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Ran

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Everything posted by Ran

  1. Ran

    Corona Horse, Corona Rider - Covid #9

    This is a thread about COVID-19. Take German politics elsewhere.
  2. Ran

    Must do emergency travel

    Glad the journey went well, Ormond. Take care of yourself.
  3. Ran

    Better Call Saul -- Season 4 Better Get Emmy

    In Better Call Saul world, there is zero chance that bird was sliding down prematurely.
  4. Blade Runner is so good. But as they say, pearls before swine... Blade Runner 2049 is a very bloated film and one of its pillars (Leto's character) is distractingly awful. Is it beautiful? Yes. Is it too fucking long? Hell yes.
  5. Ran

    Corona Horse, Corona Rider - Covid #9

    Interesting paper out of Harvard modelling different types of social distancing strategies (PDF link) which finds long periods of very high R>0 reduction (60% effectiveness) merely punts the peak down to later in the year unless you resume some level of social distancing at that time. Their model suggests reducing R>0 by 20-40% using more modest efforts (not full lock downs) leads to lower overall peaks. I'm guessing this is the Swedish thinking, and the thinking that other Nordics are starting to consider (Finland apparently already reversed some of their emergency declarations from the other day, Denmark is talking about easing up after Easter, Norway has partially re-opened its borders).
  6. Ran

    US Politics: Get Tested or Get Bested

    To be fair, polling on voting intentions basically didn't budge. Being favorable of Trump's performance seems to be a proxy for being optimistic about the outcome of the crisis, but it doesn't mean people were any more or less likely to vote for him than they already were.
  7. Ran

    US Politics: Get Tested or Get Bested

    M4A is a loser in polling. It's not a shock that Elizabeth Warren's faltering in polls exactly happened when she presented her M4A plan. It's not a surprise that Biden is opposed. A public option, as in Biden's proposal, is a more popular measure. Let insurers compete against a robust government plan. If they can manage, great, the market works. If they can't, the popularity of M4A will increase with time until it is inevitable.
  8. Ran

    Who Pays the Coronaman? - Covid #8

    An interesting podcast from Lawfare, talking to nine people in various parts of the world discussing their experiences with what's going on in their countries in relation to coronavirus. A rather droll MEP from Poland, Radek Sikorski, mentioned how his son had to cross the German-Polish border on foot and the apparent consequent quarantine order he received... and then notes that while there's an app you can voluntarily download that tell the police where you are at all times (rather than having them come round and visit on a dialy basis), he himself doesn't use it because he believes the ruling Law and Justice party bought the Pegasus spyware system and he suspects he's a subject of interest, thereby making him suspect they already have his location data anyway. Obviously, he himself is not a member of the Law and Justice party, so... take that with a grain of salt. But it was amusingly put.
  9. Ran

    Who Pays the Coronaman? - Covid #8

    https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/wuhan-deaths-03272020182846.html Speculative, but a number of Chinese citizens have their names on record sharing information, and there are quotes from (nameless) Wuhan officials. Foreign Policy in early February also seems to mention many local reports about cremations having been ramping up, which doesn't suggest to me the crematoriums were shut down. I considered this stuff a conspiracy theory as well back in February, but it's getting hard to believe that the numbers in China, at least in Wuhan, are correct seeing the development of this in other countries. ETA: Have no problem believing that in Italy and France there are excess deaths not being counted as covid because of lack of testing and other factors. Retrospective analysis will clarify this. I don't believe there is any widespread governmental effort at a national evel in those countries to deliberately downplay numbers... well, not in France anyways. Regionally, I couldn't say. The US will also end up like this, by the by. It will take a year or two for the dust to clear and people to really get a sense of the scale of this.
  10. Ran

    Who Pays the Coronaman? - Covid #8

    Yeah. Chinese natives are making calculations based on the reports of the crematoriums running 24/7 and have estimated around 45000 dead in Wuhan city. Taking into account a normal death rate if 15000 at the time, that's an excess of 30000 deaths. Maybe.
  11. Ran

