Sunday, March 08, 2020

I don't know what freaks me out more - the idea we could actually go into lockdown. Or the people who still believe this is media induced panic. I guess it is better to let people panic in stages - but wow.

I honestly can't say whether I believe in lockdowns or not. The minute they are announced, people run to the train stations. It happened in China and it just happened in Milan. They had their bug out bags ready and flooded out. So, what's better? Let them all circulate in one place? Or quarantine them and cause them to flee and spread it to a larger area? Those people made the calculation that they can't get medical care and are fleeing to other places. And they aren't wrong.

And sadly I believed that events like the Great Recessions were a once in a lifetime event. But that just isn't the case. I was in an avalanche in the recession and even I think this is going to be challenging. Even for those grizzled by bad times.

Be safe people. I think we are in for hard times. Good luck to you all. Stay well at all costs.


  1. Capital of Texas RefugeeSunday, March 08, 2020 9:44:00 PM

    When you don't have enough ICU beds, your health care system is going to suck during stuff like this ...

    The US doesn't have enough ICU beds for this.

    But compare the US to Ireland: there are around 200 to 225 ICU beds in the entire country of Ireland.

    That's not Northern Ireland (which is part of the UK), that's the Republic.

    So as much as people want to think that this is going to be a health care system showdown between government-run systems such as the UK's NHS, public health care systems with insurance such as New Zealand's Accident & Compensation Corporation, and a mix of health care systems such as in the US, what it's actually going to turn into is a model lesson in how markets are always unprepared for accidents and outlier conditions.

    Governments have been behaving as if they're market regulators over the past three decades, ever since the Reagan administration, so they're unprepared for nearly everything because they keep acting like everything requires management like a business or a marketplace.

    Even their dumbass O'Bozocare platform for buying insurance got called a marketplace, even though it's not really a place or a market ...

    This is why individual people need to be able to prepare for this themselves.

    By the time this is over, I think a lot of people will be demanding that the regulatory powers that the CDC, the EPA, the FDA, and so forth have essentially expanded in an overly broad way over the years be taken away with force.

    There are lots of preventive things that could work about 80% of the time, but because of bureaucratic overshoot, not only are they not being suggested but also they're being talked about as if they're completely ineffective.

    Supplementing zinc with magnesium prevents coronaviruses from multiplying, so if you're already on it when you've been exposed, the infection may be slowed down or you might not actually have your exposure become an infection. That's a fact that's been established repeatedly by research and evidence.

    But you won't hear the CDC or the FDA suggesting this, because according to US federal regulatory law, supplements may not be used in the treatment of any disease or medical condition, and it's been that way since 1906.

    As for the EPA, the Washington Leftists who run that outfit would probably be shitting themselves if they found out that Americans were scrubbing themselves down with zinc pyrithione and magnesium EDTA body wash because of what all that zinc "might do to the environment".

    The lockdowns will only go so far though ...

  2. Capital of Texas RefugeeSunday, March 08, 2020 9:44:00 PM

    "The minute [lockdowns] are announced, people run to the train stations."

    Where they are most likely met by the carabinieri, the state police, the military ... it's what happened in China and elsewhere.

    "They had their bug out bags ready and flooded out."

    Want to slip through a checkpoint with minimal hassle?

    People still need their groceries.

    Think about how that has to work.

    Besides, there are not enough police and military reserves to block off every road junction in America.

    Think about how that has to work as well.

    Do you think they're going to quarantine a delivery service van with Wyoming plates somewhere in Alabama, or do you think that after a quick check with some swabs that they'll send that driver along on his way presumably toward Wyoming?

    "Oh, wait, it says here on your manifest that you have a pick-up in North Florida, best be on your way and drive safely, don't stop to pick up any bugs!"

    Throw enough money at the problem and the problem becomes a new business complete with state and federal tax IDs, an LLC filing, its own landline phone number, a white van with advertising on it, etc.

    Getting my Class A license back for big rigs also helps.

    Basically, if I'm under lockdown, it's because I want to be under lockdown, and that would mean that I'm at least a little bit certain that I'm not well.

