Thursday, 31 March 2022

Bougainvillea | Bird

 


“Britain pulls its judges from top court in the city” | SCMP

This is another case of action by foreign governments having the opposite effect of that intended. The intent here, by the UK, is to object to the National Security Law and it’s effect on “One Country Two Systems” (OC2S). 

The US did the same in 2020 when Congress removed Hong Kong from international bodies. 

Both these actions only harm OC2S. The Road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

My old home, Shanghai. Now in chaos

 

As some say in the article: the Zero Covid policy is a recipe for never-ending restrictions. “The problem is they don’t have a plan to transition from zero Covid to living with the virus”. The very phrase “living with the virus” is a no-no in China.

Only 1% of tested positive in Shanghai have symptoms. Does that even count as a disease? If 99% who catch it don’t have symptoms? 

China’s fear is a repeat of Hong Kong. Where we were so naive to Omicron, exactly because we had been successful with early Zero Covid, so got a huge spike, so China fears their own huge spike. And they too have lots of non-vaccinated elderly. So they too could get a huge, world-beating spike in deaths as well. So it’s all resting on crushing the virus. Especially as Xi Jinping gears up for the 20th Party Congress in November. 

Note the PPE in the photo above: that’s common all over China now.

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Update: on my 3 March story about our record Covid Cases and deaths per capita

 

Daily cases per million. Only Israel had more
Daily deaths per million. No other place had higher

I first “broke” the story that we had world record numbers of cases and deaths per million back on 3 March. In the end, we were second overall in this grim stat: covid cases per million population. We remain at the top of the table of an even grimmer stat: deaths per million. 

The reason for both these world-beating stats is ironic: the success of the Zero Covid Policy. Whereas other places had Alpha and Delta cases, which gave their populations exposure to the virus and the immunity therefrom, in Hong Kong, we were “naive” to the virus. Until Omicron hit and hit big.

And, also, the most vulnerable -- the elderly -- were very little vaxxed. Only around 25% when Omicron hit. Various reasons for this, which I covered here.  

Their median age of death from Covid in Hong Kong is 86. Life expectancy HK: 85. Oldest person died with/of Covid in HK: 112. 

We need to be very clear: we are saving elderly people at a cost. That cost is school closures, businesses bankrupted, livelihoods destroyed, mental health suffering, lockdowns shuttering normal life, masking inside and outside. We must acknowledge this. “Saving” people at the end of life expectancy comes at a cost to the young and hale. Our mother, 100, says the same. And says all her care home friends say the same. And I, 72, say the same. We don’t want our lives “protected” if it means destroying the lives of the young and fir. Enough, already!

“Ukraine war lessons make attack on Taiwan unlikely“ | SCMP

The character above is Zhàn,”War”. Kind of odd stuck there by itself
“Ukraine war lessons make attack on Taiwan unlikely“.  So says a Taiwanese security chief. Then again, who knows? Not many predicted the full-on attack of Ukraine. At least Xi Jinping would not want to do anything before the 20th Party conference in November.

For background here is a good BBC Explainer of a few days ago.

Commenters at the site point out something I’d posted about before: how much stronger China’s military is, than before, and than Russia. Also Taiwanese numbers only half of Ukraines. Then again, I, guessing Taiwan's military is better equipped and better trained than Ukraine’s.  

ADDED: How fast things change. Here the thought is that Russia’s attack in Ukraine was quick, the West’s response so weak that it made attack on Taiwan more likely. No longer can we say the West's response is weak, nor that the Russian advance so quick. That was exactly a month ago.

ADDED (2): The triggering thing would be a Taiwanese declarations of independence. Better the status quo, which is de facto independence. 

“AUKUS is not a signal Australia seeks nuclear weapons? | SCMP

Our Consul-General in Hong Kong, Elizabeth Ward, weighs in.
Some silly commenters equate nuclear power with nuclear weapons. Not same.

A tale of two cities | Shanghai in lockdown

Q: if you have a pandemic and no one is sick, do you really have a pandemic?

In Shanghai almost all cases discovered by mass testing, were without symptoms. IOW, the people didn’t even know they had it.

Meantime, businesses in Shanghai are comps,img about the arbitrary rules. People are getting p’d off with Zero Covid policy. There’s also panic buying. How long for Zero Covid? Problem is now it’s a matter of pride. They’ve been telling the rest of the world how well thy e done and lecturing the rest of us in how to handle the virus. Fact that Omicron is different hasn’t sunk in.

