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Day 18 – April 3, 2020

By |April 3rd, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Politics, Business & Economics, Science of COVID-19, Sports & Gaming, Philosophy, Art & Literature|16 Comments

By now, we’ve all settled into some sort of routine… or, at least, the intention of one. 3pm-5pm is my “Corona time” — not because I sit back to enjoy a refreshing Mexican beer (and my preference would be Guiness anyway), but because I’m trying to give this aspect of my life a limited and structured block of time. I listen to the provincial 3pm update from Dr. Henry and Mr. Dix while digging through articles and messages I’ve received, updating numbers, and writing this… and 10 seconds after posting this, shortly after 5pm, I try to forget all about it for the next 22 hours. Much easier said than done, but distraction helps.

If you’re reading this post on Facebook, then you have at your disposal the technology to distract yourself in isolation forever… with endless books, music, videos, movies… all at your fingertips. Distract yourself to your heart’s content with all of that… or just send memes and pictures of cute cats to your friends; whatever keeps your brain in a happy place.

And, of course, connect socially — not physically. You know, of all the whacked-out conspiracy theories I’ve heard — and I’ve heard many — if I had to believe one, it’d be that this virus was created by the people who are behind the Zoom software.

To Zoom’s credit, they took advantage of this situation very intelligently. Luck = preparation + opportunity, and lucky they were… but also smart. They announced that their software would be unlimited and free for educational purposes. Every school jumped onto it. They also made it free for everyone, sort of. Up to 100 people can communicate for free, for up to 40 minutes. It’s genius, because if you manage to get a large group together for free for a 30-minute meeting… and the meeting invariably drifts toward that 40-minute mark, the hassle of hanging up and starting over is superseded by the simplicity of just signing up. Somebody on that call will sign up. We are all signing up in droves. And above and beyond all of that, they understood where the “friction” was, and removed it. Setting up a conference is easy. Joining one, even if you’ve never done it, is simple. Jump through a couple of hoops and you’re in, … [Continue Reading]

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Day 17 – April 2, 2020

By |April 2nd, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Philosophy, Art & Literature|4 Comments

I added a little table (just above the logarithmic chart) to the spreadsheet yesterday, and today I will explain it. It’s a simple “look-up” table for “Time To Double”, useful if you want to know how a certain percentage maps to a TTD. For example, let’s say you have $1,000 to invest, and you want to double it to $2,000 in 7 years. What interest rate would you need? The answer is 10.5%. If you can wait 10 years, you’d only need a rate of 7.2%. How long to double your investment if you’re being offered 20%? The answer is 3.8 years.

These percentages and their related time periods can measure years… or days, which is the relevant discussion.

Let’s begin with a simple example, where we start with the number 100. And we are adding 20 to it every day. After 5 days, it’s doubled to 200. A TTD of 5. Now we keep adding 20 per day… so it’s going to take another 10 days to go from 200 to 400. And to double from 400 to 800, it’ll require a further 20 days. The only thing doubling here is the TTD itself… and this represents linear, not exponential growth. Certainly, it’s growing… and in this example, that 100 will grow indefinitely… but, as it does, its TTD gets bigger and more distant.

Now let’s imagine an example where on day 1, we’re at 100. But by day 4, we’re are 200. And at day 7, we’re at 400…. and we’re at 800 after only 10 days. So this is clearly a TTD of 3, and if you look at the continuing growth… 800, 1600, etc… it’s not hard to imagine what this would look like on a graph… an ever-increasingly steep curve. With a consistent TTD, there is exponential growth. The steepness of that curve has everything to do with the actual TTD, and that’s important because no matter what the finish line, it’s important how quickly we get there. In this case, we want to get there as slowly as possible.

The big graph on the bottom left shows those curves, overlapped on each other, showing how numbers have evolved for different jurisdictions from similar starting points. The logarithmic graph to its right shows the same data, and when you … [Continue Reading]

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Day 16 – April 1, 2020

By |April 1st, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Travel Stories, Sports & Gaming|0 Comments

I’m going to talk about antibiotics for a moment.

Important point number one: COVID-19 is a virus, not a bacterial infection. Antibiotics won’t work. Secondary complications that can arise, like pneumonia, are… and those would be treated with antibiotics… but if someone has told you that taking some antibiotic may prevent you from getting this virus, or might help treat it, they’re wrong. And if you’re taking some antibiotic for no reason, stop. Which leads me to point number two…

If you’re supposed to be taking antibiotics, there’s exactly one correct way to do it. When the doctor prescribes them, she will look you in the eye and say “Be sure you complete the entire course, till you’ve taken them all, till the container is empty.” That might be 3 or 4 times a day, and it might be a week or two weeks or 3 months. When you pick up the prescription from the pharmacy, the pharmacist will tell you the same thing.

