude to do so. The boredom of Radio 5 Live without any sport is already soul-destroying. I’m going to have read Simon of Stylites.

    The other phrase that keeps coming back to me is my own version of the climate activist mantra:

    Man-made global warming is so serious that we must do something, however stupid.

    Covid-19 actually is reasonably serious, as health challenges go, but it is revealing deeper weaknesses. Let’s hope the covert climate sceptics in, or close to, government take full advantage.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There have been studies done upon how quickly our intricate societies can (or would) unravel. I have no intention of seeking them out and the Italians (or Doris Day) said it best: “Que sera, sera”. I don’t want to be “The Man who Knew Too Much”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice one, Geoff.

    Think about this. We live in a village in Southern Burgundy. We are self-sufficient in eggs and about 50% so in vegetables and fruit and with a decent cool cellar so that we can afford to bulk buy the appropriate fresh produce and store it. Many of our neighbours are in the same situation. We provide some storage for some of those who aren’t. Madame is also a prolific maker of jam and supplies a B&B run by English friends of our daughter.

    The immediate question is where do I get hen food and the seed/seedlings for the coming year’s crop if the local garden centres and bricos are closed? Because those are the places that stock them. Multiply my problem by the couple of dozen villagers in the same situation and then by the number of villages …. and you start to understand why an edict that all outlets bar supermarkets, pharmacies, tabacs and filling stations must shut NOW has taken no account of the realities.

    Add to that the rumours — and the neighbour who passed this one on this morning is emphatically not given to gossip or scaremongering — that the government is considering substantial fines for anyone found in a public place without good reason and it is time to start wondering whether our politicians have finally lost all contact with reality. The cure is rapidly becoming worse than the disease!

    We are both in the “at risk” age group (late 70s) but neither of us, nor anyone else we know, is about to panic. We either get this disease or we don’t and then we either die of it or we don’t. And given the speed motor cycles pass our gate I’m frankly more worried about crossing the road!


    Good to hear from you after so long. You’re obviously taking to heart the government’s message to help us oldies by keeping in touch in these days of isolation.

    Mike, you obviously haven’t been glued to the telly screen all day as I have, or you would have heard that the original plan to close down all except food shops and pharmacies has been considerably relaxed. DIY stores are now to be allowed to open, along with opticians, pet shops, wine cellars and physiotherapists. They didn’t mention oriental massage parlours, but I’m sure they’ll be ok as long as they’ve got noodles and soy sauce on the shelves.

    Don’t think I’m taking this lightly. I caught the end of the daily update by the British scientific and medical advisers, and they seemed to suggest that isolation could last three months. Once people have got over moaning about bog paper hoarders they might begin to reflect about what that means for our society – which means the whole western world.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Covid-19 risk management is clearly different for all of us but Geoff’s comment about the WWII situation plus Mike’s about theirs right now, plus these tweets on Twitter, triggered what I hope is an amusing memory.

    When I was first diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes over ten years ago (which I know increases the negative probabilities for the next four months, or whenever) a Russian friend tried to reassure me. “Oh, my grandmother had diabetes for 40 years and lived to a ripe old age, dying of something else entirely.” I was indeed reassured. “She also survived the seige of Leningrad.” I wasn’t so sure.

    I told this story to a guy testing my eyes for diabetic damage in the local hospital a few years back (strangely the macular hole problem that emerged in 2018 was nothing to do with this) and he quipped: “Yes, I guess there weren’t many cream buns available at that time.” Some people have it so easy. 🙂


  7. Things come full circle:

    TV soaps ‘to remind viewers about hand-washing’

    That link amused me as I read about the latest from Boris and co. It’s good to hear that the French government has got more practical, by the way. How practical three months isolation for over-70s and others at risk is, as Geoff mentions, is as yet unknown.


  8. Mike Jackson’s rumourmongering neighbour was right. Macron has just announced we’re all to stay at home except for minimal trips to the shops, doctor’s, etc., with unspecified punishment for offenders. No home visits allowed except from insurance agents and undertakers. (Macron is known to dine weekly with the head of the French branch of Blackrock, which has its eyes on the untapped French health insurance market.) He repeated “We are at war” five times, and warned u against fake news on social media.

    The corona virus crisis is revealing an underlying factor in our societies which links directly to the climate question. We get bogged down often enough on non-scientific threads like this one in questions such as whether academics and journalists are thick or venal, suffering from cognitive bias or some other ill-defined psychological characteristic which explains nothing and gets the discussion nowhere. A week of intense telly-watching persuades me that maybe the answer is simpler: journalists, and academic wannabe journalists in the Conversation, are maybe just careless.

    Consider the response to Trump’s recent decision to limit flights to and from Europe. He changed his mind about it several times, of course, but that doesn’t excuse the journalist on French state TV who, in the course of a single report, gave three differing interpretations. Trump had banned all flights to and from Europe (except the UK); he’d banned all Europeans from entering the USA; he’d banned anyone coming from Europe to the USA. (The BBC’s version was that he’d banned anyone who’d been in the Schengen area during the past fourteen days from entering the USA.) Nitpicking? Maybe to you, but not to the millions of people who are being fed fake news that may affect them intimately. Schengen is not the EU and the EU isn’t Europe. Not all Europeans live in Europe and not everyone in Europe is a European. This matters, but not to TV journalists. Unlike judges, fictional detectives, and the guy who checks the stock on the supermarket shelves, journalists are not much bothered whether what they say is true or not. Isn’t that odd?

    Macron also mentioned the scientific consensus, and this might get interesting, because if there’s one thing that studio discussions have revealed it’s that the experts are often in violent disagreement – which is normal. When you ask a pulmonologist, an epidemiologist, a psychiatrist, and a hospital administrator what is to be done, of course they’re going to disagree. Only a journalist or a President of France would expect a consensus. Where on earth did they get that stupid idea?

    Meanwhile, it’s passed unnoticed that central banks have lost control of the economy. The only plan in town seems to be to repeat 2009 and save the banks. That policy produced a wave of murderous anger directed at bankers and plutocrats last time round, uniting Trots and Tories. There were comments on the letter pages of the Telegraph which would get you arrested for incitement to terrorism nowadays. But this time round we’ve got three leisurely months sitting alone in front of a screen to reflect and plot.


  9. Before we get to the banks, let’s cancel the engineering bailout.

    Some good housekeeping like this would help me to believe.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The cure is becoming worse than the disease. There are no reliable statistics on death rates from COVID because there is no extensive testing. For flu, the numbers are this year for the flu in the US are: 230K people tested positive. 22K deaths and 36 million estimated cases. That’s a death rate of 10% in the phony metric everyone is using for COVID. There is no evidence yet that this new virus is more deadly than the flu. There is beginning to be good evidence that its very hard to stop through quarantines and shutting the economy down. If every other person is unemployed and not getting paid, that does a lot of harm too.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is the report from UCL that caused the drastic change in UK policy yesterday:

    This is quite funny about the economy:

    I couldn’t resist here. It seemed in line with my Twitter fast for Lent (begun before the seriousness of Covid-19 was apparent):

    David (DPY): I hope you’re right (‘no evidence yet that this new virus is more deadly than the flu’). I know software modelling can be as wrong as that. But, for reasons I’ve given on the blog in the last few days, I’m inclined to follow the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) in taking this seriously.


  12. I agree with David. Numbers are being thrown around in future projections as if they are precisely known – for example in this latest Imperial report, which shows no uncertainties or error bars in its diagrams. They even claim that some of their conclusions are “robust to uncertainty”. Sounds familiar?

    Lots of people seem to have the virus (though it may just be flu) and won’t appear in the official statistics. See for example


    and replies to those, saying “me too”.

    So the official Government figure (currently 1543) of people who have tested positive is a fairly meaningless number. We have no idea how many people have it, and therefore no idea what the death rate is.


  13. I must admit to becoming more and more confused as this health emergency progresses. I read two conflicting stories (even here). The first is that this new viral horror is so dangerous because we have no immunity and coronavirus is so infectious. Death rates vary but are worrying, especially for those deemed particularly susceptible – the elderly and those already medically compromised. The second story is that death rate for seasonal flu is annually much higher and also culls the elderly and compromised. Yes, we can vaccinate against seasonal flu, but success here depends much upon the medical authorities correctly identifying the nature of the virus type that will afflict us. Sometimes they get it wrong.
    So why such draconian measures against Wuhan Flu? Why such fear, and why is it being spread by our governments?


  14. Paul:

    So the official Government figure (currently 1543) of people who have tested positive is a fairly meaningless number. We have no idea how many people have it, and therefore no idea what the death rate is.

    Something Chris Whitty himself has been emphasizing. We need a test that tells us whether someone has *had* the virus and recovered but we don’t have that. Once we did they’d quickly be able to work out how many people have had it and thus the death rate.

    But if the death rate is 1% or slightly under, as Whitty and Vallance think, that is a good deal higher than the flu according to WHO:

    For seasonal influenza, mortality is usually well below 0.1%. However, mortality is to a large extent determined by access to and quality of health care.

    And, given the flu vaccine, we never get near the 80% level of infection that is still considered possible with the new virus, a level of peak medical need that could overwhelm the NHS and push the death rate well over 1%, one assumes.