Monday, 28 March 2022

Actor: slaps comedian | Audience: standing ovation

Take that you … you … comedian… you!
I’m  going to go ahead and say: that’s wrong and perverted. To stand and applaud physical violence. Shows the continued coarsening snd corruption of the Oscars and American society.

The actor, Will Smith. The comedian Chris Rock (also an actor). The standing ovation: Oscar audience after Smith’s blubbing talk of “love”.  Yeah, right, just after you just bitch-slapped a fellow actor.

What’s going in here is assault for the “honour” of a wife, the but of a joke. What next? Honour killings?  Applauded by the Hollywood Filmerati? 

You just know, don’t you, that has Will Smith been a white man, no chance on god’s earth that he would have been given a standing ovation. He would have been, correctly and loudly, demolished.

Oh, the hypocrisy.

“Lam fuels talk she will not run for second term” | Please, god…

“Our leaders, and especially our current chief executive [Carrie Lam], are mired in bureaucratic processes and moved only by hierarchy”. Professor John Burns, HKU. [here]

Reminds me of my time as the Big Boss of Austrade in East Asia back in the 1990s. Had Offices throughout the region, China, Korea, Vietnam, HK. Maybe 300-odd staff. Our best thinkers-outside-the-box were in China, especially Shanghai. Our most “by-the-book”, don’t-step-outside-the-rules, were our staff in Hong Kong. Jing says that’s because how well the Brits trained them be loyal bureaucrats. Whatever. It struck me at the time. And we’re suffering for this lack of flexibility right now in this pandemic. 

Related: the so-called “easing” of lockdowns is not much chop, by Michael Rowse. (As I said, in Roadmap to a roundabout).

And…”How fifth wave exposes cracks in HK government”. Click screenshot:

HK restaurants despair over checking vaccine status”. Why are HK restaurants doing government’s job for it? When we know that vaccine mandates don’t work. The restaurants are abiding by the law. But the law in this case is an ass. We know from many places — Israel, US, Europe and Australia, have tried vaccine passes and given up on them because they don’t work. Either in stopping the spread of the virus or encouraging vaccine take up.

Sunday, 27 March 2022

Listening to Gene Simmons, founder-leader of KISS…

… who is my age (72) and talking about having perspective. Be thankful for the small problems you have, when you consider Ukraine and Yemen. We don’t have problems, we in the rich world. Be thankful every day.

And says you got to keep active, or else you’re waiting for death. Which reminds me of the Chinese triptych: you’re either waiting for death, fearing death or courting death. 等死,怕死,找死. Be brave. Be courting death; taking risks.

He arrived in the US aged 8, in 1957,  with his mother, same year I arrived in Australia. Neither one of us spoke English at the time. He and mother from Hungary. We from Italy. He and his mother refugees from Hungary where she had been in a Nazi concentration camp. We, my family, from an embassy posting to Italy.

iPad,it’s the man and his accomplishment. And his practical, grateful, views in life.

His band, KISS, is starting on its Final World Tour. The reason it’s the last is the outfits KISS wear. The boots weigh like bowling balls. He says he can’t be clomping around on stage with 50 pounds of costume, at age 75. He’ll keep going. But more in the Keith Richards mode: sneakers and jeans. I like the guy. He is, as they say, based. (Watch)

Saturday, 26 March 2022

“The Media Campaign to Protect Joe Biden ...” (Then. Maybe not now?)

 

Click to go to vid. It’s a hoot
Hate Trump? Think it was worth doing anything, like anything, to stop him, including lying to help Moe Biden? Well, it worked. 

Those who weren’t in a CNN or MSNC bubble, who read outside the fully-on-Democratic-side mainstream media, will have known of this for two years —  that the Hunter Biden laptop story was true and that it implicated his dad in kickbacks from China. Knew about it then, before the 2020 election, and were shocked and amazed that it was simply brushed under the carpet. It was “disappeared”.

The thing is: what does it mean that the New York Times says it’s all true, now? Why now? Is it preparing to jettison a weak president, and hoping the Reps will do the dirty work for them? I don’t know and that’s not the point of Matt Taibbi’s piece, here, which is nonetheless, like all his stuff, highly entertaining.  

