Covid 8/11/22: The End Is Never The End

On Tuesday morning as I was grabbing croissants, the man in front of me turned around and told me to back away. ‘Because of the pandemic.’ He was the only one in the bakery wearing a mask, yet in every way he gave off the clear vibe that I, not he, was the one being unreasonable. There was a time he would have been right. There was even a time I was the person being crowded and upset about it.

Now the pandemic, for this kind of purpose, is over. Now I had to tell myself to let the Wookie win. There was space behind me, in no way was it Worth It to do anything but put my hands up and walk away.

I remember it because it is in such sharp contrast to the everyone and everything else. Covid over. People sick sometimes, sure, and yes I missed a 1-on-1 meeting because of someone’s Covid exposure. Eric Topol continues to warn us how bad things are and not to get numb, despite it being way too late for that. Still.

I was going to say that this week marks the end of the Covid posts being majority Covid content. Then it turned out that this week’s is still largely Covid content, as it snuck up on us with a lot of content this week (none of which is alarming). So the point of transition isn’t quite there, but we will get there soon. I predict slash hope there will only be a handful more of these posts with this high a ratio of Covid to non-Covid news.

The biggest development this week in things-relevant-to-my-interests was that PredictIt’s no action letter was revoked, effectively forcing it to shut down its markets in February 2023 unless something changes by then. The most credible story is that this is new prediction market website Kalshi performing a hit job to take out the competition, but I have not had the time to look into it yet. Whether or not that was the reason, the shut-down is quite bad, speaks quite badly of everyone who let this happen, and is something worth fighting against if there is a practical way to do that. PredictIt was far from perfect, but it was a dim light in a dark world.

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Covid 8/4/22: Rebound

I’ll be at Future Forum over the weekend. If you’re here, come and say hello. I don’t plan on scheduling a lot of meetings because I hate scheduling, but talking to people is the plan. I have a few people that I know I want to see, but mostly I’m going to be improvising, and whatever happens happens.

Because of the trip I wrote most of this earlier, and all I did Thursday was fill in the numbers section and check for anything big from overnight – some stuff likely got shifted to next week as a result.

It was probably a good week for a trip, as Covid news continues to quiet, to the point where the majority of this week’s post is about non-Covid things. So far I am mostly fine with this transforming gradually into a weekly roundup. Indeed do many things come to pass.

Executive Summary

  1. Covid continues on its expected trajectory.
  2. Monkeypox continues on its expected trajectory.
  3. Nuclear reactor design approved, hope springs eternal.
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Covid 7/28/22: Ruining It For Everyone

There are lots of ways to try and ruin it for everyone. Covid restrictions that make no sense are a proven successful strategy for this, demanding the Doing of More. Monkeypox offers exciting additional ruining potential.

The surprise winner, however, is an old Alzheimer’s paper that it seems the entire field of drug development and diagnosis was based around, and it turned out it’s not only fraud, it’s very obvious fraud once you actually look at the manipulated images?

The full implications of this are being insufficiently explored.

Executive Summary

  1. Case levels are steady and should remain so.
  2. Whole field of Alzheimer’s has been based on a fraud for decades.
  3. Various monkeypox news got split off into another post.

Also yes, Biden got Covid, but it doesn’t even make a bullet point, he’s fine.

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Monkeypox Post #2

Enough distinct things happened this week in Monkeypox that it made sense to split off the information on it into a distinct post. This is probably slightly over the threshold required for doing that.

Executive Summary

WHO declares Monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern.

One could define of ‘keeping up with the news’ is when the WHO declares an emergency and you become more worried only to the extent you worry about what they are going to do next.

Thus, this does not indicate a crisis situation, or even one worse than one would have expected a few weeks ago. It is, like most monkeypox news this week (and also the majority in general), an acknowledgement of the inevitable.

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Covid 7/21/22: Featuring ASPR

The slow transition from ‘almost all about Covid’ to ‘only somewhat about Covid’ continues, with the non-Covid various-things-to-note portion this week reaching something like 25%. My presumption is that this portion will continue rising over time.

What’s happening with Covid? More of the same old stuff, basically, and nothing that it is vital to know short term.

The quiet news is that Biden intends to elevate ASPR to coordinate pandemic response rather than the CDC or FDA. My hunch is this will only make things that much more convoluted and worse.

This week’s other post is a fun little trifle called YouTubeTV and Spoilers. Various more substantial things in the works but all in good time.

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YouTubeTV and Spoilers

Author’s Note: The purpose of this is a combination of fun rant, illustration of a general failure mode, that I am going to eventually use this for something in at least some worlds, and the fact that a decent number of workers at Google read my blog and it would be nice if they actually went and fixed some of this or added some of the features. If I do cause that, let me know.

To everyone else: If this isn’t relevant to your interests, please do skip it.

This is a post about spoilers, and how to design features to avoid them.

I hate spoilers.

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Covid 7/14/22: BA.2.75 Plus Tax

That’s the new variant for this week. I am not worried about it, but there is little other news on the Covid front and I’m still attempting not to reuse titles. As time goes by the events are still new but they tend to rhyme. This update is inessential.

In addition to various non-Covid stuff I’m putting at the end, which I anticipate will slowly grow as a section over time, this week’s other post is Criticism of EA Criticism Contest. If you find that is relevant to your interests, with an additional copy on the EA forum. If it is not relevant to your interests you can safely skip it.

Executive Summary

  1. BA.2.75 is potentially a thing, unclear if it is a meaningful thing yet.
  2. Spike in deaths that is likely a data artifact.
  3. A reminder we could be working faster towards
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Criticism of EA Criticism Contest

Back when it was announced, I toyed with the idea of criticizing the EA criticism and red teaming contest as an entry to that contest, leading to some very good Twitter discussion that I compiled into a post.

I finally found myself motivated to write up my thinking in detail.

Before I begin, I recommend reading the contest announcement yourself, and forming your own reaction. Ask yourself, among other things:

  1. What are they telling people they are interested in and likely to reward?
  2. What are they not interested in and telling people they will not reward?
  3. What does this announcement say more generally about EA?
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Covid 7/7/22: Paxlovid at the Pharmacy

Pharmacists are going to be allowed to prescribe Paxlovid, while doctors continue to be confused by the guideline of ‘you can give this life-saving medicine that cures disease to the people who are sick with that disease.’ The news on the vaccine update front is good. Cases and deaths went unexpectedly higher, which is slightly worrisome, but seems unlikely to indicate anything big.

On an unrelated note, I’ve also written a bit about a giving-people-money experiment in Chicago that did not go so well. With Covid quieting down, I’m likely going to be lowering the threshold for including non-Covid items in the weekly updates. The alternative was to have a growing backlog of things that I am unlikely to ever get to deal with.

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When Giving People Money Doesn’t Help

I’ve been thinking a bunch about this study (direct link) of CBT-style techniques used to try and get criminals onto a better life path in Liberia that showed what looks like spectacular results, curious if anyone wants to share thoughts. If it would replicate seems like it crosses the EA-worthiness threshold.

I’ve been thinking more about the topic of this post, which is the cash transfer study in Chicago. That worked out less well. It seems that small cash transfers to those in need here in America made them feel worse and maybe even actually makes them worse off somehow? (paper)

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