Friday 11 December, 2020

This is what vaccines do

What the data shows is that during the first week after getting their shots, both groups of people kept getting covid-19 at about the same rate. But after that, the lines start to separate. And they just keep separating and separating.

That’s the result of the vaccine taking effect, which usually takes a few days and gets boosted by a second dose. After two weeks, hardly anyone with the vaccine was getting covid-19. But the disease kept striking those who got the placebo with clockwork regularity.

“No comment. This is what vaccines do,” said Florian Krammer, a prominent immunologist, who posted a version of the image to Twitter.


Quote of the Day

“The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts.”

  • Paul Ehrlich

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Planxty | Three reels | Jenny’s Wedding,The Virginia, Garett Barry’s.


Planxty is the best Irish folk group of my lifetime. And at the heart of the group was the piper Liam Ó Flynn. Despite the pace of the music, he always had a strange kind of impassive dignity.

Henri, le Chat Noir, angst-ridden feline YouTube star est mort

From ArsTechnica

We are très désolé to report that YouTube cat-video sensation Henri, le Chat Noir has died at the ripe old age of 17. His collaborator Will Braden, aka the “thieving filmmaker,” announced Henry’s passing in a moving Facebook post. Apparently, Henri had a deteriorating spinal condition and had been rendered largely immobile as a result. Despite the pandemic, a local vet made a home visit to “help him pass peacefully, surrounded by those that loved him,” Braden wrote.

Henri (née Henry) was not actually Braden’s cat; the Facebook post identifies Braden’s mother as Henri’s real-life caretaker. Henri lived in an undisclosed location in Seattle’s North End, largely oblivious to his online celebrity. He was a rescue cat, adopted from a local animal shelter as a kitten, who shared his living space with a second white cat, known to his fans as ‘l’Imbecile Blanc,” who survives him. While a student at the Seattle Film Institute, Braden noted Henri’s “regal presence and distinguished personality,” and he featured the cat in a short film for class. The video hit YouTube on May 24, 2007, and Henri’s existential musings soon began winning enthusiastic fans.

Watch this and you’ll see why.


Long Read of the Day

Facebook Inc. New Employee Manual

Scott Galloway on Mark Zuckerberg, Sociopath.

There’s a firm that’s grown faster than any firm to date. Its founder also set the DNA of the firm, but without the benefit of the modulation and self-awareness that come with age. It’s in a sector where network effects created a handful of organisms of unprecedented scale. There has never been an organization of this scale and influence, that is more like its founder, than Facebook. I know, you’re thinking, “What about the Catholic Church?” Nope. Numerous acts of violence against children, coupled with institutionalized cover-ups, mean the acorn has fallen pretty far from the tree (Jesus).

Here’s the rub: Mark Zuckerberg is a sociopath, and Facebook has institutionalized sociopathy. To understand sociopaths, according to the quirky psychologist on my new favorite show, Fleabag, you need to take things away, not add them. There is no empathy, no emotion, nothing. According to a less entertaining, but likely more credible source, Psychology Today:

Sociopathy is an informal term that refers to a pattern of antisocial behaviors and attitudes. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), sociopathy is most closely represented by Antisocial Personality Disorder. Outwardly, those described as sociopaths may appear disturbed but can also show signs of caring, sincerity, and trustworthiness. In fact, they are manipulative, often lie, lack empathy, and have a weak conscience that allows them to act recklessly or aggressively, even when they know their behavior is wrong.

The above makes for a decent blurb for Zuck for his upcoming 20-year high school reunion. Maybe also something about him learning Mandarin or some such…

Magnificent stuff. Do read it all.

Seven things to consider when travelling to Europe from January 1, 2021

Helpful advice from Politico for hapless UK-resident Europhiles. Don’t forget your Green Card. Make sure you have health insurance. You may need to get an International Driving Licence (and only a third of UK post offices are able to supply those). Etc., etc.

Remember how Brexit was going to slash red tape.

What is it that Foreign Exchange dealers know that we don’t?

Nice blog post by Jonty Bloom:

My career started in the late 1970’s working in the foreign exchange department of the Bank of America in the City of London. Lovely people, well paid work and a bunch of dealers who would buy or sell their mother on a ten point spread and many of whom only ever read the sporting pages of The Sun.

It was also a very laissez faire and realistic place, currencies were worth what someone would pay for them, nothing more nothing less. Which is why the fall of sterling in the last 4 years should make you sit up and take notice; it has fallen from well over 1.30 against the Euro to 1.10. With the expectation that there may still be a deal included in that price, if there is no deal by Sunday the markets will open on Monday to yet another fall. Depending on where you start your calculations and where the pound ends up, that is a fall of between 15% and 20%.

Now ask yourself this: Why do thousands of hard nosed, free market loving dealers, from all over the world think the UK’s currency is worth so much less than 4 years ago and why will a no deal Brexit make that worse?

Other, hopefully interesting, links

  • Physicists solve 150-year-old mystery of equation governing sandcastle physics. It’s the Kelvin Equation. Link

  • Toyota claim to have made a big breakthrough in battery technology: solid state; 500km on a charge; charge time 10 minutes. A big deal if they can deliver on it. Link

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