Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Posts Tagged ‘COVID

Follow-up III: Djokovic as GOAT? (III) and COVID distortions

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In the previous follow-ups (cf. [1], [2]), I noted that “The arguably best tennis player in the world, right here, right now, is Djokovic.”, with further remarks on how he was artificially disadvantaged and how he, among other consequences, might miss the ATP Finals through these artificial disadvantages.

As it happens, Djokovic just won these ATP Finals, even be it in the absence of Carlos Alcaraz, the injured number one on the world ranking, giving further support to my assessment. To wit: out of the five most important tournaments of the year, Djokovic won two (Wimbledon and the ATP Finals), lost against the eventual winner in the French Open (Nadal), and was artificially barred from both the U.S. Open and the Australian Open. In contrast, Nadal won the Australian Open and French Open, the first in the absence of Djokovic. (And flopped badly in the ATP Finals.) The sole other winner, Alcaraz had “only” the U.S. Open—again, in the absence of Djokovic.

The existence of the ATP Finals is, of course, yet another reason to discount the “majors won determines the GOAT” idea: While the relative value of the ATP Finals and the majors can be discussed back and forth, neglecting the former is silly. Looking at this year, Djokovic went undefeated* in five matches against players all in the top-9 of the world-ranking. Winning a major, seven matches against players in the top-128, or so,** is standard, and beating even one top-9 player is not a requirement—beating more than two is rare. If we look at totals of majors and ATP Finals for the “Big Three”, we find Djokovic at 21 + 6 = 27, Federer at 20 + 6 = 26, and Nadal at 22 + 0 = 22. (Yes, Nadal has never won.)

*Unlike the majors, the ATP Finals are divided into two round-robin groups, followed by semi-finals and finals. Correspondingly, it is possible to win the overall despite an imperfect record in the group phase.

**There are 128 slots for each major, but some are filled with wild cards, qualification players, and the like, that are not necessarily in the top-128 ranking-wise.

In a correction to my earlier claims: My fears that Djokovic would miss the ATP Finals were a little misguided, as there is a wild-card rule for those who have won one of the four majors during the year. Due to this rule, it would have taken a very unfortunate constellation for him to be excluded (barring more COVID-nonsense, of course).

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November 20, 2022 at 10:55 pm

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The tables have turned on the COVID fanatics / Time for a reckoning

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Doing some reading up for a potential text on the new British budget, I find two entries on COVID, in a mainstream newspaper, that are very promising and that show how much the tables have turned and how the “COVID deniers”, “COVIDiots”, and whatnots are increasingly vindicated even in the public eye,* while the fanatics proposing unprecedented lockdowns and countermeasures are increasingly acknowledged as the idiots that they were (and, typically, still are).

*While they had science on their side much earlier—no matter what the likes of Fauci dishonestly claim.

Today sees the belated lockdown reckoning gives a (not sufficiently hard, admittedly) complaint about the lockdowns, their failure, and their costs.

We are paying an enormous price for the bad science behind Covid lockdowns, well, the contents are somewhat self-explanatory.

I note that my own first text on COVID, from March 15th, 2020, was COVID-19 reactions doing more harm than good?. While some of my thoughts were naive in detail, the overall has been vindicated again, and again, and again. Ditto many of my early complaints in other texts, including the lack of a cost–benefit analysis for the countermeasures, use of shoddy or over-trusted models, and a pin-the-tail approach to countermeasures (in Germany, at least).

The simple truth is that what has happened is inexcusable—even if the perpetrators had had the science right (which they did not), they proceeded in a manner that was irrational, destructive, and, in many cases, horrifyingly incompetent and naive. This is more than grounds enough for a reckoning that has not been seen this side of the post-WWII trials. (But they are unlikely to follow.)

That some two or more* years of censorship, cancellations, defamation, insults, and whatnot towards those more clear-headed followed, that should be cause for an equal reckoning.

*Note e.g. the recent “thou must not deny the Revealed Truth on COVID” commandment in California, which threatens the medical licences of physicians who do not follow official advice, no matter how outdated or otherwise unsound, and no matter how poor the official track record has been during these years.

As to the brain-dead nonsense of a “COVID amnesty” (cf. Emily Oster):* This is the exact opposite of what we need. In the absence of a reckoning, and a harsh reckoning, the same thing might very well happen again in a few years—or something similar in some other area. There should be a reckoning already because of the evil, maliciousness, and incompetence shown by so many—but that point is secondary to preventing repetitions. There must be a reckoning so that this does not happen again!

*I will not engage in a full critique (but others have); however, I do note a central idea that might be paraphrased as “there were so much uncertainty—anyone could have gotten it wrong”. No, not in that manner. Note e.g. that cost–benefit analyses were not merely faulty—they were absent. Similarly, uncertainty does not imply that we should take the most extreme course available, but is a call for moderation and flexibility. Similarly, the more uncertainty there is, the less we should trust models. Etc. What happened is comparable to a boxer focusing so on his opponent’s one hand that he is caught blindsided by the other—and then complaining that no-one could have seen it coming. Yes, they could. In fact, not seeing the risk is remarkable.

