atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#7072: The folly of arrogance

Walking around telling myself that I'm healthy, then awakened at 2 AM by a coughing fit that wouldn't stop, followed by gut malf, followed by broken sleep--

Not COVID-19. No fever. Just 1) chronic sinusitis; 2) a case of mild bronchitis I've had since early January; 3) stupid gut.

So when I woke up this morning to my alarm, it was also to the realization that while I could expend the necessary willpower to drag my ass out of bed etc, there didn't seem much point to it, and it was easier just to lay there like a limp dishrag. I've pared my queues down to a handful of tasks, most of which I cannot do anything about until I'm allowed to visit my offsites, and yesterday there was nothing being added.

After waking up this afternoon, I grabbed my laptop and checked my email. No new tickets. I sent a few emails to people I've been working with on things, to let them know I was out today, and spent a few minutes in the tech chat mainly asking questions about how users' cell phones are configured, and how the VPN system works. I wasn't able to get into the VPN because the two-factor authentication system went down for emergency maintenance, and from my home computer I couldn't check my email; but from my work computer, I could.

So I understand a little better how it all fits together, anyway.

* * *

You know what? I think this makes sense. Boeing is in the shit right now precisely because they did some stupid, stupid things that resulted in some 300 people dying. It's not like their predicament is the result of a couple of towel-headed yahoos flying Boeing planes into New York skyscrapers; it's because they released a faulty product and gamed the FAA's certification system in order to save some money in the process.

I kind of think Boeing deserves to feel a little pain. You know?

"'Nobody's flying,' a Boeing official said." Yeah. And before that? Nobody was flying the 737-MAX800 planes they'd bought from you because they're fucking unsafe. Let's get down to brass tacks here. Boeing was already in trouble before the whole Wuhan virus thing, because the 737MAX debacle. Prior to that, for quite a while they were making "money" moves rather than "secure corporate future" moves, because the former led to big bonuses for executives while the latter--while much more prudent--did very little for the corporation's bottom line.

The worst part of all this is that they borrowed money to do it.

Big business types throw around the word "leverage" because it doesn't sound like the word "debt". "We leveraged the buyout," for example, means "We borrowed a HUGE SHITTON of money to finance the buyout." This works very well for everyone involved. The people doing the buying and the selling get fat paychecks out of it. The banks make money on interest payments. But if you think about it, Company A just ran up a GIGANTIC credit card bill buying Company B.

Now, over the past few decades, it's worked nearly every time. Company A borrows $10 million to buy Company B. But a year later the interest rates fall, so Company A borrows $12 million, pays off the first loan, and now has $2 million to play with. A year later the interest rates fall again. Now Company A can borrow $14 million, pay off the $12 million loan, and have $2 more million to play with, all for the same monthly debt service payment.

This works as long as interest rates don't rise. The instant they rise, Company A is screwed. Because the monthly debt service payment begins to rise, too.

It also works as long as the company's income doesn't fall. The instant Company A's income falls, they're screwed, because the monthly debt service payment must be paid. If it's not, the banks then say, "Okay, we need all of our money back, right now."

Boeing would like us to believe "Nobody's flying," and that's why they're in trouble now. But "Nobody's flying" is merely one problem out of several, and it is the one problem that is not Boeing's own damned fault. If it were just a case of "Nobody's flying" I could see bailing them out; but if they'd not done the other things which left them vulnerable, "Nobody's flying" would be survivable without government help.

Of course, since Boeing is now really the only American manufacturer of most types of aircraft, we can't afford to let them go bankrupt. But for fuck's sake, if they get a bailout it still ought to hurt.

Maybe if more large corporations were penalized for the decisions they made out of pure greed, they wouldn't make so many of them.

More general piece on corporate bailouts linked here because it discusses Boeing at the end.

And definitely: any corporation that received a bailout should not reward its management with fat bonus checks.

* * *

Now, this is fascinating stuff, here. This is data from South Korea. They have a large outbreak there, yet their overall fatality rate is 1%.

8,400 cases, 84 deaths. 31 deaths in the "over 80" category, 29 in the "over 70", 16 in "over 60"--which is 76 of the 84 right there. This is what we've seen elsewhere: the elderly are the most at risk, and the younger you are the more likely you are to survive it. Ages 30-49, the combined fatality rate is 0.2%. Not two percent but two-tenths of a percent</i>.

