Shared posts

13 Aug 17:07

This should be hailed, and yet there is mostly silence from the elites

by Tyler Cowen

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis rolled out a new state treatment plan to help fight COVID-19, announcing Thursday that the state will start dispensing Regeneron monoclonal antibodies through mobile clinics…

DeSantis is urging people at high risk — the elderly, the obese, people with diabetes — to get the monoclonal antibodies at the first indication of COVID-19.

Florida is making the antibody therapies more widely available by opening a rapid response unit in Jacksonville with an eye toward expanding across the state.

Here is the full story.

The post This should be hailed, and yet there is mostly silence from the elites appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

16 Aug 15:28

The new quicker, cheaper, supply chain robust saliva test

by Tyler Cowen

The FDA has just approved a new and important Covid-19 test:

“Wide-spread testing is critical for our control efforts. We simplified the test so that it only costs a couple of dollars for reagents, and we expect that labs will only charge about $10 per sample. If cheap alternatives like SalivaDirect can be implemented across the country, we may finally get a handle on this pandemic, even before a vaccine,” said Grubaugh.

One of the team’s goals was to eliminate the expensive saliva collection tubes that other companies use to preserve the virus for detection. In a separate study led by Wyllie and the team at the Yale School of Public Health, and recently published on medRxiv, they found that SARS-CoV-2 is stable in saliva for prolonged periods at warm temperatures, and that preservatives or specialized tubes are not necessary for collection of saliva.

Of course this part warmed my heart (doubly):

The related research was funded by the NBA, National Basketball Players Association, and a Fast Grant from the Emergent Ventures at the Mercatus Center, George Mason University.

The NBA had the wisdom to use its unique “bubble” to run multiple tests on players at once, to see how reliable the less-known tests would be.  This WSJ article — “Experts say it could be key to increasing the nation’s testing capacity” — has the entire NBA back story.  At an estimated $10 a pop, this could especially be a game-changer for poorer nations.  Furthermore, it has the potential to make pooled testing much easier as well.

Here is an excerpt from the research pre-print:

The critical component of our approach is to use saliva instead of respiratory swabs, which enables non-invasive frequent sampling and reduces the need for trained healthcare professionals during collection. Furthermore, we simplified our diagnostic test by (1) not requiring nucleic acid preservatives at sample collection, (2) replacing nucleic acid extraction with a simple proteinase K and heat treatment step, and (3) testing specimens with a dualplex quantitative reverse transcription PCR (RT-qPCR) assay. We validated SalivaDirect with reagents and instruments from multiple vendors to minimize the risk for supply chain issues. Regardless of our tested combination of reagents and instruments from different vendors, we found that SalivaDirect is highly sensitive with a limit of detection of 6-12 SARS-CoV-2 copies/μL.

No need to worry and fuss about RNA extraction now.  Here is the best simple explanation of the whole thing.

The researchers are not seeking to commercialize their advance, rather they are making it available for the general benefit of mankind.  Here is Nathan Grubaugh on Twitter.  Here is Anne Wyllie, also a Kiwi and a Kevin Garnett fan.  A further implication of course is that the NBA bubble is not “just sports,” but also has boosted innovation by enabling data collection.

All good news of course, and Fast at that.  And this:

“This could be one the first major game changers in fighting the pandemic,” tweeted Andy Slavitt, a former acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the Obama administration, who expects testing capacity to be expanded significantly. “Rarely am I this enthusiastic… They are turning testing from a bespoke suit to a low-cost commodity.”

And here is coverage from Zach Lowe.  I am very pleased with the course of Fast Grants more generally, and you will be hearing more about it in the future.

The post The new quicker, cheaper, supply chain robust saliva test appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

21 Mar 13:34

Emergent Ventures prize winners for coronavirus work

by Tyler Cowen

I am happy to announce the first cohort of Emergent Ventures prize winners for their work fighting the coronavirus.  Here is a repeat of the original prize announcement, and one week or so later I am delighted there are four strong winners, with likely some others on the way. Again, this part of Emergent Ventures comes to you courtesy of the Mercatus Center and George Mason University. Here is the list of winners:

Social leadership prizeHelen Chu and her team at the University of Washington.  Here is a NYT article about Helen Chu’s work, excerpt:

Dr. Helen Y. Chu, an infectious disease expert in Seattle, knew that the United States did not have much time…

As luck would have it, Dr. Chu had a way to monitor the region. For months, as part of a research project into the flu, she and a team of researchers had been collecting nasal swabs from residents experiencing symptoms throughout the Puget Sound region.

To repurpose the tests for monitoring the coronavirus, they would need the support of state and federal officials. But nearly everywhere Dr. Chu turned, officials repeatedly rejected the idea, interviews and emails show, even as weeks crawled by and outbreaks emerged in countries outside of China, where the infection began.