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November 18, 2022 at 1:09 am

Brownstone drops the ball II / An odd attack piece on Trump

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Some two weeks ago, I encountered another article where Brownstone dropped the ball, with a weird unwarranted attack on Donald Trump (intermingled with likely* sensible claims on the economic damage of the COVID countermeasures). This reeks of Leftist propaganda, in that Trump (the Republicans, the Right, the whatnot) is blamed for damage mostly caused by the Left. (Ideas like “The economy is in shambles after almost two years of a Democrat President, House, and Senate—and it is all the Republicans’ fault!” are somewhat common on the Left.)

*Due to the attack-piece aspect, I skimmed and skipped, and left the last parts entirely unread.

Before I look at some examples, I stress that I do believe that Trump dropped the ball, but (a) not to the degree that many other political leaders did, (b) his fault was listening to his advisors,* (c) the brunt of the overall (U.S.) damage falls on Biden (POTUS-wise) and the likes of Fauci and Birx**, (d) chances are that Trump would have followed a more DeSantis-like COVID policy, had he been reelected. I further stress that I would have had no problem with a general discussion of U.S. government failures around COVID, where Trump was given his fair share—and the likes of Biden and Andrew Coumo their fair share. (The reader is invited to count how many times these three persons are referenced in the article.)

*This is the guy that the Left has otherwise repeatedly accused of ignoring wise advisors who could have made everything right, and instead doing his own ignorant thing. The truth might rather be the opposite, that things went bad when he did listen to advisors and worked well when he did his own thing. They should have let Trump be Trump, as they let Reagan be Reagan.

**Cf. her autobiography/self-incrimination, which describes deliberate manipulation and subversion attempts. This, maybe, to the point that an (e) applies: The policies under Trump were a distorted version of what Trump had actually ordered. (I say “maybe” as I have read several reviews of the book, but not the actual book.)

Prolonged fiscal and monetary excesses prior to February 2020 were already destined to generate an era of reckoning, even before Washington jumped the shark* after the Covid panic was ignited by Donald Trump in March 2020.

*What the author intends here is unclear. I suspect that the expression is simply misused.

COVID panic was igniting world-wide from multiple sources, Trump is likely better viewed as a victim than as the igniter, and the likes of Biden, Hillary, and Obama would almost certainly have gone down the same path. Trump was the messenger; not the sender of the message. His main error was failing to reject the message—but the same applies to most other world leaders.* From another point of view, it is puzzling why the author goes to the trouble of mentioning Trump by name (or it would have been, had this not been an obvious attack piece). Why not speak of e.g. “Fauci”?

*A general issue, which I will not always mention, is that what happened in other countries, what mistakes were made by more experienced politicians, how much more damage Biden has done in the post-Trump era, etc. is left out. Trump, going by the discussed text, was a single, unique world-leader who screwed up where others did not or, in his place, would not have. The truth is radically different.

The history books will surely record, therefore, that it was Trump who foolishly ignited the above depicted ticking financial timebomb. Based on the facts known now and the evidence available then, the prolonged Lockdowns ordered by Trump on March 16, 2020 were one of the most capriciously destructive acts of the state in modern history.

Firstly, there is no need to ignite a time bomb. The defining characteristic of a time bomb is that it goes off on its own, when the literal or metaphorical dial hits the right time. Any premature ignition will only change the timing of the bomb. (It might even be argued that some bombs, including financial ones, are better detonated as soon as possible, because they are hard to disarm and tend to do more damage the later they go off.) Blame the guy who built the bomb, not the one who accidentally set it off prematurely. (Whether Trump is the latter, I leave unstated. He certainly is not the former.)

Secondly, again, Biden did (and will likely continue to do) worse and so did many others—and at least Biden did so with much more information and more deliberately. Trump in contrast, going by e.g. claims by Birx, might have truly gone for “two weeks to flatten the curve”, or something similar, only to be manipulated into prolonged lockdowns as events unfolded.

Looking at choice of words, the use of “foolishly” and “capriciously” seem to serve no other purpose than rhetoric.

Indeed, the IFR (infection fatality rate) for the under 70-years population has turned out to be so low as to make the brutal economic shutdowns ordered by the Donald and his Fauci-led Virus Patrol tantamount to crimes against the American people.

