Wednesday, 29 September 2021

New York Times “massages” Covid vaccine and death rates to support a narrative. Gee

 

From here, on Twitter. 
Above posted by Dr Eric Topol on Twitter yesterday. I came across Topol via Sam Harris who interviewed him and extolled him for providing unbiased data on covid.

First look at the chart from the front page of the New York Times yesterday.  The story: More Trump > less vaccine > more death. Simple, powerful narrative. (Trump is, in fact, vaccinated and has urged followers to vaccinate, but never mind...)

I’ve been following this stuff for a long time and when I saw the vax rates in the chart above, I thought “huh”? And sure enough they turn out to be wrong by a large amount. 

Not my my stats. But by the stats in the New York Times itself. I’m a subscriber to their hourly-updated vaccine tracker. And according to their own tracker, the figures above are not correct. Here are (only some) of the correct figures, my corrections in red arrows. 

Y-axis is *un*vaccinated, so lower is better
Click to enlarge

(Some of the unvaccinated rates for the Blue States will have come down as well. What the chart suggests is that all states are reducing unvaccinated rates and trending towards higher rates, whether Red or Blue). Added: I was wondering why would the NYT publish figures that are misleading and easily fact-checked. Well, one thing is they can count on most of their readers, including such respected ones as Dr Topol, not to do the fact-check, because the chart fits their priors so nicely. Also: the figures used in the chart, it seems, are from two weeks ago (that I don’t know why). Since then figures for all states have improved, with Red states (Rep) improving faster because they were further behind. As I write this, most states are close in overall vaccination rates. Could it be that the Times has an agenda here, to demonise Republicans? Surely not. They’re the “paper of record” after all. Right.

As to the smaller chart in the NYT clip above, on deaths in various counties, two comments: 1. New York State not included because of “data availability”, but it would substantially raise that Blue (Dem) line if it were included. 2.  According to deaths per million since the pandemic began, Blue (Dem) states have the highest figures. (I do get that the NYT chart is for counties not states and that it’s for trailing two weeks not total deaths to date. But total deaths to date, per capita, are surely also a relevant data point, aren’t they?)

I looked yesterday at the figures for all those US states that are above the US average of deaths per million; 23 in number. Of those, 13 are Blue (Dem) states and 10 are Red (Dem). Another way of putting this is: States run by Democratic governors have most of the highest deaths per capita in the US since the pandemic began. That puts a rather different slant than the NYT front page story, doesn’t it?  I mean it would be the opposite: “Covid policies are walloping Blue states”!

Most states with above average of deaths per capita are Democrat-run
A rather different narrative than the NYT headline above.
From Worldometer as at 28 September 2021

I’m not arguing that Republicans are vaccinating at the same rates as Democrats. They’re not. But there are also many others, including on the Left, and including Black American and Latino Americans, who are vaccinating at way lower rates than needed to control the pandemic. See here, for example.

I’m very pro-vaccine myself. We’ve all been fully jabbed here since the earliest we could. The Topol tweet above, the front page headline in the NYT, they don’t help. They divide the country. They divide the world. 

The way to increase vaccine acceptance is by building trust -- as the Scandinavians have done -- and by persuasion. Not by calling people idiots, stupid, troglodytes. Glen Greenwald talks about this

It strikes me that Sam Harris and Eric Topol and all their ilk are not helping things here. They’re dividing the country, even as they think they’re doing good. The road to hell… While the NYT, the paper of the 1619 project infamy, the erstwhile “paper of record”, publishes this tendentious tosh to signal the virtue of their readership, the uber-vaccinated. 

To repeat: to reduce vaccine hesitancy, you have to convince, not criticise. 

‘Wuhan lab and web of Chinese red tape that delayed US scientists getting access to coronavirus’ | SCMP


Our local paper, the South China Morning Post feels bold enough to carry a story on the China-side obstruction in the early days of the coronavirus. A super-sensitive item on the mainland. /Snip:

In late January 2020, as a new virus infected hundreds of people each day in the Chinese city of Wuhan, scientists at the Galveston National Laboratory in Texas urgently sought access to the pathogen to start their own research.

