Monday, September 29, 2014

70% tippping point

Since so many of the apocalyptic novels that I review are pandemic in nature.  I thought this was a very good tool for a fictional writer trying to be a little more realistic in their pandemic scenario.

The Magic Number That Could End the Ebola Epidemic
Tom Randall, Bloomburg, 26 September 2014 (hat tip: NC)
But perhaps the most important Ebola number right now is 70 percent. That’s the proportion of patients who need to be isolated -- in treatment centers or at least in their homes -- in order to put a quick end to the Ebola outbreak, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Once 70 percent of patients are effectively isolated, the outbreak decreases at a rate nearly equal to the initial rate of increase,” researchers wrote today in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. If 70 percent of the current outbreak was achieved by late December, the epidemic “would be almost ended by January 20.”

Ebola's problem is that it kills its host too quickly (6 days assumed which includes burial time), and is not an airborne transmitted disease.  The studies transmission rate is set at 30%/day for those in the same home with no isolation .  The number is 2% for hospitalized, 3% for home care with appropriate precautions.
Note that killing your host does not actually help the virus/bacteria.  That is why a lot of lethal disease mutate to tone down their deadliness over time.  The lethal bugs are out competed by the less lethal ones that allow the host to walk around spreading them longer. 
On a second note, as best I can tell,  the reason why animal vectored diseases are often so deadly is because the "bug" often doesn't need to keep the host alive for as lengthy of a period.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

No Room! No Room!

The title to this piece is a play on the title of Harry Harrison's Make Room! Make Room! which was the basis for the movie, favorite Charleton Heston cannibal movie, Soylent Green.

The panic over population waned somewhere in the early 1980s.  Likely a factor of (borrowed) renewed economic prosperity, and convenient projections that the worlds population would peak out somewhere around 10 billion.

Well maybe not.

World population to hit 11bn in 2100 – with 70% chance of continuous rise
Damian Carrington, The Guardian (U.K.), 18 September 2014 (hat tip: NC)
The world’s population is now odds-on to swell ever-higher for the rest of the century, posing grave challenges for food supplies, healthcare and social cohesion. A ground-breaking analysis released on Thursday shows there is a 70% chance that the number of people on the planet will rise continuously from 7bn today to 11bn in 2100.
The work overturns 20 years of consensus that global population, and the stresses it brings, will peak by 2050 at about 9bn people. “The previous projections said this problem was going to go away so it took the focus off the population issue,” said Prof Adrian Raftery, at the University of Washington, who led the international research team. “There is now a strong argument that population should return to the top of the international agenda. Population is the driver of just about everything else and rapid population growth can exacerbate all kinds of challenges.” Lack of healthcare, poverty, pollution and rising unrest and crime are all problems linked to booming populations, he said.
I should mention that No Room! No Room! is also a quote from the beginning of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: Chapter 7: aka: The Mad Tea Party.
There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea at it: a Dormouse was sitting between them, fast asleep, and the other two were using it as a cushion, resting their elbows on it, and talking over its head. `Very uncomfortable for the Dormouse,' thought Alice; `only, as it's asleep, I suppose it doesn't mind.'
The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it: `No room! No room!' they cried out when they saw Alice coming. `There's plenty of room!' said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.
Two days in a row mentioning Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Moral collapse down the cloud's rabbit hole

The cloud, is of course that virtual world contained in various servers that we access when we use internet based applications.  The rabbit hole?  Well go ask Alice when she's ten feet tall (or Woodstock with lyric scroll)*.
Andy Greenberg, Wired, 18 September (hat tip: NC)
In the digital drug trade as in the physical one, taking out one kingpin only makes room for another ready to satisfy the market’s endless demand. In the case of the FBI’s takedown of the Silk Road, the latest of the up-and-coming drug kingpins is far more evolved than its predecessor—and far less principled.
Since it launched early this year, the anonymous black market bazaar Evolution has grown dramatically, nearly tripling its sales listings in just the last five months. It now offers more than 15,000 mostly illegal products ranging from weapons to weed, cocaine, and heroin. That’s thousands more than the Silk Road ever hosted. And Evolution’s popularity has been driven not only by a more secure and professional operation than its competitors, but also by a more amoral approach to the cryptomarket than the strict libertarian ethos the Silk Road preached. Case in point: About 10 percent of Evolution’s products are stolen credit card numbers and credentials for hacked online accounts.

And if you go chasing rabbits, and you know your going to fall...
*Grace Slick's voice is some sort of weapon.  I recall reviews noting that she sang like an electric guitar.  I always thought it odd, that she did not have more mega-hits to her name. But if you look at her two big hits, "White Rabbit", and "Somebody to Love" they were written when she was with her band prior to Jefferson Airplane, "Great Society", and whatever musical combination created those huge songs, no longer existed.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Supplying foreign fighers

So where do these foreign come from? Commander Salamander has an interesting post (hat tip: NC)discussing this point and links to an interesting chart:

On the chart, it shows the United States providing 100 foreign fighters into the mix.  He notes that that might sound like a lot, but goes onto note that if you adjusted the much smaller European numbers, to their also much smaller population, the European numbers start looking large:  Canadas's 100 becomes 183 (still a small number), But Britain's 500 becomes 2,449 in U.S. per capita terms, Belgium's 300 becomes 8,408.  Pretty much all the listed European countries have a much larger percentage of their population fighting for the Islamic revolutionaries in the Middle East.  Even Finland's "tiny" number (30) equates to 1,731 in U.S. terms.  A number that I would say is starting to approach the worrisome level.  Finland has a population of 5.439 million, this is very close to the population of Minnesota (5.420 MM).  I am sure Minnesota would not be particularly happy having 30 head chopping fanatics running around their state: Vikings excepted.

Chart found here