Tuesday 29 December, 2020

Antibes, August 2010

How to do data visualisation well

Global Energy Production by Source 1860 – 2019


My Quarantine Diary

I kept an audio diary for the first 100 days of lockdown. You can find it in the online version of this blog for March-July 2019.

Alternatively, the text is now available as a Kindle book.

You can get it here

Quote of the Day

”Writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing.”

  • Norman Mailer

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Tubas in the Moonlight | Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band


Long Read of the Day

 “If it Hadn’t Been for the Prompt Work of the Medics”: FSB Officer Inadvertently Confesses Murder Plot to Navalny

Wonderful investigative reporting, with a neat twist. Bellingcat, like Wikipedia, is one of the wonders of the online world. Note the trick question about the colour of his underpants!


The perverse political effects of Covid-19

Gideon Rachman has a column in today’s FT (probably paywalled) on the geopolitics of Covid.

Nothing, it seems, can get in the way of geopolitical rivalry. Not a pandemic, not the collapse of international travel or a worldwide recession. In different ways China, the US and the EU have all treated Covid-19 as a very public test of their rival approaches to governance — and as part of an international contest for prestige and influence.

The obvious preliminary conclusion is that the pandemic will turn out to be an overall geopolitical win for the People’s Republic of China. The PRC’s success in largely suppressing the disease stands in marked contrast with the terrible toll that Covid-19 has taken on the west.

But politics moves in unexpected ways. Paradoxically, there is a strong case to be made that both the US and the EU may also end up being politically strengthened by Covid-19….

Wishful thinking, methinks.

WHO warns Covid-19 pandemic is ‘not necessarily the big one’

According to the Guardian, the organisation’s end of year media briefing warned that the virus is likely to become endemic and that the world will have to learn to live with it.

The head of the WHO emergencies program, Dr Mark Ryan, said: “The likely scenario is the virus will become another endemic virus that will remain somewhat of a threat, but a very low-level threat in the context of an effective global vaccination program.

“It remains to be seen how well the vaccines are taken up, how close we get to a coverage level that might allow us the opportunity to go for elimination,” he said. “The existence of a vaccine, even at high efficacy, is no guarantee of eliminating or eradicating an infectious disease. That is a very high bar for us to be able to get over.”

That was why the first goal of the vaccine was to save lives and protect the vulnerable, Ryan said. “And then we will deal with the moonshot of potentially being able to eliminate or eradicate this virus.”

Ryan warned that the next pandemic may be more severe. “This pandemic has been very severe … it has affected every corner of this planet. But this is not necessarily the big one,” he said.

“This is a wake-up call. We are learning, now, how to do things better: science, logistics, training and governance, how to communicate better. But the planet is fragile.

I’m sorry to say that I’m not surprised.

The Bart Simpson Chalkboard Generator

But here’s an antidote to gloom.

Go on — try it here!

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