The lockdowns (in a great number of countries) might well be argued to be such crimes, but Biden did worse, the degree to which Trump was the driving factor is highly disputable, and the “Virus Patrol” was not his outside a very formal sense. On the contrary, it acted as an independent force, subverted his will (cf. Birx), and manipulated him. There is also some room to dispute what shutdowns and other countermeasures were ultimately ordered by Trump, Congress, federal this-and-that and what by their state level equivalents.*

*Here, I have not paid much attention and would need additional research, but I note that there were and are large differences between the situations in e.g. Florida and New York (state), often with Republican-governed states being more sensible and successful than the Democrat-governed ones. (I did throw a casual eye on some Wikipedia pages, but they are still, absurdly and contrary to the collected evidence of more than two-and-a-half years, written on the premise that the earlier, the longer, and the harsher the lockdowns the better, which makes them fairly useless for this type of evaluation.)

Here and elsewhere—why the inconsistent and arguably disrespectful “Donald” or even “the Donald”? (A “Hillary”, often used by me, at least serves disambiguation, as “Clinton” has so strong associations to husband Bill. Ditto some few other exceptions like “Dubya” and “Teddy”.)

Nor does the Donald and Fauci’s Virus Patrol get off the hook on the grounds that these dispositive facts about the Covid were not fully known in early March 2020. But to the contrary, the results of a live fire case study involving the 3,711 passengers and crew members of the famously stricken and stranded cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, were fully known at the time, and they were more than enough to quash the Lockdown hysteria.

If this paragraph had focused on Fauci, leaving Trump unmentioned, it might have been in order. As is, no. In particular, how much own knowledge must be required of Trump when he has specialists to advise him? Can we require that non-physician, non-virologist, non-epidemiologist Trump, at so early a stage, answers a team of renowned specialists with “But Diamond Princess?”, after being told that “science”, “models”, whatnot show that several percent of the U.S. population might die? (Fauci, Birx, et al., in contrast, have no excuse.) And what if he did give this answer and was met with a plausible sounding explanation as to why the data from the ship were not representative? And how is Trump different from dozens of other world leaders, including Angela Merkel (an actual former scientist, albeit not in medicine).

That’s right. Donald Trump and his way-in-over-his-head son-in-law, Jared Kushner, knew or should have known that the survival rate of the under 70-years population on the Diamond Princess was 100%, and that there was no dire public emergency in any way, shape or form.

Beg to differ. See above.

Under those conditions, anyone with a passing familiarity with the tenets of constitutional liberty and the requisites of free markets would have sent Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx and the rest of the public health power-grabbers packing.

That the Donald and Jared did not do. Instead, they got led by the nose for month after month by Fauci’s awful crew because basically Trump and Kushner were power-seekers and egomaniacs, not Republicans and certainly not conservatives.

Most of this is true, but not all (and how many did better?). Trump certainly has a greater right to call himself a Republican or Conservative than the likes of Mitch McConnell and Liz Cheney. (Former Democrat? Yes, but so was Reagan.) There is not much to indicate that Trump sought election because he was more of a power-seeker than, say, Hillary, Biden, Obama, Bush Jr. If anything, he seemed more set on doing what was right, once elected, than they (non-POTUS Hillary excepted) were. The “egomaniac” part might be fair, but neither of these four attributes are in obvious connection with “got led by the nose”. Political naiveté or undue optimism about experts* are more likely factors. Moreover, here the author implicitly admits that Trump was not the villain—merely manipulated by the villain(s).

*Also see my own recent text on disillusionment with experts.

Donald Trump literally decimated the production side of the US economy because he did not have the gumption, knowledge and policy principles necessary to blow off Fauci’s statist attack on America’s market economy.

Highly speculative, both regarding Trump and Fauci. (As much as I despise and loathe Fauci, it is not clear that this was a “statist attack”, rather than attention seeking, search for personal influence, sheer incompetence, or whatnot.) A better formulation would have spoken of e.g. “The lockdowns literally […]”. The Trump-era lockdowns were bad, but something that the economy could have largely bounced back from in a reasonable time—the artificial prolongation by Biden is another matter. (Ditto the inflation driving, energy-sector destroying, whatnot policies of Biden.) Step on a flower and chances are that it will bounce back with a few lost petals and an unfortunate bend—grind it under your foot and it can rarely be rescued.

The Donald did not care a wit about fiscal rectitude and the surging public debt that was already in place; and actually had demanded time and again even more egregious money-printing than the ship of fools in the Eccles Building were already foisting upon the American economy.

Again, highly speculative. I note that, pre-COVID, the U.S. economy was doing better than in decades. If Trump demanded money printing, it was a drop in the sea compared to Biden, and a short-term, one-off help package (or whatnot) to compensate for the lockdowns was not an obviously bad* idea (unlike the massive and prolonged efforts under Biden). Note that flower again.

*Which is not necessarily to say that I would have supported one.

