Inching Towards Normalcy

We’re about 9 weeks into the Great American Shut Down and maybe, just maybe we’re starting to see a light at the end of this tunnel? To help us parse this, call on an actual scientist, our good friend from Stanford Medicine, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya who helped write the Santa Clara Study and the just released MLB study. We discuss where we are now, where we might be going, the strategies different states are employing, and yes, at bit of the politics around all of this. And will we see the return of college and pro sports any time soon? You’ll have to tune in for the answer to that one. Also, a Ricochet first time poster gets the highly-coveted, much sought after Lileks Post of The Week badge, and we pay tribute to the great Reverend Richard Penniman. He was built for speed and good golly, we’ll miss him.

Music from this week’s podcast: Long Tall Sally by Little Richard

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There are 101 comments.

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  1. Mark Camp Member

    Is there a transcript? I hope so because this discussion really seems important to me!

    • #1
    • May 15, 2020, at 1:40 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  2. Annefy Member

    Dang. When I heard “DocJay” …

    I’m sure this Doc Jay is good too.

    • #2
    • May 15, 2020, at 1:46 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  3. Hammer, The Member

    I very much enjoyed Peter’s interview with Jay on Uncommon Knowledge. But I did not agree with many of the conclusions that the Dr. came to with respect to where this data points us. I very much felt that he was playing it safe, knowing that anything he says will be tweeted and written about (last time, it was “Jay Bhattacharya owes us all an apology”) unfairly, and will probably also reflect on Stanford University.

    (I expressed most of my own thoughts in a post a bit further down … probably now on page 2 … so I won’t repeat it all, here)

    I’ll be curious to know if his positions have changed any, now that he’s had a week to sleep on it. Either way, I do appreciate his input, even if we don’t completely agree in the end.

    • #3
    • May 15, 2020, at 2:09 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  4. Mark Camp Member

    Hammer, The (View Comment):
    I very much enjoyed Peter’s interview with Jay on Uncommon Knowledge. But I did not agree with many of the conclusions that the Dr. came to with respect to where this data points us. I very much felt that he was playing it safe, knowing that anything he says will be tweeted and written about (last time, it was “Jay Bhattacharya owes us all an apology”) unfairly, and will probably also reflect on Stanford University.

    If there were a transcript, then we could have a Conversation about your thoughts, which you can’t express because there is only audio.

    That’s why I wish there were a transcript of this.

    If this obsession of Ricochet management with audio files were taken to an extreme, the entire Ricochet project–intelligent Conservation–would vanish entirely.

    I’m glad they still tolerate Conversations between Conservatives who are able to read and write, even as they use our subscription funds to enable these podcasts or whatever the hell they are called.

    • #4
    • May 15, 2020, at 2:40 PM PDT
    • Like
  5. Arahant Member

    The county health official has an address. Give it to the high school seniors.

    • #5
    • May 15, 2020, at 2:45 PM PDT
    • Like
  6. Blue Yeti Admin

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Hammer, The (View Comment):
    I very much enjoyed Peter’s interview with Jay on Uncommon Knowledge. But I did not agree with many of the conclusions that the Dr. came to with respect to where this data points us. I very much felt that he was playing it safe, knowing that anything he says will be tweeted and written about (last time, it was “Jay Bhattacharya owes us all an apology”) unfairly, and will probably also reflect on Stanford University.

    If there were a transcript, then we could have a Conversation about your thoughts, which you can’t express because there is only audio.

    That’s why I wish there were a transcript of this.

    If this obsession of Ricochet management with audio files were taken to an extreme, the entire Ricochet project–intelligent Conservation–would vanish entirely.

    I’m glad they still tolerate Conversations between Conservatives who are able to read and write, even as they use our subscription funds to enable these podcasts or whatever the hell they are called.

    Fact check: it’s the podcasts that subsidizes the website side of the business, not the other way around. 

