Hydrogen: Facts vs Myths, blue vs green.

Two very different groups promoted hydrogen as key to a move to renewable energy:

  • Promoters of Solar and Wind who see storage of energy as ‘green’ Hydrogen as providing reliability and a solution to the unpredictability of Solar and Wind.
  • Oil & Gas companies looking for a new, ‘blue hydrogen‘ driven, market natural gas and oil.

These two almost opposing groups promote very different solutions that have the word ‘Hydrogen’ in common, but little else. This exploration provides also background for other pages such as: Electric or Hydrogen Cars?.

Continue reading “Hydrogen: Facts vs Myths, blue vs green.”

Our Sun: Big, White and a Yellow Dwarf?

Our Sun is our very definition of white in colour, and larger than most stars. Despite this, our Sun is a yellow dwarf!

The page explores a few facts and myths about our star, the Sun.

Continue reading “Our Sun: Big, White and a Yellow Dwarf?”

Long Covid.

I will collect information on ‘long covid’ and add to this page.

These articles are the starting point, but I plan to add more.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) cases in the UK are soaring, with the latest daily figure for 9 July showing at 35,707 cases. Leading scientists and clinicians are saying the government’s plan to ease lockdown on 19 July is both “dangerous” and “unethical”. But Johnson is sticking to his plan, which is herd immunity in all but name. Meanwhile, recent studies reveal that damage to brain tissue could be yet another consequence of long Covid.

Boris Johnson toys with herd immunity despite evidence linking long Covid to brain damage.

Left vs Right Perception Bias: Idealists vs The Economy?

Vote centre left (e.g. Democrats in the US) to increase support for ‘idealist’, issues, such as climate change, or vote centre right (e.g. Republicans in the US) for a better economy. I (and others) suggest this is conventional thinking and there is a perception that the economy will be better under the centre right, but is it correct? Or is there perception bias that lead us to believe this regardless of the data?

Continue reading “Left vs Right Perception Bias: Idealists vs The Economy?”

Trump: Conceding? Or Plotting?

The republicans in the senate have a clear motive for wanting a new supreme court judge appointed before the election, but with Donald Trump the motivation is not quite as clear. This page contemplates the possible motives of Donald Trump for his rush to appoint a new judge to the high court prior to the election.

Potential Motives:

  • Conceding defeat
    • To set the balance of the supreme court for the longer term
  • Preparation for an election that will ultimately be decided by the supreme court
  • Stacking the supreme court for future Trump/presidency cases

Conceding defeat?

Polls indicate the majority of voters, even republicans and even more strongly unaligned voters, favour the appointment of a judge to replace Ruth Bader Ginsberg taking place after the 2020 election.

From all the data, it seems quite clear that their are no votes to be gained by making the judicial appointment prior to the election. It is hard to imaging anyone being motivated to vote for Trump on the basis he has already appointed a new judge. Even those who want the judge Trump will appoint, no longer have to vote for him to ensure the appointment.

In other words, Trump risks disaffecting potentially critical votes by pushing for the appointment prior to the election.

Why?

Clearly, since Trump could just as easily make such a appointment after the election if he is re-elected, the urgency of appointing a judge prior to the election reflects Trump conceding he may lose the election.

In fact, Trump is even risking damaging he chances at winning the election, to get another conservative judge on the supreme court.

For the senators who must support the appointment for the appointment to succeed, only 9 of 53 are facing any chance of failure to be re-elected. Almost the entire republican senate simply see it as putting them in a better position going forward. The 9 who are, like Trump, in an uncertain position, unlike Trump have to worry about doing what the party asks in order to retain the support of the party.

Trump alone is risking his position in a delicate election to ensure an ideology that he himself has wavered in supporting, is supported even more favourable by the high court.

“Mr. Trump doesn’t have a proven conservative record,” Bush said at a town hall in Merrimack, N.H., on Aug. 19, 2015. “He was a Democrat longer in the last decade than he was a Republican.”

Jeb Bush Jeb Bush on how Trump’s political party affiliation has changed numerous times.

It is possible that Trump simply values this as his legacy, and concedes the he is likely to lose the election. But them even Trump himself has given another motivation, as discussed below.

Preparation for an election that will ultimately be decided by the supreme court?

Trump himself has stated he feels the election may be decided by the supreme court. However, when I search for a reference for Trump suggesting the election could be decided by the supreme court, I did not expect to find that he even declared that as a motivation for having more of his own appointments on the supreme court. Surprise: he actually said it!

‘I think this will end up in the supreme court, and I think it’s very important that we have nine justices,’ Trump told reporters at a White House event.

Video of statement by Trump here.