Looking at his overall, pre-COVID, approach, it did not seem to be a matter of “not care” but of different priorities, namely to stimulate the economy, lower taxes, whatnot—note the similarity with Reagan in this regard. Of course, the key to “fiscal rectitude” and “public debt” is to keep expenses down—not taxes up. We might discuss how lowering taxes, keeping the budget balanced, and (by now) bringing inflation down should be prioritized,* but (a) prioritizing the X does not imply a disregard for Y, (b) the true blame should be put on those who brought taxes and spending up to ridiculous levels—which was not Trump. Similarly, we might discuss whether someone morbidly obese should have gastric surgery, go on a diet, take up swimming, and/or whatever other approach might be relevant—but the surgeon who performs the gastric surgery is not the problem. The morbid obesity is, the surgeon should not be blamed for trying to solve the issue, and the blame truly resides with too much food, too poor food, too little exercise, whatnot.

*Note the recent juxtapositions in the U.K., with Truss vs. Sunak, Thatcher vs. Reagan, Truss vs. Thatcher, etc.

Excursion on Biden:
For simplicity, I formulated this text based on the assumption that Biden is actually in charge of the Presidency (and himself). To the degree that this does not match reality, modifications might be needed in detail, but not in the big picture.

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November 1, 2022 at 12:11 pm

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The Left, COVID, and absurd disappointment

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On quite a few occasions,* I have seen complaints along the line that “I can’t understand that the Left did this!” or “I can’t understand that the Left didn’t resist this!” in reference to COVID-countermeasures (be it in general or with some specific example). This often with a rider of “We are supposed to be the good guys!”, “We are supposed to be the ones who stand up for freedom!”, or similar.

*Including several times on the otherwise usually excellent Brownstone, including, today and as a borderline case, Why did the Left Fail the Covid Test So Badly?. (The title does not fully match the contents of the article, but it was the final straw for me to write this text.)

This well illustrates the difference between those who understand the Left and those who do not, especially between those who look at the actual actions of the Left and those who only listen to the self-portrayal (and portrayal of the “enemy”) spouted by the Left:

None of this “did” and “didn’t” is the least bit surprising, except maybe in that the Leftists got away with it so brazenly and with so little protest from the non(!)-Left. The exact character of the Left does vary from country to country, time to time, and faction to faction (even within one country), but most of what we have seen is typical Leftist behaviors and attitudes applied to a new situation. Disregard for the individual in face of a claimed greater good? Check! Massive reality distortion to reach political or ideological goals? Check! Censorship? Check! Defamation and maligning of opponents and dissenters? Check! Forcing compliance by whatever means necessary? Check! Wanting demonstrations of said compliance? Check! Complete disregard for Economics, side-effects, incentives, whatnot? Check! Pursuing a once stated goal religiously, even when that goal has been proved harmful or pointless? Check! Pushing power from the citizens to the government? Check! Pushing power from local governments to central government? Check! Pushing power from elected officials to bureaucrats? Check! Demanding a uniform support from news organizations and other media? Check! (Etc.)

No, the Leftist behavior is not the least bit surprising—and neither is the fact that the greatest COVID-sinners tendentially were Leftist governments. Truly surprising, on the contrary, was that the Swedish Social-Democrats, the historical main proponents of the nanny state, proved to have one of the most reasonable (least unreasonable?) attitudes with an eye at e.g. the economy, civic rights, and medical “conventional wisdom”*. Similarly, if anything, it is the many (if usually lesser) failures of non-Leftist parties, e.g. in Germany and the U.K., that are surprising.**

*One meta-reason why there were so many governmental failures, is that old and reasonably proven approaches and old and reasonably proven knowledge were rejected in favor of experimentation and speculation, possibly in the misguided belief that COVID was something truly new, instead of a variation of an old theme.

**But, in all fairness, it does fit into a larger pattern both of politicians growing ever more self-absorbed and of “RINOs” (resp. the local equivalent) being ever present. In Germany, the Merkel-run CDU, the allegedly Conservative “Christian Democratic Union”, had increasingly and long before COVID betrayed its voters and its natural values, be they Conservative, Christian, or democratic, in favor of populism-to-stay-in-power, of implementation of Leftist ideas, and of letting Leftists into power unnecessarily. (Note e.g. how Merkel repeatedly preferred to form coalition governments with the Social-Democrats over more natural coalitions and/or minority governments.) On the other hand, the new, post-Merkel, Social-Democrat government has so far been even worse COVID-wise, after adjusting for the lower infection rates. If the Social-Democrats had it entirely their way, there would, among other things, be forced vaccinations.

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September 22, 2022 at 5:07 pm

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Follow-up II: Djokovic as GOAT? (III) and COVID distortions

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Disclaimer: Proof-reading the below, I realize that I have neglected to give the other players their lost Wimbledon points in the comparison—the text was simply thrown together a little too haphazardly. I will not redo the text, but I note that Alcaraz, per Wikipedia, went out in the fourth round, which is peanuts, comparatively speaking. Runner-Up, Nick Kyrgios, is too far down on the ranking to make a difference. Etc. The details of the below change a little to Djokovic’s disadvantage, but the main idea holds. (The overall comparison is also complicated by some opting not to participate in the Wimbledon to begin with, or being banned from doing so, like Medvedev. This could conceivably have had a larger pro-Djokovic effect.)