They turned to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), whose scientists they had helped to train, hoping they could execute a swift “material transfer agreement” to get the coronavirus to their labs.

The US government-affiliated lab would wait days as a WIV scientist overseeing the transfer reported little progress in a process that appeared stymied by a need for Chinese government approval, emails obtained by a freedom of information request to the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) show.

The exchange highlights challenges in international pathogen sharing and points to China’s reluctance to share these materials in the critical early days of the pandemic, experts briefed on the documents said. For the researchers in Texas, it meant lost time. [Read on…]

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

lambasted

From lambasted
Inspired by Ian Paisley. Who is upset that the BBC reported that Edwin Poot, leader of his DUP party is a Creationist. When the leader of his party, Mr Edwin Poot, is a Creationist. 

It hurts when you say it out loud, doesn't it?

(Paisley's defence? Poot is "a man of faith". And you're wrong to attack a man of faith)

Remember: It’s perfectly safe to like this cartoon — it’s not bigoted! The likes of Chicago prof Jerry Coyne writes the foreword to a collection of the strips. Click on the “Jesus & Mo” label below to see my selection over the years, or go straight to the source. The writer of the strip has only ever been known as “Author”, a wise precaution given the anti-cartoon murders in France and Austria.

Of Basils and Urns

Nikki, Marcus, Basil (Jnr)
[That’s “Urn” as in U R N. It looks a bit like “UM”. But it’s Urn. As in a kind of chalice thing.  “A tall rounded vase with a stem and base, often used for storing the ashes of a cremated person”. And doggie ashes too! I would add]

So last Saturday I’m listening to Roy & H.G. on their latest gig Bludging on the blind side (ABC 666 Saturdays). They’re hearing that mayor of Perth, WA, Basil Zempilas, had suggested a minute of clapping at the next day's Grand Final of the Aussie Rules football. A big deal in Oz. This year in Perth, which, thanks to pretty much zero Covid, is one of the few places in Oz not in lockdown and the stadium will seat 100k or so. 

The “one minute clap” according to Mayor Basil, would be to recognise what other Aussies nationwide are going through with their lockdowns. But to many it sounds like they're flipping the bird at them. A soft, gentle, well-meaning bird, perhaps, but a bird nonetheless. So there’s pushback. He’s being mocked on Twitter is Mayor Basil. 

Roy and H.G. join in. Roy suggests an alternative (“or an addition” says H.G.). Why not everyone take off their underpants and burn them? “For World Peace!”  Lovely idea, Roy, says H.G.. They’re of the “yes, and…” tradition of comedy improv, as Wendy Harmer notes in the lovely "Australian Story" from last year (@13:30). They always agree with each other, accept each other’s premises, finish each other’s sentences, flying off into new heights of absurdity. 

Soon, a listener email suggests: Why not sweep up the ashes of all the burnt underpants and put them in an Urn? (A clear reference here to The Ashes of Aussie-Pommie cricket folklore).  “Brilliant!” says H.G.. And the Urn with the “Ashes of World Peace” could be displayed at every AFL grannie (Aussie for “Grand Final”).  And they’re off! How to light the underpants? Roy suggests you’d be allowed to bring in a certain amount of lighter fluid or petrol, to the grounds.“Strictly limited, of course” says H.G.. Roy considers what that would do for Perth’s carbon footprint. “You’d have to have offsets” says H.G.. Basil (the Mayor) could take up a GoFundMe to plant, say, 3,000 trees to offset the CO2 from burning the underpants. And more and more. Delightful, laugh out loud absurdity, all extempore.