    We’ve been doing this podcast for almost 10 years. Almost 500 shows with hundreds of thousands of comments about those shows. I can’t remember another request for a transcript prior to this one. That said, if someone wants to create a transcript from this or any other show, they are welcome to do it. 

    • #6
    • May 15, 2020, at 3:52 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  7. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher

    Excuse me for injecting a bit of common sense here, but I tire of hearing so many people demanding to know when it can end, etc. If there is anything those of us who have been paying attention have observed, it is simply that this virus is a new strain about which the scientists know little. Smart people all over the world are studying it so they can come up with, at the very least, a treatment that will mitigate the illness. Beyond that is a vaccine, hopefully, that will eradicate it, but scientist after scientist has said that probably won’t happen for a year or more because of all the trials it must go through. If history has any lessons for us, we would all do well to study the history of plagues, almost all of which originated in Asia and have been around for thousands of years and killed millions. 

    We ask too much of our politicians who are scared to death and are damned if they do and damned if they don’t do everything within their means to keep the death total down as they watch the economy slide down the drain with each passing day. Is there a class for a political science student on “Managing Plagues?” I doubt it. They’re all flying by the seat of their pants and learning as they go just like we all are.

    The plain fact is we must open up as sensibly as we possibly can in each county in each state or face breadlines with no bread at the end of the line. 

    • #7
    • May 15, 2020, at 4:03 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  8. Arahant Member

    Great music at open and close. Also good to hear Peter exercising his sense of humor at the ending excerpt.

    • #8
    • May 15, 2020, at 4:18 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  9. Henry Castaigne Member

    Annefy (View Comment):

    Dang. When I heard “DocJay” …

    I’m sure this Doc Jay is good too.

    I too was disappointed. He wasn’t nearly as funny as the other Doctor.

    • #9
    • May 15, 2020, at 4:27 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  10. Hammer, The Member

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Hammer, The (View Comment):
    I very much enjoyed Peter’s interview with Jay on Uncommon Knowledge. But I did not agree with many of the conclusions that the Dr. came to with respect to where this data points us. I very much felt that he was playing it safe, knowing that anything he says will be tweeted and written about (last time, it was “Jay Bhattacharya owes us all an apology”) unfairly, and will probably also reflect on Stanford University.

    If there were a transcript, then we could have a Conversation about your thoughts, which you can’t express because there is only audio.

    That’s why I wish there were a transcript of this.

    If this obsession of Ricochet management with audio files were taken to an extreme, the entire Ricochet project–intelligent Conservation–would vanish entirely.

    I’m glad they still tolerate Conversations between Conservatives who are able to read and write, even as they use our subscription funds to enable these podcasts or whatever the hell they are called.

    :) Does your computer not play audio files? My dad is hard of hearing, and therefore not a big listener to podcasts. But, at least in the legal context, transcripts are expensive and time consuming. I think Jay did release the results of his study in written format, though, which maybe Blue Yeti has the link to.

    • #10
    • May 15, 2020, at 4:43 PM PDT
    • 1 like
    • This comment has been edited.
  11. Hammer, The Member

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    Excuse me for injecting a bit of common sense here, but I tire of hearing so many people demanding to know when it can end, etc. If there is anything those of us who have been paying attention have observed, it is simply that this virus is a new strain about which the scientists know little. Smart people all over the world are studying it so they can come up with, at the very least, a treatment that will mitigate the illness. Beyond that is a vaccine, hopefully, that will eradicate it, but scientist after scientist has said that probably won’t happen for a year or more because of all the trials it must go through. If history has any lessons for us, we would all do well to study the history of plagues, almost all of which originated in Asia and have been around for thousands of years and killed millions.

    We ask too much of our politicians who are scared to death and are damned if they do and damned if they don’t do everything within their means to keep the death total down as they watch the economy slide down the drain with each passing day. Is there a class for a political science student on “Managing Plagues?” I doubt it. They’re all flying by the seat of their pants and learning as they go just like we all are.