The battle for Ukraine

From an occasional reader. The above fascinating analysis from ex UN Weapons inspector Scott Ritter. In the fog of war, good to get a take different from the common media consensus. 

There’s some really scary stuff at the end about increased danger of nuclear war.... (scary stuff at the beginning too, tbf)

Focusing on Covid stats that matter | Barrington declaration Redux

Well said Finn! I’ve been saying for a rooooly long time that obsession with case numbers is silly. And all the more so now with Omicron where the tested numbers are way below actual infection rates. By how much we don’t know but maybe up to ten times. With a less severe infection we need to focus on things like hospitalisation and ICU bed occupancy. As neighbour of ours Finn Nielsen says in today’s SCMP letters. 

Also today: an article by Phil Chan and Nicola de Jager, “Turning a deaf ear” suggesting we adopt a “focused protection” strategy per the March 2020 Barrington Declaration which was hammered at the time because it was didn’t fit the then narrative of widespread undifferentiated lockdowns and NPIs until vaccines. (And even then, for us here in Hong Kong). So interesting that’s it’s now being talked about again, and in the South China Morning Post:



Azalea | Camellia | Paper | Calligraphy | Dog

 

Masks | RATs | TCM

Looking forward to receiving my government care package: masks, Rapid Antigen Test kits and… and… Traditional Chinese Medicine! “Proprietary” mind. I look forward to researching the testing done on this “medicine”

Friday, 25 March 2022

US: Crime rates in cities mainly a Democrat thing

I made the above charts from the data I collected here. Violent and property crime for the top 20 cities in the US and the party affiliation of their Mayors. 

I’m reading San Francicko, by Michael Shellenberger, himself an ex radical socialist, admirer of Noam Chomsky, etc... now turned critic. He takes on this issue. Why so much crime, homelessness, hopelessness in progressive-run cities? Many of which have been progressive-run for decades. 

In the US, violent and property crime has jumped in the last two years. After the George Floyd death by police, the subsequent riots, and then the pandemic. And it’s jumped an average of 44% during the Biden administration. 

Most crime affected cities are run by Democrats -- 85% to 15%. You could object that that’s because most cities in the US are run by Democratic mayors. And that’s correct. But that figure is 60-40 for the top 100 cities. So there’s still 25 percentage points more violent crime to account for, that’s down to Democratic mayors. 

If you want clean cities, reduced homelessness, less violent and property crime, safer neighbourhoods, and you live in the US and have a vote, on the odds alone you’d have to vote Republican. If you care about public order and safety.

“HKU expert questions need for people to wear masks while hiking, as city prepares to relax social distancing”

Interesting. (A) One expert says masks are not needed when out hiking in country parks. (B) Another expert  they are needed, even more than in restaurants. 

(A) Professor Cowling, epidemiologist and biostatistician:
The move to relax public health measures in Hong Kong means masks should no longer be mandatory while exercising outdoors, especially when it comes to hiking in country parks, according to an epidemiologist who has often publicly disagreed with government policy. 
Professor Ben Cowling, head of the division of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Hong Kong, said considering the green spaces in the city as being “high risk” was “inconceivable”. He rated country parks as being at the “lowest of low-risk settings”.

(B) Dr Leung, respiratory expert:

Respiratory expert Dr Leung Chi-chiu said he considered country parks to be more dangerous to residents overall than people gathered in restaurants.  
“Even if you want to meet your friends [at a restaurant instead], it is still a table of two,” Leung said. “You might be posing more of a risk to your friend, but you are posing less of a risk to hundreds of passers-by. From a public health perspective, you are not increasing the risk. We must proceed with an abundance of caution.”
Who to believe?
Options:
1.  Believe neither or both. Though I’m not sure that’s possible unless you’re very good at Doublethink.
2. Believe the one who fits your priors.  If you’re a safety-at- any-cost person, a “one death is too many” person, then go with Dr Leung. If you’re a risk balancer, or one who follows the issue closely and follows the actual Science then you’d go with professor Cowlimg. 
3. You might do a bit more digging around and find that the Chinese said early on (March 2020) that this was not an “outdoor virus” , and that there is no actual real-life data to suggest outdoors is dangerous for catching Covid, even the Omicron variant.
4. You could use common sense: which one of these views sounds more commonsensical? You could back this up by taking your CO2 meter outdoors and indoors, and finding the readings indoors are around 1,000 (=high) and only 400 outside. This means any viral particles are less concentrated outdoors than indoors. Science!
5. Consider the expertise of each. Professor Cowling in epidemiology, the study of how diseases spread. And Dr Leung, in respiratory diseases, which means he knows how to treat your pneumonia, not necessarily how it’s spread. Does his statement about “you are posing less of a risk to passers-by” in a restaurant even make sense? Well, no, not really. And not by the evidence of your CO2 meter either.
So, I go with the views of professor Cowling. 
Also: this is an example of how “the science” and “experts” can come to diametrically opposed conclusions about an issue, even two years into the pandemic.
We ought not, any of us, expert or not, think we have the answers and revile someone with a view different from yours. What goes around often does come around. 

