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Container Ship Backup Containment November 11, 2021

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With the Biden administration on the job, there’s absolutely no reason to fret about the container ship backup at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports:

Yup, no reason at all.

More Damning Vaccine Efficacy Data November 6, 2021

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[I am not a physician or involved in any way in the medical profession. Any comments I make are solely on the basis of the article I’m discussing, and should not be construed as medical advice or counseling. While I make disparaging marks about COVID-19 vaccines based on the article’s data, my family and I are fully vaccinated (though now I’m wondering why).]

Instapundit.linked to a new study of almost 800K VA patients, whose data was used to assess the efficacy of the CoV-2 vaccines. While the results differ from the articles that were discussed in previous posts, they do show quite clearly that the vaccines suck at preventing Delta variant infections, and that they don’t offer much benefit. I should mention that the authors claim that their analysis supports how important vaccinations are. I’m not seeing it.

Let’s go to the charts:

I’m not clear on the precise definition of “Hazard Ratio,” but I take it to be the relative likelihood that you’re going to test positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Relative to what? I dunno. I’m also confused about the x-axis, which should be numbers (like “2 months after full vaccination”) not months (what does “May months after full vaccination” mean?).

In any case you can see that Moderna loses a third of its protection, Pfizer loses half, and Janssen (J&J) is pretty much spent.

This next chart shows the cumulative likelihood that you’ll be infected. You can see the steep decline in starting in late July as the Delta variant becomes prevalent:

These curves make it seem like the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are really helping reduce the chance of infection. But if you look at it another way, once the Delta variant hit, the difference between being unvaccinated and fully vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine is . . . two and a half weeks.

Yup – vaccinated folk just wait 2.5 weeks and the odds of being infected are the same as those who weren’t vaccinated at all. For Pfizer you just wait 2 weeks, and for J&J it’s about a week and a half.

So let’s talk about death. the charts below compare the likelihood of survival of people under 65 (left chart) with those at or above 65. First, a note about the curves. Most people are in the high risk period of the illness from 1 – 4 weeks after infection. After that period has passed, the slopes of the curves should be the same (i.e., they all go downhill at the same rate).

If they don’t go downhill at the same rate, either there are lingering effects from the infection, there are confounding factors, or the data and/or data analysis are wonky. Looking at the left-hand, under 65, chart, it looks like the slopes are pretty much the same after 10 weeks. On the right-hand chart, however, the slopes of the unvaccinated and vaccinated are quite different. I suspect this is due to comorbidities, which may have been more prevalent in the unvaccinated group. Comorbidity charts can be found in the paper.

But here’s the message from the charts: If you are less than 65, have no comorbidities and you get COVID-19, the difference in the probability of surviving is 1%. So if you have concerns or medical conditions that make you hesitate to get vaccinated, you’re not missing much. In the higher-risk group (65+), you’re about 7% 21% (Update: I read the number wrong, so you’re 21% more likely to survive with a vaccination) more likely to survive if you get vaccinated.

A second point is that there doesn’t seem to be any spike related to the Delta variant in the later months, which suggests that it’s not very lethal.

A Caution About the Data. Or at least my interpretation of the data. Here are my concerns:

  • The study starts in February, but the general population wasn’t allowed to get the vaccine until April. So almost all of the vaccinated data for the first two months involved people who were 65+.
  • The fact that the vaccines looked worse as more people got vaccinated is not comforting.
  • This study ran for 7 months, so the data on deaths, which spans 6 months, is biased toward the shorter times. That is, if you track someone who received a positive PCR test in the first two months, you’re fine. But if they tested positive at the end of month 4, you can only track them for 3 months. That bunches up the data towards the left-hand of the chart. Combine that with the smaller number of vaccinations in the early months, and the right hand side of the vaccinated curves on the death charts is very lightly weighted.
  • As mentioned above, the study seems to conflate calendar months with months from or to an event (like positive PCR result). It’s like they assumed that everybody who was vaccinated was fully vaccinated at the beginning of the study (Feb 1).

What a Small and Lonely Planet We Be October 19, 2021

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The Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) snapped this photo of the moon in front of the Earth. Kind of made the bottom of my stomach drop out. (Taken from the NASA/GSFC website, where you can find much higher resolution photos.)