In a recent text, I discussed the artificial handicap given to Djokovic compared to e.g. Nadal in GOAT discussions through political meddling. The corresponding distortion through this year’s U.S. Open was lesser than I had feared, as Nadal neither won nor managed to get back to number one on the ranking. However, there is still a severe ranking effect:

The official ATP ranking currently* has a top-7 of:

*Note that this page is regularly updated. Data used represent the current state.

1 Carlos Alcaraz 6,740
2 Casper Ruud 5,850
3 Rafael Nadal 5,810
4 Daniil Medvedev 5,065
5 Alexander Zverev 5,040
6 Stefanos Tsitsipas 4,810
7 Novak Djokovic 3,570

Djokovic a lowly 7, even worse than before? Give Djokovic his 2,000 points for winning the Wimbledon, as he is already at 4, needing only 280 points to tie for second. What are the chances that he would have failed to gain more than 280 points combined over the Australian Open and the U.S. Open? Slim indeed. Getting to 1 is harder, as he would be missing 1,170 points. However, this could be achieved just by reaching the final (1,200 points) in one of the two majors, or by reaching the semi-final in both (2 x 720 points)—and we are talking about a man who won the one last year and reached the final in the other. (And this not counting any other tournaments in which he might have been disadvantaged, be it directly or through an artificially worsened seeding, cf. below.)

Of course, this ranking disadvantage does not just prevent him from improving his “days at number 1” statistic, it also implies a handicap in future tournaments, as he will be seeded worse than if he had been at 1 or 2. Then, again, we have the issue of the ATP Finals: his margin to remain in the top-8 is small indeed—and that is if he is even allowed to play, should he qualify.*

*I have not looked into details, but I would suspect that Djokovic has a larger number of points to defend during the autumn than most of the competition, which makes his chances even smaller.

All in all, this is just bullshit.

Looking at the current actual/official/whatnot number 1, Carlos Alcaraz: At 19, he is apparently the youngest in history and has, at least to me, come up out of nowhere.* In contrast, Félix Auger-Aliassime, who was hailed as a new superstar since his mid-teens, is old enough, at 22, to be at or shortly before his prime by historical standards, but he has achieved less, and appears to have just dropped from 8th to 13th on the ranking. The new number 2, Casper Ruud, is 23 and has also torn ahead relative Auger-Aliassime. Using the likes of the Big-3 as a comparison for Auger-Aliassime shows that he could have a great many years to prove himself; however, he is slowly reaching an age at which only a minority of the best-of-the-best, the Big-3 included, has failed to have a larger or considerably larger success. (Ages and ranking-drop according to the above rankings page.)

*But note that I have not followed tennis particularly closely the last few years.

Interestingly, members of the Big-3 have won three out of four majors this year, but we might still have seen the end of the Big-3 era. Federer is unlikely to ever make it back to the top and even Djokovic and Nadal must be approaching a day when age and accumulated wear-and-tear prove problematic. Going down the list, the next player of the same or higher age relative Djokovic/Nadal is a mere 32nd (Gael Monfils, at age 36).

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September 12, 2022 at 1:47 pm

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Speculations around a COVID lab-leak

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In June last year, I wrote in an excursion:

I have long toyed with a (hopefully) hypothetical scenario: If (!) the lab-leak hypothesis is true, if (!) the virus resulted from gain-of-function experiments, and if (!) world-leaders knew of this, then it would explain the extreme and disproportionate reactions. They might then have known that the original virus was problematic and that the modified was worse, but, critically, they might not have known by how much. Of course, other explanations have to be found for the continued overreactions after the first few weeks or months of pandemic.

Yesterday, I encountered a text with similar speculation, but much more in-depth and by an author who seems much more deeply vested in the general idea than I am. A core idea is that a “lab-leak cabal”, using Birx as a tool, deliberately set about to enforce lockdowns. The text goes on to speculate on e.g. possible reasons.

While I by no means claim that the author is correct,* this remains an interesting possibility. Even if she is wrong, the text as a whole remains worth a read, especially with an eye on the unexpected behavior and unexpected claims by various politicians and (real or fake) experts.

*There are too many unknowns to tell, at least for now; I am a great fan of Hanlon’s Razor; and there are other conspiracy explanations to consider. (Note that the mark of a conspiracy theory is not that it is wrong or absurd—but that it involves a conspiracy.)

Written by michaeleriksson

September 9, 2022 at 5:10 am

Follow-up: Djokovic as GOAT? (III) and COVID distortions

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As a follow-up to an earlier text on Djokovic and COVID distortions:

The arguably best tennis player in the world, right here, right now,* is Djokovic. He was a single match away from winning a Grand Slam in 2021 and he has lost only one match in the majors this year (and that against Nadal in the French Open).