Which brings me to our Basil. The dog. Not the Mayor. And our urns of the ashes of three previous dogs, now gone to wag their tails and chase their rabbits in the Great Paddock: Basil (Snr), Nikki and Marcus.  (above, with Basil Jnr)

Basil (Jnr) is now 13. He is on his last legs. Literally. His back legs can no longer raise him from the ground. His arse end has to be lifted with a towel walked along on his last legs, like a wheelbarrow. And soon too his ashes will be in an urn on the mantlepiece in our lounge room, with his picture on it, to be fondly remembered. For he is (soon was) a good dog. Like all dogs, really. Good dogs. He still wags his tail. He still chases… rabbits maybe… in his looong sleeeps As he will in his paddock in the sky. 

And that’s not a tragedy. That’s life. And death. I heard ABC radio yesterday, mourning the death of a man in his mid 90s who had been in palliative care with “numerous health issues”. The ABC mourned his death because it was “with Covid”. They repeated it at least three times over the morning: a “tragic” death, and “we offer our sincere condolences to the family”. What about the other 459 people in Australia that died of other causes yesterday? This obsession with Covid and each death — of a 95-year-old man in ill health! — as a “tragedy” is bizarre and slightly ridiculous. Isn’t it? 

It helps to have our three Urns of doggie ashes. To remember that death is part of life, to remember our dearly departed with fondness, not sadness. They are not tragedies. At least not at the end of long and happy lives.

Thank you, Beijing, message received



The top-left editorial upon the io-Ed pages of our South China Morning Post is the voice of our masters in Beijing. Thankfully not all the paper is. At least yet. We still have some heterodox views and even Beijing-critical views. As I showed here. I cross fingers — that’s all I can do — that it continues.

At least it’s clear. Beijing is upset by Oz buying American nuclear submarines and signing on to a stronger relationship with old allies. Yet AUKUS is a done deal. It sets the strategic priorities for the US, for the UK, for Australia, and, by omission, for Europe, especially France —  for decades to come. As also my near-namesake (James Forsyth, just missing the “e”) argues.

Today’s Editorial, SCMP

Monday, 27 September 2021

‘Canberra picks sides’ | SCMP

Online here
“Canberra picks sides” says the print headline. And the right side, in my view. If indeed it’s quite true that a side has been finally and irrevocably chosen. After all, no matter how much Beijing tries to browbeat Australia because we’ve had the gall to call for an international investigation into the source of Covid 19, we still have a robust trade relationship. We still have a major embassy in Beijing overseeing relations across a broad area, including science, culture, education and even defence. We maintain our military attaché office there. 

David Morris, a PhD candidate, makes the the mistake of assuming that because he hasn’t read about it, it hasn’t happened. That because Indonesia claims it was shocked by the submarine deal — shocked, I tell you! — means it hadn’t heard of it before via diplomatic channels. Ditto France. They had. They’re crying crocodile… not tears, what?… umbrage? So that Beijing takes notice. Behind the scenes where most diplomacy should and does take place, there’s plenty going on and plenty being briefed. Morris as an ex diplomat ought to know that; maybe he does but it suits his argument to pretend he doesn’t.

I don’t like binaries. Who does? But again I’m reminded of Mao Tse-tung’s “One divides into two” (一分为二, Yi fen wei er). And if it is a choice, then I’m for the freedom way, flawed and all as it may be. Those flaws are on full show because of that very openness. China’s flaws — do we imagine they have none? — are never in show because they don’t allow them to be. We know the extent to which we can be influenced by media coverage, whether we admit it or not. So how can we not be influenced by relentlessly negative media around the US, and give a pass — or more, openly praise — the government of China. Because it “eradicated poverty” or some such. Sure, and also… repressing Xinjiang Uygurs, for just one. Where we don’t hear the full story. And now memorials of the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen massacres are banned here as well, so that’s cropped into the memory hole. We just don’t know the full extent of Beijing’s wrongdoings, whereas every one by Washington is in full, deep, extensive, thorough display. 

