Covid

Space, SWAG, 2CVs, and viruses

by reestheskin on 19/05/2020

Comments are disabled

Terrific post in the Monday Note from Jean-Louis Gassée. He writes:

This week’s note was sparked by a conversation with a learned engineer friend. He cut through my lamentation that our country lacks the will to send astronauts to the Moon again. ‘It’s not about will, it’s about our changed estimate for the cost of human lives!’.

Jean-Louis then expands on this with details of the various space flight-related accidents, before moving on — as befits a Frenchman— to the legendary 2CV, and the change in safety trade-offs between then and now in car design. Then there is the matter of covid-19, and the calculus advanced societies took the in the not so distant past.

Worth a read in full, and not just for the new acronym (to me, anyway) SWAG (scientific wild-ass guess).

Dumb techies and their acolytes

by reestheskin on 15/05/2020

Comments are disabled

There is lots about covid-19 that I do not understand — the biology and all that. But the NHS and government’s responses are something else. I find it hard not to assume that every statement has an ulterior motive: they are, it seems, strangers to the truth. Here is Bruce Schneier (the security guru as the Economist once called him).

Crypto-Gram: May 15, 2020 – Schneier on Security

“My problem with contact tracing apps is that they have absolutely no value,” Bruce Schneier, a privacy expert and fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, told BuzzFeed News. “I’m not even talking about the privacy concerns, I mean the efficacy. Does anybody think this will do something useful? … This is just something governments want to do for the hell of it. To me, it’s just techies doing techie things because they don’t know what else to do.”

He writes:

I haven’t blogged about this because I thought it was obvious. But from the tweets and emails I have received, it seems not.

It has nothing to do with privacy concerns. The idea that contact tracing can be done with an app, and not human health professionals is just plain dumb.

Testing, testing and more testing, please.

What money can’t buy

by reestheskin on 13/05/2020

Comments are disabled

But, as R.H. Tawney once observed, shifts to collective provision are only realised after demonstrations that ‘high individual incomes will not purchase the mass of mankind immunity from cholera, typhus and ignorance’: many elements of the coming future ought to be favourable to the left, though only if they are shaped politically, and if blame – always elusive in the UK’s diffuse system of responsibility – is correctly apportioned.

James Butler · Follow the Science · LRB 4 April 2020