He still is no better than 6th on the world ranking; Nadal, his long-time rival, might retake the number one position on the world ranking presently; and Nadal might outdo him 3 majors to 1 for the year by the end of the ongoing 2022 U.S. Open. (Currently, 2 to 1.) To boot, Nadal might outdo him 23 to 21 overall. (Currently, 22 to 21.)

*Time of writing: September 3rd, 2022.

What is wrong with this picture? Well, firstly, looking at this year, Djokovic has been unfairly banned from two out of four majors (Australian Open,* U.S. Open) where he would have been the favorite** (and Nadal won the Australian Open in his absence, might do the same to the U.S. Open). Secondly, Djokovic’s Wimbledon victory gave him not one single point on the ATP ranking.*** All this for reasons of politics—not tennis.

*My original text, written during this tournament, speaks of the “on-going 2022 French Open”. This should, of course, be the “on-going 2022 Australian Open”.

**Very clearly so for the Australian Open; more narrowly for the U.S. Open.

***However, as unfortunate as this is for the sport of tennis, letting Wimbledon get away with blocking Russians (individual players are not party to the war) and Belorussians (even the country is not party to the war) because of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine would be a greater evil. Also note that the Wimbledon issue has a different cause than the other problems discussed.

(I have not looked into the non-majors, but there is a possibility that Djokovic has been similarly mistreated in other tournaments too. It can certainly not be ruled out that the unnecessary chaos, stress, and lost time has negatively affected him. Moreover, there is a non-trivial risk that he will be either unfairly banned from or unfairly fail to qualify for the ATP Finals, which would ruin his ranking further.)

Looking at the overall count of majors, this is partially caused by the disparities of 2022; however, these problems began earlier: the 2020 Wimbledon, where Djokovic was a clear favorite,* was canceled, while the French Open, won by Nadal, was merely postponed.

*He had won the two previous editions—and has gone on to win the two following.

I have written in detail about why the “majors won” heuristic for GOAT-hood and player comparisons is flawed ([1]). The extreme distortions over the last few years cement this—in a slightly different reality, Nadal might have two resp. three majors less (2020 French Open, 2022 Australian Open; 2022 U.S. Open), while Djokovic might have two resp. three majors more (2020 Wimbledon, 2022 Australian Open; 2022 U.S. Open). In this alternate reality, we would then see the current 22/23 vs. 21 change to 20 vs. 23/24.*

*With other alternate realities showing numbers in between. The point is that the current 22/23 vs. 21 is a clear and artificial distortion of historical greatness through the issues of the last few years.

The much more sensible “weeks at number one” heuristic is still clearly Djokovic’s, but his number is artificially diminished,* understating how great his career has been, while Nadal’s might soon be inflated, potentially giving him an unfair leg up against the likes of Sampras, Lendl, Connors.**

*Twofold: once for the reasons discussed here, which have caused him to be out of the top position when he likely otherwise would have held it; once through an earlier rankings’ freeze, where he did lead but his lead did not count in official statistics.

**But, to avoid misunderstandings, I would tend to give Nadal the nod over these past greats in a more holistic evaluation. Even a good heuristic is still a heuristic.

Excursion on different types of distortions:
Note that these distortions are not comparable with what misfortunes might take place through sheer bad luck (tends to even out over time; you win some, you lose some) and what is rooted in the person of the player (e.g. being disqualified for yelling at an official, being injury prone). Here we have distortions imposed by others, and in a manner that systematically disadvantages one player (or one group of players) relative the other players.

And, no, the bans based on vaccination status can not be put on Djokovic with an imbecilic “He should just get the vaccine! Then he could play!”: Apart from basic human decency and the right to medical self-determination, Djokovic’s decision is perfectly rational and reasonable, and he should be lauded for standing up for what is right: he already has immunity through prior COVID, a man of his age and fitness would be at minimal risk through COVID (as would the other players), and the risks of the vaccines are not trivial for an elite athlete. (Moreover, we know by now that the risks of COVID, in general, are far smaller than were claimed in 2020, and that current strains are even less dangerous than the early ones. Many measures that might have seemed reasonable in 2020 cannot be considered so in 2022.)

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September 3, 2022 at 3:48 pm

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COVID hysteria and the truly misinformed / Follow-up: Nazis XIVa

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In Nazis XIVa, I noted:

(Similarly, I recently heard that some believed in around 600 thousand COVID deaths. No, not in the U.S.—in Sweden! No wonder that some are in a state of great fear of COVID… In Sweden, this would amount to around 6 % of the population (or around 20 million, if applied to the U.S.). The last real number that I saw was 18 thousand—or less than a 33rd of this overblown estimate.)