Comments on the art Joe online not running quite so anti-Australia as I’d imagined. Perhaps the 50-cent army have been withdrawn and sicked into different targets, Taiwan perhaps. 

A comment from a “Jing L” (click to enlarge):


After which comment from a “Peter F”:


Sunday, 26 September 2021

Who are the anti-vaxxers? Like liquorice.... All Sorts

A pleasant face of anti-vax: Kelly Brogan
Long-time Democrat, repeat guest on Oprah, 
There's a feeling "out there" that the anti-vaxxers are horrid right-wing people, Republicans and their ilk. The reality is that anti-vax is across the spectrum. They are, like the liquorice, Allsorts.

Take the "Disinformation Dozen" a report from an outfit called the Centre for Countering Digital Hate, that identifies 12 individuals, in the US, as being the prime proponents of anti-vax misinformation.

I've screenshot the list, and added the party affiliation. Note that at the top of the list is the long-time anti-vaxxer, prime Democrat, Robert Kennedy Jnr.  Most of the rest are Democrats. All are "alternative medicine" practitioners.

The "N" is where I'm not sure

Of course "disinformation" is disinformation, wherever it comes from. The reason I raise the party affiliation issue is that it's now assumed, in America, that if you're a Democrat you're fine and dandy and jabbed and if you're not you're a Republican and you're not jabbed and you're putting everyone at risk. That was pretty much the message of Joe Biden the other day.

But the fact is that vaccine hesitancy is across the board and the main proponents -- if you accept the CCDH report -- are mostly Democrats. A recent article in the left-wing The Atlantic the other day says the same in its Not Getting Vaccinated to Own Your Fellow Libs:

The anti-vax faction here has its roots in the left-libertarian politics of the Back to the Land movement, which flooded the area with the disaffected urban upper-middle class in the 1970s and ’80s. That influx of hippies and students, most of whom came from New York City, brought with it a political belief in naturopathy and a mistrust of institutional authority.

Saturday, 25 September 2021

CO2 monitor

My new monitor in my office. “Good” CO2 level
500 — 700 ppm is “Good

700 — 1500 ppm is “OK”

>1500 ppm is “Not good”

CO2 levels are a proxy for amount of aerosol in the air and so for the amount of a coronavirus. IF the coronavirus is in your community at all…

ADDED (26th Sep): "Double plus Good" !

85F is 29C. The 40% humidity is much lower in my office than outside. FWIW

Zuby -- Adam Carolla Show

Click screenshot to go to vid. About an hour long
This is a terrific interview. Covers Covid, intersectionality, woke-dom, etc. At one point Zuby addresses the concept that if you're Black, you must think a certain way, an idea he says is condescending and racist. It's exactly what Joe Biden said during the campaign last year when he told Charlemagne the God : "If you have a problem figuring out if you're for me or for Trump, then you ain't black". 
Adam welcomes Zuby.... The guys have a one-on-one conversation about finding connection amidst all the madness, and the rise in people being told they are ‘anti-vaxxer’ just for saying people should be able to make their own decisions.
They also discuss people’s relationship with risk assessment, why we keep focusing on kids instead of the elderly, and trying to heal the nation’s divide.
Later, they talk about political ideologies taking over everything, the topic of shame, and the problems with generalizing about everything.
In the last part of the show, the guys talk about how Americans view liberty, facts vs. stories, and why we need a more honest media, especially during our current crises.

Friday, 24 September 2021

Inside Uncle Russ Coffee, following the science

Uncle Russ Coffee in a quiet moment. For my bi-weekly doppio
That’s the same angle, above, I took a photo the other day, commenting on the plastic dividers. Today I’ve waited till everyone’s gone and I can see out to the bus stop. People in here have all been unmasked. It’s hard to drink your frappo or doppjo through medical gauze. Outside it’s breezy. And it’s…outside. Anwe have Zero Covid in Hong Kong. For over a month. Not a single local case. But everyone masked, outside. 