By Feb. 25, Dr. Chu and her colleagues could not bear to wait any longer. They began performing coronavirus tests, without government approval.

What came back confirmed their worst fear. They quickly had a positive test from a local teenager with no recent travel history. The coronavirus had already established itself on American soil without anybody realizing it.

And to think Helen is only an assistant professor.

Data gathering and presentation prize: Avi Schiffmann

Here is a good write-up on Avi Schiffmann, excerpt:

A self-taught computer maven from Seattle, Avi Schiffmann uses web scraping technology to accurately report on developing pandemic, while fighting misinformation and panic.

Avi started doing this work in December, remarkable prescience, and he is only 17 years old.  Here is a good interview with him:

I’d like to be the next Avi Schiffmann and make the next really big thing that will change everything.

Here is Avi’s website,

Prize for good policy thinking: The Imperial College researchers, led by Neil Ferguson, epidemiologist.

Neil and his team calculated numerically what the basic options and policy trade-offs were in the coronavirus space.  Even those who disagree with parts of their model are using it as a basic framework for discussion.  Here is their core paper.

The Financial Times referred to it as “The shocking coronavirus study that rocked the UK and US…Five charts highlight why Imperial College’s research radically changed government policy.”

The New York Times reported “White House Takes New Line After Dire Report on Death Toll.”  Again, referring to the Imperial study.

Note that Neil is working on despite having coronavirus symptoms.  His earlier actions were heroic too:

Ferguson has taken a lead, advising ministers and explaining his predictions in newspapers and on TV and radio, because he is that valuable thing, a good scientist who is also a good communicator.


He is a workaholic, according to his colleague Christl Donnelly, a professor of statistical epidemiology based at Oxford University most of the time, as well as at Imperial. “He works harder than anyone I have ever met,” she said. “He is simultaneously attending very large numbers of meetings while running the group from an organisational point of view and doing programming himself. Any one of those things could take somebody their full time.

“One of his friends said he should slow down – this is a marathon not a sprint. He said he is going to do the marathon at sprint speed. It is not just work ethic – it is also energy. He seems to be able to keep going. He must sleep a bit, but I think not much.”

Prize for rapid speedy responseCurative, Inc. (legal name Snap Genomics, based in Silicon Valley)

Originally a sepsis diagnostics company, they very rapidly repositioned their staff and laboratories to scale up COVID-19 testing.  They also acted rapidly, early, and pro-actively to round up the necessary materials for such testing, and they are currently churning out a high number of usable test kits each day, with that number rising rapidly.  The company is also working on identifying which are the individuals most like to spread the disease and getting them tested first.  here is some of their progress from yesterday.

Testing and data are so important in this area.

General remarks and thanks: I wish to thank both the founding donor and all of you who have subsequently made very generous donations to this venture.  If you are a person of means and in a position to make a donation to enable this work to go further, with more prizes and better funded prizes, please do email me.

The post Emergent Ventures prize winners for coronavirus work appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

02 Jan 19:11

Best of 2018

by Allison

One day late, but here we go. 2018 was an outstanding year for music and TV. Plus Lady Gaga made a movie and it was awesome. Here are my favorites of the year:

Album of the Year: Lots of competition this year. In the end, Future Me Hates Me by New Zealand's The Beths was my favorite. Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves, Dirty Computer by Janelle Monae, Nudes by Lucius, and By The Way, I Forgive You by Brandi Carlile round out my top five. Honorable mention to the albums by Mitski, Robyn, Snail Mail, and Hop Along. 

2018 Playlist:

Snail Mail - "Pristine"

Kacey Musgraves - "Slow Burn"

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper - "Shallow"

The Beths - "Happy Unhappy"

Slothrust - "Peach"

Janelle Monae - "Take a Byte"

Mitski - "Washing Machine Heart"

Robyn - "Missing U"

Cover of the Year: Lucius' acoustic album was fantastic and the highlight was their cover of Tame Impala's "Eventually."

Concert of the Year: I had a clear top three this year and it is hard to pick among them. But I will: Lorde's Melodrama tour at the Anthem was perfect. The opening acts (Mitski and Run the Jewels) were steller, Lorde's setlist did not have a bad song in it, and her choreo was just as weird as you would hope it would be. Runners up: Dan Auerbach at the 9:30 Club and Jen Cloher at Rock and Roll Hotel.

Music Video of the Year: John Mayer's "New Light" video is amazing. The best music video from a song I actually liked is Florence and the Machine's "Big God."