    I don’t think facile analogising with climate projections is going to help us. The latest report will I agree almost certainly be wrong in detail but I’m inclined to trust the experts to whom it was presented yesterday more than I do those of the climate fraternity who, by contrast, have no risk of being proved wrong within months, with tens or maybe hundreds of thousands of grieving, angry relatives asking, less than politely, why.



    If this is correct, all the phony death rates we see must be divided by 7. So 0.9% in Korea becomes 0.13% and 4% becomes 0.57%. Those are more in line with the flu. CDC estimates flu death rates are around 0.1% but its only an estimate.

    Why is there such an over reaction? Part of it is a rabid press that has returned to the yellow journalism of the 19th Century.


  16. The UK Chief Scientific Adviser has indeed just made the estimated death rate 0.1%:

    The number of people who have died with the virus in the UK has reached 56, after a second death was confirmed in Scotland.

    Some 1,950 people have tested positive for the virus in the UK, according to the latest Department of Health figures – but the actual number of cases could be as high as 55,000.

    The government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance told the health select committee that a death rate of one fatality for every 1,000 cases was a “reasonable ballpark” figure, based on scientific modelling.

    More than 50,000 people have been tested for the virus in the UK, but the government is primarily testing people who are in hospital. This means many people who have mild symptoms may never be diagnosed with the virus.

    What’s an order of magnitude when you’re among friends?

    It will presumably get bigger than this if the health system can’t cope with the peak.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Paul: Ha, thanks are due more to Dr Vallance and team than to me!

    Meanwhile, there are three components of the final ‘death rate’ and it’s well worth listening to Chris Whitty on this yesterday (it jumps straight there, don’t worry about the pic of the man in middle):

    So, as this is announced:

    All non-urgent operations in England will be postponed from 15 April to free up 30,000 beds to help tackle coronavirus, NHS England has said.

    The emergency policy will be in place for at least three months.

    … we can be confident DeathRate2 will be reduced but that DeathRate3 will be increased, because the term ‘non-urgent’ can only ever be approximate, especially taken together with the daunting ‘at least three months’. And there will presumably be people over 70 who don’t take well to 3-4 month isolation, etc, etc. Bear in mind that it’s a balancing act that’s never been tried before.


  18. I can now bring you bang up-to-date, Geoff, and point you at which will tell you all you could possibly need to know, and a fair amount you don’t! You can also download the ‘attestation’ form to fill in to do your weekly shop or walk your dog! (You need a separate one for each.) Penalty for being caught without one 135€.

    In its usual efficient way, the French government sent me an SMS today at about lunchtime with the relevant link and Mrs J and I have spent an interesting hour learning about assorted ‘commerces’ that we never even knew existed!

    An interesting (if that’s the word) difference between Johnson and Macron is the handling of bars and restaurants. While Johnson “advises” people not to go, thereby in effect making it impossible for them to claim on their insurance if they close, Macron has simply shut them down but promised an eye-watering package of compensation. Mrs J’s view, and I concur, is that nobody knows whether lockdown is the right response but, yet again in our experience, the French seem to do it the right way.

    Richard — Donna Laframboise has been providing a daily update on death rates which I confess to finding a bit meaningless, except for the Diamond Princess figure. We have there the nearest thing to a control group and the latest figure, as at yesterday, is that of the 463 “closed” cases — which I assume means those who have had the disease and now don’t — 456 have recovered and 7 have died, a mortality rate of 2%. There are apparently ~2600 passengers and 1000 crew on the ship so there are still 3000+ “unaccounted for” but given the likely age range of passengers on a cruise liner 2% sounds fairly moderate. has the details.

    Liked by 2 people

    I’ve downloaded signed and ticked my “attestation on my honour” before going for a walk. Last night the PM (or the minister of the interior) was very insistent you need a new attestation every time you leave the house, and you’re only allowed to tick one box. It seems you’re not allowed to go for a walk and buy a baguette – it’s one or the other. The French administration has a genius for making a reasonable policy as irrational and annoying as possible.

    The other big story in France is the ex-Minister of Health revealing in an interview that she warned her colleagues back in January that it was insane to go ahead with the local elections which were held last Sunday. Her courageous revelation is rather spoilt by the fact that she resigned as health minister just as the corona virus crisis was beginning, in order to stand for Mayor of Paris in the elections she’d warned against holding.

    I don’t see the point of speculating on eventual death rates. Whether the eventual toll is ten thousand or a million, there’ll be enough tragic stories to fill the papers and bring the seriousness home to doubters. What bothers me is the insane economic policies being enacted in France and also in the USA. I’m all for helping the poorest, but guaranteeing full salaries for people put on part-time work is positively Venezuelan, without the pleasure of screwing the rich. When the markets wake up they’ll be selling French and Italian government bonds and we’ll be back to Greece in 2016.

    The BBC website has a story of economic suffering in the story of a two woman firm doing travel recruitment, whatever that is, and facing the loss of their £140,000 per year business. I’m sorry, but perhaps there are better things the government could be doing with your money than saving travel recruiters. Paying nurses more, for instance.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. China seems have dropped out of the BBC tv news cycle –

    Partial quote – “On Sunday, authorities reported 2,009 new cases and 142 more deaths nationwide.
    New cases spiked earlier in the week after a change in the way they were counted but have been falling ever since.
    In total more than 68,000 people have been infected in China, with the death toll standing at 1,665.”

    “after a change in the way they were counted” ?


    “..after a change in the way they were counted..”

    Could be. Numbers of cases are going to depend largely on number of tests carried out. New cases in China and elsewhere are more likely to be people repatriated as borders are closed, and therefore more likely to be tested. There are all sorts of reasons why headline figures may be misleading, and all sorts of reasons why governments may present the figures in a way that suits their agenda. They don’t have to lie.

    In case my main point wasn’t clear (it rarely is) I note that the people who will carry on working and keeping us all alive, the nurses, postmen, dustmen, engineers, gas and electricity workers, largely correspond socio-economically to the gilets jaunes. If, on the other hand, you run a small business giving lessons in flower arranging or psychiatric help to depressed pets, you can go bust and claim government help. And the government is boasting how it’s put 100,000 police on the streets to fine people who stray more than a hundred metres from their home. This is a recipe for civil war.


  22. In France, if you lack access to the internet and to a printer, does that mean you’ll be fined if you go out, since you can’t be carrying a self-certified form with you in that scenario?


    No, a handwritten attestation will do. It’s not a bad idea if one can overcome one’s innate English opposition to the idea of state noseyparkering. The attestation, unlike an identity card, which one is obliged to carry at all times, has one’s address, so they can check you’re not cheating by taking long trips under the pretence of getting a bit of fresh air.

    My criticism is that if you’re going to be authoritarian, you need to be efficient about it. TV news this morning showed joggers puffing and panting out droplets over each other on the sea front in Nice, and being verbalised by police because they’re more than a hundred metres away from home. Ministers have been on TV non-stop explaining the system, but never once did they mention this small detail. Market traders risk being arrested if they cause a crowd to gather, with decisions being made by local Prefets. It’s the usual French mix I’m afraid of authority and anarchy.


  24. That last line cracked me up. Ike, of course, warned us. To gently mock the paranoia we can all be prone to at times such as this … that’s class.

    But then so is this:

    The BBC website has a story of economic suffering in the story of a two woman firm doing travel recruitment, whatever that is, and facing the loss of their £140,000 per year business. I’m sorry, but perhaps there are better things the government could be doing with your money than saving travel recruiters. Paying nurses more, for instance.

    And this:

    There are all sorts of reasons why headline figures may be misleading, and all sorts of reasons why governments may present the figures in a way that suits their agenda. They don’t have to lie.

    To take the gentlest of examples, under the subhead ‘Number of cases’ on the page Number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and risk in the UK they used to give the number of fatalities. That kind of transparency has also died.

    There are many ways massaging the numbers may seem best to those in the inner circle of knowledge. But I prefer the Whitty way.


  25. The Whitty Way? Try a more optimistic way perhaps?

    Suggests most don’t catch it even when exposed; of those that do catch it, many are asymptomatic; and little difference between effects on old and young.

    So go on, spoil my day; tell me there’s something wrong with this analysis that seems to oppose many of the more worrisome conclusions/assumptions being touted by health authorities.


  26. From the above link:

    “But what is certain is that the denominator will grow, and, as it does, the fractional death rate will decline. Which is why Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the architects of the government’s COVID-19 countermeasures, and two equally distinguished colleagues published an editorial in the February 28, 2020, edition of the New England Journal of Medicine in which they opined the following:

    If one assumes that the number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases is several times as high as the number of reported cases, the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%. This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.”


  27. If you’re an athlete training for the Olympics – forget it. Console yourself that it almost certainly won’t be taking place as advertised anyway, and even if it was still on, all the trials to pick the teams will have been cancelled by government order.


  28. Alan: Thanks for pointing to Willis’s piece at WUWT. The fatality rate they come up with is 1.2%, which is more than Chris Whitty has been saying for some weeks and a lot more than the 0.1% Patrick Vallance implied yesterday. The Diamond Princess numbers do raise questions about how infectious the virus is and that’s all good. Matt Ridley’s podcast for Quillette yesterday discusses some other things to think about, as well as Matt admitting that he didn’t see the danger of this kind of pandemic as much as he should. (He thinks like me that thirty years of false AGW fear-mongering was a reason so many got it wrong.) There is a need for balance, we all I’m sure agree with that. It’s not easy to achieve.


