Posts by linger

  • Hard News: The Scientology front…, in reply to Simon Armstrong,

    Justice, science, and health are all involved; we are now re-evaluating the relative weights given to those approaches, and allowing science, rather than moral panic or political grandstanding, to inform health and justice to a greater extent than has been evident in much of the preceding century. Such a reappraisal is long overdue.
    And done right, it should lead to a carefully tested and evolving set of controls around drug use, rather than the single leap to an untested regime that some opponents fear.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1923 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Psychedelic science:…,

    The point being that in a much larger sample and/or a longer timeframe, hormonal cycle effects should reduce to random noise, but there isn't yet the evidence to justify that sample size?
    Even so, this is not ideal. If the effects are generally weaker in men than in women (which is plausible simply on the basis of dose per body mass) a male-only pilot study could well conclude, wrongly, that there is nothing to see.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1923 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Back on the road, in reply to Moz,

    I think what got quoted there was the shared tweet that garnered the “communist" accusation.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1923 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Has Iran found an effective…, in reply to Alfie,

    So that’s how it works: the virus spines burst the elderberries, and as a result the virus sites are jammed.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1923 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Has Iran found an effective…, in reply to George Henderson,

    I am now picturing a virus covered in little elderberries, though I'm sure that's not how it's supposed to work. The scale is massively wrong for a start...

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1923 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: How do we all move past our…,

    Sure, the headline is clickbait: but most headlines are, and they're often not written by the contributor, but slapped on by an editor afterwards. The body of Vance's opinion piece is more nuanced, and the main point is explicitly not any attack on Ardern, but a more general warning about the dangers of placing all trust in one charismatic leader rather than thinking for ourselves. It's not a great piece, but it's hard to see it as a major outrage either. Much the same mundane point would have been equally valid in some parallel universe where Bridges is PM, and has charisma. Indeed, Vance actually does point to Key's tenure in that regard. The opening "quote" is a sloppy amalgamation of separate quotes from separate unattributed sources, but it doesn't contain anything that hasn't been applied to Ardern somewhere … however, more often overseas rather than in NZ, so not centrally supporting Vance's thesis.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1923 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Together Alone, in reply to linger,


    So, what's been happening in Japan since my last update? Nothing good.

    Excerpts from the Japan Times daily roundups to April 25th.

    April 16th
    Police warn that burglaries and scam operations are increasing as more children are left home alone.
    Osaka asks residents for unused raincoats for medical staff to use as protective gear. (They're already using trash bags for the purpose.)
    Ibaraki prefecture closes its schools.
    Government unveils its economic rescue package, which still leaves many businesses having to continue working.
    Abe announces plan to provide ¥100k cash per person.
    Tokyo governor Koike is unimpressed and counters with a ¥800b regional package, including an offer of ¥1m for small businesses complying with antiviral measures.

    April 17th
    State of emergency expanded to the entire country.
    In-hospital transmission rates continue to rise.
    People suspecting they have the virus are checking into hotels to self-isolate, but are still finding it impossible to get tested. [As a reality check here: Abe's ¥100k per person wouldn't cover 2 weeks at a mid-range hotel.]
    Tokyo logs more than 200 new cases for the first time.

    April 18th
    Central and regional governments issue strong warnings against travel during the upcoming Golden Week holiday period [=Apr 29-May 5].
    Distribution of cloth masks, dubbed "Abenomasks", to households begins in Tokyo.

    April 19th
    Japan's case total reaches 10,000.
    Hospitals are increasingly turning away sick people as the medical system reaches the point of collapse.

    April 20th
    Fewer than 20% of hospital beds remain available for Covid-19 patients in Osaka and Tokyo, and the situation is worse in some less populous prefectures.

    April 22nd
    Koike asks Tokyo residents to limit grocery shopping to every three days.
    Garbage collectors in Japan call for protective gear as they risk virus infection.
    Abe touts Avigan as COVID-19 treatment despite experts urging caution.

    April 23rd
    Despite repeated calls to stay home, some leisure spots near Tokyo continue to see crowds of visitors. Lines outside Tokyo’s pachinko parlors show the limits of Japan’s ability to enforce social distancing.
    The health ministry is considering introducing an antigen test to more quickly screen for the new virus, despite concerns over its accuracy.

    April 24th
    Medical experts continue to urge Japan to test more people for coronavirus, to provide more details on infection rates.
    A test kit released by Rakuten is criticized by officials as "collection of specimens involves infection risks".
    Distribution of "Abenomasks" leads to complaints about poor quality control including mould, insects and stains. Two firms now say they will recall all the undelivered cloth masks they had supplied under the scheme.

    April 25th
    Stores are urged to limit customer access and institute outside queues to reduce congestion inside. Some government offices, such as the Immigration Bureau, are already doing this.


    As of April 23rd, my own home prefecture of Saitama had already logged 23 deaths, out of an official case count of only 760: local medical facilities are already overwhelmed, and many cases continue to go unreported in the official figures.

    Meanwhile, the Tokyo new-case figures have continued to oscillate around 150 per day, with a large amount of noise indicating continued unreliability in those numbers. If you squint hard enough, you may be able to see a slight downward trend over the past week, but even if that trend is correct and the current level of restrictions is sufficient to moderate virus spread, Japan's state of emergency does not look likely to end for at least 2 months.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1923 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Has Iran found an effective…, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    overwhelming the host seems counterproductive

    unless it can find other hosts easily in the time that takes to happen – as with this virus.
    Individual viruses are parasitic on individual cells; a virus doesn’t have any vested interest in the survival of any host organism as a whole, as long as it continues to be replicated in other cells, in other organisms.

    Additionally, what "overwhelms the host" is not the virus per se but rather the body's immune response to the virus, which differs from individual to individual. A fatal virus eventually selects for a population of host organisms that are better able to spread it without being overwhelmed.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1923 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Together Alone, in reply to Shep Cheyenne,

    Labour isn't the workers party.

    But then, who is? The Greens' silence maybe isn't so surprising, as they very publicly amputated their socialist wing just before the 2017 elections. (And I say that as someone who wants the Greens to stay in Parliament … and as someone who may be left unable to vote this year, which is extremely frustrating.)

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1923 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Together Alone, in reply to Alfie,

    I worry that applying that label "Safest place in the world"
    is just telling a faultline to bring it on…

    I also note Japan is unlabelled.
    Should I be more worried about that prediction?

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1923 posts Report Reply

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