    The plain fact is we must open up as sensibly as we possibly can in each county in each state or face breadlines with no bread at the end of the line.

    I’d argue that the real fact is: we need to simply open up completely, and allow individuals to mitigate risk as they please. Most of these “safety” measures (distancing/masks/no-groups), if successful, would only push this out to when it is absolutely most harmful… Flu season. They are worse than useless. Nursing homes can and should exercise special caution.

    But I have a prediction… I’ve given it before, but I’m on my phone’s awful little keyboard. In short: it will end, and it won’t have anything to do with literally any actions taken by any of us.

     

    • #11
    • May 15, 2020, at 4:48 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  12. Henry Castaigne Member

    Hammer, The (View Comment):

    Nursing homes can and should exercise special caution.

    But I have a prediction… I’ve given it before, but I’m on my phone’s awful little keyboard. In short: it will end, and it won’t have anything to do with literally any actions taken by any of us.

    Hammer I don’t mean to be a repetitive jerk, but… evidence that masks don’t work please. 

    • #12
    • May 15, 2020, at 5:10 PM PDT
    • Like
  13. Hammer, The Member

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Hammer, The (View Comment):

    Nursing homes can and should exercise special caution.

    But I have a prediction… I’ve given it before, but I’m on my phone’s awful little keyboard. In short: it will end, and it won’t have anything to do with literally any actions taken by any of us.

    Hammer I don’t mean to be a repetitive jerk, but… evidence that masks don’t work please.

    How about evidence that they do work? People wanting to force others to wear masks bear the burden of proof.

    I’ve already made arguments for why they (even if they slow infection) would do more harm than good. But let’s say I stipulate that masks could slow infection (which I don’t). What, then? How long do we wear them? When is victory declared? We cannot eradicate this through any action of our own, though it may go the path of all other coronaviruses and burn out or mutate into the common cold…

    If wearing masks slows that, it prolongs the misery. Either way, the argument for masks is like the first lie about lockdowns. Nobody says it, but the expectation is that we will never take them off. There is no endgame. 

    That is not a strategy I am willing to embrace, especially with no evidence that it will do any good whatsoever and plenty of reason to believe that it will do the exact opposite.

    • #13
    • May 15, 2020, at 5:26 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  14. Leslie Watkins Inactive
    Leslie WatkinsJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The extreme pro-lockdown folks refuse to see, much less recognize, that regular Americans are handling stuff—as Rob says, magnificently—and that freak-out stories no longer pertain if for no other reason than we humans have bigger brains than rats (no offense, little guys) and major everyday adjustments that aren’t—and can’t be—included in the modeling have in fact been incorporated. Leveling is done. If anything, at this point we should probably opt on the side of herd immunity and actually encourage young folks who are in good health to return to their lives (in a safe way, of course). It’s amazing to me that these officious government officials don’t realize they’re flipping the bird at their citizenry. Or they do realize it and think it’s the thing to do.

    • #14
    • May 15, 2020, at 5:54 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. OccupantCDN Coolidge

    Whoa whoa!! I had to stop. I even went back to make sure I heard Peter correctly. The Plural of anecdote is NOT data. This is a logical fallacy. The plural of anecdote is anecdotes. Sadly, in real political debate, real data can often be trumped by a compelling anecdote.

    And looking at some of the writings and quotes from George Stigler – he may not be a guy you want to be quoting these days.

    • #15
    • May 15, 2020, at 6:13 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. Leslie Watkins Inactive
    Leslie WatkinsJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Peter—PLEASE have a colonoscopy (Mrs. Robinson as well), especially if either of you has a familial history, obviously parents and siblings, but also grandparents, uncles and aunts, and cousins. It’s a lost day but worth it. And man it feels great when you get the all clear.

    • #16
    • May 15, 2020, at 6:13 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  17. MiMac Thatcher

    Hammer, The (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Hammer, The (View Comment):

    Nursing homes can and should exercise special caution.