Yes, but what IS the plan?

 

Many comments online here
The reason people have been asking for ages “what’s the plan?” Of Carrie Lam?. Because of endless shilly-shallying. 
While Singapore is easing up on mandates. According to a plan they did lay out. Months ago. Vaccinate everyone, especially the elderly and vulnerable. And then open up.
“… Singapore outdoor mask mandates would be axed, fully-vaccinated travellers could anger the country duty-free, and …a full resumption of air and land travel with Singapore.”
Note Singapore earlier small wave of Delta. Was it this that
helped keep their Omicron wave lower than HK?

Bottle Brush | Park

 

Callistemon Viminalis

Thursday, 24 March 2022

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Koronavirus Kabuki

Some have argued that a global metropolis should “live with the virus”, yet that is divorced from the reality of a densely populated city with high mobility and a serious ageing issue. Hong Kong cannot afford to “lie flat” or the runaway virus will surely spiral out of control, ruining people’s lives and grinding the city to a halt. [So says Liu Guangyuan in today’s SCMP]

Liu Guangyuan is Beijing’s man in Hong Kong, so of course, when he says “jump” our apparatchiks ask "how high”?

He says the above, and all the rest of the Hong Kong government also say: that it’s a “fight”, a “battle” and that “it’s clear that taking avoidance measures like masking and social distancing reduces the virus”. That if we don’t the “runaway virus will spiral out of control”.

Example:

As daily Covid-19 infections continue to decline, one may think the city’s ongoing fifth wave will simply fade away. But if previous battles are any reference, victory may only follow from the vigorous enforcement of social-distancing and health-control regulations

But is it true? Not by the experience in other countries. My excel chart of Stringency Index (from Oxford Uni, via OWIF, and cases/million):

You can just eyeball this to note that there’s no obvious -- jumps out at you -- correlation between how much you lockdown and how many cases you have. If you’re not happy with eyeballing, then I’ve done the Correlation coefficients, for a dozen or so countries, which show, on average, no statistically significant relation between lockdown stringency and case rates. It’s not just me (though it was first me, back in 2020), but all Johns Hopkins University and recently The Lancet all of which conclude the same: there’s no statistically beneficial effect of NPIs such as lockdowns, masking, etc.

Yet people don’t like the science, so they ignore the science. Or quibble with methodologies. And tell us we have to be “brave”, we have to “keep fighting”, we’re “in a battle”, and so on. Whereas it was always the case that that wasn’t so, and is even more the case now with super-contagious Omicron.

A few more charts of Cases per million, since Omicron, with Stringency Indices, added by me. at the time there was either an increased or decreased stringency. Look closely and you see: no obvious correlation:

The correlation is positive, when it should be negative


For both UK and Italy, there is no statistically significant
correlation between the Stringency and the Case numbers
Same story with France and the US. The waves happened, no 
matter the Stringency of NPIs
So, what’s my point? That all this stuff that’s going on in Hong Kong and the few remaining other places keeping various mandates and lockdowns in place, are all, no a one of them, “following the science”. We ought to protect the vulnerable and the elderly and let everyone else get on with like. That’s been the best strategy since the beginning -- a version of the Barrington Declaration, and it remains the best policy. Many nations are defaulting too it. Just not us. So my point is we’re taking part in Health Theatre, that’s no use in dealing with Omicron or future variants. Maybe it makes some bureaucrats feel better, for they’re seen to be “doing something”. But that thing they’re doing -- that they also make the rest us us do -- is pretty much useless. If overcoming the pandemic is the point. 