South Korea is not a communist nation and they have a first-world medical system, so I expect their numbers are going to be representative of what we can expect here.

Pixy Misa linked this which is a medical paper explaining that a combination of "hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin cleared the virus from 100% of patients in the space of a week."

We've already seen that the old antimalarial drug was effective against this thing, for some reason. Malaria is caused by a parasite, not a virus, so who knows why? But this is still unconfirmed, and it's going to take more and very rigorous testing to make sure it's the right thing.

Expect hydroxychloroquine to see a sudden price increase, at least in America. *rolleyes* Because American drug companies love to charge assrape prices for generics:

CEO: "Hey, we're the only company in the US that makes this stuff, and a lot of people need it. We need to push out ten times a much as we used to."

CFO: "Okay, our production cost to make ten times as much per year is X, so we need the thing's retail price to be...hmm, carry the four...all right! 100x!"

CEO: "200x!"

CFO: "Even better! 200x. Sure."

...and the drug now costs $183.70 per tablet. For the exact same product that cost $0.89 per tablet the day before.

That's called "profiteering" and it's wrong, you know? Even in a capitalist society, it's wrong.

* * *

Particularly since a manufacturer's cost per unit drops when quantity increases.

Look, you think I'm exaggerating? I can't find the article now, but in Italy they needed replacement valves for ventilator machines. The company that makes the machines wants $16,000 per valve. Thanks to some ingenuity and a 3D printer, they were able to make 3D printed valves locally for about--are you ready for this?--ONE DOLLAR A POP. naturally the company that makes the ventilator equipment is suing them for patent infringement.

Now: I suppose it is just possible that making the requisite valves for these machines is a highly exacting process requiring the direct attention of skilled machinists, but I can guarantee you that anything a machinist can make, a CNC mill can be programmed to make the same way, every last time. If you are manufacturing something, you don't stay in business employing master machinists to make production units. You pay a master machinist to program the CNC machines for you. (And believe me, no matter what capacity you employ him in, you pay him a lot of money.)

I have my doubts, however, that this valve is really a $16,000 part. You know? I'd be willing to bet that it's actually a $5 or $150 part (in quantity) that the company is charging an outrageously high price for, solely because it's a medical machine that keeps people alive.

And the fact that they are suing for patent infringement gives the lie to that. Doesn't it?

* * *

Same vein: we are overreacting to this thing.
A population-wide case fatality rate of 0.05% is lower than seasonal influenza. If that is the true rate, locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be totally irrational. It's like an elephant being attacked by a house cat. Frustrated and trying to avoid the cat, the elephant accidentally jumps off a cliff and dies.
Well, that's all fine, but the Democrat-media complex in the United States is just fine with it. They want to get rid of Trump, and a major disaster is the only thing they have left to throw at him.

So they talk it up, as much as they can, and refuse to provide any mitigating information. Close a major airport in a major city because two people tested positive for the thing--and the news stories don't mention whether or not the employees even had symptoms.

Related: City of Chicago "equips" officers with tubes of 8-year-old hand sanitizer that expired in 2018. I suppose the good thing here is that, in general, if the tubes are kept sealed the stuff can't really go bad. In fact the FDA requires expiration dates on everything, including stuff that really doesn't expire, and those dates are extremely pessimistic.

...but it sure looks bad. And cops have not been issued any other PPE, either.

* * *

Diamond Princess is the name of the ship and I think it's a microcosm for what the virus will do in a first-world nation with reasonable precautions.

* * *

And an interesting observation from Liberty's Torch about all this: "China is about to go belly-up. Even all the frantic efforts of the worldwide media will not save them from a long-deserved retribution."

Let's face it: China knew about this thing a month before it went pear-shaped. Now they're doing everything they can to keep people from talking about its Chinese origin. And they've threatened to cut off medical supplies to the United States.

I think, once we're done with this--and if Trump remains in office--that the Chinese will live to regret pissing off their biggest customer.

At least, that's what should happen. Not necessarily out of a desire for revenge, but a desire to avoid a repeat of what they're doing this time.