  29. Another great article from Ioannidis.

    “The one situation where an entire, closed population was tested was the Diamond Princess cruise ship and its quarantine passengers. The case fatality rate there was 1.0%, but this was a largely elderly population, in which the death rate from Covid-19 is much higher.

    Projecting the Diamond Princess mortality rate onto the age structure of the U.S. population, the death rate among people infected with Covid-19 would be 0.125%. But since this estimate is based on extremely thin data — there were just seven deaths among the 700 infected passengers and crew — the real death rate could stretch from five times lower (0.025%) to five times higher (0.625%). It is also possible that some of the passengers who were infected might die later, and that tourists may have different frequencies of chronic diseases — a risk factor for worse outcomes with SARS-CoV-2 infection — than the general population. Adding these extra sources of uncertainty, reasonable estimates for the case fatality ratio in the general U.S. population vary from 0.05% to 1%.”

    Death rates for the flu are estimated to be 0.1%.


  30. Aha, thanks David, I thought Willis was implying they’d done the age structure projection to get 1.2% mortality. Around 0.1% seems increasingly likely.


  31. I just thought I would post a comment to explain why I am generally unwilling to participate in any debate surrounding Covid-19.

    For me, there are two stark aspects to be confronted. Firstly, the uncertainties relating to infection rate and morbidity seem to be very high. Speculation is rife and best and worst cases are not closely aligned. Secondly, not all personal risk will be controllable through self-isolation. I am an elderly diabetic with asthma and hypertension and have no network of friends or family to call upon. Anxieties are understandably high and yet I also suffer from a pre-existing chronic anxiety state. Consequently, the combination of peril, high uncertainty and limited ability to control risk is proving very bad for my mental health. My best policy is to watch the news as little as possible and try to distract myself. That is why I chose this moment to write and post an article on the theory behind causality. It may not be terribly interesting to most people but it is a safe space for my thoughts to wander into. Please feel free to join me if you are suffering coronavirus fatigue.

    Stay safe. And that goes for my many fans over at ATTP as well.

    Liked by 5 people

  32. Conditions on a cruise ship, especially one that’s been quarantined, are not necessarily analogous to the world at large so those stats should be seen in that light.


  33. I realize that death rates are extremely important but for me what I found in Willis’s analysis to be encouraging and scarcely mentioned elsewhere was the high rate of non-infection and, of those infected, the high percentage of those without symptoms (even within the elderly cohort). I have read that perhaps, following quarantine, many never came in contact with this virus, or that the elderly passengers were more resilient than most, being wealthier and better cared for all their lives. This I do not buy into. There have been many descriptions of the ship as exhibiting very poor quarantine conditions such that most would eventually have come into contact with the virus. Access to good health treatment also does not impart immunity.
    From this, I (perhaps) falsely conclude that I (and my loved ones) could become exposed to the virus but stand a reasonable chance of surviving. This is not a message I’m currently getting from elsewhere: all is gloom and doom, and I’m doomed!

    Liked by 2 people

  34. John might we recommend relieving your stress (and ours) by revisiting the Groper Contract heroes (perhaps with a voluptuous heroine perhaps?)😷😜

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Alan,

    You are what epidemiologists call ‘fucked’. There is no solace to be found in The Groper Contract, but thanks for the plug.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Further explanation:
    I’m not trying to belittle the importance of trying to determine (to within a magnitude or so) the morbidity or whatever of the virus, particularly as so many of us chatting away in working hours are elderly, or going that way (who isn’t?) But my point in this article in mentioning social unrest, guillotines and whatnot was that I fear the real threat is not the virus, or at least, not that virus.

    As stock markets rise or fall by thousands of points a day, articles like this one
    speak ominously of a $12 trillion short squeeze, and mention in a sibylline aside Deutsche Bank and its Counterparty Risk Hedge, as measured by its 1Y Sub CDS. This and other similar articles pointing out that Deutsche Bank is $50 trillion deep in derivatives, go way over my head. Derivatives to me are to the cash in your bank account what the square root of minus one is to arithmetic. Apparently we’d be somehow lost without them, though few of us understand why. But I do know that $50 trillion is about twenty times the GDP of the UK. And that while some noble souls are beavering away to keep the shelves stocked with toilet rolls, others are equally busy trying to stop the whole of our economic system crumbling to nothing.

    A century and a half ago, in similar circumstances, hardworking people who left school at fourteen could turn to Dr Marx for explanations. We have Faisal Islam. I’m worried.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. “But my point in this article in mentioning social unrest, guillotines and whatnot was that I fear the real threat is not the virus…”

    That’s exactly how I feel, Geoff. It isn’t so much the effect the virus will have on my asthma, so much as the effect that the restrictions are having on my ability to secure new inhalers given that I have nearly run out. I’m just too pissed off to say any more.

    Liked by 2 people

  38. What is so shameful about this episode is the blatant dishonesty of the media. They simply run with the inflated phony death rates and cause people and governments to panic and shut down whole countries.

    There will be serious collateral damage to real people from this panic. People will lose jobs, be evicted from their homes, lose their retirement savings (if they panic and sell at the bottom), etc. In the people’s republic of Washington State, our ignorant governor has shut down all restaurants and bars and all significant public events have been canceled. Boeing has mandatory telecommuting for everyone whose job allows it. Shops are mostly empty (except groceries of course), many stores have closed, and schools are closed.

    People are largely ignorant of the fact that half of the deaths in this state were elderly residents in a single King County nursing home. Nursing home residents generally have underlying serious medical conditions that make them very susceptible to any virus or disease.


  39. In the old days one might say we’re being a bit morbid as a result this novel pathogen – a tweet worth a look if subediting is your bag, noticed when it was retweeted by the wonderful Second Mentions. Now of course I’m familiar with the term comorbidity. We were bound to get to that point I feel. I agree with Geoff and John on where the real risks lie. (Richard North agrees too. Not for the faint-hearted.)


  40. John,
    I am also a an asthmatic… past two decades under control. I walk, by the river every day,,.or by the sea, the sea( ! ) most week ends, and take mega vitamin C. Now I’m taking vitamin D also. Should I continue through the alphabet?


  41. @ John I also am an asthmatic. Alas I don’t have any unopened ventolin (what I have is half empty with expiry date in 2016 – maybe I should get some more in), but I have an unopened flixotide 125 microgramme I can send you if that’s your squirt of choice. Lemme know.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. @John Ridgway says: 18 Mar 20 at 2:53 pm

    “I am an elderly diabetic with asthma and hypertension and have no network of friends or family to call upon”

    18 Mar 20 at 6:12 pm
    “so much as the effect that the restrictions are having on my ability to secure new inhalers given that I have nearly run out”

    John – you have this network of friends, where do you live?

    unfortunately i’m on the Isle of Man & probably not much help directly, but sure we all can help somehow.

    get back with anyway I/We can help.

    stay well


  43. @John – should have added my email if you want to reply in private –

    I have family around the Lothian region in Scotland if that helps (they can deliver beers/wine/whisky if requested – if the can get them that is!!!)


  44. On the theory that all mass delusions have a limited lifespan, I am gradually moving into the stock market. Dollar cost averaging is a good method. I hope that by the end of March the us governors (who are driving the extreme measures) will be under intense pressure to cancel the lockdowns. I do note that the panicked responses are mostly from the lefty types who are also panicked over climate change. It’s a mental disorder.


  45. I write this in the vague hope that it will help someone else with asthmatic symptoms. As a boy I was asthmatic but as a late teenager the symptoms declined and disappeared. Hay fever, which I suffered from mightily, only disappeared in my fifties. But then in my early sixties my asthmatic symptoms returned in force and I was treated with Ventolin. But then “she who must be listened to” read in a sunday newspaper that acid reflux can cause symptoms that mimic those of Asthma. My doctor was convinced that I was asthmatic but was prepared to let me try an anti-acid reflux medication and this worked spectacularly.

    I do wonder if others are like I was and can benefit from a different diagnosis. In the vague hope of doing my good deed for the day…..

    Liked by 2 people

  46. @ Beth compared to the treatments that were available when I started with asthma (non-existent), flixotide (and I guess other newish steroids I haven’t heard of) are amazing. That’s why I don’t carry ventolin any more. (In the old days I would carry ventolin everywhere I went, and noticing that I had forgotten it was enough to trigger an attack!)

    Liked by 1 person

  47. I have just woken up to read all your kind and supportive words on this thread. I have yet to fully explore the options in my local neighbourhood (there are lots of noises on social media suggesting that constructive help is being mustered for folk such as I) so hope still shines. Even so, it would be remiss of me to fail to thank you all for the boost to morale you have given me. It is a timely reminder that there is a big difference between physical and emotional distancing. I may go out later just to chat with a complete stranger from across the road.

    P.S. Please do not take my failure to ‘like’ as a lack of appreciation. It’s an IT problem.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. John perhaps too late now (I believe they are swamped) but try Pharmacy 2U.

    We get our medications delivered by mail each month (the order being previously approved by our GP). Everything is conducted by e-mail and they religiously keep you informed – from reminding you to repeat your prescription request to telling you that has been received, through informing that has been approved by your doctor, to the medications having been dispatched and an indication of when delivery might be expected.
    I believe they can process and supply an urgent need within 4 days,but never have I had to use this facility.
    We started using them several years ago, having been messed around by our local pharmacy and to avoid the necessity to queue interminably each and every month.

