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Rapid Increase of Highly Mutated B.1.1.529 Strain in South Africa

This is south africa's number of reported covid cases. There's a huge spike on nov 23.

The south african health ministry is claiming (in the slides linked elsewhere in these comments) that they reacted incredibly fast, publicly communicating the finding of the new variant to the world within 36 hours. But the numbers reported here look exactly like you'd expect if someone had deliberately sat on the data for several days, and then released it all at once.

Also, the graph (in the post) showing the proportion of different variants needs to be taken with a grain of salt. That graph makes it look like the new variant is taking over brutally fast, much faster than the delta variant did in its day. But if the reporting of cases is this uneven, then we cannot extrapolate any short-term trend at all.

EDIT: just saw Gurkenglas' other comment. If the data is wrong then my interpretation is irrelevant. But I'd still caution people to not jump the gun in predicting this new variant's behavior based on very little data.

Covid 11/25: Another Thanksgiving

This morning I'm suddenly reading lots of news items about a new strain originating in South Africa that outcompetes delta and might evade current vaccines.

How worried should we be about this? OOH, every time there's a new variant, the media overhypes it and plays up concerns such as vaccine evasion. OTOH, many EU countries are now issuing travel restrictions from SA, so they seem to be taking it seriously.

Also, the media makes it look like this new variant just appeared overnight. Was there a specific trigger that catapulted this into the headlines?

A Brief Introduction to Container Logistics

Yes, I deliberately left out detailed discussion of the present situation in Long Beach, instead focusing on what "normal" operations are like. Local conditions also vary a lot, for example I hadn't heard of these chassis pools you speak of.

Sci-Hub sued in India

In many cases, it is being spent in net-negative ways.

For example, many journals have copyeditors that do the paper layout for you, but frequently introduce mistakes in mathematical notation and other subtle issues like that. Result: the author has to proofread the editor's work multiple times before giving their approval. A latex compiler does better work for free. A friend of mine literally spent months going back and forth with a for-profit journal over issues like this.

Why does Elsevier persist in this obviously inefficient way of doing things? because it keeps them in the picture. They deliberately cultivate the impression that doing a paper layout is something scary and hard. This prevents academics from gaining agency for themselves (especially in less technical fields where latex is still uncommon). Meanwhile, OA journals just put up a latex template for download, and give your final submission a quick once-over to make sure you're following their formatting guidelines.

Other needless expenses (epistemic status: speculative). Marketing budgets. Buying up smaller journals. Funding needless bloat in conferences, websites and other academic tools. Lobbying and legal work. Contract negotiation, billing departments. Shipping stacks of journals that sit in university libraries unread for a few years before being thrown away.

A Brief Introduction to Container Logistics

Out of curiosity, do you broadly agree with my depiction of the industry? Anything I missed or mischaracterized?

A Brief Introduction to Container Logistics

It's not like a network packet, there is a planned route from the outset. This route is also used to set the correct price to charge.

The path might be changed when logistically required (by delays, congestion, capacity limits along the routes), but this is infrequent.

A Brief Introduction to Container Logistics

I'm a bit confused about the situation you're describing. The shipping company promised to deliver the container at B, so they arrange for the proper routing. Any transfer port along the way has a contract with the shipping company and transfers the containers as directed by them.

Delivery is not guaranteed to happen on the exact predicted schedule though, which is what you might be talking about. For various reasons, containers often end up missing their connection and waiting for the next available ship (of the same service going to the same destination). It also happens occasionally that a ship has to alter its route (e.g. skipping a port due to congestion), which leads to additional unplanned transfers. All of this is ok, because the contract between shipping company and customer is on a "best effort" basis, i.e., it's ok to deliver with a delay if it's unavoidable.

If a reefer container has issues while on board a ship, it will be unloaded at the next possible port, because this makes it possible to save the cargo by moving it to another container in the event of total failure. But we want to avoid this (because it involves high costs and breaking the container seal) so we'll try to repair the container while the cargo remains inside. If repaired successfully it can continue its journey on the next available ship.

Hope that makes everything clear.

A Brief Introduction to Container Logistics

Thanks to Elizabeth for encouraging me to write this, and for her helpful feedback!

Covid 11/4: The After Times

Cases are equal because lots of people are vaccinated, but delta is more contagious. The real impact in terms of deaths / hospitalizations will be less. Also, eventually everyone will be immune: either vaccinated or recovered.

So don't despair. It will be over after this winter.

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