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2020-05-20      Gig Work   

Today I found a author/editor whose work I know complaining that he had been applying for jobs. The context was that he has been a gig worker for some time (to the extent that he may be considered internet famous). I have found the idea of gig work unseemly for as long as I've been aware of it. Like so many things these days, I see it more as a symptom of a systemic problem.

There have long been freelancers. Though the word itself is only from the early 19th century, the concept of mercenary goes back at least to medieval times in Europe, and has analogs in other cultural systems.

The freelancer can be quite a bargain:

  1. The equipment (the "lance") is literally free. A musician or another artist generally brings along the tools of his trade.
  2. The training he brings was already acquired prior to the employment, so it is also free.
  3. The employer generally has little or no obligation to continue compensation after termination.
  4. There is no implied continuity of support before or after the term of employment.
  5. The employer may renegotiate the contract in his favor at his pleasure.

The important feature of the last three points is that there is a required context. This context is that there should be little or no safety net. Any social safety net will work against these features. Insurance - be it unemployment, health, disability, etc. - provides a level of assistance that reduces the level of urgency intrinsic to a spell of unemployment. As such, the bargaining power of the potential employer is greatly reduced.

Since FDR, the Republican Party has made a religion of dismantling the social safety net.

The concept of the "gig," coupled with this weakening of support, allows for the greater power of the employer over the employed. The combined result is the rapid upward transfer of wealth from the employed to the employer.

2020-05-05      I Lied   

I kept trying to revise my model. Unfortunately, it is difficult to cleanly factor in the social distancing and shutdown portion. But this will soon be alleviated, as those in power are apparently angry at the slowing of the upward transfer of wealth that occurs in a shutdown. As such, we will soon resume the exponential rise. Then the 2019 novel corona virus will cease to be referred to colloquially as COVID-19. It will be thenceforth be known as "The American Flu" or something of that flavor.

2020-03-30      I'm Actually Working, I Swear   

I'm working on an analysis. It seems that, despite Trump's criminally late response, there is some good news. While the inaction of the incompetent imbecile and his toadies (along with some good old-fashioned corruption) will kill many Americans, the infection rate seems to be breaking away from a strict exponential growth. While the US will surely become the late-comer epicenter of this plague, It is likely that we will not hit the worsts predictions of my earlier model. As I had stated in my assumptions, the effects of isolation (even limited and voluntary) will help. Most of the country hasn't been hit as hard as New York. Donald has a particular hatred of New York. It was a place where all who knew of him knew him as a fraud. And now this enclave, home to nearly 5% of Americans, will feel death at the hands of a petulant child in the guise of an obese elderly child molester who serves a foreign master.

2020-03-26      Tomorrow, I'll Revisit the Trend   

There was a small amount of good news recently. Today's tally fell short of my initial prediction. Yesterday's tally of 68,211 was markedly less than the rough prediction I had made two weeks prior to that date (100,000). That is good. But all it really means is that the minimal measures taken thus far have slightly curbed the otherwise exponential growth in the infection rate. Tomorrow, I'll try to explain that better with some math. Though I should note that one day after that prediction (and as I type these words) the number of identified COVID-19 cases in the US stands at 85,991.

2020-03-19      How Accurate?   

One week ago today, I made a very rough estimate, based on some assumptions stated in that post. How accurate was that guess?

At that time, 1,000 cases had been identified within the US. My quick calculation was to assume an order of magnitude gain per week for a few weeks (before saturation was approached). So today should have been 10,000 by that calculation.

I had rounded down to be conservative, it seems prematurely. As I type this, the number of cases in the US stands at 14,250.

In the following post, I fitted the past data to an exponential curve. That seemed to paint a darker picture. Then today, the picture was darker yet. I will keep you posted.

Don't watch Fox News, as it is unvarnished propaganda against the United States of America.

2020-03-18      How Would It Spread with No Intervention?   

The following charts are based on the data found at https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/ and represent a trend if there were no intervention. That is an important caveat, as the pictures might be otherwise alarming.