    “She who must be listened to” urged me to post this information. I have no financial interest in the Pharmacy 2U company.


  49. “Ventolin” Oh Flower of the Turnip Field, I thought dat wer’ yer trusty Breatholizer.


  50. The BBC has been trying to keep the other alarmism going:

    As you can see, it’s been having a big impact:

    (The Next boss story is also about the effect of coronavirus.)


  51. Alan,

    Thanks very much for the tip. I’ll be looking into it. My only nervousness would be the reliance upon the Royal Mail. They were once supposed to deliver a letter to my wife regarding an important hospital appointment, but they didn’t! Either that, or the hospital was bullshitting us.


  52. John. Be nay afrit. It’s a parcel that is being sent, not an envelope. And one that is being tracked by the sending agency- Pharmacy2U.


  53. Fun fact: most people who use inhalers use them wrong and end up medicating their mouth and upper airway more than their actual lungs. I think film is particularly to blame for this because it always shows people shoving inhalers in their mouth and breathing in as hard as possible.

    In actuality, it’s better if you spray it a little distance from your open mouth and take a long slow deep breath in. This is why spacers are recommended but unfortunately not often used.


  54. Disunited Kingdom: it turns out we live in a country where people queue outside the supermarket at dawn and, when the doors open…

    … they sprint to the toilet rolls.

    I am sure some of our elders who remember the war look upon our obsession with obtaining soft paper to wipe our a55e5 on with bemusement. Myself, I wonder how we would fare in 2020 if there was an angry man with a toothbrush moustache considering setting in motion an invasion of these shores.

    Some people on our road put a note through every letter box offering help if anyone needed it.

    Truly this trial is bringing out the worst, and the best, in people.


  55. Two days ago the established anti-malaria drug chloroquine phosphate was highlighted by WUWT, yesterday by James Delingpole, today by President Trump (should be easy to find). Big Pharma won’t make any money out of it. That part’s so sad. I hope it goes a long way to provide protection from the virus and relief from the worse aspects of pneumonia-type responses until a true vaccine has been developed.

    Jeff Id (a well-known collaborator of Steve McIntyre’s in the early days of Climate Audit) said today on WUWT:


    You saved lives with this post. Maybe a lot of them. Ive been spamming threads with it for days, contacting conservative authors who have closer contact with the pres. I don’t think the president hears this so quickly without your work.

    Roy Spencer as well. The correlations were absolutely convincing. Climate bloggers again!!

    Such a huge debt of gratitude for you and what you do.

    He’s not normally known as a starry-eyed dreamer.

    Liked by 1 person

  56. Is it just me or are people just clutching at straws to link the possible efficacy of the anti-malarial drug chloroquine phosphate with a treatment for the new coronavirus with a strong statistical correlation between incidence of malaria and an absence/low incidence of coronavirus cases? The glaring exception of course is Iran, which seemingly gets no mention. Most of the high malaria/low coronavirus countries are the relatively poor in Africa and Latin America. Are anti-malaria schemes in these countries so extensive and effective (using chloroquine) that it has conferred resistance to coronavirus to whole populations? I find this difficult to believe. In fact, I have been expecting horror stories to erupt out of these countries. I hope now to be proven wrong.


  57. @ Alan I also saw that “correlation” and didn’t think it made sense. I expect better from sceptics. Remember Feynman’s old adage…

    Far more likely that this pattern was owing to several other features of the relevant countries: poor health service, little disease surveillance, and mebbe even warm weather shortening viral lifetimes in the environment and reducing transmission rates via behavioural factors.

    I stand to be corrected, and chloroquine may have efficacy. But malaria’s distribution is as much about wealth as anything else. (Malaria still exists in the UK in bird populations at least. So the vectors and parasites don’t find it too cold here.)


  58. I can only repeat what I said over on the thread accompanying ‘A Brief Primer on Causation’:

    “Modern causal inference theory has taught that correlation [alone] will never enable us to get to the bottom of a causal enquiry. The world will take a long time to catch up on this idea, if ever.”

    Liked by 2 people

  59. Correlation can’t establish that yer hypothesis be true, – true that, but lack of correlation and, well yer know, yer up the creek w/out a paddle. Yer may remember, in yer cli-sci, no correlation of CO2 and model projection.

    (Yeah, I know, too many ‘yers.’ ‘ Serf s have probs with that.)


  60. Give Roy Spencer some credit. He reported a very strong correlation, but completely refrained from speculating about any cause. As Jit speculates the actual causal explanation may involve other common factors.
    But my main beef was the apparent linkage (unspecified) being sought between (1) the effectiveness of a malarial prophylaxis against coronavirus and (2) an implied antipathetic link between malaria and coronavirus incidence in different countries. I fail to see how these could be linked other than the words malaria and coronavirus


  61. I forgot to add that strong statistical correlations surely do demand explanation and not uncommonly do have causal links? Science as I understood and practiced it involved finding links, which then demanded explanation(s) – in geology the more the better until they could be whittled down using new links (= evidence).


  62. Agree with Alan in his praise of Roy Spencer and in asking the question of how such drugs would have reached the poorest of the poor. Iran shows the picture’s not simple (and of course tragic). But this is from Pharmaceutical Technology a week ago:

    The UK government has banned the parallel export and “hoarding” of three drugs being used to treat coronavirus patients in China in anticipation of shortages in Britain following the Covid-19 pandemic.

    The export of the US-based AbbVie’s Kaletra / Aluvia, a combination lopinavir and ritonavir, the generic drug chloroquine phosphate and the generic drug hydroxychloroquine is being restricted to meet the needs of UK patients, the government said.

    Hydroxychloroquine was placed on the restricted list from 14 March and Kaletra and chloroquine phosphate were added on 26 February.

    Chloroquine phosphate is a generic antimalarial drug derived from quinolone, marketed in the UK by Alinter Ltd in Essex, Crescent Pharma Ltd in Hampshire and The Boots Company in Nottingham and by other companies in multiple other regions. It is in 10 trials for Covid-19 in China, including one in combination with Kaletra, as chloroquine phosphate is believed to have broad-spectrum antiviral activities, although it is not approved as an antiviral agent. It is formulated as a syrup for oral administration. Recipharm, based in Stockholm, Sweden, manufactures the drug under the brand name Klorokinfosfat RPH Pharma for marketing in Sweden by Astimex Pharma. In March, the chief medical officer (CMO) noted increased demand and said it is securing a supply of the product in case of demand suddenly rose.

    The CMO was onto it before Watts, Delingpole and Trump. That’s reassuring. And a friend told me last night that she couldn’t find any tonic for her gin and tonic in any local supermarkets in London. There’s a connection. Wisdom of crowds it may not be.


  63. This was cutting but (I found) funny about the ‘expert’ Tucker Carlson interviewed on the subject on the Wednesday evening:

    Not the slickest media performer. But who knows on the substance?


  64. This, from Leo Smith, is the best comment I’ve seen on WUWT this week:

    In war the side that waits for definitive data has been conquered already.

    There is this myth that it is not possible to act and one should not act until one is sure.

    No one in business or the military operates on this premise: it is all calculated risk in a fog of almost total ignorance. The ability to rapidly reverse or modify a plan as data is acquired is the hallmark of a successful entrepreneur or general. In politics it’s called ‘making a U turn’ and is of course derided.

    We don’t know, and we probably wont know for years, how transmissible or how lethal or what the effects of various policy reactions will be: Furthermore with most of the West in lock step, we won’t know ever if alternative policies would have worked better.

    Governments are poor at this: More people died from being relocated, at Fukushima, than would have died if they had stayed put, for example.

    But this is not an argument to do nothing.

    Cut the governments a little slack. Only time will tell who second guessed correctly.

    This can be seen as a shorter version:

    We don’t have f***ing clue. That’s the time not to lash out at others.


  65. There’s no ‘right’ answer on how best to deal with SARS-CoV-2. This is a very interesting read. It clearly shows that there was no consensus even among British experts on how to respond. It shows that the herd immunity theory was real (though later denied) and it shows how Boris’s government rapidly changed direction on new ‘expert’ advice. I think it is almost certain now that the NHS will be overwhelmed in the coming weeks; whether that could have been avoided or at least made less worse by implementing social distancing earlier, I have no idea. Boris has made the decision to partially lock down the country and Rishi Sunak has responded admirably to the economic challenge (barring provisions for the self employed). He’s going to get schtick now whatever happens: (a) if many people die due to the NHS being unable to cope, and (b) if the Coronavirus ‘scare’ turns out to be a storm in a teacup and dies down fairly rapidly after the initial spike in cases. Nobody knows. That’s the point. Hence we need the science to keep coming. Hopefully, this period will be over soon and we can all start to struggle back to normality, but the economic consequences may last for a generation. The only silver linings I can see are that we will be much better informed and more ready for subsequent pandemics, we may radically reassess our insane dependence upon China, and the ‘climate crisis’ may have breathed its last. We can but hope.


  66. Peter Hitchens believes the government has now got it wrong and that the ‘cure’ will turn out to be worse than the disease. He’s taking flak from Twitterers for being irresponsible and putting lives at risk. I totally agree that he should be free to air his doubts in a rational manner. Surely, this freedom of expression, the freedom to question prevailing wisdom and authority, is what ultimately defines us as a civilised society. If we jettison that, in favour of going along with the herd ‘for the good of society as a whole’, if we socially ostracise those that choose to disagree, then we are lost, especially as, only 10 days ago, the ‘herd’ was largely in agreeance with Johnson listening to the experts and NOT implementing immediate radical social distancing measures by closing down businesses and schools.