Note: There the majority of Justices on the supreme court are already republican nominations. There are now 8 justices, with 5 of those having being nominated by republicans and are considered ‘conservative, being nominated by Donald Trump (Neil Gorsuch 54-45, Brett Kavanaugh 50-48), George W Bush (John Roberts 78-22, Samuel Alto 52-48) and George H Bush(Clarence Thomas 52-48). There are three ‘liberal’ justices, two appointed by Obama (Sonia Sotomayor 68-31, Elena Kagan 63-37) and one by Clinton(Stephen Breyer 87-9). The numbers following each name reflect the vote in the senate to confirm each judge, with some confirmed almost entirely along party lines, but others gaining bipartisan support.

This means Trump sees a simply majority of justices appointed by the republicans as insufficient for ‘justice’, at least as Trump sees justice in this case, to be done.

Granted, those nominated by the Bush presidencies had to be approved under a democrat controlled senate, as those appointed by Obama had to be approved by a republican senate. Perhaps this means those who required some support from both parties (three republican nominated justices and two democrat appointed justices), may be considered less strongly aligned to any specific party. Note that in some cases, any support from outside the nominating party was very minimal. However, like Bader Ginsburg, who was confirmed by a 96-3 vote, some of these appointees were strongly confirmed by senators from both sides of politics. The replacement for Bader Ginsburg is very unlikely to be supported by both parties, or even by all of the republican senators. The new nominee will mean, for perhaps the first time ever, their will be majority of supreme court judges not only nominated by the same party, but who were confirmed for that part by a divided senate voting almost entirely on party lines.

Note that:

With only a few exceptions, states run elections. By virtue of Article 1, Section 4 of the Constitution, state law governs almost every facet of the electoral process, including most aspects of voter eligibility, the location and hours of polling places, candidate access to the ballot and the members of the state’s Electoral College.

The guardian

Not only does Trump feel the result of the election will require intervention by the Supreme court, but that intervention will require a sufficient majority of ‘conservative’ appointments, as not even all conservative justices would support his desired outcome.

Trump has telegraphed he may appeal to prevent the counting of mailed in ballots, feeling that as precautions for Covid-19 are less likely to be taken by his supporters, removing these votes will give him a majority in key states.

‘Preparing’ the court for future Trump/presidency cases

Ok, so surprisingly Trump even announced the supreme court balance being a potential key factor in his rush. However, that may not be his only motive. US presidents do not have full immunity from prosecution.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the President is entitled to absolute immunity from liability for civil damages based on his official acts. The court emphasized that the President is not immune from criminal charges stemming from his official (or unofficial) acts while in office.

Nixon_v._Fitzgerald

Note the 5-4 decision, and the decision being by the Supreme Court. Trump is currently under tax investigation, and given the number of Trump associates who have been investigated, Trump being investigated in future is certainly possible. Other questions may arise following his time in office, for example:

The majority of Trump campaign funds spent in August are not accountable

More than three-fourths – $46m out of $61m – of the funds spent by the Trump campaign in the month of August is not accounted for, according to nonprofit democracy advocacy group the Campaign Legal Center.

The money has been funneled through American Made, the LLC created and managed by senior Trump officials, making it essentially untraceable. The group also found Trump’s campaign had received $10m in donations from Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, which owns the Dakota Access Pipeline and is reportedly hoping for a multi-billion-dollar deal in Ukraine if Trump is reelected.

The revelations are just the latest in transparency concerns surrounding Donald Trump, who is the only president in US history to refuse to release his tax returns.

The Guardian

Illegal? Not necessarily, but certainly suspicious and open to investigation.

How many skeletons are there in the closet?

The issue of prosecution of a former president is complex, and would move into unprecedented areas. Certainly a sympathetic Supreme Court sounds like it could be helpful if you are Trump.

Remdesivir: how does it change things?

“The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said at the White House during a meeting with President Donald Trump.

CNN: April 29th

It this time remdesivir is not yet FDA approved, but it will be ‘fast-tracked’.

The announcement came in a letter from Gilead (ticker: GILD) CEO Daniel O’Day, issued on Saturday. O’Day said the company was working to boost production of remdesivir, cutting the amount of time it takes to produce the drug from a year to six months. He said the company aimed to have 500,000 treatment courses manufactured by October, and 1 million by the end of 2020.

Barrons.com

So that covers the main headlines of ‘maybe it significantly helps recovery’, and availability: ‘potentially could be available for most US cases requiring ventilatory support’.

Note: there was also a study conducted in China that detected no measurable benefit. Of course, given that the drug could be administered at different times during a patients illness and in different doses, unless a all these things were the same, the results are not necessarily conflicting. There may be a way that Remdesivir does not work, and another way that Remdesivir does provide real benefits. It is too early for final conclusions, but it is also too early to give up hope.

The benefit promoted is a decreased recovery period from 15 days to 11 days. It would be logical to assume this would also result in decreased mortality rates, but again more testing is needed.