* * *

Not to put too fine a point on it, but COVID-19 is a reason why we need to enforce our borders. You can put whatever you want in the place of "COVID-19" in that sentence, too. "Cholera". "Measles". "Diptheria". "Dengue Fever". Whatever the disease is.

You know, we have become spoiled by vaccines and antibiotics and modern sanitation. We think that disease is nothing to worry about, because who gets sick any more? Sure, there's cancer, but it's not contagious or anything. Mainly, if you get sick--even badly ill--you might have to go to the hospital for a while but then you get better. Right? Get inoculated against viruses, it's your fault you got the flu since you didn't get the shot, blah blah blah etcetera.

Well, no.

I'm starting to think that the country's overreaction to COVID-19 is at least partly due to the fact that epidemics are a thing of the past for nearly all Americans. When does that happen, these days? And the ones that occurred recently (Ebola, SARS, MERS, and so on) were all taking place in remote locations and of course they couldn't get here.

But remember that I was one of the people yelling for Obama to shut down air travel to (whatever country it was in Africa) because of Ebola? Some of us--despite never experiencing an epidemic firsthand--know that modern medicine is not as much of a shield against disease as some people seem to think it is.

About 90% of modern medicine is simply making it easier for your body to heal itself. We remove cancer nodules because your body can't clean the mass up but might/should/ought to clean up what the surgeon cannot. Chemotherapy weakens the cancer cells and/or kills them so the body can get rid of them. Ditto for radiation therapy.

Antibiotics--all antibiotics really do is to help the body clean up infections; it slows the rate of progression down to a rate the body can deal with. If you don't have an immune system, antibiotics will not help you very much compared to someone with a functioning immune system.

We have a bare handful of expensive anti-viral drugs. They help the body contain the infection; they do not contain it for the body.

When you go in for a broken leg, the doctor doesn't fix the leg. He sets the bone in place and immobilizes the limb so it can heal on its own. That's the same for every injury you can imagine that's not instantly and massively fatal.

...all of this, people forget. They don't think about it. So they don't see anything wrong with letting homeless people set up camps because disease has been eradicated! I mean, when was the last time anyone in San Francisco got typhus?

You mean, before or after the homeless camps appeared?

* * *

So let's move to guns.

I was actually thinking about this scenario days ago. People robbing others of supplies rather than money. Well--in this case the attacker took both groceries and money, but still--psycho put a woman into the ICU for a couple bags of groceries and her wallet.

It's a pretty fair bet that if CNN tells you not to do something, you probably ought to go ahead and do it. This is a fisking of a CNN article by a lefty asshat.

I especially liked this: "I hope those guns and ammo are deadly because if I need them I'm going to be really disappointed if they are not."

The California government has decided that self-defense is not essential. Sure, why not? Cops aren't arresting criminals, and the ones they do arrest get let out right away, but let's make sure that citizens can't buy firearms.

"To sum it all up, when the shit hits the fan in a matter of days, a resident of the Land of Lincoln is 34 days away from being able to get a gun and 126 days away from being able to carry it."

The writer knows a lefty type who is now complaining that Illinois' gun laws are keeping him from getting a gun when he needs it.

Hypocritical, of course: "I'm not the problem! It's everyone else who is the problem! Why do all these laws and things (that I avocated for previously) apply to me when I have a real need?"

I think if you have voted Democrat any time in the last twenty years, you are part of the problem, so STFU and enjoy eating your crow, you fuckwad.

* * *

The more I learn about Jeremy Clarkson the more I understand why so many people in the entertainment industry hate him. And, the more I come to like him.

* * *

Turns out that "Trailblazer" is an American indian rather than black. I know it's hard to tell since they used the exact same color for her as for the black characters. Only one shade of "person of color" there, huh, Marvel?

The previous article didn't talk much about the others. "Screentime", who's superpower is "Google". And "B-Negative", who's basically a vampire.


* * *

I honestly wish I could say I found this surprising but more often than not these SJW cretins turn out to be sick people. I wonder why that is?

* * *

Today's Monty comic strip!

Congratulations to Little Big: they've made their first entry into American pop culture.


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