    Liked by 1 person

  67. Jaime: “…and the ‘climate crisis’ may have breathed its last. We can but hope.”

    Indeed we can hope. But cultures, having once gotten big which this one certainly has, are extremely robust to the kind of damage that even heavy interludes of reality can enforce. While it would be fantastic if the cultural spell was broken, in a couple of years it could well be back up to strength. And typically in the longer term cultures will even find ways to bend reality interludes to their advantage (albeit I can’t see how that would happen right now).


  68. Hi Andy, it’s not just ideological, it’s practical. If economies are damaged as significantly as it looks like they may be by the extreme global response to this virus, there just won’t be any money left in the kitty to fund the ‘just’ transition to the Green economy. I think throwing billions at Net Zero virtue signalling when we’re struggling to cope with the real after effects of a major global recession is going to be neither popular nor actually possible. We’ll just have to wait and see how deep and lasting that recession is actually going to be.

    Liked by 1 person

  69. Jaime, I take your point, but the last big recession seemed to barely to slow the cultural juggernaught at all. Of course, we don’t know whether it would have been far worse by now (!?!) without that recession. However at minimum, this suggests any new recession would have to be significantly worse (over much more than a mere short blip) to have any chance of really choking it off. Especially as it’s much more entrenched now than 10 years ago.


  70. P.S. which doesn’t mean it will be popular of course, but then, as were the thoughts even before the Covid thing, this means the unpopularity has to organise into formal political opposition to get leverage.


  71. Andy: Without committing myself on the future, one thing certain about the ‘last big recession’ was that the big bailouts of the banks led to a lot of anti-capitalist feeling, understandably. (Not that the bailouts were very good examples of the free market but you know what I’m saying.) The cultural phenomenon of radical green ideology is very strongly aligned with the anti-capitalist one, n’est-ce pas? An infected bat sold in a market in the CCP’s wonderful paradise, and its tragic aftermath, doesn’t have the same “it’s all the fault of the greedy capitalists” vibe from where I sit.


  72. Andy wrote: “Jaime, I take your point, but the last big recession seemed to barely to slow the cultural juggernaught at all.”

    The climate catastrophists are obsessed with attributing natural disasters to climate change because they know that climate change is too impersonal for people to care about without such examples. Now we are in the process of demonstrating what the consequences of collapsing the economy also means for the individual.

    The green blob was salivating over the reductions in CO2 achieved by the virus and proclaiming how easy it all was. That’s not going to age very well.


  73. Richard: I don’t disagree. But neither do I think it’s anywhere near that simple. I return to the point that cultures, once big and established enough, are extremely robust to the interruptions from reality, in the longer term even very big ones such as Covid already seems to be (and could go much more). And this robustness is inclusive of the practical issues, such as lack of money due to recession or whatever. While catastrophic climate change culture (CCCC) hasn’t achieved the weight of the mainstream religions (yet), think of how long and how much those have survived, and through some truly appalling times. This does not mean CCCC can or will do the same, but it’s a handy indicator that suggests generic entities of this kind can be very tenacious indeed, and we shouldn’t be surprised if this modest member of the family is hardy enough to pull through. I’d like that not to be the case, and I’ve no idea via what pathways it could do this. But I know that long bio-cultural co-evolution has made the simple (narrative) coding in these things highly and exploitative of us and very flexible to changing conditions. We’re unlikely to know for at least a couple of years how things will really pan out.


  74. DaveJR: As Jaime says, ‘we can hope’. But we’ll need to for quite a long time. Culture can survive ‘short-term’ setbacks (months, years, generations, centuries) and still make it back. Hopefully a couple of years would be enough to see a new landscape and whether CCCC was creeping across it big-time again, or not. But less than it’s not be likely we’ll be able to guess, unless governments the world over suddenly throw off all formal commitments and loyalty to CCCC during or immediately after the current crisis. But I humbly suggest that isn’t going to happen, which itself means the gate is always open for come-back. And indeed as yet there isn’t even a suggestion of any formal ground being given up, other than merely ‘some delay’.


  75. But, but, but… Andy couldn’t a ‘culture’s opposition be substantially damaged by events (like coronavirus and its economic consequences), and thus less able to oppose? It is already possible to observe a re-posturing of climate activism to take advantage of the new realities.


  76. Alan: Indeed.

    ‘It is already possible to observe a re-posturing of climate activism to take advantage of the new realities’

    Yes. FWIW I think these early attempts are dubious, some will have modest value and some will backfire. But they show how quickly cultures react, and from millions of events daily they select those which work best, so pretty soon there will likely be much more sophisticated and successful moves in this direction.


  77. It’s almost like the ‘climate crisis’ and the Covid-19 crisis have become intersectional and both are now ganging up on us. After a miserable, very wet, very windy, but allegedly ‘warm’ winter and early spring, it’s now turned very cold and dry – perfect conditions for the spread of a corona virus. Hopefully, we’ll see some widespread, milder air arriving in April, though there is a suggestion that this will not impact the spread of the virus very much. Oh for the halcyon days of Spring 2018, when climate armageddon was upon us but we were all enjoying the unbroken sunshine and unseasonably high temperatures, knowing that we were only facing extinction by the end of the century, not the knowledge that we might end up in hospital tomorrow or lose our businesses or face months of self-imposed social isolation or – the greatest horror of all – run out of bog roll. I’m becoming quite nostalgic now for that bygone era of culturally induced existential concern.

    Liked by 3 people

  78. Seems like the gov’t is going to have to tread a fine line in the coming days. “Use the parks sensibly or I’ll close them,” quoth the PM (I paraphrase slightly). “It’s fine to use the park, but the advice is clear, stay 2 m apart,” clarified the health secretary…

    Now we are at a point where if I go to the park and it’s empty, everything is cool. But, if enough other people have the same idea, it isn’t cool any more. That’s not a rule that is easy to comply with, because it depends on the actions of other people.

    Also, it’s obvious that the distance of 2 m is plucked out of the air, a bit like coronavirus itself. I don’t believe viruses subscribe to the metric system of weights and measures. Is there actually a real “safe” distance or is this a ballpark rule of thumb? It seems obvious that, like the sound of a blonde politician exhorting you to tremendous efforts, there’s probably an inverse square law in action here. And, as sound indoors and sound outdoors, it seems likely that virus indoors can leap greater distances than virus outdoors.

    Anyone go to the coast at the weekend? We did. The sky was blue, the gorse yellow, the two in places meeting like an amped-up Ukrainian flag. The wind was strong and cold, hopefully whizzing viral particles into oblivion…

    … and bizarrely, there was a rat sitting high up in a sea buckthorn, troughing last year’s berries.


  79. Jit, 2m is a generally accepted ‘safe’ distance when in an open space. Obviously, if someone’s coughing and sneezing and you’re downwind, 2m is probably not safe. The government was relying on people to use their common sense; sadly, it’s not that common. If you go to the park and it’s heaving with people, you leave the park and go elsewhere. You don’t join the merry throng and meet up with your mates to go running/cycling/dog walking etc. I do have some sympathy for the government. They’re trying hard to impose effective social distancing without having to impose a military style lockdown and without curtailing people’s liberty excessively and causing more misery. People are just not helping them.


  80. Perhaps the government is, or should be, considering the fear route. Show victims in their final stages drowning with fluid-filled lungs. Many people falsely consider it just to be a rather severe form of seasonal flu. If they are young, they believe they will easily survive it – so what’s to worry about? Boris always wanted to be Churchill and he’s just bigging it up.
    Yes there would be a veritable storm of protest that politicians are trained to avoid, but it might just do the job. My respect for Boris, which has been growing, would soar.


  81. Jaime: “They’re trying hard to impose effective social distancing without having to impose a military style lockdown and without curtailing people’s liberty excessively and causing more misery. People are just not helping them.”

    You can say that again. My wife is in the category of people who should self-isolate, due to medicine she takes which suppresses her immune system. She is dutifully self-isolating. I’m also trying to minimise the time I spend outside and particularly in shops, as the last thing I want to do is to bring Covid-19 in to the house with me when I return from a trip outside. We have avoided stockpiling, so I went out early this morning to do a small amount of food shopping, as I assumed that it would be a lot quieter today, once the over-70s had enjoyed their last hurrah outdoors over the weekend. The supermarket was quite busy, people weren’t being very good about trying to keep their distance, and I would say that half of the people who were there were over 70 – one of the categories of people who are supposed to be largely self-isolating.

    Perhaps if receipt of their state pension was made conditional on abiding by the Government’s advice they might take it a bit more seriously?

    (No offence intended to any older contributors here who are doing the right thing).

    Liked by 1 person

  82. The government has handled this whole thing very badly. I have some sympathy, because they’ve been caught between a rock and a hard place and they are not alone in responding very badly to this pandemic. Only a few Asian countries outside China got it right, because they learned from SARS. But this doesn’t excuse their appalling miscalculation. They had weeks to prepare. They had years to learn. They didn’t. They were too obsessed with trying to dodge democracy after 2016 and all politicians have been way too obsessed by trying to fix an imaginary climate crisis. All the chickens have come home to roost.