Today, I encountered a very interesting discussion of media failures during the COVID era—including a few more data points on the above:

In the summer of 2020, 1,000 citizens from several countries were polled on the pandemic. Below is the mean percentage that the sampling showed people thought the COVID-19 death tallies were after three months of the pandemic:

Country Population Percent that died from COVID-19 That Absolute Population Number Actual Number of COVID-19 deaths at the time
United States 9% 29,700,000 132,000
United Kingdom 7% 4,830,000 48,000
Sweden 6% 600,000 6,000
France 5% 3,300,000 33,000
Denmark 3% 174,000 580

(I note that the early time of the poll moves my original semi-current 18 thousand actual deaths down to a mere 6 thousand at the time, increasing the level of exaggeration from roughly 33 to roughly 100. I also note that the article laments how this poll was ignored in the news—which explains why I only heard of the 600 thousand as late as I did.)

Again: No wonder that some are in a state of great fear of COVID.

And, as similar claims seem to hold in other areas: No wonder that the Left manages to be elected, that nuclear power is feared, that pseudo-scientific nonsense about “White Supremacy” and “Patriarchy” is believed, etc., etc., etc.

We truly do need restrictions on the vote to those who (a) have a brain, (b) use it, (c) keep themselves informed.

I also note that this is further confirmation that it is the COVID pushers, not the sceptics, who are the poorly informed (cf. e.g. [1]), and that the overall article supports my claim (cf. [2]) that it is the “I have a bachelor in gender studies and read the paper!” crowd that is the problem—not those who question the papers and actually inform themselves independently.

(As to “Nazis XIVb”, there might be a while before I get around to it. Generally, I am both a little fed up with the topic and have overstrained my fingers with this-and-that, so the reduced rate of publication in the Nazi series is likely to remain reduced.)

Written by michaeleriksson

June 22, 2022 at 2:24 pm

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Germany not free from COVID-restrictions, after all / Follow-up: More on my current situation (and complaints about politicians)

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A month ago, I wrote:

Yesterday, I read that Germany was finally caving and beginning to lift its destructive and scientifically unfounded restrictions of various kinds. This with the likely additional implication (knock on wood; there was no explicit mention) that the threatened forced vaccinations would be off the table for the time being.

Come Sunday (20th March), in a mere two days, things should have been almost back to normal, after a prolonged phase-out. This appears to not be the case anymore, as the individual states/Bundesländer have the option to use stricter guidelines—and have often chosen to do so. This includes, unfortunately, the state, NRW, in which I live. (And, as always, there is no direct information to the citizens, who have to search for information about what applies or does not apply at any given time.)

As I wrote close to a year ago:

[…] if the [German] federation does not screw something up, count on the Bundesländer to do so; if the Bundesländer do not, count on the municipalities.

To make matters worse, forced vaccinations are still on the table and currently under debate in the German parliament—this despite the current state of scientific knowledge and despite even Austria having backed off. The matter is further complicated/made the more absurd by a timeline that puts the beginning of these vaccinations (in my understanding and should they be decided) at some point in the autumn, when we might have a completely different situation in terms of COVID, vaccines, and/or knowledge of COVID and vaccines.

I am, in fact, contemplating outright leaving Germany, my home for close to 25 years—and have had this contemplation on and off for a long time. The problem? Where should I go? Too many of the obvious candidates in Western Europe and North America have proved themselves highly problematic too. Eastern Europe might be an option, but I do not know the languages and there are a great many uncertainties involved, which might require months of research. (The same applies to most of the non-Western world, while Australia and New Zealand, if anything, appear to be worse than Germany.) Back to Sweden? Maybe; however, while it has handled COVID much better, we still have the extreme dominance of PC and Feminist politics and propaganda.

Nevertheless, Germany has again and again, even before COVID, proven it self to not be a Rechtsstaat and its standing even as a democracy is extremely weak. Moreover, year by year, it has gone further and further towards the Left, forcing me to repeat my observation that today’s Germany has more in common with the DDR of the 1980s than with the BRD of that era. And to imagine that I once left Sweden partially to get away from the Left-dominated politics … Germany, at least, has the advantage that the Left is still tilted a bit more towards the “old” Left (compared to e.g. Sweden)—but how long will that last with the current trends?

(The old Left might be economically naive, entrenched in class thinking and the class-over-the-individual attitude, whatnot; however, the new Left is just insanity from beginning to end.)

The simple truth is that the world is in need of a Great Reset—in very dire need. The Great Reset actually being pushed by the likes of Klaus Schwab, however, is in many ways the exact opposite of what is needed, a taking of old misdevelopments and pushing them yet a few steps further, when a proper reset would push them back.

Written by michaeleriksson

March 18, 2022 at 7:35 pm

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A few words on COVID vaccines / Addendum: Second COVID Anniversary

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In yesterday’s anniversary text ([1]), I left out a few points around vaccines that I had planned to include:

Firstly, I have made one highly incorrect prediction (but I am not certain that I ever put it in writing): If the vaccines proved problematic, then the Biden administration would immediately cease its attempts to take credit from Trump (“These are Biden’s vaccines. They have always been Biden’s vaccines.”) in order to wash its own hands and blame him (“These are Trump’s vaccines. They have always been Trump’s vaccines.”).

