(I updated this on 4/03 after I found some notes on corporate production tatistical modeling from a Fortune 500 company in the 1980s. Instructive, perhaps at least for government agency decision makers.)
In Virginia it’s not even been two weeks (3/23) since our governor shut down most of the businesses (restaurants, etc) and shut down our schools for the rest of the school year.
Seems more like a year. And local media, radio and television, have us feeling we’re under martial law. With some glee and excitement, I might add. I haven’t seen my old friends at the Y in nearly two weeks, although I did see one of the regulars at the grocery store yesterday. And straightaway we slapped each other on the back, and talked about old times like it was a 20-year military reunion, both knowing, as soon as we’d get home we would wash our hands because we’d both touched the other’s jacket. We didn’t shake hands, but then again, at the Y, I don’t recall shaking hands with any of those men anyway. Of course, we were usually naked. But in the backs of our minds we knew someone had likely run their hand over the same loaf of bread we pulled off the shelf, or grabbed the handle on that big bottle of Tide, then set it back down and picked up the Gain instead.
That’s the new reality, only it’s not really a bad thing. The washing part at least. I would never have given such a simple thing much thought a month ago, but do now. And probably will for the rest of my life. And my wife, a retired RN who thinks everything the state medical authorities say is holy writ, thinks I’m a better man for it.
I’m in no position to be able to question the actual statistics used by federal and state agencies to both report deaths from this virus, nor the number of cases and the number of recoveries. I only use one reporting site, which if you’ll note relies on reports from our CDC for US cases and WHO for the rest of the world.
A lot of people don’t trust CDC on the general principle of being big government with a lot of Obama holdovers, i.e, deep state, but I can find no hard evidence to convict even in my own mind. The CDC in turn relies on numbers that are provided to them by state/city medical agencies. Those are more suspect for all sorts of reasons, such as why a city/government would accept and report without full investigation that eight elderly patients in a nursing facility of the ChinaVirus. Or, why a state agency would fudge the cause-of-death itself. There are multiple political and financial reasons why those might be jerry-rigged.
And of course, few Americans believe the World Health Organization, especially now, since it has been the lap dog of China for years and is very much in the global socialist health care system camp. More interesting for the world medical detective is why the numbers for all of sub-Saharan Africa, where China is deeply invested, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars, almost no cases or deaths are reported. And WHO is generally the entire continent’s medical management agency.
In a another era, it would be the world press who would be investigating, on the outdated notion that the people need to know and the governments themselves cannot be relied on to provide needed information. This is no longer the case.
Of course these are simply suspicions, and we likely never know the truth about Nigeria’s Corona virus problem, even as they also had a big Chinese New Year (Year of the Rat) celebration in Lagos the same day Nancy Pelosi urged San Franciscans to hurry down to her Chinatown to “hug a Chinese”.
But on the general notion of “institutional evidence gathering” I acquired a good deal of knowledge of the culture of bureaucracies in the private sector. As an old trial lawyer I have a skeptical notion about “evidence” that isn’t entirely verified so won’t go there. I cite suspicions as suspicions, not facts. But in my ten-year tenure with a Fortune 500 manufacturing company, I learned the business from the manufacturing side, not the administrative, at a time when “manufacturer”…the people who had built the company a generation earlier…had become a pejorative term among the new corporate planning department.
I could build factory process systems in my mind which served me well in the Balkans after the fall of the USSR while they read computer printouts.
Every week for eight years I would drive to the corporate HQ to sit in with the CEO and his executive staff to listen to the production planning staff render their weekly report. They would in turn send weekly production requirements to the several plants. And they were sometimes wrong in their “modeling”. And we would debate it. What they didn’t know is that I used my own set of graphs for every product our company produced, including inventories in raw materials as well as finished products by SKU. I was simply looking at what they were looking at from the other end of the barrel. I saw things they missed, moreover, didn’t know to look for.And my graphs were hand-drawn by me, for an hour each morning, and I had the adavantage of seeing each day in the context of past days and months. All they saw were computer print outs.
I only had one face-to-face with the CEO on this issue, with his department head, and he quickly shut me down. The CEO was a textbook “Organization Man” so had to stand behind his man. But about two weeks later some of the criteria his staff had used that I disagreed with had been scuttled, and another month later, that planning chief left the company. I don’t know if the CEO had anything to do with his leaving or not. But for my remaining two years I would simply ask the Vice CEO or Executive VP, both of whom were “manufacturers”, to suggest to the CEO that the planners might be wrong, if I thought they were.
I prevailed on about half of those suggestions, but in the end left the company (in 1989) to take my manufacturing acumen first to the Far East to do combat with the Chinese, and then to East Europe to help small businesses who “hungered and thirsted” for American-style small business training. But not because of arrogant technocrats but because that generation of “manufacturers” were the last that company would ever see. The new generation believed that “you could teach monkeys to run a factory” (direct quote). And that company filed for Chapter 13 protection within 5 years of my departure, after all the manufacturers had retired and the company was gobbled up by “the organization.”
