Tell me you aren't a little stoked!

Been a while

My life is proceeding without my incessant worries taking over.

Anyway, that is why I haven't been posting much lately.

Just went in and filled up the spreadsheet on ebola and it is still going up in a linear manner.

Still going up, bad.  Still linear, good.

The public health folks are still screaming, but looks like things aren't going south in a big way yet


Busy Boy

Sorry about the lack of posts.

I am getting the boyos grown up and out of the house.  Lots of work to be done, lots of time spent.

Maybe I'll start writing again soon


respondeat superior

So, there was recently a little hissy fit over at the Electronic Freedom Foundation about how ISP's were dicking around with the encryption of e-mail.


Now, let's get a couple of things straight.  If you want privacy, you by god have the right to keeping your business your own.   But it is your responsibility.  It is not the default.

The idea that the internet is a good place to do shit you want to keep private is a foolish pipe dream.  Nothing more, nothing less.  The actual structure of the internet is such that it appears to be custom made for open and public communication.  Secrecy is not how it was designed.

My favorite line in this little bit of hand wringing is

In 1991, Phil Zimmerman implemented PGP, an end-to-end email encryption protocol that is still in use today. Adoption of PGP has been slow because of its highly technical interface and difficult key management. 
 So, there is a good, publicly available system for keeping your secrets secret.  The reason that you don't use it is that it is hard.

Well, keep relying on others to keep your secrets.  I'm certain that just complaining about how others don't do it for you will soon be working.


Ebola cases up to 11-05-14

Now it is just looking stupid.

Looks to me like someone is cooking.


My oh My

Here are the latest numbers from the WHO.  Big jumps like this in data makes me nervous.


Not time to panic, but maybe time to start asking some really pointed questions about numbers, methodology, viral evolution, vector status, how patients are counted, are new labs coming on line....

The questions are myriad.  The answers aren't obvious.  but if I were you, I would most certainly begin the process of asking


Eppur Si Muove

WHO numbers of Confirmed, Probable and Suspected Ebola cases Worldwide
What are the facts? Again and again and again – what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history” – what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!”

― Robert A. Heinlein
The above chart is from an Excel file I have been keeping.  If you check my back posts over the last couple of weeks, I have been writing about this for a while.

Now, those who know me understand that I am an Eyore.  I not only see the glass as half empty, but cracked and leaking beside.  My first thought when the news started dribbling out of West Africa was not the requisite positive thinking so cherished by the Kumbaya crowd.

So I kept an eye on the numbers coming out of Africa.  The news media was screaming "Exponential", but alas, the the numbers keep coming up linear.

As more data points are offered by the WHO, the R value of the linear curve fit keeps climbing. 0.9911, 0.9931, 0.9945.  I keep waiting for the last number to start driving up past the trendline,, but alas, there has, to date, been no confirmation of a exponential takeoff.

Look, until you start seeing the new numbers coming out on Wednesday and Friday start breaking out above the trendline, the damn thing is linear.  Linear is controllable.  Don't doubt that a lot of folks are working quite hard on this to contain it.  Entertain for a moment the thought that they might be succeeding.


Exponential? (part Deux)

Above is a homebrewed chart of the number of Ebola cases as reported by the WHO.  I ran the numbers out to the first of the year.  If the numbers start going up faster than these projections, then we may well be in a true exponential growth scenario.

Note to readers:  The orange line is the confirmed, suspected, and probable cases.  The blue line is lab-confirmed cases

There is a lot of issues with under-reporting, the ability of labs in a hot zone to deal with samples, governments and peoples trying to skew the data in their favor, bureaucratic incompetence, and other issues to many to number.

But these are the numbers available to me at the current time.

I may have made errors in data entry, this was just for my own edification.

Right now, the numbers show a tight linearity.  R-values above 0.98 are pretty strong.

This is a plain vanilla exponential curve, note the long flat run-up that looks pretty linear
So, a final caveat.  Exponential functions are tricky little bits.  They can go a long way looking like innocent little linear functions.  No need for panic right yet, but with something like this, it is definitely a good idea to keep a weather eye.

What you need to keep an eye on is the series value vs the predicted value in the system.  Right now, the series value (blue dot) is lower than the predicted value (orange dot) if the series values start breaking consistently above the predicted value and start getting bigger as they go, then Katie bar the door.

Add On at 18:38 10/15/14

Here is the exponential curve fit from Wolfram Alpha

I don't find this that convincing.

When I keep plotting in a standard excel chart and push out linear, I get something that pleases my eye more.


Hard core statistical predictions

Figure 1:  Data input sheet from the model spreadsheet

If you are serious about looking at the possible direction and magnitude of an Ebola outbreak, you could do a lot worse than starting here.


CDC has always been the good guys in my mind. Yes, they manage some pretty impressive bureaucratic foul ups off and on, but for the most part they are as good as you get.  The A-team.

Sit down and play with this thing for an hour or two or even a week or so.   Get a feel for how things move around.  See what happens if another R0 case gets through.

Numbers are hard, but working at understanding them and asking questions, lots of questions, is the only way for you to start figuring out which way to jump.


I am hoping

I went to the University of Utah in the distant past.

Stanley Pons was my P-Chem Professor.  He and Marty Fleishmann were as smart of a set of individuals as I have ever run across.  But they got something stuck in a ringer when they published too fast trying to get the scoop on the "savior of mankind" award.

It was sad though, my buddy Eric took me on a guided tour and put up with a long set of questions while we drank beer and smoked dope trying to understand the whole thing.  The upshot of this little bit of memory-dredging is that I have always thought there was something to what they said back then in the long ago.  They grandstanded and got shot down, but their results always made me think that there was something there.

Fast forward to today's world.


I think that someone is getting closer to what Marty and Stan were trying for.   I think that these results show more promise than the dicey stuff put out by the University of Utah during its golden years of trying to become more than what it was.

What always shocks me however, is the responses to anything like this being published.  The cheerleaders shouting that the game is won.  The naysayers saying that everything is a lie.

But what really bugged me was the comment over on "RiceFarmer".

This sounds like the savior of the world economy, but basically nothing would change, because — even if it really works — it doesn't change the economic system. It would just goose the global Ponzi and keep it going for a while longer, while strip-mining the planet at an accelerated rate. Although carbon emissions would be significantly reduced, renewed economic growth would more than make up for that reduced environmental burden by spurring other kinds of pollution and contamination. My prediction is that, in the long run, this would just aggravate all our problems and make the inevitable crash all the worse. Limits to growth do exist.
But to bemoan the fact that there may be a potential bridge to a system where we at least have a chance at a thoughtful and planned build-down is the moaning of a failed prophet lamenting the fact that things have a chance of not going to hell.