    Who Pays the Coronaman? - Covid #8

    I admit I don't have a full track of what every European country has said about its decisions. All I know for sure is that the health authorities of Denmark and Norway have indicated that some of the decisions made by their respective governments were made by the politicians and not by them. Even now the Norwegian health authorities wanted to start reopening schools and were again overriden by the political side of the government. I do see that Foreign Policy magazine's reporting kind of strongly implies that Italy's problems are caused by a political failure rather than a governmental failure, per se. The New York Times, as well. I haven't read these in detail and don't know how well they match up to reporting in Italy.
  12. After coming across yet another reference that GRRM's snuck into AFfC, I've decided to actually go through the process of compiling all of these to put into the FAQ at the Citadel. I'd appreciate any assistance people can give. :) AFfC references should be proteced. We're including those that actually appear in the novels, rather than those that appear outside of them (i.e., unpublished Heraldry). We include some references that GRRM makes to his own work, but only those which seem like deliberate nods to those works rather than simply reusing names, ideas, etc. (i.e., Robb and Lyanna are reuses of the names Rob and Lya from "A Song for Lya", rather than a nod). To kick it off, I'll just rattle off a few that come immediately to mind: "... black hood, blue beetle, and green arrow": A reference to comic books, specifically the Archie comics superhero the Black Hood and the DC Comics heroes Blue Beetle and Green Arrow. SPOILER: AFfC A variation on this appeared where the black hood was replaced by thunderbolts, which has been speculated to be a reference to the DC Characters the Flash (who is, with the Blue Beetle and Green Arrow, a member of the Justice League of America) and/or Johnny Thunderbolt of the Justice Society of America. "Lharys, Mohar, and Kurliket": Reference to the Three Stooges, Larry, Moe, and Curly. The Houses Vance: References to Jack Vance abound. The castle Wayfarer's Rest refers to Liane the Wayfarer in The Dying Earth, and the castle Atranta refers to the fantasy world invented by the titular character in Bad Ronald. And speaking of Bad Ronald, the sons of Lord Norbert (who, like Vance, is blind) are further Vancian references: Ronald the Bad (reference to the aforementioned novel), Kirth (reference to The Demon Princes), Hugo (for his Hugo awards), and Ellery (for the Ellery Queen mysteries that he ghost-wrote). The children of Lord Karyl Vance are also references: Emphyria (referencing Emphyrio), Rhialta (another reference to the The Dying Earth sequence, specifically the novel Rhialto the Marvellous), and Liane (as in the Wayfarer mentioned above.) House Jordayne of the Tor: A nod to Robert Jordan, who is published by Tor. The arms of the house include a quill, referring to his writing. SPOILER: AFfC The lord of the House is Lord Trebor, whose name when reversed reveals "Robert". SPOILER: AFfC Archmaester Rigney: An archmaester who wrote time is a wheel. This is a reference to Robert Jordan and his Wheel of Time series. Jordan's real name is James Rigney. House Willum: Lord Willum's sons are named Josua and Elyas, and are quarrelsome. The reference is to Tad Williams and his "Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn" epic fantasy series, which feature (in part) the feuding royal brothers Josua and Elias. GRRM has cited the series as a major reason for why he went forward with "A Song of Ice and Fire". H.P. Lovecraft: It is speculated by some that the Drowned God of the Ironborn is inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu. This may be made likelier by the fact that the name 'Dagon' (that of Lord Dagon Greyjoy) was used by Lovecraft in his horror fiction, who borrowed it from an ancient Philistine fish-god. Costayne of Three Towers: A reference to a Thomas B. Costain, a favorite historical fiction writer of GRRM's. SPOILER: AFfC Harry Sawyer and Robin Potter: Two mock suitors of Brienne the Beauty who paid for their humiliation of her at the melee in Bitterbridge. She recalls unhorsing Harry Sawyer and then mentions having given Robin Potter a nasty scar on his head. Some intrepid readers speculate that the close proximity of the names, and the scar Potter received, is a reference to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter, who has a distinguishing scar on his forehead. SPOILER: AFfC Courtenay Greenhill: A knight who pays court to Margaery Tyrell, his names refer to two makers of to knights (which GRRM collects), Richard Courtenay and Peter Greenhill. Alaric of Eysen: A far-travelled singer in the books, the character is a reference to Phyllis Eisenstein and her minstrel character Alaric. Samwell: Speculated to be a nod to J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, which contains the character Samwise Gamgee. Both characters share the diminutive Sam and both are loyal and steadfast to a friend (Samwell to Jon and Samwise to Frodo). Nightflyer: A ship captained by Lord Baelor Blacktyde that refers to an award-winning novella by GRRM, "Nightflyer". SPOILER: AFfC Bakkalon, the Pale Child: A god of some foreign culture in the series, referencing a god of the same name in GRRM's story "And Seven Times Never Kill Man" and mentioned in several other tales set in GRRM's future history. SPOILER: AFfC Rugen the undergaoler: Speculated to be a reference to be a The Princess Bride, which features the villain Count Rugen who maintains a dungeon. The Fever River: A river whose source is in the Neck is named after the river which gave GRRM's novel, Fevre Dream, its name. Lord Titus Peake: A reference to Mervyn Peake and his seminal work of fantasy, the Gormenghast trilogy, starting with Titus Groan. Blackadder: House Wyl features a black adder on its arms. GRRM has confirmed that this is a nod to the BBC historical comedy series, [strong]Blackadder[/strong]. House Frey: The famously virile Lord Frey and his large family probably owe their name to Frey, a Norse god of fertility.
  13. Ran