First: Fit the raw data to a curve. This is not necessarily the best fit. I fit a curve to each two points from first major spike (02 MAR 2020) to the next to most-recent data point. I compared each such exponential curve to all others to find the best (least-squares) fit. The resulting curve looks to be a pretty good fit.

A least-squares fit of the data (blue dots) to an exponential curve (red line) as of 18 MAR 2020

Second: What do we do with models? We make predictions. Again, this is assuming that NO INTERVENTIONS have taken place. Certainly they have. While nearly nothing has been done by the hamstrung Federal agencies, states, cities, and private companies have been forced to take the reins. Hopefully we will start to see results soon. But for the time being, we probably won't see too much change in the next week. So this might be an accurate look.

Extrapolating out based on the previously described exponential curve

Third: Hopefully, the non-Federal agencies' efforts will have begun to pay off. If not, we could begin to expect something like this in two weeks.

How the exponential growth would look in two weeks, absent any effective mitigation

Fourth: I want to make it absolutely clear that I do not expect this to happen. The Federal organizations will have begun to overcome the sabotage of their capabilities, and state and local organizations will likely have become more efficient. Additionally, at this point, the ocean may no longer be considered infinite. That is to say, as a significant fraction of the population is exposed, the curve must begin to level off. A large fraction will have recovered and will no longer be contagious. A smaller number will have died and will also no longer be contagious. And multiple exposures to an individual from different sources will still only net a single potential infection in that person. That said, this is the point when out health care system would become extremely taxed.

Hopefully, the number of cases will have begun to level off a couple of weeks before we reach this point.

Perhaps tomorrow, I will look at the relative success of South Korea to see the upper end of our optimism.

2020-03-14      Propaganda   

Entertainment delivered in the manner of news has poisoned the minds of Fox News viewers to the point where utterly implausible claims are made without eliciting a hint of skepticism. And when one's mind is full of bullshit wholeheartedly accepted as fact, a person becomes a danger to himself and others.

What is worse is that a person completely ignorant of a topic is far better at making rational decisions than one immersed in false knowledge. If the ignorant person is honest, he will deliver his findings with the important caveat that he is not knowledgeable in such matters. The propaganda consumer will, one the other hand, claim a high level of expertise when delivering his own analysis based entirely on bullshit. Of course as a Fox News viewer, this analysis will likely be delivered at an unpleasantly high volume.

Anyone who consumes information from Fox News is a willing dupe of the most successful propaganda unit since the Völkischer Beobachter of the 1930s.

Please stop.

2020-03-12      Untitled Reusable Block   


2020-03-12      A Little Math on the New Plague   

Let's consider the infection rate. I have heard a rough approximation of a doubling every two days. From a purely mathematical perspective, this may be considered as two to the power of n/2 (where n is the number of days). In a week, this would be:

2^3.5 = 11.3

Now allowing for some of the afflicted to have recovered (or died), let's reduce that number from 11.3 to 10.

In this simplification, we simply add a zero each week. Without delving deeply or referencing the source from which I found this, I recall the following (top three rows, obviously, and extrapolating from there):

where the -2 means two weeks ago, and the +1 means a week from now.

Now obviously there is a catch. We approach saturation as time moves forward. Six weeks from now, there will not be one billion infected people in the US, as there are only about 325 million of us to begin with. Which means that, as the numbers increase, the curve will begin to flatten. This has already begun to happen in China and, more obviously, in South Korea. The South Korean government has been a case study in a sober, active, and pragmatic response to an emerging threat. In South Korea, the curve began to flatten far below the saturation level. Despite being home to one of the great world cities (Seoul), South Korea was able to rein in this virulent pathogen in a way no other country has yet approached.

I hope our country's response ultimately more closely resembles that of South Korea than that of China, but I fear it may end up worse. If this administration emulates the regime of its benefactor, the US populace will simply be kept in the dark as an unchecked pathogen is left free to exact whatever price it will.

2020-03-08      Prepare   

I will soon return with my evaluation of the apocalypse.

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