Pfizer Loses Again October 17, 2021

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A study comparing antibody response due to COVID-19 vaccines came out a couple of days ago. They looked at antibody response over time for the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Here are the measurements from the study (Figure 1 from the link):

The left-hand data are for Pfizer, the middle are for Moderna, the right-hand are for J&J. Over the 8-month study period, Pfizer went from 1789 to 53, Moderna went from 5848 to 133, and J&J went from 146 to 629(!).

So Pfizer is the worst of the 3, and J&J is the best. While the two mRNA vaccines drop precipitously, the J&J vaccine’s antibody response is actually increasing over time.

The need for a J&J booster isn’t obvious, at least from this study, but the experts say that the 2nd J&J shot cranks up the effectiveness of the vaccine to 94% – in line with the mRNA vaccines’ initial effectiveness.

All I can say is, based on this data and the breakthrough severity data that was posted 3 days ago, I don’t think I’d pick Pfizer’s vaccine at this point.

A Quick Comparison of Military Priorities October 15, 2021

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American Military:

North Korean military.

Elis’ Lies October 14, 2021

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Via Instapundit (I think, but now I can’t find the reference), we find this summary of the findings of a recent COVID-19 study on COVID-19 severity in fully-vaccinated patients:

Hyung Chun, senior author on the study, says the vast majority of fully vaccinated patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 experience very mild disease. …

Importantly, this particular study spans a period of time before the Delta variant became predominant in the United States. Chun says is unclear at this stage whether Delta leads to more severe breakthrough infections.

“It’s clear that the vaccines are highly effective, and without them we would be facing a much deadlier pandemic,” says Chun.

Seems pretty definitive: the “vast majority” of the fully vaccinated had mild symptoms. Just to help our understanding, let’s take a look at the handy graphic they supplied in their supplementary materials:

So 25 out of 54 patients experienced moderate disease or worse.

Turns out that at Yale, a “vast majority” is 54%. Which, given their tiny sample size, is the same as even odds.

And this is when the vaccines were at their best (i.e., freshly administered and pre-Delta).


They had another interesting graphic. Guess which vaccine sucked the most?

Oh yeah, that’d be Pfizer, whose effectiveness fades faster than Moderna’s, so you need a booster at 6 months.

Income After Redistribution: 2017 vs. 2018 September 27, 2021

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The Congressional Budget Office released its analysis of the 2018 household income distribution last month. This was the first year that Trump’s tax breaks took effect. The CBO looked at the base household income, and then compared it to the income after the redistribution process (taxes, welfare, etc.) took place. The bottom line was:

In 2018, average household income after accounting for means-tested transfers and federal taxes was $37,700 among households in the lowest quintile and $243,900 among households in the highest quintile.

Not as large a differential as I would have thought, since Trump’s eeeevil tax cuts were supposed to preferentially help the rich (according to the Left, at least). In fact the ratio of highest/lowest quintile was 6.4 in 2017 and 6.5 in 2018. Insignificant increase.

Here’s what the income redistribution looks like in chart form (chart from the CBO):

The interesting thing about that chart is the middle quintile, which would be the average Joe. You’d think their impact would be neutral, but no – they’re losing ground just like the top two quintiles.

The situation in 2017 was similar – the middle quintile lost $6900 of income through the redistribution process, while in 2018 they lost $6400.

For all the help the tax breaks were supposed to give, the middle quintile saw its total tax bill change from $10.6K to $9.9K – not an impressive number. The federal income tax actually went down by a third, from $2400 to $1600, but the income tax is only a quarter of the total tax bill, which is dominated by Social Security and Medicaid taxes.

In the end, though, it’s clear that the middle quintile was doing better in 2018 than in 2017. The income (after transfers) in 2017 was $70.2K, while in 2018 it grew to $73.1K. That 4% increase outstripped inflation, giving real wage growth.

Saganic Sagacity (and Prescience) September 20, 2021

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Carl Sagan, writing some 25 years ago:

I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.

At Least I Didn’t Rickroll You September 19, 2021

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Was watching Skiptrace with my daughter the other night (starring Jackie Chan & Johnny Knoxville) – not a particularly great movie, but at one point a drunk Jackie Chan breaks into Rolling in the Deep in a very isolated Mongolian village. Reminded me of Michael’s penchant for posting Rolling in the Deep covers, so Michael, this one’s for you.