    Who Pays the Coronaman? - Covid #8

    Very probably true. But it makes it hard to make too much of New Zealand only just having its first death when it has been relatively sheltered for weeks compared to other nations. This is also why a lot of the charts out there, like FT's, try to even up benchmarks by starting from "10th death" or "100th" case to give at least some sense of similarity.
  14. Ran

    R+L=J v.166

    I mean, @JEORDHl is still an active member of the forum... It's so long ago that I wouldn't expect him to be able to remember whether "central mystery" was his editoralizing or not, but the fact that George has used the question of Jon's parentage as a litmus test for both his editor (whom he asked after she read the submitted draft of AGoT) and D&D (in their meeting when they pitched developing it) rather than "Who do you think tried to kill Bran?" is probably telling about the relative importance of the questions to understanding what he considers central to A Song of Ice and Fire. FWIW, both of those events happened long after the report in question (or rather, Anne Groell was asked before, but didn't mention it in public until a decade ago or so)
  15. Ran

    Who Pays the Coronaman? - Covid #8

    Absolutely. I think Sweden is not saying everyone should act exactly the same. The health authorities are saying that they think some countries took political decisions not supported by science. A major point that has been emphasized of late is that Sweden are not the ones being experimental -- these nationwide lock downs have never been before, and indeed were probably not considered feasible until China shut down a province with 115 million inhabitants and showed that, well, it is (if you're an authoritarian state capable of enforcing draconian protocols, anyways). In Italy, the mayor of Palermo cites increasing unrest over the effects of their lockdown, claiming (perhaps hyperbolically) that a Mafia-led revolt could take place against the strictures that have been imposed. You're going to be hearing a lot more of this stuff as countries go on complete lockdown for many weeks more. I will say that New Zealand seems an ideal place to try an approach targeted to letting the disease run its course in a managed way that does not overload the health care system because of how low your country's density is. But perhaps culturally-speaking it is not feasible. And the fact is that so long as you do not have much community transmission, the challenge of contact tracing and quaranting is easier. Again, New Zealand's an island, international travel is way down, screening can be done... though I guess that'll hurt the tourism industry, but eh, this year's a lost cause anyways. Well, it is largely without question that at least some countries in Europe really have been making decisions based on political determinations rather than scientific ones. Both the Danish and Norwegian health authorities, the actual civil servants with all their relevant experience, were opposed to the border and school closures that their governments imposed, and have indicated as much (basically saying it wasn't their decision). I can't speak for Germany or some of the other countries, and certainly not New Zealand... but again, complete national lockdown is the historical outlier, not the norm.
  16. Ran

