Shot In The Dark: Today’s News, Over A Month Ago

With all due respect to Professor Glenn Reynolds – who may have done more than any single person to launch this blog, a third of a lifetime ago – I was observing that three of the biggest killers of the Covid plague, density, transit, bureaucracy and censorship, well over a month back.

But they all deserve repeating.


The coronavirus has been much more deadly in places like New York City or Boston than in rural settings. As demographer Joel Kotkin notes, Los Angeles has done much better than other big cities, because it’s less dense. “L.A.’s sprawling, multi-polar urban form, by its nature, results in far less ‘exposure density’ to the contagion than more densely packed urban areas, particularly those where large, crowded workplaces are common and workers are mass-transit-dependent…


Kotkin mentions mass transit, and an MIT study found that NYC subways were a ”major disseminator” of the coronavirus in New York. This is unsurprising: New York City subways are crowded, poorly ventilated and filthy. The city is only just now starting to clean them every night. (A bit late.) Cars come with built-in social-distancing: With a car, you’re riding in a metal and glass bubble with filtered air. Subways and buses, not so much. Whether this virus sounds the ”death knell” for mass transit or not, people will be far more reluctant to ride packed vehicles in the future.

Minnesota’s favorite, Bureaucracy:

Early on, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared COVID-19 a public health emergency, which raised the bar for testing requirements. As a result, hospitals and universities faced significant barriers to getting alternative tests approved by the Food and Drug Administration. 


The Chinese government censored reports of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, punished doctors who talked about it and lied to the world for weeks — while allowing flights from the infected area to carry people from Wuhan all over the world. Now some authoritarian types are claiming that the spread of virus misinformation on social media offers a new justification for censorship of ordinary people.

And let’s not forget perhaps the most insidious form of censorship of all – the notion that “science” is is an orthodox canon of knowledge bestowed upon the proles by high priests of knowledge, more like the medieval Catholic Church than a framework for relentless questioning and skepticism. That – and the media and social media establishment’s efforts to stymie dissent – could wind up being the biggest killers of people and destroyers of freedom of all.

9 thoughts on “Shot In The Dark: Today’s News, Over A Month Ago

  1. So, you’re asserting that Japan has less bureaucracy than do we, or New Zealand?

    Look at this link.

    You can discount Russia (known liar) China (very probable) and Iran (also known liar) but let’s look at countries with much more socialistic programs and much more liberal press than here – look at Taiwan (same), look at their rates of infection, adjust for population rates, and we are WAYYYYYY worse. So, sorry Mitch but your excusifyin’ is just that.

    We put economic activity ahead of heading this off, and now we put it as more important than limiting deaths. The President screwed the pooch and our country is paying for it. The media didn’t refuse to do contact tracing or say we shouldn’t have masks or claim this wasn’t worse than the flu (well except I guess Faux News and Sinclair media) – government bureaucrats didn’t say “do nothing.”

    In the end, results matter, and ours suck. Not the worst in the world but bad, very bad, especially in containment. We decided containment wasn’t a goal, that was the President’s decision by failing to act when warned in early January (ok maybe he didn’t pay attention) and definitely by failing to act in late January to early Feb to deploy contract tracing teams and aggressively locking down. Those countries who did so have more or less recovered, those who delayed, like us, like the UK, are suffering. Come up with silly excuses, but eventually the buck stops at the President’s desk. I thought you guys were the party of accountability? The country largely has judged Trump as failing here. Given Faux news is the largest news source in the country and conservative media owns most of the local stations, are you saying the US public is just stupid? Even if they are, again, it’s about results. The President is supposed to lead any national effort and he dithered, he shifted blame, said it wasn’t his issue to deal with (distribution), failed to control costs, lied about access to testing, failed to implement a national tracing plan (still), and ultimately turned this into another childish political fight. A tactic you’ve bought into. I’m holding him accountable for lack of success – not for his words, not because the left-leaning media said so. I don’t take any cue from them on this, I don’t need to do so. I judge on results, and our results are terrible.

  2. It is really surprising that with the density of most homeless encampments, especially in LA and SF, that unless I missed them, we don’t hear about any of them being “infected”.

  3. The company I work for is owned by a large multinational corporation, Saint Gobain. Among their policies for preventing the spread of Covid-19 is mandatory self quarantine for anyone with symptoms, travels by airplane, or uses any form of mass transit.

  4. We are not doing badly in deaths per capita, thirteenth in the world, not bad for the most trafficked nation in the world. We are ahead of Britain (with its truly draconian lockdown). We are also doing better than Sweden, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy and Belgium.
    Daily new deaths is on a slight downward trajectory.
    It is quite a reach to say that Trump & capitalism are at fault for every coronavirus death. Might as well blame Brexit. One day I’ll get around to doing a regression analyses of the US deaths per capita. Off hand, it doesn’t look like the problem has anything to do with Trump or capitalism. More likely it was failing to protect sensitive populations, and that is a state matter. It doesn’t look good for the Blue states. Without them, we’d be a lot closer to the bottom of the pack.

  5. As a sufficient amount of anti-body testing is done around the Country, I expect that we will see that the actual number of people that have been infected will be at least 10X the official count, and perhaps as high as 50X.

    The vast majority of people who will test positive for antibodies will not even know they had the disease, experiencing only minor or perhaps no noticeable symptoms. As we realize this, the only logical course is for certainly all of those people to get back to normal, and basically the same for everyone except those with known co-morbidities.

  6. Paddyboy, if you’re such a big fan of the left, please explain to me what the **** happened regarding the subways and nursing homes in New York. The two most obvious channels in the world for transmitting the disease, and pols there couldn’t see the hazard.

    Now do you trust your life to people who can’t see the problem with leaving bum s**t on the subway for days at a time? I don’t.

  7. And a bit more about Gotham and Joisey; both states are apparently allowing nursing home employees to go back to work a mere week after being diagnosed, and without a test to verify that they’re over the disease.

    A lot of press is wasted on the notion that the main problem is epidemiologists making “bad” predictions. But let’s be fair; the epidemiologists are tasked with not just modeling the disease, but also trying to deal with governors who won’t clean the subway, won’t keep COVID patients out of nursing homes, and finally won’t keep people with known COVID out of nursing homes.

    And to think that people thought that Cuomo had his act together here…..

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.