    But I have a prediction… I’ve given it before, but I’m on my phone’s awful little keyboard. In short: it will end, and it won’t have anything to do with literally any actions taken by any of us.

    Hammer I don’t mean to be a repetitive jerk, but… evidence that masks don’t work please.

    How about evidence that they do work? People wanting to force others to wear masks bear the burden of proof.

    I’ve already made arguments for why they (even if they slow infection) would do more harm than good. But let’s say I stipulate that masks could slow infection (which I don’t). What, then? How long do we wear them? When is victory declared? We cannot eradicate this through any action of our own, though it may go the path of all other coronaviruses and burn out or mutate into the common cold…

    If wearing masks slows that, it prolongs the misery. Either way, the argument for masks is like the first lie about lockdowns. Nobody says it, but the expectation is that we will never take them off. There is no endgame.

    That is not a strategy I am willing to embrace, especially with no evidence that it will do any good whatsoever and plenty of reason to believe that it will do the exact opposite.

    It seems no evidence that disagrees with your preset position will be considered- you reject the Dr on this podcast, you reject the evidence that masks work. The evidence for masks is that masks do slow the spread of other corona viruses (I posted a link to a review on an earlier thread). We don’t have good evidence for or against masks in the case of SARS-CoV-2 but that is to be expected with a novel virus. You are certain that anything that slows the spread of the virus merely prolongs its course- altho flattening the curve would avoid a Wuhan or No Italy situation were the healthcare care system was overwhelmed (thereby increasing mortality) and slowing the spread could easily buy us time to learn better therapies and/or develop better meds/vaccines. You have no good reason to believe the opposite. What data do you have that indicates masks, social distancing etc don’t work-not counting the opinions of people w/o real expertise? At present the evidence is limited but shouldn’t we use it rather than our hunches- which typically just conform to our preexisting bias? Don’t we owe it to others to look beyond our ideological blinders?

    • #17
    • May 15, 2020, at 6:25 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  18. kedavis Member

    My favorite Little Richard video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvnV2jFeWNQ

    (Keep watching, he’s there…)

    • #18
    • May 15, 2020, at 6:35 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  19. Hammer, The Member

    MiMac (View Comment):

    Hammer, The (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Hammer, The (View Comment):

     

    It seems no evidence that disagrees with your preset position will be considered- you reject the Dr on this podcast, you reject the evidence that masks work. The evidence for masks is that masks do slow the spread of other corona viruses (I posted a link to a review on an earlier thread). We don’t have good evidence for or against masks in the case of SARS-CoV-2 but that is to be expected with a novel virus. You are certain that anything that slows the spread of the virus merely prolongs its course- altho flattening the curve would avoid a Wuhan or No Italy situation were the healthcare care system was overwhelmed (thereby increasing mortality) and slowing the spread could easily buy us time to learn better therapies and/or develop better meds/vaccines. You have no good reason to believe the opposite. What data do you have that indicates masks, social distancing etc don’t work-not counting the opinions of people w/o real expertise? At present the evidence is limited but shouldn’t we use it rather than our hunches- which typically just conform to our preexisting bias? Don’t we owe it to others to look beyond our ideological blinders?

    What are you even talking about? If people agree with you they are experts, if they disagree they are frauds. I’ve specifically addressed the “reasons” you’ve given, as have countless others. You go ahead and hole up in your home, if you want. Don’t wear a surgical mask… Go the full gas mask, it’ll be double-safe. I really don’t care what you do.

    Start using the state to force others to go along, and you’d better have more than just fantasies about “buying time.”

    Thing is, I don’t need to prove that your mandated solution doesn’t work. The burden is on you. Not just that it “can be effective” Not even that it will “work.” Requiring everyone to drive full-sized SUVs would very much “work” for cutting down on traffic fatalities. 

    No, it has to go way beyond that.

