The weeks seem to get longer and longer every day.
- Parvusimperator finished the French Rifle Book from Headstamp Publishing, and speaks very highly of its content and production values. He’s now reading First In, Last Out, a history of South African artillery in the latter days of the Cold War.
Reverse Tax Day edition! (Your correspondents got their economic stimulus payouts today. If you’re due one and don’t need it, consider sending it, or some of it, to a local food bank.)
Books and Other Media
- I read Under the Eagle, which I found at a library sale a while ago. It’s the first in a long line of historical military fiction set in Imperial Rome. I’m likely to try to find some others.
- I will be reading the next two Jim Butcher books, which are due out this year. Finally.
- I’m presently reading the My Hero Academia manga, because I enjoy the show and have a lot of time on my hands.
- Parvusimperator is reading entries in the Australian Army Journal.
The Game’s Afoot: Tactical Decision Game #1
Science and Technology
- SEO ruined the internet
- Google ruined the internet – By, the argument goes, emphasizing popularity over accuracy. I think this is true, but the causality is reversed. People used to care more about being right or linking to correct things on the Internet. We here actually feel the recency bias pretty keenly. Many of our (by which I mean parvusimperator’s) most popular articles were written a few years ago, which is eternities in Internet time.
Full isolation continues. Food and ammunition stocks holding out well.
No April Fool’s jokes here. We’re all business.
Wuhan Coronavirus: Maps and Data
Wuhan Coronavirus: Other
- Spain bought a bunch of coronavirus tests from Shenzhen – They don’t work.
- How Texas grocery chain H-E-B managed the coronavirus prepper demand spike – They’ve been prepping for a pandemic since 2005.
- Iceland’s mass testing shows a 50% asymptomatic positive rate – Confounding factors: they might have found people infected but pre-symptomatic; false positives could drive the rate up.
- de Blasio’s worse week as mayor couldn’t have come at a worse time – It’s even a New York outlet saying so.
- Estimates suggest Wuhan death rates are much higher than officially reported – Tyrannical bureaucratic state undercounts things that make it look bad? Shock!
- [Abbott (the health care equipment manufacturer) has a coronavirus test coming soon](https://www.abbott.com/corpnewsroom/product-and-innovation/detect-covid-19-in-as-little-as-5-minutes.html0 – Also, the ‘lab’ it runs in is a toaster-sized box that looks like it was designed by an Apple alum. Abbott expects to have five million tests produced in April, which would more than double the current test-per-day capacity in the US if they can all be processed.
- A guy on Twitter reads a biochemistry paper so I don’t have to figure it out for you – It proposes a mode of action for the coronavirus, by computational analysis: the virus makes proteins which kick iron out of hemoglobin, reducing oxygen delivered by the blood. Lung issues are a result of lack of O2 in the blood, not its cause. Chloroquine binds to the hemoglobin-busting proteins, hence its effectiveness. In the Discord, boomerang-pigeon provides some additional context.
- On the heels of British sources saying China may be downplaying their COVID epidemic by a factor of 40, US sources say that yes, China was definitely lying – I did some amateur analysis and thought to myself, “A factor of 15 sounds like a lot. I’d better propose it as a worst case.” Au contraire! A factor of 15 means they’re up to ~50,000 deaths. A factor of 40 says ~132,000. This on the heels of uncritical reporting from a number of American outlets calling the US outbreak the worst in the world.
- Photo: the US Navy, in 1927, anchors in Guantanamo Bay
- Old story of the week: listen to the guns fall silent on the Western Front, courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, on the centennial thereof – I listened to it and thought to myself, “Wait! Those sound like crappy TV, movie, and video game sound effects!” Of course, those are the sound effects for ‘large-bore artillery’ because they were, in many cases, recorded off of WW1 field pieces.
The Final Frontier (it’s Space)
- The crude oil market is broken – Worldwide oil demand is down by 25%. Wyoming Asphalt Sour, was bid at -$0.19—they’ll pay you to take it. Also, apparently, there are only about 700 oil refineries worldwide.
Up to full isolation here at the world headquarters.
Wuhan Bat Soup Death Plague
- Original research! – I was interested how quickly mitigating measures work, so I made a timeline showing deaths, daily percentage increase in deaths, and mitigation measures across five European countries, the US, South Korea, and China. It also has a chart of deaths vs. tests in the US, to compare growth between the two numbers.
- Masks work – Tomorrow or over the weekend, I’m going to turn some things (dish towels, cotton t-shirts) into homemade masks and report on the process.
- Masks work: Czechia edition – A massive popular effort in the Czech Republic yielded near-100% mask-wearing with almost no central direction, and seems to have helped dramatically in arresting the spread of the coronavirus.
- Chinese scientists forced to destroy COVID-19 samples in December – ‘A regional health official in Wuhan […] demanded the destruction of the lab samples […]’ Sure. A regional health official, not acting under central direction. Totally believable.
- Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin: a treatment protocol? – Hydroxychloroquine, an analogue of regular chloroquine, is an old anti-malarial drug.
- Aggressively serious anti-coronavirus propaganda banners in China – “Everyone you encounter on the streets now is a wild ghost seeking to take your life.”
- Clinical predictors of mortality due to COVID-19 – Age, pre-existing conditions (which include things like hypertension and asthma, so it’s not just the seriously sick who are dying).
- How many asymptomatic coronavirus cases are there? – About 20% of the total, based on experience from the Diamond Princess outbreak.
- A social distancing scoreboard for the US, down to the county level – To my surprise, Pennsylvania’s actually doing pretty well, along with much of the US that’s actually imposed lockdowns. Also of note: who are these people, and where do they get their location data? (Tracking libraries for phone apps, almost certainly.)