Summary: Masks outside, where it's not the science to wear masks; no masks inside, where there is the science to wear masks (save for the fact we have no virus in HK). And such as the science is.

If there is any danger of catching Covid, (which here there isn’t — to repeat, zero Covid for over a month) it’s inside. Where the aerosols can gather. In poor ventilation. Chinese studies early in the pandemic, right back to March last year, showed it’s a virus caught indoors. Nothing has changed. Yet we continue with nonsensical mandates to wear masks outdoors. Our hapless Chief Executive, Carrie Lam was asked on. Indy when the public bbq facilities will be reopened. “We have to be careful” she said. Of what? That’s safetyism, our recent scourge. 

Those folks in the photo above, waiting outside at the bus stop face more risk of being hit by a runaway bus. Or taxi. Literally literally.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

'Van Life' >> Van Death. Leads me back to "And the Sea Shall Tell"


A couple -- Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie -- heads off in a Van, across America. A single person returns. He's asked where his fiancée is. Shrugs. Dunno. Not sayin'. The police find the body and declare it was murder. Who dunnit?

One thing is: why the huge attention on this one murder? There are 60 homicides a day in the US, after all. Why is this one so different? Clearly it's a handsome young couple and they'd been Vlogging as "Van Life".  Still, one does wonder, and that's a big topic at #GabbyPetito, is it racism, and all, so I'm not going to go there.

What this story did was to remind me of another story. The one of another murder (or murders) in 1974, told in "And the Sea Shall Tell".  In the Gabby Petito case, a couple goes out; only one person comes back. On Palmyra Atoll, two couples go out on the sailing ketch Sea Wind, only one couple comes back. Vince Bugliosi tells the story in his terrific book. They also made a movie of it. Far more fascinating and mysterious, than this homicide, as they already have the obvious suspect in their sights. Brian Laundrie, the young man who returned alone in the van, is a "person of interest". 

Vince Bugliosi, by the way, also authored Helter Skelter, the true story of his prosecution of the Manson Family. Also a great read. It was, iirc, the only time Vince prosecuted. In the Sea Shall Tell, he defended Stephanie Sterns, the girlfriend of the ultimately convicted murderer, Buck Walker.

I went to look for my copy of Sea to re-read it. Couldn't find, so I've ordered another copy, this time in Kindle. That's a fine way to read, I've come to conclude. OK, it's not paper and it doesn't have the smell and feel of a good old-fashioned book. But it's light, is easy to read in bed with its backlighting, you can change the size of the font, you can look up words as you go, you can highlight and bookmark. Lots of pluses...

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

The new anti-hegemonic coalition

Click above to go to vid

This is a terrific talk. Peter Varghese (ex head of my old Department of Foreign Affairs) and Elbridge Colby, moderated by the highly capable Tom Switzer.

Scenarios in our region, of which we here in HK are at the centre. 

Will China expand its hegemony? Where? How? Will China attack Taiwan? Will the US react? How? What will Australia do? What can we do? What should we do?

These are questions of great moment: they stare us in the face as actual potential "things that might happen". 

And another one bites the dust…

The rout of civil society goes on. The grim — predictable, predicted — outcome of riots and “demanding” independence.

I wonder how many such groups have closed or been shut down since the National Security Law came into effect on 1 July 2020 . I’ve posted many. It must be dozens. With hundreds, maybe thousands, of incarcerations. A city cannot be a “World City” — as we’ve claimed to be for decades — without a vibrant civil society. The best we can hope for, I guess, is to be a special city within China. Thriving economically perhaps, and with at least a good rump of our freedoms still intact — freedoms that still differentiate us from the dear motherland. But no longer accepting dissent. What about our “sissy boys” one wonders. (娘炮 niang pao). What about our hosting of the Gay Games next year? 