  83. Mark, sorry to hear about you and your wife’s woes. My partner did the shopping yesterday wearing a mask – the only person in the shop who did. Some bright spark came up to him in the carpark and said “Are you serious?” He answered, “Oh yes, I’m very serious”. Said clever dick then scurried back to his car and drove away. That’s what you get for taking this seriously.


  84. Flu can cause pneumonia of various severity. Pneumonia is inflammation of the lungs which causes swelling and an accumulation of fluid, which means a severe flu does cause one to drown with fluid-filled lungs…


  85. PM to address his adoring nation soonish. What will he announce, I wonder? Closing parks? Banning jogging?

    I would rather spend time in a park than on a bus. I think it would be rational to actually can all public transport. Give NHS workers etc a free car. Why not, while we’re splashing the cash. (Suddenly the private car with its own little personal air bubble is king again.)

    @Alan isn’t that what has been going on for years re: global warming, or whatever we’re calling it now? We won’t need fearmongering if young healthy people are dropping dead, they’ll notice then all right. Bill’s data seems to show that a lot of the victims were moribund anyway (most?). Did they die “of” coronavirus, or “with” coronavirus? His other sage claims that the test returns false positives, and since people in ICU are being tested…

    Clearly health workers have died of this, and that seems to suggest that it is no ordinary flu. Were they driven into the ground by their own dedication? Did they get a huge starter dose? (What is the minimum infectious dose of virions?)

    When asked about antivirals during last week’s PMQs, our effulgent leader replied with waffle about vaccine research, indicating an abject lack of understanding of the subject. We need to know if this amino acid analogue is effective, or if chloroquine is, or both, or neither.

    I’ll be tuning in to find out…


  86. Jit. I think Boris is coming in for much stick. He shouldn’t be expected to be able to answer technical questions – that’s not his role or task. I expect him to make difficult policy decisions based upon technical advice and defend them. I also expect him to select competent people to give him the advice, and to date those selections would appear to be sound. What has impressed me most is that Boris has dropped his usual persona and adopted a more down to earth style – even his hair has become less unruly. I’m beginning to hope that he might mimic Churchill – we seem to definitely need one.


  87. As usual, Roger Pielke nails it. Mass testing of the populace for exposure and subsequent immunity to Covid-19 is now absolutely essential if we are to get things moving again. Currently, such testing is not practical.


  88. Three messages/headlines from the Daily Telegraph to ponder.

    Given the first, did they really understand freedom at all?


  89. @Jaime Jessop says: 23 Mar 20 at 7:57 pm
    Roger Pielke Jr. – “Mass testing of the populace for exposure and subsequent immunity to Covid-19 is now absolutely essential”
    “Mass testing” ? why, has the world gone crazy!!!

    when they say xxx have died from Covid-19 they also mention as a aside “they had over health problems”

    so my question/query which I can’t find an answer on MSM is how many deaths reported as death by Covid-19 were a death by natural causes compounded byCovid-19?


  90. Like in climate change, we’re waiting for the signal of Covid-19 to emerge from the signal of natural mortality. Unlike climate change, we shouldn’t have to wait too long and it should be obvious, without the need for dubious statistical manipulation.


    The reason why we need mass immunological serum tests is so that people can be cleared to get back to work and live a normal life again. If they have been exposed and have developed immunity, there is no need for them to be under house arrest.

    Liked by 1 person

  91. This is an interesting Twitter thread:

    Peter Hitchens has been mentioned more than once on this thread – firstly by me! – and I thought Richard North’s response to Peter in the early hours of yesterday was convincing, on the importance of distinguishing between a low mortality rate and high absolute mortality.

    Stay well everyone.


  92. Very wise, sensible and fair words from Richard North. So much mindless vitriol being directed at those who dare to question the government’s lockdown strategy. Ben is getting more than his fair share on Twitter. We seem as a society to be incapable of rational, non-heated debate or to allow others the luxury of having an opinion at odds with the prevailing consensus opinion without resisting the impulse to harangue them for being ‘irresponsible’ or even ‘dangerous’. Many are attacking Peter for asking basically if the ‘cure’ is worse than the disease, something we won’t know until this is over, assuming we know even then.

    The story of Covid-19 in the UK is an evolving one. It now appears that it is not so much age which determines your risk of developing severe symptoms, it’s more your gender and your general health, in particular whether you are both male and obese. A slim, fit 70 year old grandmother is probably less at risk than a severely overweight man in his 50s, so she might legitimately ask, ‘Why should I be forced to self-isolate, and not him?’ Also, viral load is an important factor. Health workers exposed to very high viral loads are more likely to succumb to this disease than the equivalent person who may only be exposed to a few viral particles via a single contact. It is scandalous that NHS workers do not have sufficient PPE kits.


  93. Jaime: Agreed. Some contempt though is justified.

    ‘Pork’ is short for pork barrel, “used in reference to the utilization of government funds for projects designed to please voters or legislators and win votes” as googling has it. All of it should be removed. And people should remember how so-called climate mitigation was used like this. Or at least the attempt was made.

    Liked by 1 person

  94. I’m really not comfortable with the government’s mixed messaging throughout this entire episode. First it was no need to close down stuff, herd immunity and protect the elderly and vulnerable, then it was ‘Yikes! Hundreds of thousands might die – we need to close down stuff’. Then it was ‘going outside is fine, just don’t get too close to others’, then when idiots herded together in Richmond Park, Snowdonia and Skeggers Beach, it was ‘naughty, naughty, you’re only allowed out once a day’ – seemingly regardless of how isolated you are from others, i.e. you could be three miles from the nearest living soul, but if you’ve already been out once, you can be arrested. Now I learn that the UK government has puzzlingly removed SARS-CoV-2 from its list of ‘High Consequence Infectious Diseases’ as of March 19th, even though the closely related SARS is still on that list. Apparently, this is because it’s not quite as lethal as first thought, though they don’t quantify how lethal (or not) it is thought to be. But when you look at the government’s own definition of a HCID, it doesn’t make a lot of sense that Covid-19 has been removed. Surely, the greatest crackdown on civil liberties ever enacted by a UK government in peacetime qualifies as “an enhanced individual, population and system response”? Inconsistencies of this order really bug me, especially when I – and the rest of the nation – is under house arrest on account of the supposed ‘consequences’ of this dangerous disease.

    In the UK, a high consequence infectious disease (HCID) is defined according to the following criteria:

    acute infectious disease
    typically has a high case-fatality rate
    may not have effective prophylaxis or treatment
    often difficult to recognise and detect rapidly
    ability to spread in the community and within healthcare settings
    requires an enhanced individual, population and system response to ensure it is managed effectively, efficiently and safely


  95. To avoid mixed messages, I suppose they could have just imposed a countrywide, shoot-on-sight, quarantine from day 1. That might have cut deaths from the virus down to 0. Death from things like starvation, or being mowed down in the streets, might have been somewhat higher, however.


  96. Yes, like China (albeit they didn’t lock down for 7 weeks, during which they tried to cover up the emerging epidemic). UK could have gone net zero – at least for a few months.


  97. Piers can be a prat at times, but he keeps questioning the mixed messages from this government. Shame the rest of the media just sucks it up:


  98. Jaime: Note though that Genevieve Guenther is finally talking about *China*. How often has the focus of emissions reduction been with the world’s biggest emitter? This needs follow-up from the same person as CO2 emissions increase again. Not talking to us, but directly to them. Looking forward to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  99. This lady lives in the “shit end of Peckham” as she put it in a direct message on Twitter in September. We connected through the ‘gender critical’ debate but also because I used to live in the same very run-down estates in Peckham, close to Burgess Park, in my 20s, as I was involved in a church there. Sorry for the language.

    The police monitoring queues at nearby Tesco while drug-dealing and associated socialising goes on uninterrupted sounds all-too-credible. DaveJR’s quip solution might lead to some interesting street violence before the army eliminated the opposition. Praying for Penny and her daughter.


  100. Richard The language seems entirely appropriate. I have wondered what was happening in the drug distribution industry (it would seem to be a problem if they have to stay two metres apart!) but this is the first mention of it I have seen.

    Liked by 1 person

  101. The police are saying they can’t (or maybe won’t) enforce quarantine. It’s a job for the military they say. Montpelier Road (not quite at the shit end of Peckham) wasn’t that bad when we lived there. Our car suffered only minor damage on the street just once in 7 years. I still fondly remember our black ex Chicago cop neighbour warning us not to leave things lying around in the garden in case ‘dem niggers’ stole them. LOL. Happy days. The worst thing that happened was when two scrappies stole my beloved old Bluebird, pretending to be council officials. I hate to think what the area’s like now though. Enforcing social distancing and telling people they can only leave their house once is probably not high on the list of the Met’s priorities in Peckham.

    Liked by 1 person

  102. @Bill

    Thanks for the link, which made me chuckle, tho’ I disagreed with most of it. Excerpt:

    “The 24-hours-a-day hysteria in the media is clearly designed to stop almost all people’s rational thinking, over 99% is just irrelevant factoids served in order to terrify morons, and most of mankind is such incredibly filthy worthless garbage by now that they just obediently do what they are instructed to do.”

    I wish Lubos would actually come out and say what he really thinks rather than tiptoeing through the tulips all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  103. A new study now resurrects the government’s initial ‘herd immunity’ modelling, suggesting that up to 40% of people have already been exposed to CV. Fair to say, it’s being criticised, but it just illustrates how science has not got a grip on this thing and politicians who make snap, far-reaching policy decisions based on the ‘best available science’ are very likely to come unstuck.