The reason is simple, and we will use a simple example: War. I have an army of 100,000 and you have an army of 100,000, and we battle it out, and since my army is better than yours, I’m down to 20,000 men, but you are down to 50… and we have all you backed into a deserted building and we’re about to surround you and finish you off. But instead, for some silly reason, we decide we’ve already won and we’ll show some mercy, and we let you go. So off go your 50 men, rebuild their army, and in a few months, you come back with a replenished army of 100,000 and destroy me, because chances are that’s a much tougher group than the original 100,000.

Why? Because those last 50 out of 100,000 men were the toughest of the lot. They’re the real survivors, having made it to the very end. They’re the last people you should let go. They’ll go off and recruit and train equally-tough warriors before returning.

So, if you’ve got some bacterial infection, and let’s say you’re supposed to take a course of antibiotics for a week. To begin with, you’re feeling really awful, and you start taking them and guess what, it’s the perfect antibiotic for what you’ve got, and after the third … [Continue Reading]

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Day 15 – March 31, 2020

By |March 31st, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Politics, Philosophy, Art & Literature|3 Comments

You know that feeling you used to get back in school, when the teacher was handing back tests? The anticipation/dread… moments away from finding out how you did. Maybe you should’ve studied a bit more. Maybe you knew the material, but dammit… you froze, and blew it. Maybe you did ok, but almost certainly you made some stupid mistake.

That 5-second rush of emotion as she calls your name or just drops the marked test onto your desk… just before you flip it over to reveal your grade… that’s the feeling I get every single day when Dr. Bonnie Henry steps up to the mic to begin her update.

I find myself rooting for what I know would be good numbers. I know my charts and I know the math. I know exactly what number indicates the tipping point between this being a green day or a red day… and I find myself thinking the same thing I’d be cheering if I’d just bet zero on a roulette wheel… come on green. Come on.

Today was most certainly a green day, but, as usual, we’re still in this grey zone. Dr. Henry, intelligently, never leans past cautious optimism, and keeps talking about how “we’re two to fours weeks away from knowing”. and “this is a critical juncture”.

There are two parts to that.

Keeping in mind that we’ve been locked-down longer than a week, and that the incubation period is at most 14 days, we’re less than a week away from knowing what that particular impact has looked like. All indications with respect to that are optimistic. There’s no doubt our numbers in this province are trending favourably. For now.

BUT… there are people who will have gotten sick after that cut-off. And the people they’ve infected. And people who’ve arrived since the cut-off, and the people they’ve infected. And the people who are simply not following physical-distancing guidelines, etc. It takes a while for all of that to work its way through.

Along with that comes a serious reality check which is now being brought to light… that if this whole lock-down thing is the right way to do things (and it certainly is), we need to be prepared to do it for quite a while. At least in B.C., there’s zero chance of any … [Continue Reading]

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Day 14 – March 30, 2020

By |March 30th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Travel Stories, Sports & Gaming, Philosophy, Art & Literature|0 Comments

In Stephen Hawking’s remarkable book “A Brief History of Time”, he mentions in the introduction that he was advised that each formula he put in the book would halve the sales. Zero formulas, one million sales. One formula, half a million sales. Two formulas, a quarter-million sales. And so on.

By the way, that is exponential growth (well, decay, in that case). Which is what I’m going to talk about, but it’s also why I will try to include as few formulas as possible. Let’s stick to what’s important. Like, driving a car. Gas pedal, go. Brake pedal, stop. Steer where you want to go. That’s basically it, and you don’t need to understand the magic taking place under the hood to make good use of the car.

So, speaking of cars… let’s say you’re in your car, and you want to go from 0 to 100 km/h. My first car did that in about 18 seconds. My current car does it in 2.9. Both of those numbers are insane, but for completely different reasons.

Let’s look at the new chart I’ve added, which is a logarithmic graph of all the same data… and some dotted-dashed lines I’ll explain below.

You car will follow an acceleration curve, which… interestingly, for a supercar like a Ferrari, will look a lot like the Italian line on the logarithmic chart. A more modest car, like a Kia, will look more like the South Korea line.

Ooohhh, wait a minute, we might be onto something here…

All cars eventually hit a top speed where they are no longer accelerating, and when they do, like the Kia/South Korea line almost has, it flattens out to a near-zero slope. That Ferrari/Italy line will flatten out too, eventually, but as we can see, at a much higher level, and it’s not there yet… but trending that way.

The Canada line has been skirting the left side of its attached dotted line, and is now a little on its right. What’s it most looking like? Thankfully, very evidently, not the MegaSupercharged Corvette/US line, whose pedal is still floored and heading to a scary top speed. Whether Canada trends more like South Korea or Italy depends to be seen. Eyeballing it would imply somewhere in between. The math implies something similar. The reality remains to be … [Continue Reading]

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