The best possible outcome is a reduction in deaths, and an increased hospital patient number capacity due to the faster recovery time.

There is no prospect that the threat of serious illness or death from Covid-19 is fully eliminated. There is no prospect that significantly higher case rates may be in future acceptable due to this treatment.

So as a “game changer”, there seems little prospect that rules on lockdowns and distancing should change because of this drug. The biggest downside risk is that some people do take a more relaxed attitude, in which case news of the treatment, rather than the treatment itself, could cost lives.

The positive game changes possibility is that with Remdesivir as a treatment option, provided measures are not further relaxed, there is the potential to save thousands and perhaps even tens of thousands of lives.

Covid-19: Vaccines and Cures

Vaccines

Vaccines represent a path to ‘herd immunity’, without all the trauma. People become immune by vaccination, not by catching the disease as part of the outbreak. Some vaccines result in a controlled mild case of the disease to create immunity, while other vaccines boost immunity in other ways, with no exposure to the actual disease.

For vaccination to be successful, ‘herd immunity’ is still required, so the level of around 60% of the population must be either vaccinated, or otherwise known to be already immune. The vaccine does not need to be given to those will the most severe health problems, but it must be given to otherwise healthy people. To be giving a vaccine to otherwise healthy people, and having those people have the vaccine in their system for years and years, you must be very certain the vaccine is safe.

Newly developed vaccines developed specifically for Covid-19 that have already began trials with still take 12-18 months to be widely available, given the process of proving new medicines safe and bringing them to market. Nothing that could work as a vaccine, even one originally designed for SARS, has been clinically tested to the level required.

Cures or Treatments

If there is a cure or treatment, while a ‘flatten the curve’ pattern is still needed to ensure the treatment can be provided to all that need the cure or treatment, if treating what would be severe cases avoids or significantly reduces hospitalisations and can come close to eliminating fatalities, the allowing a ‘flattened curve’ can relatively painless. Herd immunity at a far far lower cost! Further, if administering the treatment/cure requires less medical resources than lengthy periods in intensive care, the medical resources can deal with a higher case load. This allows a faster path to herd immunity, as well as a path with less loss of life.

Unlike with a vaccine, there can be the use of medicines already tested and available on the market to treat other diseases and conditions, that are being, or may be found to be, successful either in the original form or in combinations against Covid-19. Some research also suggest some success in this area and could result in treatments being available much sooner than would be otherwise as these medicines have already undergone tests and approvals.

Further, cures and treatments do not need to be as safe as a vaccine to start being used. While vaccines need to able to be given to healthy young people who are not ill at the time, a potential cure can initially be selectively offered to those who would otherwise not be expected to live long.

The effectiveness of cures is also clearer. If a cure only works 25% of the time, it can still be offered. Alternative cures can be applied to a patient until one works. Such an approach is not feasible with vaccines.

Flatten the curve: Misleading?

The phrase ‘flatten the curve’ has become popular, and perhaps, overused. The term has come to be associated with any strategy to manage Covid-19 that includes some measures to reduce the rate new infections. This page provides analysis of what different things can be done (at least in theory) to manage an outbreak, and the ‘curves’ that result, together with how to achieve the desired curve.

The end result is that textbook ‘flatten the curve’ diagrams do not reflect reality with Covid-19 in the 21st century, and mislead people into complacency.

This post describes four different ‘flattening the curve’ models. However, on review, every curve possible can be viewed as a variation of a ‘containment strategy’. The resulting curve being determined solely by the containment limits. Six scenarios which can be seen as covering the possible scenarios in almost every country are then mapped to the corresponding curves as that county meets the varying requirements and plans to ‘flatten the curve’.

Which countries how seen which scenarios? And what is the road forward in each case.

  • what is ‘flattening the curve’?
  • ‘flattened curves’
    1. the original textbook ‘flatten the curve as shown in popular diagrams: (not known to be applicable to Covid-19)
    2. a more practical flatten the curve result
    3. flattening to stop the curve
    4. stop and go: flattening for a ‘containment curve
  • aren’t all curves containment?
  • reading curve graphs
  • Scenarios, and their path to containment
    1. emergency! flatten the curve! people are dying! A very real Covid-19 Scenario in response to a catastrophe
    2. planned outbreak flattening: we will flatten the curve to have a controlled outbreak
    3. Avoidance lockdown: we will flatten the curve to peak to avoid being another country with a catastrophe
    4. eradication lockdown: stop the curve, flatten it until it is nothing!
    5. flatline: ‘flatten the curve’ with no curve, prevention of an outbreak
    6. flatline lockdown: containment has broken limits, add a lockdown to restore low case levels
  • Conclusion
Continue reading “Flatten the curve: Misleading?”

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