    Results we present here suggest the ongoing epidemics in theUK and Italy started at least a month before the first reported death and have already led to the accumulation of significant levels of herd immunity in both countries. There is an inverse relationship between the proportion currently immune and the fraction of the population vulnerable to severe disease.  

    The model output (posterior) for time of introduction (the start of transmission) place this event a couple of days after the first confirmed case in the country, and over a month before the first confirmed death ​(Figures 1E-F)​.In both R​0 scenarios,by the time the first death was reported (05/03/2020), thousands of individuals (~0.08%) would have already been infected with the virus (as also suggested   by ​[5]​). By 19/03/2020, approximately 36% (R​0​=2.25) and 40% (R​0​=2.75) of the population would have already been exposed to SARS-CoV-2.

    Whether the modelling in this study stands up to scrutiny or not, it outlines the urgent need for mass serological testing in order to confirm or discount the hypothesis that a large number of people have already been exposed and acquired immunity. Perhaps this is also the reason for the apparent paradoxical decision by this government to downgrade the status of Covid-19. The threat to the NHS remains very real however, so they’ve gone also for ‘tough’ quarantine measures (which are themselves proving to be somewhat farcical) perhaps in order to take some of the heat off of them when the proverbial hits the fan and people start dying in large numbers because of a lack of ICU facilities.

    Boris was so much more at home and comfortable when he was standing next to Attenbollox two months ago espousing the threat of the ‘tea cosy’ which his government would do their utmost to counter at the next COP26 meeting in Glasgow. How things change. Instead of wrecking the economy gradually in a 3 trillion orgy of virtue-signalling greenness, Humpty Dumpty’s looking at having to gather all the king’s horses and all the king’s men to put the economy back together again over the next couple of years.

    Liked by 1 person

  104. @bill 24 Mar 20 at 7:26 pm

    Lubos Motl has sadly lost the plot IMO – end snippet from your link –

    “Such countries may literally become easy targets of invasions from other countries that aren’t in this kind of trouble. The bankrupt nation may easily be eliminated, and I mean physically. These are the things to consider if someone really thinks about extending these insane policies to many, many months or even a year or years. Some Covid-19 fatalities are irrelevant in comparison.”


  105. ps – to my above comment on Lubos Motl

    I assume he means Russia from his location.
    have not heard much from/about Russia re Covid-19 fatalities?


  106. In a previous posting, he suggested that India would take over Europe.

    Which would be an interesting irony here, given the present members of the cabinet.


  107. Jaime

    Today’s update on the Swiss doctor on Covid site suggests that neither Germany, Switzerland or even Italy will have many, if any, excess deaths due to Covid-19. The same is quite likely to be true in the UK, though of course, the government’s lockdown policy may have the opposite effect than was intended.


  108. On the Oxford study Jaime mentioned (10:15pm) I found this thread useful (this being the ending):

    From this I derived much needed amusement:

    I broke my Twitter fast momentarily yesterday to summarise my overall thoughts:

    This is why I don’t see any point in the blame game that many seem addicted to, at least on Twitter. There’ll be time for that. Another time. Another era.

    My brief contribution was after this chap – a Tory peer – tried to defend the government, including Cummings, by asking some key questions. I recommend the resulting discussion.

    Danny lost many of his mother’s family in the Holocaust. I’ve been wondering how much the ‘Spanish flu’ was responsible for the instability in the 20s and 30s that led to the rise of fascism and Naziism. The First World War and Versailles tend to get all the blame there. But the pandemic was an even more global event. Anyway, cheerful thoughts. Stay safe.


  109. John Ridgway, if you have the time and the inclination (please don’t worry if you don’t), I’d love to read your take on this:

    “West can’t cope with Covid-19 because of DOCILIANS, the pampered herd whose demand for ZERO RISK actually risks killing thousands”

    The article is quite short, so no great effort to read it. It includes this:

    “Precaution is not even a risk management tool (it simply tries to manage away uncertainty). Uncertainty (hazard) is inescapable and there is no such thing as zero risk. What risk management does is try to reduce exposure to hazards to as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA). Our risk management debates must be on what is reasonable in light of the benefits and not the insatiable emotional concepts of ‘safe’ and ‘certain’.”

    Liked by 1 person

  110. Jaime: Infuriating yet predictable. But there’s no guarantee anyone will be listening by the end of Covid-19. One thing that’s entered into the parlance even of eco-hardliners I’ve noticed is the reality of tradeoffs. That can only help us in doing the post-mortem.


  111. This is very good from James Delingpole:

    “Just like in war, the great coronavirus plague is bringing out the best in people and the worst in people.

    So far, the petty tyrants, the tell-tales, the ignoramuses, the rule-takers and the finger-pointers are having a field day; the more original, clear-eyed thinkers meanwhile, are having to take care about what they say for fear of being judged and found wanting by the self-righteous mob.

    Already the battle lines are starting to make themselves clear.

    There are, roughly speaking, two opposing camps.

    “I for one welcome our new insect overlords”. This contains the control freaks; the authoritarians; the snitches; the panickers; the killjoys; the ‘trust the experts’; the curtain-twitchers; the leftists; and the catastrophists.

    The Awkward Squad. This contains the liberty-lovers; the libertines; the grand strategists; the rebels; the sceptics; the mavericks; the contrarians; the misfits; the deplorables.

    Obviously it’s not quite as simple as that. Though I’m mainly in the Awkward Squad camp, I’ve certainly had my headless chicken moments. (At one point, I even went so far as to retweet approvingly a tweet from our current Hysteric In Chief Piers Morgan).

    Equally, I know that there are plenty of people I respect who are currently in the “I for one welcome our new insect overlords” camp. This is not because they are stupid or are dangerous leftists with fascistic tendencies or are invertebrates who like being walked all over by the authorities, but simply because they are understandably scared, inadequately informed and haven’t (yet) seen the bigger picture.

    Generally, though, what we’re seeing writ large in this pandemic is a clash between two ideological positions — one essentially authoritarian, one more or less libertarian. I think this conflict is going to get more bitter and nasty as the pandemic progresses.”

    We live in very interesting times. It’s OK to be wrong, it’s OK to be scared, but it’s not OK to dispense with scepticism, it’s not OK to blindly accept expert authority and it’s definitely not OK to have an orgasm about the nation being placed under house arrest.


  112. It’s good to see Delingpole pay tribute to the integrity and courage of Peter Hitchens. I felt duty bound three months ago to tell the man that he had begun to persuade me on the need for strict enforcement of our policy on marijuana:

    Unlike what was rumoured to be the case with James D and D Cameron in the same room (or rooms) in Oxford, I’ve never taken an illegal substance of any kind or indeed ever had a puff of a cigarette. So this change in attitude from me is disjoint from my own practice – it’s been a policy thing.

    Anyway, I was genuinely surprised to see this in my notifications ten minutes later:

    There is something very winsome about the guy once one knows him.

    At the end Dellers also praises Richard North’s posts on Covid-19. But, as I’ve pointed out already, if North is right on this matter, Hitchens is wrong. I go with North, though I don’t have it in me to detest the PM as much as he does. And neither do the British people it seems. For now anyway. See YouGov’s Coronavirus reaction pushes PM’s popularity into positive territory from yesterday. I wouldn’t necessarily have predicted that. But then there’s much I wouldn’t predict right now.


  113. @DFHunter

    Since you got Warnocked, here’s my humble reply to your suggestion.

    A thread for climate-related trivia would be of use I think because the every one of the crew and passengers of this boat must have a treasury of factoids that would otherwise not have a reason to be brought forth. But that of course would be up to one of the crew to arrange.

    I am presently half-buried in factoids myself, but don’t want to derail the thread by quizzing you or other interested folk about them!


  114. As far as modelling pandemics is concerned, I understand that a key parameter is the virus’s ease of onward transmission. For the novel coronavirus there is still some uncertainty in this regard. It seems to result in somewhere between 1.5 and 4.5 additional case for each infected individual. Consequently, models vary considerably in their projections. For that reason an ensemble of models is evaluated, with some sort of quasi-aleatoric uncertainty analysis taking place. However, only those models that can reproduce the outbreak thus far are allowed to be included in the ensemble; this way one commits the cardinal sin of calibrating and validating the models against the same criteria. Despite all of the above, nevertheless, it is still important to be led by the science.

    Well, it works well enough for climate science, I believe.

    Liked by 1 person

  115. this way one commits the cardinal sin of calibrating and validating the models against the same criteria

    I didn’t realise they were doing that. Yikes.


  116. Sorry Richard,

    I should have made it clearer that I was satirising. I actually have no idea whether the epidemiologists are committing that particular sin – but it wouldn’t surprise me.

    Liked by 1 person

  117. @JIT

    if the meaning of “Warnocked” was my 1st question my answer is “pass” 😦

    not sure about anybody else but my internet speed is cr*p at present, only to be expected I suppose!!!


  118. @DFHUNTER,

    Further to your kind offer to help me out with regard to my inhaler, I would just like to reassure you that I have finally been able to get hold of one. It required standing a long time in a queue of miserable humanity outside a pharmacy that has now introduced security measures that I last saw on Mad Max, but with a bit of patience, a good book and 2m either side, the mission was accomplished. Thanks once again also to all those who had expressed their morale-boosting concern.