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

This is the exact opposite of what the science tells us we should be doing

I’m noting the plastic dividers above. Blocking in the exhaled breath
of these ladies.
We should have greater ventilation, especially indoors, like here in the coffee shop as I write this. These plastic screens are a defence against droplets. That’s what we thought at the beginning — like early 2020. We’ve known for some time that blocking ventilation, as above, is not what we should be doing. Even the WHO says so, so it must be right.

I told our government this but they didn’t listen!

By the way, the above plastic screens are not the choice of our Uncle Russ Coffee shop. They are mandate by our Hong Kong government. Even as we continue a months-long record of precisely ZERO local covid cases. (We get a couple of cases a day, all imported, caught at the border). That’s in our city of 7.5 million. 

More people have been killed by lightning and by falling off cliffs in our country parks than by Covid in recent months

There are plenty of people who remain fearful nonetheless. If you are vaccinated you have only a one in 165 thousand chance of being hospitalised, and far less of dying (Joe Biden says it!), but this doesn’t ally’s fears. I’m no Covid denier and I’m hugely pro vaccines. It’s about time that we had a “vaccine dividend”. In a society, such as ours in HK, where everyone has had a chance to get a free, easy, safe and convenient vaccine, we ought to be free to move about maskless, to travel freely and to gather in groups as large as we wish (in accordance, of course! with the National Security Law).

Signs of the times — it’s all about "Patriotism"

Online here 
“The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic
Movements in China” here
"Patriotic" = Good. "Democratic" = Bad


Patriotism means not just love of country, but support of the Chinese Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) and its leader Xi Jinping. Teaching it at Uni.

Above headlines are from today’s South China Morning Post, about the “election” yesterday for the 1,500 members of an Election Committee to choose the next Chief Executive and ranks of the Legislature (LegCo).

Monday, 20 September 2021

'Why is Southeast Asia so concerned about Aukus and Australia’s plans for nuclear submarines?'

 

The announcement of a new strategic alliance between Australia, the United States and Britain (Aukus) has caught many by surprise. Besides France,
which reacted with fury over Australia’s scrapping of a major submarine deal with a French company, few countries were as surprised as Australia’s neighbours to the north, the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Spring View. Redux

 

Above: my second go at the poem I first posted here
My go at the translation:

A state destroyed, but nature thrives

Deep green in the spring city

Time passes, I cry on flowers

A sad parting, a startled bird

War beacons burn for months

Letters from home are priceless

I scratch my thinning white hair

It no longer holds my official pin


There are a number of translations. I've found none felicitous. Not that mine is. It's tough. But it's a wonderful poem in its original. Four related couplets, with the characters in each couplet mirrored in the next line. It's elegant. In Chinese, anyway. 
The "official pin" was a hair pin, in Tang times, which was a proof of one's office, like a warrant card, or a cop, these days, showing their ID. The Chinese is 簪 zān. (I took time with it, above). So, if your hair can't hold the pin anymore, it's like you've lost your position. And this was a time of revolution in China, when Du Fu, of this poem, was captured and held hostage, while the country around was in chaos. I think it's pretty pessimistic. Some say they find it optimistic. Hmmm...
state gone, just creeks and peaks
spring grows high in the streets
times bloom with sprinkled tears
birds part and start at heart
beacons burn for three months
letters worth piles of gold
I scratch my white hair short
so my pin doesn’t hold

Tremble and Obey

Never mind Xi Jinping’s Beijing:

  • Expanded in the South China Sea, occupying desert islands, dredging reefs, making airports out of coral attols
  • Attacked India, threatened Vietnam and the Philippines 
  • Increased its military build up
  • Brought down a draconian “National Security” legislation for us here in Hong Kong, 
  •                 and … the granddaddy of all “threats to peace and stability”:
    • Open, explicit, threats to attack Taiwan

Never mind all that! It’s those horrid white-nationalist English-speaking nations, their reacting, they’re the problem. You’re supposed to Tremble and Obey, barbarian!