    • #19
    • May 15, 2020, at 7:28 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  20. Hammer, The Member

    Thing is- the numbers with respect to covid – even the dr’s relatively “bad news,” are still turning out to not be all that different from that flu that everyone suddenly hates to hear about. So what’s the magic number? Individuals are free to mitigate their own risk however they see fit. But we are not justified in taking these draconian measures for the flu, not for covid. If you want to argue that, starting in March, it suddenly became the role of the government to protect people from all harm at the expense of their autonomy, go ahead and make that argument. While you’re at it, also show how government action will actually do more good than harm. 

     

    • #20
    • May 15, 2020, at 7:42 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. kedavis Member

    Regarding the closing, I’m reminded of something from a Monty Python bit.

    “Remember, if you enjoyed this just half as much as we enjoyed doing it for you… then we enjoyed it twice as much as you!”

    • #21
    • May 15, 2020, at 7:46 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  22. Hammer, The Member

    MiMac (View Comment):
    At present the evidence is limited but shouldn’t we use it rather than our hunches- which typically just conform to our preexisting bias? Don’t we owe it to others to look beyond our ideological blinders?

    MiMac, this is the key to the whole thing. The answer is a most emphatic “no!” We should hate government power bitterly, and use it reluctantly and with fear. Ideological blinders? That fence is there for a reason. That so many have forgotten it’s purpose is the biggest reason we are in this mess to begin with.

    • #22
    • May 15, 2020, at 7:46 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  23. Dr.Guido Member

    I’ve got to take issue, a bit, with the group’s sweeping condemnation of all the media. Good, bad or indifferent, voices raised or quiet, modulated or not, when, for example, I watch Laura Ingraham and she brings on MDs who are themselves using drugs successfully on CV19 patients or refer to studies of same, and then she’ll have VDHanson followed by a guy trying to save his business….and then I slide over to CNN and it’s Fredo and Gov Sonny, the thug brothers, trying to be cute and THEY immediately switch to 3 ‘experts’ who want to talk about Russian collusion (this is now May 2020!) and Trump’s obstruction of justice followed by, YUK YUK, Trump is telling his yahoos to drink bleach and inject detergents….Sorry— FOX can be amazingly tedious and repetitive (see Hannity) yet I, at the tender age of almost 74, cannot accept ‘they’re all the same’ —-not when when FOX has Brit Hume and VD Hanson and Michael Pillsbury and CNN has Jim Acosta and Jim Acosta and Brian Stelter (!!) and… even Jim Acosta…..and Greta Thunburg on a PandemicPanel.

    Nope…they are all hard to take at times but THEY ARE NOT ALL THE SAME.

    • #23
    • May 15, 2020, at 9:32 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  24. James Lileks Contributor

    Dr.Guido (View Comment):
    Nope…they are all hard to take at times but THEY ARE NOT ALL THE SAME.

    Agreed! I mean, I’m in The Media. I mean the big outfits assumed to be Gospel – NYT, WaPo, CNN.

    • #24
    • May 15, 2020, at 10:50 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  25. RufusRJones Member

    Hammer, The (View Comment):
    if successful, would only push this out to when it is absolutely most harmful… Flu season.

    We have saved the medical system. We aren’t going to run out of tests and PPE. I don’t see why we don’t just open up now when the UV light and the humidity attenuates the curve. You need more to get it while the slope is less vicious.

    They are being really clever about combining the government, the military, and the private sector to create a vaccine, but nobody knows when this is going to work.

    The number of casualties under the curve never changes until they create a vaccine. All the politicians are doing is trading off how the casualties are created: from the lockdown, or the virus. The lockdown does more damage to financial and human capital.

    There are Republicans that don’t understand this, which is extremely unfortunate.

    • #25
    • May 16, 2020, at 2:02 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  26. RufusRJones Member

    We also need someone to explain to us in plain English how this is different from the 1958 flu and the Hong Kong flu. The current policies need to be compared to what happened back then.

    I agree completely with Peter about Florida. I expected public health decisions to look more like Florida. Very sophisticated, transparent, and they explain their foresight. Lots of common sense and they were on top of their obvious hotspots from the start. It has been nothing like that. I think this has been horrible and I never expected it.