Saving lives… ruining livelihoods

As founder-owner-managers of a successful customer-facing business back in the early oughts we know that our business would have been crushed by today’s lockdowns, and we would have had to close — tossing 300 staff into unemployment. That’s what’s going on in the above pic, taken in central Hong Kong. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of small and medium enterprises, the “mom and pop stores”, the dreams and wealth of families, all crushed by a Zero Covid policy. I feel for them, empathise. 

All bankrupt for a policy which has had no effect in the Omicron wave. As we see from other countries where there’s no correlation between strictness of NPIs and virus case and death rates. Our government and its advisers, mainland and local, are in deep delusion.

To repeat: a policy of protecting the vulnerable and elderly would have controlled deaths while sustaining livelihoods.

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

What’s with the Case Fatality Rate by Age Group and Vaccination Status for HK?

 

Click here for the online chart
Note the age skew. Was always and remains, skewed to the elderly. 

Note the statement below the chart above: “About 10 times lower fatality rate for those aged above 60 and fully vaccinated”. Didn’t look quite right to me, just on looking at the chart. I did the figures: 

NFV = Not Fully Vaxed
So, the highest multiple is for 60-69 year olds, which is 8.88 times more likely to die, if one is not fully vaccinated (which I presume is triple jabbed). 
But the overall average is 5.82 times, nowhere near the “10 times” claimed by the HK government. This is not me being anti-vax, but it doesn’t help trust if the government is misrepresenting figures, which I think they are. If they have other data to support their claim of “10 times”, they haven’t shared it with us. I get why they’re doing it: to try to increase vax rates. But it doesn’t help if they’re lying. 

Our empty caff...

“Many of our regulars have already left Hong Kong” say the staff at our local caff.

It’s not the virus they’re scared of. It’s the restrictions, the quarantines, the lockdowns, supposedly to “control the virus”, that they’ve just grown tired of.

Roadmap to a roundabout?

Underwhelming. The much-signalled reduction of quarantine, from 14 days to seven. And removing nine countries, including Australia, UK and the US, from a banned travel list.  Then a slooooow opening of other businesses, but only staring next month. Going round and round the roundabout...

Look at the highlighted bit above


and it’s a recipe for forever restrictions and fear. We are actually told by government advisers that we should “not stop worrying”. Oh dear.

The “advisers" keep talking about having reached a plateau. But have a look at the 7-day rolling average of cases per  million. Look like a plateau?

Australia is going up, mainly because WA has just opened up. For the rest they’ve been through the Omicron wave, earlier than we in Hong Kong. All other countries in Our World in Data show similar patterns. There is no reason we should be any different. IOW, our Omicron wave is nearly finished. 

Monday, 21 March 2022

Magic Mushroom Medicine — Our very own herbology Professor spruiks TCM

Eating out in Hong Kong’s current lockdown. It’s welfare theatre
There’s no benefit from dividers; it’s probably better to have none

Chinese medicine had its advantages in the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of Covid-19 patients, with the government to distribute about 1 million boxes of such items to residents. [From herePomona Sprout – Hogwarts Herbology professor and Head of Hufflepuff House

Actually, no, it’s not Pomona Sprout saying that. It’s our very own Sophia Chan Siu-chee, and she’s not our minister of magic mushrooms, but our Secretary for Food and Health . Rather sounding like Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Herbology professor, though, don’t you think?

 Note the huge claim: not just that TCM will help rehabilitate those sick with the disease (where we can expect a strong placebo effect), but that TCM is also good for prevention and treatment! That’s what Pfizer, Moderna et al, just spent billions on, with their vaccines. Who knew? That you could have just taken some Chinese herbs instead?!

I note that she’s a super “patriot”, thinks it’s just dandy that we supressed the pro-democracy movement, had the National Security Law foisted on us, so that only “patriots” can work for the government, and is ever ready with a sycophantic word for the mainland. She’s such a “patriot” that she follows the lead of our dear leader, Xi Jinping, who also promotes TCM. Like Mao before him, though, he promotes herbal medicine, but doesn’t actually use it himself. Good for thee but not for me.

I’d thought Chan was multi-crededentialled, but not really, most of her quals are pretty low-scale. No props there either. 

Here’s a summary of some of the issues in TCM. In short: there’s no science to it. 