    Who Pays the Coronaman? - Covid #8

    The vagaries of different standards and capacity for testing of cases makes this not very useful. Better statistics would be how many people require intensive care per capita and how many people die per capita, and the growth rates of same. Again, not too useful. Sweden had its first case registered on January 31st, New Zealand had its first on February 28th. There's also the fact that we had hundreds of cases come in from people who had vacationed in Italy and people who were visiting Iran -- it was only a week ago that more than half of cases were from local transmission rather than foreign sourced. New Zealand, being a remote island, seems to have had only a relative trickle of these if the Wikipedia entry for the pandemic is correct, and making contract tracing much easier. I can't quite tell if you've reached the 50/50 point on community transmission or not. Denmark went full lock down more than two weeks ago, and the effect of the lockdown has so far been nil compared to Sweden's more modest changes when comparing deaths per capita. Norway has done better on that score, but is smaller and even less population dense than Sweden (about comparable with New Zealand, in fact, although Oslo is far more dense than Auckland, and Stockholm even more dense than that). A lot of people don't believe that, no. Even so, there's also the question of the long term impact of periodic shutdowns of industry going forward -- which is what's happening in parts of China right now, because new outbreaks keep happening. Japan is seeing more and more cases. South Korea keeps getting outbreaks. The success of the Swedish strategy can only be determined a year or two from now when we see how its overall health outcomes, including yearly deaths, compares to the outcomes in other countries which used different methods. The failure of it will not need that much time to determine, however, as the failure will be seen if serious cases overwhelm the healthcare resources and Sweden becomes the Nordic Spain or Italy. So far, Sweden has a lot of capacity, and in fact its rate of new ICU admissions and deaths has been down the last few days, when presumably our policy of social distancing, work for home, etc. kicked in.
  17. Ran

    Who Pays the Coronaman? - Covid #8

    Apparently a SARS-Cov study from 2004 found some people were testing positive on PCR tests, but not viral cultures, up to 2 months(!) after the infection. But this may be to slow disposal of stuff through the intestine, as rectal swabs were mentioned. Not sure what sort of tests are being done after people are declared well, or even to declare people well. Also, there's a preprint paper discussing the mRNA vaccine that is being trialled as a phase 2 study in the U.S., and concerns that it will actually exacerbate the illness under certain circumstances because of the way it binds to the protein it targets; an alternative protein is suggested as potentially being safer (but so far as I can find no one has developed an mRNA vaccine focusing on that). This was a vaccine that was being fast-tracked, so ... we'll see what happens.
  18. Ran

    Who Pays the Coronaman? - Covid #8

    Here's my county, not closing beaches, but I have to say that it looks fine to me -- these are not crowded beaches and social distance can be maintained with little difficulty. But Brevard is not party central, so no big surprise.
  19. Ran

    Who Pays the Coronaman? - Covid #8

    I think Sweden's demography really makes a difference. We're much less densely populated -- our densest city (and our worst hit) is a little more than half as dense as LA, and about a quarter as dense as San Francisco and something like a sixth as dense as New York City. We have a lot more single-person households. As noted by Anders Tegnell, spokesperson for the Public Health Agency, we have practically no multi-generation households where grandparents reside with grandchildren or great-grandchildren, which is part of why schools for younger students remain open: But of course, it's worth considering what he says at the end: he's not strictly sure anything that anyone is doing is really stopping this thing. The one thing the Swedish authorities have taken as gospel is that covid-19 is here to stay. Not even likely that vaccines will kill it, given the facility that coronaviruses have for mutating, but regular contact will lead to immunity build ups over time, and in general these viruses get less lethal over time as H1N1 has.
  20. Ran

    Who Pays the Coronaman? - Covid #8

    They are not wrong, exactly. The WHO's standard focus on systematic mass testing really is motivated by the question of resources available to care for people who are not accurately or certainly diagnosed (or diagnosed early) but present a burden to the health care system when ill. Countries that have the capacity to care for many ill people really don't have to test as widely so long as their capacity is not outstripped by cases. The issue, of course, is the uncertainty about the rate and spread of the illness. But part of the problem is that the current testing regimen is potentially too broad in its findings -- it detects the RNA of the disease but that can be present in people who have already had it in the past but are no longer ill. This is the theory behind how some countries (Sweden, for example) are approaching it, that the tactics used by, for example, South Korea and Germany are a sledge hammer rather than a razor because the testing is too unspecific. We'll see how it plays out over the next couple of weeks, especially as antibody testing begins to ramp up.
  21. Finished Porco Rosso. Ending was a bit slighter than what I hoped for, but honestly, I rather enjoyed it and how much of a homage it was to wartime films (particularly felt Porco was more or less a pig pilot version of Bogart in Casablanca). These films really have beautiful scenery, and the dogfighting scenes were fun. Next, I guess, is Princess Mononoke, but I think I re-watched it last year so I think I may skip it to see Spirited Away again (been a number of years since I last saw it). The Outsider: Finished this one. It felt like it petered out a bit towards the end, as everything became clear (if some aspects were inscrutable) and it was no longer a mystery. Enjoyed the performances well enough (especially Mendelsohn and Eviro), but didn't feel like it ended as strongly as it began. Often the case with King though, IMO. Watched the first episode of The Plot Against America, enjoyed it but not too much else to say. I do trust Simon, and I suspect he'll knock it out of the park.
  22. Ran