  119. More serious questioning of current (revised) government policy in the Spectator and from Sherelle Jacobs, champion of climate dissent in the Telegraph. I think we should try and analyse all this and put it into some sort of perspective, especially in the light of the precautionary principle and the lack of scientific certainty and the sparseness of data which bedevils both climate science and Covid-19 pandemic modelling. I might give it a go if I can tear myself away from the temptation to go a-wandering, lonely as a cloud, in the company of two canines, in this beautiful spring weather. Unless someone gets there before me.

    This from Peter Hitchens also:

    And this wise comment from Sebastian Milbank:

    Liked by 2 people

  120. Confirmation bias is rife at the moment, and we are all seeking out the information that seems to back up our presuppositions. Also, we are all observing the same phenomenon but are taking away different lessons that fall in line with our ideological predispositions whilst re-applying them to old areas of controversy, e.g. climate change. The one I am taking away from Covid-19 is the lessons it is teaching us about the difficulty of mathematically modelling a complex system with only partial information, and the implications for our trust in ‘the science’. Take, for example, the recent noise being made regarding the Oxford University research that appears to suggest that 50% herd immunity may have already been achieved. The research is highly speculative, and these are typical of the criticisms it quickly received:

    “The authors acknowledge their results are very sensitive to the assumptions they have made, but still draw conclusions from the model fit.”

    “[The results] substantially over-speculate and [are] open to gross over-interpretation by others”.

    In fact, the study wasn’t making any claims regarding herd immunity, it was simply illustrating that with the current lack of information, the range of scenarios that can explain what has been observed even includes the remote possibility of the prior attainment of 50% herd immunity. However, implausible assumptions are required for this. The paper is actually demonstrating that more testing is required before conclusions can be drawn. Unfortunately, this isn’t the message that is coming across. Consequently, it’s being used as a sort of RCP 8.5, but for those seeking reassurance rather than those seeking alarm.

    Liked by 2 people

  121. Jaime: Thanks for pointing to two first-class articles. I wasn’t convinced by everything Sherelle wrote but I enjoyed the ride. And this I do find plausible:

    There is, as usual with the Boris-Cummings duumvirate, a twist, though this time it’s of limited comfort. Rumours are aswirl that they are orchestrating herd immunity by stealth.

    We all want herd immunity in the end. It’s how one gets there without a complete breakdown of public order, in which the weakest suffer all the more, that’s the issue.

    John Lee’s is I think the best piece on the subect I’ve seen. No paragraph is wasted but this is an aspect I’ve not seen pointed to but I’ve thought a lot about.

    Much of the response to Covid-19 seems explained by the fact that we are watching this virus in a way that no virus has been watched before. The scenes from the Italian hospitals have been shocking, and make for grim television. But television is not science.

    The modern world, huh.


  122. This is ridiculous and sinister. Derbyshire police are actually using a drone to spy on people who are visiting remote areas of the Peak District to walk their dogs and get away from crowds in order to exercise in the open and presumably minimise the risk of spreading disease by not going out locally in towns. As always, pick on the easy targets. This is totally unnecessary and sets a worrying precedent with regard to the state overreaching itself by limiting personal freedom and mobility. Meanwhile, people are packed onto tubes in London like sardines. It’s looking less like a sensible policy to reduce contagion, more like a test run for a Communist-style crackdown on our democratic freedoms.


  123. @John Ridgway 26 Mar 20 at 9:34 am.

    glad you are ok John, take care.

    @Jaime Jessop 26 Mar 20 at 4:03 pm

    saw that on the news tonight & thought exactly the same as you.

    “@DerPolDroneUnit have been out at beauty spots across the county”

    there is no need for this as long as people are not in large groups.


  124. @ DFHunter

    “Warnock’s dilemma, named for its originator Bryan Warnock, is the problem of interpreting a lack of response to a posting in a virtual community.” (wiki)

    I think I’m living in the (digital) Stone Age, because it doesn’t seem that the verb “to Warnock” has much currency these days. It derives from the above. “To be Warnocked” means to not receive a reply.


  125. Jaime: This I must say is tempting to investigate. Avon and Somerset countryside I love you! And I know some pretty obscure parking spots giving access to some lovely walks.

    In the city the lack of crackdown on Mosques and drug-dealers would cohere with the “herd immunity by stealth” theory mentioned by Sherelle Jacobs. As would keeping more building sites going than is strictly necessary. Neil Ferguson of the Imperial College shock paper for CAGE on 12th was saying yesterday experts were now expecting around 20,000 deaths, although said it may turn out to be a lot less. It’s all over the place, because important data is lacking. I remain forgiving of the government in such a pass. Or as James puts it:

    Obviously I’m not comparing Boris Johnson with Hitler, nor Britain’s quarantine with the kind of strictures enforced in Nazi Germany.

    The police drones and notices are an annoyance but they’re not the Enabling Act or legal exclusion of Jews from German citizenship later in 1933. Such new powers as we’re seeing in the UK are always a risk but I still think they’re a small risk going forward.


  126. Richard, as James says, the risk is that the government will become rather fond of the new powers it has granted itself and the police and may be reluctant to relinquish them when this crisis passes:

    “Even so, it does make you fear for the future of freedom and democracy and indeed Western Civilisation. How much of this nonsense is going to be entrenched — and never rescinded — by the time this pandemic is over?”

    They’ll have a job stopping people from taking their dogs for a walk in the car, but who will notice when they don’t rescind the right for just a single medical doctor to sign a sectioning order?


  127. @Jit 26 Mar 20 at 7:55 pm

    hey, thanks for getting back to me Jit.
    just asked the wife if she knew the phrase & got Warnocked again!!!

    you learn something ever day.

    on the bright side, got some bog roll today (double sided I hope/expect)


  128. Obviously I’m not comparing Boris Johnson with Hitler, nor Britain’s quarantine with the kind of strictures enforced in Nazi Germany.

    I don’t know….

    Doesn’t history repeat itself once as tragedy and once as farce?


  129. Geoff, perhaps you regret dropping the ‘i’ out of the third word in your title? Makes more sense with it.

    Government yesterday accused of being too late to join Europe in a joint purchase of ventilators (Brexit still to organize?), and not being ready to help food distributors with “thousands of tonnes” of fresh food no longer being purchased by government-closed restaurants and hotels whilst supermarket shelves remain empty.

    Run or ruin? You choose.

    Liked by 1 person

  130. I suspect that putting fresh food rejected from restaurants on supermarket shelves isn’t as simple as it may sound. Furthermore, that there’s nothing preventing the distributors from working it out with the supermarket distributors themselves.

    My guess would be that the distributors want the government to buy their food so they can recoup the cash and wash their hands of the problem.


  131. Dave. Maybe, but wouldn’t you have thought that someone paid to think about ramifications of government actions – like closing restaurants and hotels – would also have thought a little further down the track and considered the fate of food previously destined for those closed establishments and then recalled the stripping of shelves in supermarkets and thought about linking them together? Two birds with one stone and not exactly rocket (or even climate) science.
    Yes the food distributors should be able to devise a solution by themselves, but what it required was some foresight and oversight and the government agencies (under governmental guidance) were the only ones with any heads-up as to what the government was going to propose.


  132. I’ve seen the statistic that around 50% of the meals eaten in this country are provided by the catering industry. This has meant that the supply chains for the wholesale and retail sides of the food industry are almost completely separate. Any food transferred from the wholesale to retail chain would entail it being completely repackaged. It then becomes a question of whether the companies that do the packaging for supermarkets etc. have the capacity to increase their throughput by 100% with a workforce reduced by illness.



    On the 25th Mar, on this thread, you made the following request:

    “John Ridgway, if you have the time and the inclination (please don’t worry if you don’t), I’d love to read your take on this:

    ‘West can’t cope with Covid-19 because of DOCILIANS, the pampered herd whose demand for ZERO RISK actually risks killing thousands’”

    I apologize for not having responded, but the truth is I had simply failed to notice your comment until now.

    The short answer is that I agree in general with the basic message of the article. In safety engineering the precautionary principle does not find widespread application, and the expression ‘safe’ is always replaced with ‘sufficiently safe’. Sufficiency, however, is a politically problematic concept for many, and the lazy alternative of implementing zero tolerance towards hazard has become the favoured approach. Proper risk management is hard, and that is probably why it has gone out of fashion.

    I may provide a fuller response in the guise of an article on the subject – or I might not. In the meantime, there are legal aspects to my ‘Primer on Causation’ article on which I would love to have your opinion, given your background expertise.


  134. John Ridgway, no apologies necessary.

    I confess I skimmed your “Primer on Causation” article, because – believe it or not – I’m actually quite busy, with self-isolating elderly relatives to keep stocked with food, and general difficulties of shopping for food these days, which complicates that task. I’m planning to make a food run to my father-in-law tomorrow, if the police will let me (he lives about 20 miles away from us).

    Once that’s done, I should have more time (possibly too much time!) on my hands, and will give your article the attention it deserves.


  135. Alan: ‘It is already possible to observe a re-posturing of climate activism to take advantage of the new realities’

    Andy: ‘Yes. FWIW I think these early attempts are dubious, some will have modest value and some will backfire. But they show how quickly cultures react, and from millions of events daily they select those which work best, so pretty soon there will likely be much more sophisticated and successful moves in this direction.’

    Various of these attempts are sharpening up already. Some quite subtle positioning in this one (relatively speaking):

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.