The effectiveness of Chinese medicine remains poorly researched and supported, and most of its treatments have no logical mechanism of action.[2][39]Nature editorial described TCM as "fraught with pseudoscience".[2] According to standards of science-based medicine, there is no scientific basis for traditional Chinese concepts such as qi, meridians, and acupuncture points.[a] TCM theory and practice have no basis in modern science, and there is disagreement among TCM practitioners on what diagnosis and treatments should be used for any given person.[8] Read on....
But really. Imagine! Our Secretary of Food and Health, is promoting this. Promoting quackery. Rather like South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki promoting herbal remedies for AIDS, isn’t it?

I’d love it if TCM worked. But it doesn’t. That’s the overwhelming consensus of Science. Q: what do you call Traditional 
Chinese Medicine that’s been purified and tested? A: Medicine.

But that science is not in the mind of our patriotic, magic-believing Secretary of Health! 

Road map to a road map

 

Meantime: today John Campbell has a look at things in Hong Kong and China in his International critique 

Sunday, 20 March 2022

Why are Hong Kong seniors so vaccine hesitant?

Elderly get vaccinated at MTR subway station 
At the beginning of this Omicron wave we learnt that only 28% of our elderly Hongkongers were fully vaccinated. In other parts of the world, the elderly were the first and the most vaxxed.  So what’s going on here in Hong Kong? 

I’ve been wondering. And now I think I have some of the answers.

1.  Government advice: early on, as soon as vaccines became available, we elderly were advised as follows by the government: (a) get advice from your GP and (b) if you have a “condition”, wait for that condition to “settle down” before you get the jab. Is it any wonder they waited?

I remember this advice, as I’m in the elder category and have conditions: overweight and high BP. I did consult my doctor who would not give an opinion. I did my own research on the relative risks of side effects of vaccines v death from Covid and went ahead and got vaccinated as soon as I could. 

But it’s not surprising that many elderly — following that government advice — did not do so. Especially when they asked their GPs and their GPs were unwilling to give advice.

ADDED: ironically, as elders were listening to government advice to “wait” before taking the jab, their carers and family were distrustful of government, largely because of mishandling of the 2019 demos and riots.

ADDED (21 March): today Carrie Lam said I would be “difficult” to legislate for mandatory vaccines for the elderly. Without explaining why. And without hesitating one jot to limit the freedoms of all Hongkongers, to protect the few who do not vaccinate. Weird.

2.  Doctors not willing to recommend vaccine to their elderly patients.  Why? Fear of being sued, and more reasons:

Medical practitioners in Hong Kong have been reluctant to recommend Covid-19 vaccines to patients with chronic health conditions for fear of the risk of adverse events. Significant numbers of doctors have also been hesitant about openly discussing or recommending vaccination even for those with no relevant health issues.…

As for why they were unwilling to recommend vaccination, 31 per cent agreed there was “insufficient data to support recommendation”, while 41 per cent suggested “clearer [clinical] guidelines” were needed. Doctors were also concerned about vaccine safety, with 36.2 per cent worrying about the potential for vaccines to have serious side effects in patients with a chronic illness

Above Clip from: Doctors’ concerns about Covid-19 liability must be addressed”. GP’s reluctance to advise vaccines was compounded by the failure of our government to indemnify doctors for advising elderly to get vaccinated. Indemnity that is apparently given in other jurisdictions. 

3. Zero-Covid policy: early on this policy kept the virus at bay and deaths at zero. So there seemed little incentive to the elderly and their families to go get the jab. Until Omicron. Then it was too late.

4. Elderly were expected to travel to a vaccination centre. Government vaccine people should have gone to them, especially those in the nearly 1,000 elderly care homes. Lately, too late, they’ve just started doing that.

One “reason” for elderly vaccine hesitancy is bruited about: that they are “selfish”. I don’t buy that. Our mother is 100 and fully vaxxed. She and her friends at her residence all say “we do what we’re told”.  That was always the case, so let’s not call them “selfish” for just doing what they — and their families — thought they were being told at the time. There is plenty above to explain why it might be that the elderly are so little vaxxed. And why they are dying in large numbers because of those low vaccine numbers. Best now to fix the oversights, the bulk of which are the government’s, and not call the victims “selfish”. 