The vaccines did prove problematic—and, to my great surprise, Biden et al. doubled down on the lie that they were not. In retrospect, this might not be that surprising, as it fits well with the overall approach to COVID both in the U.S. and in the rest of the world. (Cf. [1] and how compliance and whatnot appears more important than truth. This likely with an element of “never admit that you were wrong”, which seems to be a politician’s motto.)

This has been taken so far that even the benefits of natural immunity have been drowned out in the propaganda and, now, when natural immunity is slowly admitted, we hear that “The virus is a vaccine! How lucky are we?!? (But not as good a vaccine as a real vaccine!!!)”. This, of course, turns the world on its head: a vaccine is an attempt to gain the immunity caused by a real infection without the disadvantages (say, the risk of death) from such an infection. To call the virus a vaccine shows such a complete lack of insight into the matter, or so horrifying an intellectual dishonesty, that a summary firing should be the consequence. It is the more absurd, as there is disagreement whether the vaccines actually are vaccines, or merely something “vaccinoid”.

Secondly, vaccines (in particular; other counter-measures in general) appear to have gone from a means to an end, i.e. a way to fight COVID, to an end in it self.* As is often the case, politicians, journalists, and their ilk, have not kept the eye on the ball and asked questions like “Why?” and “What do we want to achieve?”. Instead, vaccines, or rather a high vaccination ratio, has become the end: We must have a high vaccination ratio! (Why? Because we must have a high vaccination ratio!!!!) We must push vaccinations on school children! (Why? Because we must push vaccinations on school children!!!!)

*Note that this can be seen as an alternative and/or complementary explanation to the “enforce compliance” explanation for some odd governmental behaviors.

This, admittedly, is a somewhat common human failing, and not one that I am immune to, myself, but that makes it all the more important to be aware of it. Larger organisations, including governments, should certainly make the effort to have some type of check or repeating reminder, possibly even some type of “means or end” manager. (And even for e.g. the individual citizen, it can pay to occasionally ask “Why do I do this? Is this activity a means to an end or has it become an end in it self? What ends do I really want to reach?” and similar.)

Thirdly, the general “public policy” approach to the development of the vaccines was fundamentally flawed. (And, yes, this is a point where I would put significant blame on Trump.)

My impression of the background thinking is that “Capitalism can move mountains. Let it do so with the vaccines!”. So far, I would actually agree, but the approach in detail was deeply flawed. In particular, the point of (medical) capitalism is not to heal or prevent but to earn money—and this appears to have been forgotten. (Indisputably, the vaccines have been far more successful as money makers than as vaccines, per se. This is another example of means vs ends: To a company like Pfizer, healing is one of the means, while making money is the end. This is as it should be, but others must remember this in their dealings with such companies.)

How could this have been done better, if we did want to use capitalism effectively? By all means, waive some of the usual protocols and test requirements.* However, make sure that the vaccines are taken only on a voluntary basis,** and that the citizens are given enough information for informed consent. Moreover, do not waive e.g. the possibility of liability claims and do not promise to cover such claims on behalf of the vaccine makers. Now, let anyone qualified who wants to make a vaccine make and sell a vaccine to those who want to take one (and paid for by the user or his insurance—not the government). If e.g. the increased liability risk is a fear for the vaccine makers (understandable), it must simply have the individual give informed consent that he waives the liability (possibly, partially or merely with an upper cap) in order to buy the vaccine—which, given current data, might still be a rational decision for the 80 y.o. with multiple health issues, but not for the perfectly healthy 20 y.o.

*Under the assumption that we really want to have vaccines at “warp speed”. Considering the comparative triviality of COVID (compared e.g. to the Spanish Flu), I am not convinced that this is a good idea, but it has certainly been the “official” premise.

**A necessity due to the waivers. There might or might not be some room for truly exceptional exceptions, but e.g. a mere “works in a hospital” is well short of that standard—let alone a “works with others in an office or a factory”.

Yes, this might have given us vaccines later and/or another set of vaccines and/or more expensive vaccines (notably, to compensate for the greater risk for the vaccine makers), but this is not really a bad thing, considering the dubious record of the actual current vaccines. In the alternate reality, we have preserved the right of the citizen to choose, we have kept the responsibility for flawed products on the product maker, etc. Vaccines would be brought onto the market when the maker foresees a net win from sales profits over liability claims,* which implies a greater degree of own confidence in the product. Etc.

*As opposed to the current sales profits with no liability claims. (Here, I take sales profits to imply revenue minus more regular costs, e.g. for development, production, and distribution.)

(This is just a rough outline/illustration of principle. Going into details, there are many questions to answer, e.g. whether a vaccine maker should be allowed to move this specific operation to a limited-liability subsidiary.)

Written by michaeleriksson

March 6, 2022 at 10:14 am