    Who Pays the Coronaman? - Covid #8

    I see the NY Times reported on Sweden approaching things with a more deliberate pace than other countries. A significant point that the article does not make, however, is the fact that both the Danish and Norwegian health authorities were overruled by politicians on matters such as closing borders and closing schools; it was the politicians who chose those measures against advice from their own experts. Matters are different here in Sweden, with Sweden's Public Health Agency and its experts providing policy that the government has enacted. So, we are not on lock down in Sweden, even in Stockholm, the worst-hit area. Preschool and elementary schools are still open (other schools have moved to distance learning). People still go to work (though they work from home if they can). For the most part, these factors as well as Swedish natural inclinations (Swedes have a very high level of trust of the government and many takes its recommendations seriously without requiring legal force) has made social distancing fairly easy (Sweden has the largest amount of single-person households in the OECD -- over 50% of households are single-person -- and extremely generous [more so than ever right now] sick leave provisions). While some were predicting doom when it seemed like we had 27 new deaths yesterday, it turns out that these are spread out over a number of days as post-mortem determinations took awhile to be made and reported in (mostly in Stockholm) in a number of cases. Today, there's only 10 new deaths, and only 15 new ICU cases. In fact, the trend on ICU cases has been edging downward at the moment. There's a lot of disinformation being aimed at Sweden right now (apparently Russian trolls are a part of it), like the false claim that we're trying the "herd immunity" approach. From what I understand of the Swedish approach, it's that it is impossible to eliminate the disease -- it's no more eliminatable than H1N1 at this stage, as China and South Korea are discovering with every fresh outbreak -- and that you have to choose between extraordinary efforts (whether draconian lockdowns or enormous levels of surveillance -- BTW, Sweden's currently one of the few EU countries that has not tried to pry into mobile phone geolocation data) to keep cases down for many months or more moderate efforts to keep cases at the level the health care system can manage while attempting as much normalcy as possible; either way, so long as you do not surpass your healthcare resources, the amount of deaths per capita will likely be not much different when all is said and done, unless you seriously plan to maintain visitor quarantines and repeat local or regional lockdowns for the next 12-18 months. Sweden's basically choosing to take its lumps now, within reason. Extreme measures make sense when extreme problems present themselves -- when the cases overwhelm the health care system, you need to tighten the rules. The Swedish authorities believe that they so far have been succeeding in flattening the curve to keep it from going above what they want. Hopefully, they're right, and they aren't afraid to tighten things up when needed (yesterday they did change the rule from events of greater than 500 people being banned to events of greater than 50, but they really mean events of various kinds; restaurants, schools, etc. are still operating)
  23. Ran

    Who Pays the Coronaman? - Covid #8

    Good to see you posting again, though I wish the circumstances were better! Guess it's something to do during lockdown. It's that or rewatch Benny Hill episodes...
  24. Ran

    Who Pays the Coronaman? - Covid #8

    This sounds like a UK politics thread issue. Take it there and leave this to coronavirus discussion.
  25. Ran

    The ASOIAF wiki thread

    Given the events in AFfC, where Doran arranges the marriage of Sylva Santagar to Lord Estermont while professing to the Lannisters that they have no better friend than him, I think we can take it as a given that after the Blackwater Greenstone bent the knee to the Iron Throne. Certainly, no comment about Eldon Estermont is made as being a rebel when Qyburn informs Cersei and her small council of the news.
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