Virtually every government agency, all the way down to my county’s size, (340K) are filled with slot-fillers, and they are trained to only color within the lines that are given to them. So, in the four-corners of their agency mission, a kind of blind-leading-the-blind situation exists, for, as John Cleese so aptly put it as part of his “No Hope” tour, even the most well-intentioned appointee, if 1) he/she is not expert about the specialties that make up his staff, such as how statistics are accumulated and presented, and 2) their career bureaucrats are not very good at dealing outside the four corners of their routine reports, then they haven’t the skills to know they don’t know they aren’t good at it.
With that sobering knowledge, then toss in politics, which is especially acute in the higher levels of the bureaucracy, alongside everyday office jealousies and competition, job security, and (especially at county government levels) cover-ups of mismanagement, in the end the final decision maker(s) from the President to his Agency heads. can be sure that what are told is reliable. Nor be sure how to get other advice, which I know Donald Trump seeks out.
As with my company, the final decision-maker is the customers, the consumer of the product. It’s no different in America. We are the ultimate decision makers, and our current president seems to be able to know to ask questions few of his predecessors have ever asked, which probably began the deep state revolt in the first place.
My questions here about this ChinaVirus analysis centers on logic, common sense, many of which challenge the way and reliability of the numbers that are reported, and how they might effect the modeling.
For your consideration, a few:
My son in Georgia sent me an analysis dated 3/25 which stated that of the approx. 55,000 cases in the US at that time 584 had been identified as “travel related”, 986 by “known close-contact” and the other 97% “under investigation”. This was just 8 days ago, and a full month into Corona virus awareness, so I assumed that there would be legions of medical people interrogating victims and tracking down contacts, places visited, etc, Cop-on-the-brat work.
While a person can have the virus for up to 14 days before it manifests itself on a host, the general understanding is that the virus itself can stay live from 2 hours to 9 days on any given surface, depending on the surface and air temperature, as the coronavirus does not do well once the thermometer goes above 80 degrees F. It’s optimal temp is around 49 degrees, which would make night life everywhere, New York City or downtown Richmond, a better target area than daytime shopping and dining. And since Target and Walmart sell clothes just as Kohl’s, JC Penny and Neiman-Marcus do, I wonder why it’s “safe” for one group to be open and the others not? Why not all?
But old people usually don’t go out dining in the cool of the evening, even in winter. But the Corona virus death rate for people under 50 is 1%, and 4% for age group 50-59, and this percentage is only for those who actually get the virus. IT IS NOT a measure of the likelihood of people, by age group, to get disease in the first place. People who are dying inside care facilities are likely getting the disease there.
When people catch the virus while in a nursing home or other medical facility, and end up dying while there, the only thing that is usually clear, without real evidence to the contrary, is that someone or something inside that facility brought the virus to them…inside the building. Now we see photos and videos of the professionals; docs and nurses in their protective gear, all the time. Since my mother died in such a facility, my wife’s father in another, and a very good friend’s mother in the process of dying in yet another, albeit unable to visit her mother since Gov Northem’s shutdown, without being “corn-teened” there herself…I have a good idea of the level of care especially, on the third shifts. And many of these facilities are actually overseen by accountants, not medical people, and their first duty is to the bottom line, and by extension, are lawsuit averse. They will also lie to please any number of political groups if that will enhance their business model.
This isn’t proof, just skepticism tinged with cynicism, based on a life-time of observations about both front lines and front office. I bring it up now, for it does appear that an inordinately high death rate in America to seniors with other existing medical conditions, and nothing even remotely close to determine any direct contact with the virus other than in the facility they reside, can be used to justify keeping the other 98% locked up without adequate tracking of what is likely to make them sick.
Again, 98% should survive even if they get sick, just as they would ordinary flu.
So, how does social distancing actually enhance their risks since they are already in the same risk level of being killed in a car crash before 12:30 AM?
We know that the virus is passed on by touch, including sneeze droplets, and that the receiving victim has at least a couple of hours to get a shower, before he/she’d even be infected. (Note my encounter at the grocery store.)
Personally, I think you could walk over to the table on the other side of the lounge and ask that pretty girl for a dance, a slow dance even (we used to call them ‘waltzes’), and unless you squeezed her so close you were almost behind her (from an old Groucho Marx line), if you went home and bathed and washed all your body parts that touched anything in that lounge, from the front door, the chair, a beer bottle, to that pretty girl named Mamie’s hand, you’ll be just as clean as if you’d stayed at home.
So why should you have to stand 6′ feet away and wave at Mamie and merely dream what it might be like to dance with her cheek to cheek.
Tell me where I’m wrong.
I think the 12″ rule will work just as well as the 6 foot rule. And everyone can go back to work.
I want to blame the scientists, all of them; the theorists because they’re too removed from life as real people live it, and the modeling bureaucrats because I’ve been able to prove enough of them wrong enough times to know they really don’t know what to look for in statistics, but always have a hidden agenda (usually turf protection and job security…corporations used to have names for that kind, and the Peter Principle was built on it).
These are not the people who should be developing protocols for medical cops on-the-beat to go out and search for evidence that shows that one social practice is riskier than the other social practice. Better to develop a specialized task force that can develop an evolving process that can be an analytical tool for many years, since we’re led to believe this virus be around for a very long time. The sort of protocols that can be revised and shared with every country in the world who otherwise may be condemned to languish through another pandemic totally reliant on WHO, who will support any political regime (right now China) that will ensure the Third World stays third.
Ask Donald Trump to plow the row.