Self-Defense (also Guns)
We’re going into Day 4 of partial isolation here at Soapbox World HQ, and the news is all coronavirus-related.
Late-breaking: parvusimperator, back from vacation, has provided a few non-coronavirus links.
Wuhan Bat Soup Death Plague: Scare Pieces
WBSDP: Maps and Data
WBSDP: Other Useful Information
Books We’re Reading
- Me: Masterpieces of Mystery – The Golden Age – Part II, selected by Ellery Queen.
- John: Churchill, by Andrew Roberts, and then Chassepot to Famas by Gun Jesus, in the lovely preorder blue (bleu?).
Parvusimperator is on vacation this week, both from our day job and from the Soapbox, so with the exception of one or two items from the end of last week, this one’s all me.
Wuhan Bat Soup Death Plague
- Your correspondent is under the weather, but it’s not the coronavirus – That said, if you have to pick a time to catch it, ‘first case in your region’ is second only to ‘the last person to catch it’.
- Universities moving to online courses – The undergraduate alma mater of the Soapbox contributors and the alma maters of several Soapbox associates
- Coronavirus dashboard of the week – This one shows US infections by county. Note that the counts on the map do not appear to be entirely accurate, but at the very least, they give you an idea of density on a sub-state level.
- Honorable mention: avatorl.org’s Compare Countries 2 – Compare how long it takes countries to go sub-exponential.
- There are at least two active Wuhan coronavirus strains
- Also, it can linger in the air for up to 30 minutes, or on certain surfaces for several days
- This isn’t the next Spanish flu
- How did the CDC screw up coronavirus testing so badly? – Okay, to be fair, this only touches on how they screwed up coronavirus tests in the technical/scientific sense.
- Gates Foundation working on home-testing kits for COVID-19 – Isn’t technology awesome?
- How did the CDC screw up coronavirus testing so badly? – This one strikes more to the heart of the issue. (Thanks, NYT.)
- A coronavirus survivor tells his story
Science and Technology
Making up for a light week last week, a heavier one this time around.
Wuhan Bat Soup Death Plague
- Marine Corps marksmanship test to get harder – Appropriately, in the parlance of competitive shooters, they’re moving to Trooper Class.
- Raytheon gets the nod for a 360-degree radar for Patriot batteries – It uses three AESAs, one main array in the direction of greatest interest and two small ones facing off-line.
- Video of a South Korean exercise – Whatever Korean for ‘hooah’ is, it makes me want to say that.
- Raytheon’s advertising video of Griffin missile testing looks like it was ripped off a VHS from 1986
- Amazon’s lawyers interrupt Microsoft’s JEDI celebration – A judge halted further work until a court can shake out whether the contract was correctly awarded.
- What’s an expeditionary force? – Spoiler: the current official definition (“Expeditionary Force: An Armed Force organized to achieve a specific objective in a foreign country”) is over-broad to the point of uselessness.
- How can small units prepare for large conflicts? – The short version is, do what they always do but more so.
- On the GAU-5/A – Which, if you recall, is the Air Force’s new M4-like survival carbine. It fits under an ejection seat.
- In the mid-2020s, the Royal Navy will be smaller than the French Navy and the Italian Navy – Not combined, smaller than each one individually. The heroes of the past roll over in their graves.
- QC problems plague the M109A7, the AMPV – Deep cuts in the 2021 budget will hopefully give them time to get back on track.
- What do US military missiles and bombs cost? – Thanks to this helpful article from The War Zone, you too can play budgeteer!
Science and Technology
- App-based car rentals don’t work if you take them off-grid – You’d think they would have thought of that, but nobody in Silicon Valley making hardware is big on making hardware that sees much testing outside of Silicon Valley, so I can’t say I’m surprised, strictly.
- Will Boeing make a full recovery after the MAX crashes? – This opinion writer thinks the answer is yes.
- The UAE gets the Arab world’s first nuclear power plant
- Scientific American with a long, detailed, and helpful summary of the ongoing Hubble Constant cosmological crisis – News to me: there’s now a third method of measuring that number which provides a third, non-overlapping answer to the question. (Or, perhaps, an answer which overlaps with the other two, based on a response paper, but the two classic methods still don’t agree.)
By order of the Central Commission for Calendrical Gynmastics, today is Wednesday for the next, oh, three to five minutes.
- Or COVID-19, according to the WHO – Because we live in an era where calling something by an easily-recognizable, human-friendly name is insensitive. Not being deeply concerned with sensitivity here, we’re going to stick with ‘the Wuhan coronavirus’.
- A snippet of an interview with the director of the NIH
- A paper and associated model on the start date of the outbreak, from the University of Toronto
- Big spike in cases in Hubei province… – … caused by changing methods of diagnosis. Namely, lung imaging can now be used, which may sweep up some unrelated pneumonia cases, but how many of those are there, really?
- Incubation period may be as long as 24 days instead of the standard two-week quarantine – That’s just how I’d design a virus if I wanted it to spread in spite of control efforts.
- Epsilon Theory remarks on the epidemic – I agree that China’s numbers are probably still under-reported, but disagree that, as the author thinks, we should be seeing exponential growth—that’s only the case if there are no efforts at control, and there’s been quite a lot of ink spilled over the past month or two about just such efforts.
Science and Technology
- Jailbreaking used Teslas – Tesla, in the same manner as noted corporate villain John Deere, believes that a durable good and the software that powers that durable good are sold separately. Buyers of used Teslas rightfully do not like this.