Friday 18 June, 2020

Good news?

Road rage lunacy: do not try this on the M25


Finish your muesli before watching. The good news is that nobody gets killed. Which is a miracle. I’ve never seen anything like this.

Wonder what happened to the culprit. At first I wondered if he might have been a conspiracy theorist. (See below for an explanation.)

What conspiracy-theories can do to people

Astonishing story from the New Hampshire Union Leader:

A Massachusetts man arrested after leading police on a chase with his five children in the vehicle live-streamed some of the incident on Facebook before allegedly ramming a cruiser and crashing into a tree in North Hampton.

“We don’t want to die,” one of his daughters screamed at one point as she pleaded with him to stop during Thursday’s frightening ordeal.

Alpalus Slyman, 29, of Dorchester, faces three counts of felony reckless conduct, conduct after an accident, and disobeying an officer.

The arrest followed a pursuit that began when police in Haverhill, Mass., notified New Hampshire authorities to be on the lookout for a blue Honda Odyssey minivan.

Police had received a report that a woman was thrown from the vehicle in Massachusetts, which prompted the chase, but Rockingham County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Al Brackett said they later learned that the woman was Slyman’s wife and that it appeared she jumped out while it was moving because she was concerned about the way he was acting.

Slyman posted several videos from inside the minivan on his Facebook page, some of which were taken before his wife fled and he continued on into New Hampshire with the children — ages 13, 5, 2, 1 and 8 months.

Brackett said the 13-year-old child also posted about the incident on social media.

Screams could be heard several times during Slyman’s livestream as he refused to pull over while listening to WROR, a classic hits radio station.

“Don’t you understand? The cops aren’t your friend,” he tells the children before claiming that he’s trying to protect them.

At one point he turned the camera toward his speedometer, which showed him traveling at 110 mph.

He also asked for help from the president: “Donald Trump, I need a miracle,” he said.

Slyman later told the children, “All they’re going to do is drug me and then say I’m crazy.”

In earlier videos before his wife got out and the chase began, she could be heard begging him to stop.

“Slow down, honey, before you kill us!” she says after telling him that he’s “not right.”

Slyman is being held without bail at the Rockingham County jail after he was found to be a danger to himself and his family. Brackett said a mental health evaluation was requested.

On his blog, Alex Hern did some digging, drawing on excavations by Marc-André Argentino, that revealed that Slyman was a conspiracy theorist, with a line in anti-vaxx, 9/11 trutherism and illuminati theories.


things really went off the rails on June 6th – less than a week before he got in his car and nearly killed his family. That’s when, according to Argentino’s analysis, Slyman was first introduced to QAnon.

(A brief précis for those not versed in this particular branch of internet insanity: QAnon is, narrowly construed, a conspiracy theory, holding that there is a great conspiracy to keep Donald Trump from ridding the world of the illuminati-esque cabal of paedophiles and murders who currently pull the strings as part of the Deep State).

Argentino believes that Slyman first watched a video from the QAnon community on June 6th. Then, “very likely he was red-pilled into QAnon in the early hours of June 8 when he binge watched ‘Fall of the Cabal’ until 4am,” Argentino writes. From there, he descends further, latching on to one particularly niche theory that Hilary Clinton skinned and ate a child on camera for the illicit high gained from consuming a young person’s adrenaline.

Five days after he watches his first Q video, he is live-streaming his belief that the local radio station is sending him coded messages from Q. Later that day, the song You Spin Me Round by Dead Or Alive convinces him the Deep State is coming to kill him, and he gets in the car with his wife and kids and begins his drive.

The old belief that conspiracy theories were mostly harmless, or even socially useful in keeping nutters off the street may or may not have been accurate. But it’s clear that for at least a minority of Internet users, they are definitely toxic. (Just think of PizzaGate, for example.) Sounds to me as though Slyman may have had mental health issues before he got sucked down the Qanon wormhole.

Sobering stuff, Ne c’est pas? I suppose the only good news from this incident is that the kids survived their terrifying ordeal.

Between-centre differences for COVID-19 ICU mortality from early data in England

This is the title of a startling piece of research conducted by four researchers, three from Cambridge and one from UCLA, who looked at the data for outcomes for Covid-19 patients admitted to ICU departments in NHS hospitals over the period from 8th February to 22nd May.

The Abstract reads:

The high numbers of COVID-19 patients developing severe respiratory failure has placed exceptional demands on ICU capacity around the world. Understanding the determinants of ICU mortality is important for surge planning and shared decision making. We used early data from the COVID-19 Hospitalisation in England Surveillance System (from the start of data collection 8th February -22nd May 2020) to look for factors associated with ICU outcome in the hope that information from such timely analysis may be actionable before the outbreak peak. Immunosuppressive disease, chronic cardiorespiratory/renal disease and age were key determinants of ICU mortality in a proportional hazards mixed effects model. However variation in site-stratified random effects were comparable in magnitude suggesting substantial between-centre variability in mortality. Notwithstanding possible ascertainment and lead-time effects, these early results motivate comparative effectiveness research to understand the origin of such differences and optimise surge ICU provision.

The bottom line, summarised in a University bulletin is that:

the NHS trust in which a COVID-19 patient ended up in intensive care is as important, in terms of the risk of death, as the strongest patient-specific risk factors such as older age, immunosuppression or chronic heart/kidney disease. In the worst case, COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) of a particular NHS trust were over four times as likely to die in a given time period than COVID-19 patients in an average trust’s ICU.

[Emphasis added] As with many other aspects of this pandemic, postcode lotteries apply.

Quarantine diary — Day 90


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