May 2020 Archives


I'm a frequent skeptic of my home-state of California and no fan of its left-wing leadership, but Governor Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor London Breed seem to have constrained the impact of the coronavirus in their state far better than leaders in New York.

New York's emergence as the epicenter of the coronavirus was far from inevitable. A report from the left-leaning site ProPublica contrasted New York City's and New York State's responses with those of San Francisco and California. While people do not live on top of one another in San Francisco to the same degree that they do in the Big Apple, the actions of de Blasio and Cuomo strike a marked contrast with those of Mayor London Breed (D-San Francisco) and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.). ...

ProPublica noted that there had been nearly 350,000 coronavirus cases in New York and more than 27,500 deaths on May 15. The true story is worse, as the majority of coronavirus cases across the U.S. trace back to Gotham. In California, by contrast, there were just under 75,000 cases and slightly more than 3,000 deaths. In New York City, there had been almost 20,000 deaths. In San Francisco, there had been 35.

Many factors contribute to this difference, but the quick leadership of Breed and Newsom strongly contrasts with the failures of de Blasio and Cuomo.

California isn't as dense as New York City, but Newsom and Breed made the right decisions much earlier than Cuomo and de Blasio did -- when there were fewer infections and less obvious evidence.

This pandemic is a perfect example of why it's so important to pray for our leaders, whether or not we agree with their political positions.

1 Timothy 2:1-3

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people -- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior...


As a software engineer who has worked in academia and industry, it's no surprise to me at all that the Imperial College coronavirus pandemic model is full of errors. Making computer models is extremely difficult, and just because you're an expert in epidemiology doesn't mean that you'll be able to build a functional epidemiological computer model. Computer modeling is a specialization of its own, not an add-on to other sets of expertise. And it's not just about individual expertise: institutional expertise is at least as important.

Processes not people. This is important: the problem here is not really the individuals working on the model. The people in the Imperial team would quickly do a lot better if placed in the context of a well run software company. The problem is the lack of institutional controls and processes. All programmers have written buggy code they aren't proud of: the difference between ICL and the software industry is the latter has processes to detect and prevent mistakes.

For standards to improve academics must lose the mentality that the rules don't apply to them. In a formal petition to ICL to retract papers based on the model you can see comments "explaining" that scientists don't need to unit test their code, that criticising them will just cause them to avoid peer review in future, and other entirely unacceptable positions. Eventually a modeller from the private sector gives them a reality check. In particular academics shouldn't have to be convinced to open their code to scrutiny; it should be a mandatory part of grant funding.

Frankly, I wouldn't trust any modeler who isn't risking their own money on the accuracy of their model.


Andrew C. McCarthy's analysis of the latest revelations in the prosecution of Michael Flynn is not surprising given our understanding of the shady Mueller investigation, but I sincerely hope that the corrupt practices described aren't common in the American justice system. McCarthy himself is a former federal prosecutor, and he seems appalled by what he sees.

Powell and other champions of Flynn's cause have long claimed he did not lie to investigators -- a claim supported by the interviewing FBI agents, who concluded that Flynn had not made intentional misstatements, just failures of recollection, which are common. Instead, they maintain that Flynn was coerced into pleading guilty nearly a year later by special counsel Robert Mueller's team of hyper-aggressive prosecutors. Prosecutors did this, Powell argues, by threatening that if he refused to plead, they would prosecute his son. The son, also named Michael Flynn, worked in Gen. Flynn's private intelligence firm, which Team Mueller was scrutinizing over its alleged failure to register with the government as a foreign agent -- a dubious allegation that was rarely handled as a criminal offense before Mueller's probe.

After DOJ's revelations last Friday, Powell filed a submission with the court, asserting that the new disclosures demonstrate that Mueller's prosecutors not only pressured Flynn with the possibility of indicting his son; they also secretly assured Flynn's former counsel, the well-connected Washington firm of Covington & Burling (C&B), that Flynn's son would not be prosecuted if Flynn pleaded guilty. This "side deal" (a) was not explicitly memorialized in the formal plea agreement, (b) was not otherwise disclosed to the court as federal law requires, and (c) was designed to enable prosecutors to evade their due process obligations in future cases.

Basically, it sounds to me that the DOJ lawyers and Flynn's lawyers conspired to hide the true details of Flynn's plea agreement from the court because the prosecutors thought the details would embarrass them and weaken Flynn as a witness against other targets. Hiding these details from the court is illegal, but it's also super-shady to coerce a guilty plea by threatening a target's son with prosecution.

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2020 listed from newest to oldest.

April 2020 is the previous archive.

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