Saturday, 19 March 2022

“… people leaving town in droves” | Hong Kong

Carrie Lam, our Chief-executive, has caught up with the news and now looking to ease external controls. Which have been the toughest in the world for almost two years. Even as omicron means almost all new infections are local, so imported ones hardly figure. 

71, 354 net departures in February. That’s 1% of our population. Adding to another one percent in January. And March 1st half is 43,200. Some may return, of course. But one wonders how many. Surely not as many as returned after 1997 handover when the worst fears were not realised.  

On another page reports that two government pandemic advisers are advising: (1) gradual opening in late April or May or (2) even more gradual opening. So it’s either bad or worse, by those being driven crazy by the closures, or being driven bankrupt. Everyone we know here, who is not born here, and has another passport, is talking of leaving. I’ve thought of it myself, though the positives still outweigh the negatives. 


Friday, 18 March 2022

“No to Trump in 2024” | Charles Cooke

Click screenshot for article
When Trump flamed out in 2020 and then carried on with his ludicrous “they stole the election” fantasy, I thought that would be that. Republicans would desert him in droves. Not a bit of it. They doubled down on this man. A loser. Who not only lost his own election but also stuffed up Georgia for the Senate, which went Blue, entirely because of his election malpractice. His fault. Still people love him. I don’t know why.  Charles Cooke tries to prick that bubble. 
/Snip:

Donald Trump? In 2024? Why on earth would conservatives choose that guy?

I’m serious: Why? Why would we do that when we have a choice? The idea should be absurd, risible, farcical, outré. It should be a punchline, a mania, the preserve of the demented fringe. Politics matters. And because politics matters, it is a bad idea to allow politics to be held hostage by someone who, in his heart of hearts, doesn’t really care. Donald Trump is an extraordinarily selfish man, and he is only too happy to subordinate your interests to his own. Why let him? It is one thing to say, “Well, he may have been a fickle boor, but I liked some of what he did once he was in office”; it’s quite another to put yourself through four more years of the man when you don’t have to. Whatever justification there may have been for picking the “lesser of two evils” in the 2016 or 2020 general election — a justification that was a great deal stronger before Trump refused to accept, and then tried to overturn, the results of the latter — it cannot obtain in 2022. Read on…

“Curbs my be lifted early as tolerance fading, Lam says” | SCMP

Tolerance fading. Who knew that public tolerance factors into “the science”? Too snarky? One ought be thankful. I guess. Though there well be the “one death is too many” crowd who will think it’s “too early”. Can never please everyone. They’d be snarking “yet another U-turn!”. Oh well… 

By the way, another thing that’s fading: our vaccine efficacy. Which we don’t know exactly, except that it does happen, and iirc, drops to around 50% efficacy after around 6 months. Our third shot was in November last. 

The headline at the bottom is Xi Jinping giving his cadres a pep talk, while acknowledging that lockdowns have had economic and social effects. Probs the first time he’s done that. China currently having record number of cases per day. That said, it’s not abandoning its Zero Covid policy. Aka “dynamic zero policy”.

Thursday, 17 March 2022

Swimming *with* the tide …

…the tide of social media, angry young online twerps on the Mainland, to whom we’ve bowed in obeisance, by closing our beaches. As today’s editorial in the South China Morning Post makes clear. Remembering that the bottom left editorial has been, for some time, the voice of Beijing. Or, some say, the voice is China’s Global Times, or the propaganda arm of the Carrrie Lam government. Or the China Daily. Oh dear… 
Picture fronting the editorial. 

Some commenters say the pic scapegoats Gweilos. 
And it  classes as “packed”. According to the headline…
The editorial: “Packed beaches no place for latest wave” Go and check out the comments (free to access, I believe). It makes sadly, depressingly clear that the decision to close beaches was our governments response to “angry” online Zoomers in China. Jealous that we’re at the beach while they are in lockdown. No mention of science. No pretence even that science has anything to do with the shutdown. 
It is really sad that weibo comments across the border now have more weight in decision making in Hong Kong than any science based evidence. Do it for the country even if it makes no sense at all reflects HK policy since the beginning. There was no swarming on beaches, plenty of space to be more distancianted than in any restaurant, mtr or shopping malls or hair salon.
There has never been an outbreak of Covid linked to beach-going, according to UK epidemiologist on SAGE committee.