The top-left editorial in the SCMP op-Ed page has become a conduit for Beijing. For sure we should read it, though. “Problematic” as Beijing is, it’s surely consequential. We have to know what they’re thinking. Including via other sources, such as CGTN, the People’s Daily, Wen Hui Pao, etc.. For what the “masses” (群众 qun zhong) are talking about there’s What’s on Weibo.

Fractal Giraffe

 


Friday, 17 September 2021

UPDATED COVID GUIDELINES: A FLOW CHART WRAPPED IN A RIDDLE SHROUDED IN A CLUSTERFUCK by BRETT SHOLLENBERGER


Flowchart here. Pretty funny

Via Althouse blogpost

I’m not really anti mask, in that I’ll wear a mask where it’s mandated and sensible. But I kind of am as well, since there seems to be a belief in mask effectiveness that’s largely untethered from reliable data. 
Early in this pandemic, in January 2020, I posted something about masks based on our experience during SARS in 2002 and on the then available data. 
[Looking back at it now, how simpler were those times! When posting something about masking didn't immediately slot you into one tribe or another!]
In my post I linked to "What doctors say about wearing masks" from 29 Jan 2020:
By contrast [to N95 respirators], surgical masks — those cheap, disposable, gauzy masks that often come in blue or green — are less uncomfortable. But Schaffner says the scientific evidence that "there might be a benefit for people in the community wearing [surgical] face masks is very, very meager. The general sense is perhaps, but they're certainly not an absolute protection." In other words, they do provide some benefit but they're far from foolproof.
All the evidence since then suggests that that remains pretty much the same. Masks help a bit, but not a lot; N95 are far more help, but are hard to wear and need training to fit properly; surgical masks are of some use; cloth masks basically useless. But I’m guessing — guessing, mind, no science here! — that when officials and health bureaucrats call for masking, they’re imagining (now I’m mind reading)  that masks are a kind of “do or die”. That if you don’t mask you’re at huge risk to yourself and others; if you do mask you’re stopping the virus in its tracks.
Not so quick...
A recent Yale university study, the first large scale randomised study of the effect of masks on spread of Covid, shows that masks do have an effect (it would be surprising indeed if there were no effect), but relatively small even for surgical masks, and close to zero for cloth masks. 
With a p=0.54 the results for cloth masks are not
statistically  significant
Even for the surgical masks the effects for <50yo were not statistically significant:
Moreover, some of the effects of mask wearing may well have been because of increased "social distancing" amongst the intervention group, as the Yale study authors themselves acknowledge. 
Of course, it's also possible to make the case that, extrapolating, the reduction in Covid spread by masking may be greater than the study suggests, as in a twitter exchange by one of the authors, here.
Still: we could always have worn masks to halt the spread of viruses that cause pneumonia, which kills 4-5 million per year. But we didn't do that. Are we going to wear masks as long as we have any Covid in the world, because it saves lives? Other things that save you from Covid: 1. Being slim 2. Being young 3. Being vaccinated.
ADDED: Some other thoughts on the Yale Study:
  • Distancing increased in the intervention group and is part of the reason for the reduction of seroprevalence for that group
  • It's Bangladesh, where the rate of Obesity is low. We know -- or believe we know -- that obesity is a driver of Covid mortality (though some think only a small driver). I don't know whether that might affect the results.
ADDED: One thing I learnt from perusing the amusing flow chart above: Vegans are not getting vaccinated (for various reasons, some around the ethics of animal testing) 

China gets ticked …

 

Another article: “Oz move likely to anger China…”. Likely?  D’ya think?
The "alliance" is AUKUS, which sounds like a kind of bird. Or whale, maybe, in the genus Orca?


Comments at both articles are not all against Oz, though many veer between ignorance and contumely.  For South China Morning Post a huge number of comments.