    • #26
    • May 16, 2020, at 2:23 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  27. MiMac Thatcher

    Hammer, The (View Comment):

    MiMac (View Comment):
    At present the evidence is limited but shouldn’t we use it rather than our hunches- which typically just conform to our preexisting bias? Don’t we owe it to others to look beyond our ideological blinders?

    MiMac, this is the key to the whole thing. The answer is a most emphatic “no!” We should hate government power bitterly, and use it reluctantly and with fear. Ideological blinders? That fence is there for a reason. That so many have forgotten it’s purpose is the biggest reason we are in this mess to begin with.

    I didn’t say listen to the government- once again you are just projecting your biases. I said look at the data-the evidence- the experience we have to date. Otherwise, you are just as locked into your ideological blinders as the left, we become no better than Pelosi or Rahm Emmanuel (whose answer to everything is more spending, more centralized direction) or AOC types ( everything leads to the need for reparations and control). We need to use all our critical faculties when making decisions not just knee jerked, preprogrammed reactions. One isn’t an expert because I agree- that is your stance b/c the so called experts you listen to do not have experience or training in the fields they pontificate on- credentials are not a overwhelming trump card but lack of credentials certainly should call one to be wary especially if they have no reliabledata to back their claims ( that is why the ACEP jumped on those “ER” doctors from Bakersfield).

    Big government is to be resisted but the government has a legitimate role in a pandemic. We shouldn’t foolishly try to prevent it from combating the pandemic- but we need to be sure it’s actions/ growth are time limited so we can get back to normal as soon as possible.

    • #27
    • May 16, 2020, at 4:58 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  28. GFHandle Member

    If I heard right, Dr. Jay said on Uncommon Knowledge that we have no vaccines for any coronavirus–AIDS, SARS, etc. Apparently there is one for MERS. So there is a ray of hope. I may well have misheard. In any case, Dr. Jay is a man of great integrity and he always makes the caveat that he cannot predict the future. 

    As for Rob’s view that all politicians are cowardly–what about Trump? His rhetoric is anything but cautious–isn’t that the original beef? Calling a vaccine program “Warpspeed” and promising millions of doses (enough for “anyone who wants one” by a date certain) is no more cautious than the prior claim that we have enough test kits to test anyone who wants to be tested was accurate. A little more fear on his part might do him good. As Aristotle says, courage is between cowardice and rashness. And no, “manliness” is not a slur on women or a synonym for braggadocio; ask Harvey Mansfield. 

    • #28
    • May 16, 2020, at 7:54 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  29. Rightfromthestart Coolidge

    It seems to me that our leftist lockdownist press does not wish to clarify matters, when you’re talking to a scam artist you hear them switching from one subject to another sprinkling numbers throughout with the intent to confuse. The medical field can find use in comparisons of cases , infections, hospitalizations , intubations etc and switch from one to another. The average person is interested in only one useful number, what are the odds of dying? That is , the deaths per million of population. This morning the number says 87,000, so let’s bump it to 100,000 , the population is 330,000,000 , check my math but I come to a death rate .0003 or 1 death per 110,000 people total population.

    We have three data sets to compare , still locked down, locked but have since opened and never locked. What is the death rate per million total population, US compared to Sweden or compare New York to Georgia to states than remained open throughout.

     Is it a fact as I’ve heard some places that the average age of the deceased is over 80? Wouldn’t these things be interesting to know in order to conduct our lives. If only there were a group of people trained to objectively seek these things out and report them, we could call them something like ‘reporters’. 

    • #29
    • May 16, 2020, at 8:59 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  30. Percival Thatcher
    PercivalJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Gretchen Whitmer is “manly” enough. Unfortunately the man is Enver Hoxha.

    We’ll be building bunkers along the Ohio border next.

    • #30
    • May 16, 2020, at 9:37 AM PDT
    • 2 likes