Friday, December 31, 2021

Happy New Year 2022!

Best wishes to everyone :-)

I posted this video some years ago, but it was eventually taken down by YouTube. I came across it today and thought I would share it again. 

The documentary includes interviews with Rabi, Ulam, Bethe, Frank Oppenheimer, Robert Wilson, and Dyson


Some other recommendations below. I recently re-listened to these podcasts and quite enjoyed them. The interview with Bobby covers brain mapping, neuroscience, careers in science, biology vs physics. With Ted we go deep into free will, parallel universes, science fiction, and genetic engineering. Bruno shares his insights on geopolitics -- the emerging multipolar world of competition and cooperation between the US, Russia, Europe, and China.

A hopeful note for 2022 and the pandemic:

I followed COVID closely at the beginning (early 2020; search on blog if interested). I called the pandemic well before most people, and even provided some useful advice to a few big portfolio managers as well as to Dom and his team in the UK government. But once I realized that 

the average level among political leaders and "public intellectuals" is too low for serious cost-benefit analysis,

I got bored of COVID and stopped thinking about it.

However with Omicron (thanks to a ping from Dom) I started to follow events again. Preliminary data suggest we may be following the evolutionary path of increased transmissibility but reduced lethality. 

The data from UK and SA already seem to strongly support this conclusion, although both populations have at least one of: high vaccination level / resistance from spread of earlier variants. Whether Omicron is "intrinsically" less lethal (i.e., to a population such as the unvaccinated ~40% of the PRC population that has never been exposed to COVID) remains to be seen but we should know within a month or so.

If, e.g., Omicron results in hospitalization / death at ~1/3 the rate of earlier variants, then we will already be in the flu-like range of severity (whereas original COVID was at most like a ~10x more severe flu). In this scenario rational leaders should just go for herd immunity (perhaps with some cocooning of vulnerable sub-populations) and get it over with.

I'll be watching some of the more functional countries like S. Korea, PRC, etc. to see when/if they relax their strict lockdown and quarantine policies. Perhaps there are some smaller EU countries to keep an eye on as well.

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