Category Archives: Covid19

I Haz Idea

I wonder if there are any more contrarian media whores out there we should ignore?

When competing models are giving wildly different, and in some cases frightening, predictions, the pressure on governments to adopt a draconian approach can be overwhelming.

Setting up an effective pandemic hazard scale would inform policy makers and the public, helping fend off media demands for “something to be done” until the right decisions can be made at the right time.


Scientists can’t be trusted because their models aren’t perfect from the start, and other scientists might have different models.

Therefore what we need is a “scale” to tell people how dangerous the situation is (and will be).

But, clearly scientists can’t be trusted to inform us what the hazard level is.

So, it will be set (permanently!) by…?

It would be much simpler to require publicly funded academics to publish data and code as a matter of course; the possibility of competing teams checking their work might encourage development of the quality-control culture that seems lacking within the academy. It would also mean that in a crisis, when traditional academic peer review would move too slowly to be useful, a crowdsourced review process could take place.

Yes, when you need a definitive answer to complex and difficult problem, where every answer could have potentially dire consequences for billions of people, you should ignore the experts and… ask Twitter.

In this way, the combined intellects of experts among the general public could be brought to bear on the problem, rapidly identifying errors and challenging assumptions. This sort of crowdsourced review would provide the manpower to take apart the abstruse models that are all too common in many academic fields.

I think we’ve heard quite enough from armchair epidemiologists at all levels, thanks.

RIP Ellis Marsalis Jr.

Ellis Marsalis Jr., a New Orleans jazz legend, educator and father of four musical sons died on Wednesday, Ellis Marsalis Center for Music Director Emeritus Quint Davis told CNN. He was 85.

The cause of death was complications of Covid-19, his son Branford Marsalis told the New York Times.

“Ellis Marsalis was a legend. He was the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz,” New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a statement Wednesday night. “He was a teacher, a father, and an icon — and words aren’t sufficient to describe the art, the joy and the wonder he showed the world.”

Four of Marsalis’ six sons followed in his musical footsteps, and established their own lasting careers in the industry. His son Wynton is managing and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, and winner of multiple awards. His son Branford is a jazz saxophonist who has recorded albums with Sting, among others.

RIP Adam Schlesinger

Adam Schlesinger, the co-founder of pop-rock band Fountains of Wayne and an Oscar-nominated songwriter, has died from complications related to coronavirus. He was 52.

Schlesinger’s band, which was co-founded with Chris Collingwood, was best known for its 2003 hit “Stacy’s Mom,” a humorous track about a young boy who has a crush on his friend’s mother. The song was nominated for a Grammy Award.

But Schlesinger had success before that as a songwriter. He co-wrote the title track to the 1996 Tom Hanks film “That Thing You Do,” and received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for his work.
After success with Fountains of Wayne, Schlesinger continued to branch out, earning Tony nominations for his work on the musical “Cry-Baby” and numerous Emmy nominations for other work, which included collaborations with Stephen Colbert and “Sesame Street.”

He won an Emmy last year for a song he co-wrote for CW’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” a show for which he wrote more than 100 songs and earned several nominations over the years.

John Prine

John Prine has been hospitalized since Thursday after suffering from symptoms synonymous with the novel coronavirus. While Prine’s exact medical condition is unclear, “his situation is critical,” his family said in a statement Sunday.

“After a sudden onset of COVID-19 symptoms, John was hospitalized on Thursday. He was intubated Saturday evening, and continues to receive care, but his situation is critical,” the Prine family wrote.

RIP Alan Merrill

Alan Merrill, the lead singer and co-writer of the first recorded version of “I Love Rock ‘N Roll” in 1975, died today (March 29), a victim of the Covid-19 virus. Merrill, 69, recorded the song with his band, the Arrows. In 1982, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts scored a #1 single with their version, which remained at the top of the U.S. chart for seven weeks.

Arrows, I Love Rock N Roll, Alan Merrill