    Also, I doubt the authorities will be rolling out the state police and military to such places as Casper, Wyoming and Mountain Home, Idaho in huge numbers unless someone stupidly tracks dirt into the house, so to speak.

    But in the Bay Area, there are all sorts of ways that the authorities can make everyday stuff turn into a giant pain in the ass.

    Such as dealing with Moffett Field, for instance, which has several public transit links and lines running near it and into it ...

    What happens when governments in the region decide that it's too risky to keep the public transit systems running?

    It's actually just the cities that have to worry about this lockdown.

    That's also the way the Washington Leftists work: they don't give a fuck about fly-over country, so those people are on their own anyway.

    So what kind of deliveries would you need to make in a white van?

    Did you know that the Mormon church encourages its members to have at least a one year supply of food and emergency supplies on hand, and that the Mormon church operates a network of storehouses?

    You don't have to drag your Mormon extended family members along for a purchase at most of these places, but I always figured that I could bribe a backsliding Mormon into helping me with a few cases of pre-made iced tea and a few bottles of whiskey. :-)

  3. Certainly interesting times ahead.
    Trying to determine how bad this bug really is runs into the detail that the statistics are dominated at this point by China, and if you try to calculate, e.g., the case fatality rate, you'll find that you can trust neither the numerator nor the denominator, which makes the whole exercise pointless.
    We should have more credible numbers for the world at large... in another couple of months. Meanwhile, with all the uncertainty (and it doesn't help that we've been hearing wildly inconsistent reports regarding just about every aspect of the virus), we've got some people acting like it's no big deal and others acting like it's the Andromeda Strain.
    Kinda messes with mid-range financial planning. Preparations for selling my father's house are proceeding as planned in December... so, coming on the market Real Soon Now, at what may be peak panic time. Well, maybe some Chinese family will be frantically trying to move money out of the country, and thinking Palo Alto real estate looks like a good investment.
    Aside from that, we should be OK for hunkering down for a couple of months or so, especially if we can have an occasional box of fresh groceries delivered without in-person contact. Just have to be really careful not to have any injuries requiring medical attention!
    Amazon should be raking in the bucks right now, but I've never been clear on whether they actually make a profit on all the business they're doing.

  4. Well, I believe its a media induced panic yes. Which doesn't mean that I don't believe that the .GOV won't attempt to lock things down. I just think the media is inciting the panic to be worse than need be. There are SO MUCH better ways the media could have handled it. But then thats true of most things that the media reports on these days, so I don't think its an isolated issue.

    Realistically? I work in a job where I deal face to face with a wide range of the general public. In a region with a not small immigrant population. In a region with a large number of companies that travel overseas for business. I just pretty much assume that I'll be exposed at some point. If I haven't already (although there aren't any confirmed cases in my county or the immediately surrounding counties yet). I also pretty much assume that by the time they realize that I, and my coworkers, have been exposed it'll be way too late to keep us from passing it on.

  5. Eric - I have been completely frustrated that people use China numbers as if they are gospel. I've seen people go on long mathematically journeys based on those numbers to back up their claim that people are overreacting. Those numbers are completely meaningless. From day one- they only had 10,000 testing kits a day. They just welded the front doors of huge complexes so people couldn't get out. No one knows how many died. I can assure you I've seen more people jump to their deaths to than most people should.

    I think it's safe to say that China knew how dangerous this virus was because it's taken us two months to try and figure out what the real numbers are. China blocked the roads immediately. Sadly we just have to wait for people to die before we figure out the danger level.

    Ruth - I totally respect you. But countries don't stick their entire economies at risk over media hype. The death rate is still being figured out, but it's been pretty consistent that 15% or so need emergency room ventilators, and recovery time for serious illness is said to be 3-6 weeks. That's why the lockdowns. Extremely contagious plus slow recovery time. But like you, I am resigned to getting it. Even in the early days of China they predicted 70% of the population would be infected.

    Texas Refugee - I don't really believe in alternative medicine. I like real western medicine but even I started taking zinc a couple of days ago. Something ran though Silicon Valley in January and a lot of us still have congestion. Plus I'm doing vitamin C shots. Luckily my lemon tree has a bumper crop right now. Normally the frost drops them.