Re Australia’s plan to buy nuclear-powered submarines, I must admit that was a surprise to me. I watched ABC Q&A last night in which this was a subject. I’d been expecting big push backs, but not so much. There seemed to be an appreciation that what’s being bought is a power system, well tested, not nuclear weapons. Earlier on ABC radio I’d heard a nuclear expert, an academic, talk of accidents with nuclear powered subs, but she then admitted — when pressed — that every accident had been on Russian subs, and not always problems with the power system. The US has been operating nuclear subs for 70 years, and AFAIK, no problems. The main advantage is how long they can deploy vs diesel or diesel-electric. Like non-stop for years. As long as the food lasts.…

Anyway, for sure this decision and the new AUKUS alliance is sure getting a lot of attention.

China slams “provocation” in South China Sea. But…but…. Just after Xi Jinping came to power in 2012 China started pushing in the S. China Sea. It’s almost as if he was the one responsible. China has occupied islets, dredged reefs, built airfields in coral lagoons and made an ambit claim for pretty much the whole of the South China Sea right down to Indonesia. Not to mention highly threatening moves against Taiwan. 

It has a military bigger by an order of magnitude than the rest of Asia combined. And continues massive annual military expenditures. And now has the gall — call it chutzpah, if we’re charitable — to call out others for “provocation” and “arms build up”. 

MEANWHILE and utterly UNRELATED: It’s  now official. It’s the science: you’re more likely to die from lightening strike in Hong Kong than from Covid… “Hong Kong canoeist dies from lightening strike…’. Swimming in the midst of a hail storm. And another hiker died in a fall down a 50m cliff. There are calls — again! — to ban hiking. Why not? The same logic as keeps us locked down, “just in case”. While HK Covid deaths 7-day average for September: zero

Thursday, 16 September 2021

"Spring View": Chun Wang by Du Fu. 杜甫春望

My messing about calligraphy of this poem
I kind of prefer the more free-form translations, like this one

Martin Winter:
state gone: creeks & peaks,
spring grows in the streets.
times bloom sprinkled tears;
birds part, startling hearts.
beacons burn three months,
words from home are gold.
scratching white hair short:
pin doesn’t hold.

Margaret FORSYTHE ("Mutti"): 100 years young 💗🎁🎂

Mutti at Carey Gardens, Red Hill, yesterday, 15 September

The ABC Canberra FB page on the interview with Mutti here. As at writing had 2.8k likes and uncountable comments; wow!

Mutti turned 100 yesterday. My post with photos is immediately below

Many thanks to all those involved in celebrating her birthday and for all the birthday greetings. Quite overwhelming!

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Margaret FORSYTHE ("Mutti"), Centenarian -- 100 y.o. on 15 September 2021

Born Te Mawhai, New Zealand, 160km S of Auckland 
Near Hamilton and Cambridge. Farming land

Kilburn Park, Wellington, Spring 1944
New Zealand Air Force uniform
Crop from above
Margaret Tokyo 1946
Mother and Son (Peter), Tokyo 1952
With John. Grindlewald Switzerland Nov 1972
Murren, Switzerland 1972
Mutti and granddaughters Anna and Meredith
December 2009, Melbourne Llewellyn Hall, ANU

Mutti, grandson John, his mother Jing
Dogs Marcus and Basil, August 2012
Melbourne Botanic Gardens June 2017


Murray River, June 2017

Otago National Park, Victoria, June 2017

Mutti and Anne, June 2018 Canberra
Mutti and Marylin Adrienne (photo BY Marilyn, see comments)
Canberra, March 2021
UPDATE:
ABC RADIO Interview with Margaret and Peter here.
ABC Canberra FB Page on the interview here.
Email me to Add a Greeting to Margaret ("Mutti"). I can’t seem to enable Comments, and I don't do Facebook. I’ll post only your surname and initial unless you want otherwise. 
ADDED: The ABC FB page on the interview has 2.5k likes! And thousands of Greetings! Amazing. Link here
Click “Read more” to see Greetings to M sent via me. Latest on top.