Jackie’s contribution isn’t very impressive, but it picks up at the minute mark.

China; A Technological Backwater No Longer September 13, 2021

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I think it was around 10 years ago that I attended a blogger meetup in Denver. Ace was there, as was NiceDeb (Deb Heine) and our own Cathy. Was sipping on a pint with the three of them, minding my own business in my shy and retiring way, when NiceDeb points at me and says (in quite a mocking tone of voice, mind you), “And you! You’re all about China!”

I don’t know if I was all about China, but I was certainly a lot about China. One point I made at that table, having set down my pint to form a hasty defense, was that in my field (heat transfer & fluid flow), technical journals which 10 years prior had 90%+ of the articles written in the US, now had fewer than 50%. And China was now one of the big sources of those articles.

Now the draft of a report commissioned by the Department of Energy confirms what I saw then has continued with a vengeance:

In all cases studied, the analysis of the top 20% of cited literature clearly showed that the U.S. is losing ground to foreign competitors and, in some cases, is already lagging behind (see Figure 1 on page 16). The U.S.’s relative position improves when analyzing top 5% cited literature (see Appendix), but qualitative trend remains similar. In the emerging area of Quantum Information Science, for example, the EU is clearly leading, with China and the U.S. close behind. In other areas studied China is emerging as a worldwide leader. The changes in leadership in these areas correspond to a period of rapid increase in research investment in China and a flattening in the research funding in the U.S., suggesting that investment in key areas has a significant impact on leadership.

What they’re talking about is research in leading areas of Basic Energy Science, which are pretty good areas (table screencapped from the report):

So what’s the point? The point is that China is now leading the EU and the US in many of these cutting-edge technologies, and is pretty much tied if it’s not leading. Given their rapid progress (and penchant for helping themselves to other people’s work) in another 10 years it’s likely that we’ll be trailing them by quite a large margin. And it’s not just these energy areas – Instapundit is constantly pointing out how aggressive China is getting in the Space Race.

The United States has had several things going for it that ensured its position as the world’s superpower. They were:

  • Large economy
  • Dollar standard
  • Technological leadership
  • Foremost military
  • A culture where entrepreneurship can thrive

All of those are being threatened today. Saddled with massive debt, a ridiculously inept educational system, and a corrupted value system which elevates social justice to the pinnacle in society, . . . I don’t see how we turn this around.

Cruz Says “Get a Job” ==> Libs Freak September 8, 2021

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Ted Cruz aroused the ire of the libs when he responded to an ABC tweet thusly:

The Left predictably dug in with responses criticizing his lack of empathy, and claiming that there weren’t enough jobs to go around. I don’t have an opinion about his empathy, but we can certainly have a gander at that second claim.

Are there really not enough jobs to go around?

The Hill tells us:

Over seven million people across the U.S. will lose their unemployment benefits beginning on Monday as pandemic safety nets expire.

The emergency federal jobless benefits are set to end on Labor Day, while another three million people will lose their additional $300 boost to state unemployment benefits, barring government intervention.

Got it. 7 million lose federal benefits, while another 3 million lose state benefits. That totals to a convenient 10 million unfortunates (the number is convenient, not the unfortunates).

So what’s the job sitch? The Bureau of Economic Analysis’s job report (released today) sez:

The number of job openings increased to a series high of 10.9 million on the last business day of July, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

Hunh. Obviously there’s a problem comparing jobs at the end of July to people in September, but it’s all we’ve got to work with. And it tells us that Cruz was right – there are 9% more job available than people losing their benefits.

Here’s another way to look at it. The BEA makes a handy-dandy chart that tells us how many people are unemployed vs. how many jobs are available. As you can see from their chart, as of July there was less than 1 person available per job. A little dated, but at least it compares July to July.

I’d say that Cruz was spot on. Not that he was claiming that getting a job was the answer for everybody – his tweet simply said that ABC was wrong when they said that the benefit-losers had no other options.

Maybe that’s a little subtle for the liberal media.

Checking in on Manufacturing Jobs September 8, 2021

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Haven’t done one of these in a while, but I was wondering how manufacturing jobs are faring, given COVID and the new administration. The good news is that the rebound is continuing, the bad news is that we’ve got a ways to go:

It’ll be interesting to see how the fate of manufacturers unfolds over the next year or two.