    I don't know if this will track the same as China - but for a few weeks there were tons of people saying they had been tested up to 8 times and were negative, only to eventually be positive. And that 14% of those recovered still had the virus in their body and could infect others. In the beginning everyone just thought China was incompetent - but at this stage I think China might have been doing the best they could under the circumstances. Which is really hard to say.

    This thing doubles about every two days. Some are saying every 2.5. But that is consistent with what happened in China as well.

  6. Don't take me wrong, the economics of it are going to suck like hell. The Government is as prone to panicking and handling it wrong as the people its made up of. Add in testing thats not up to par, and a general public thats going to panic even worse....yup. Gonna suck. But I also think that the media has driven the panic. I'm kinda wondering what they're going to come up with to top this. And yah, I'm taking zinc too, I do think it helps, and even if its all in my head, I'll take what I can get!

  7. Capital of Texas RefugeeTuesday, March 10, 2020 2:29:00 AM

    "I don't really believe in alternative medicine. I like real western medicine but even I started taking zinc a couple of days ago."

    There's nothing more Western than what's been done over the years to research vitamins, minerals, and other supplements.

    The problem is that the laws that regulate this stuff in America are the legislative products of "professional knowledge" from the late 1900s through the mid 1920s that people today should regard as shocking ignorance.

    Here's a history of vitamins.

    And so because the law is an ass, and in this case the law is a really stupidly giant ignorant blowhard ass, the official position of the FDA is that supplements are food and in general cannot be used in the treatment of any condition or disease, a position that has not changed since 1907, which predates the discovery of vitamins.

    This has shifted responsibility from doctors to individuals, but since doctors were likely to turn this into a health care monopoly, the existing dysfunctional system is better than a functioning system that rations nutritional care like it tries to ration other types of care.

    So with that in mind, fuck the American medical establishment.

    Here's how not to do yourself considerable harm with zinc supplements.

    First of all, excess zinc in the body may create its own problems, and they are sometimes not easy to diagnose without help.

    The suggested RDA for zinc is something like 40 mg, and unless you have a blood test that says you're massively deficient, don't exceed that.

    But that zinc will cause an unbelievably large amount of scavenging of calcium, magnesium, copper, selenium, quadrivalent chromium, and even potassium.

    I've seen cheap zinc supplements in 50 mg sizes sold at Walmart, but that's really too much unless you're massively deficient and on some kind of nutritional recovery therapy.

    Try zinc picolinate 15 mg to 22 mg tablets, and if you feel like you want to get closer to 40 mg, double up on the 15 mg tablets.

    While doing that, get a good quality multi-vitamin that hits nearly everything, and then add stuff to that.

    I've found one that uses Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast as the "food-source" basis for a reasonably broad range of nutrients without also loading up on excess iron. What it lacks is zinc, but it has enough of everything else.

    There are a few brands of these that vary a little bit between them, often for such things as iron levels.

    To that multi-vitamin I've added one 22 mg zinc picolinate tablet, one 2 mg copper tablet, one chewable Rolaids extra strength with calcium and magnesium (so don't take just any antacid), and some personal size-adjusted amounts of vitamin D3, vitamin B1, and vitamin B12.

    If you start having cramps, something needs to be changed.

    Potassium is usually the culprit, but if you haven't been taking your magnesium, that's also another thing that can go wrong.

    If you're on a potassium "horse pill" already because of medical advice and you're getting cramps and cold extremities, get your doctor to run a test to see if you have medically induced hyperkalemia, or excessive potassium levels.

    Periodic blood tests help and you don't need your doctor's approval.

    There are online lab companies who will have their doctor write up a script so you can get your tests done at such places as LabCorp, and there's usually less of a problem with sticker shock.

    You can get a zinc screening done any time you want it for less than $50 out of pocket if you shop around a little, something that's true for at least 42 states.

    Yes, the system is fucked up, but could you imagine how much worse it would be if the doctors were able to grant themselves a complete regulatory monopoly?