TV Show of the Year: Several excellent new shows and a few great limited series this year, all of them on HBO. My overall favorite was Barry. I've never been a big Bill Hader fan, but hot damn was this dark and hilarious. Noho Hank is clearly the best part of the show. The show that made me the biggest laughs of the year was Sally4Ever, which I haven't heard anyone else talk about, so I hope I'm not the only person watching. Julia Davis is outrageous and the stuff that comes out of her mouth as Emma...I just can't. Succession built well over the course of the season. It has the best ensemble cast. And if Amy Adams doesn't win an Emmy for Sharp Objects, I give up.

Film of the Year: Did I mention that Lady Gaga made a movie and it's amazing? The music...the acting...I was all in on A Star is Born. The soundtrack would have also been my favorite album of the year had they not put the dialogue bits on it. Runner up: The Favourite, even though it had a ridiculous ending. 

Sports Moment of the Year: The Caps winning the Stanley Cup was awesome (my first time attending a SC Final), but witnessing The Goal by Wayne Rooney in person was probably the most memorable plays I've ever witnessed.

Pop Culture Tours: I did a lot of fun pop culture tourism this year. My top three, in order are: The Warner Bros studio tour in LA (aka I saw all of the locations from Gilmore Girls), Highclere Castle (aka the set of Downton Abbey), and Paisely Park (the home and studio of Prince). 

2019 Pop Culture Moment I'm most looking forward to: Lady Gaga's Vegas residency, duh. I'm going this month.

01 Oct 13:25

Swearin' Reunite On 'Fall Into The Sun'

by John Vettese

A rejuvenated Swearin' packs its first record in five years full of indie-rock rippers from an older and wiser vantage point.

(Image credit: Ali Donohue/Courtesy of the artist)

13 Sep 13:21

Metric's 'Art Of Doubt' Charges Into The Joys That Remain

by Stephen Thompson

On its seventh album, the Canadian band returns to the spiky, effusive pleasures of guitar-driven rock and roll.

(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist)

13 Aug 15:02

Two Decades Later, Death Cab For Cutie Wants To 'Thank You For Today'

by Stephen Thompson
Death Cab for Cutie

On the band's ninth album, Ben Gibbard addresses an array of life's aftermaths, set against propulsive arrangements that know just when to sparkle and sway.

(Image credit: Eliot Lee Hazel/Courtesy of the artist)

29 Dec 17:28

Yeah Right Best of 2017 Picks

by Allison

Album of the Year: So, so many great albums this year. How great? LCD Soundsystem put out a stellar album this year. It doesn’t even crack my top 10. I could say the same about a lot of other great bands. For me the top spot comes down to two albums – The Secret Sisters’ You Don’t Own Me Anymore and Brand New’s Science Fiction. While Science Fiction is a perfect swan song for a band that I’ve loved and seen evolve quite a bit since college (it is easily their best album) The Secret Sisters finally captured the joy of their stellar live show on an album. This is their moment to shine. It’s a genre that won’t make them superstars, but it is the year’s best album nonetheless. FWIW the rest of my top 10 (in no particular order) is: The Orwells – Terrible Human Beings, Lorde – Melodrama, Dan Auerbach – Waiting on a Song, Waxahatchee – Out in the Storm, Downtown Boys – Cost of Living, Queens of the Stone Age – Villains, Bully – Losing, and Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile – Lotta Sea Lice.

Music Video of the Year: I loved Wavves’ clip for “Million Enemies”:

 2017 Playlist:

The Secret Sisters – “Little Again

Queens of the Stone Age – “Head Like a Haunted House

St. Vincent – “Young Lover

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile – “Over Everything

Downtown Boys – “A Wall

Dan Auerbach – “King of a One Horse Town

Lorde – “Green Light

Bleached – “Can You Deal?

Arcade Fire – “Creature Comfort

Priests – “JJ

Cover of the Year: As if this JT song couldn’t be sexier, the XX elevate it:

Song That Got Played To Death But I Still Love: I loved the return of Kesha. Her album as a whole was overrated, but “Praying” is her best song yet.

Concert of the Year: Finally seeing LCD Soundsystem live was a dream come true. I have to give them the top spot. But the rest of my top five put up quite a fight: 2) Queens of the Stone Age at the Anthem, 3) Foo Fighters at the Anthem, 4) New Pornographers at 9:30 Club, 5) Roger Waters at Capitol One Arena.

Festival of the Year: I finally made it to SXSW this year. It was exhilarating, exhausting, and (most importantly) full of amazing artists.

Book of the Year: I finally read Dreamland and it was amazing, but that came out a few years ago. In typical fashion, Chuck Klosterman put out a book (X) and it was my favorite of the year. Honorable mention to John Pfaff’s Locked In.

Meme of the Year: It probably started last year, but I didn’t notice it until 2017. Trump Draws was my favorite thing on Twitter this year.

Sports Moment of the Year: Chelsea won the league again, but nothing compared to the joy of seeing Roger Federer win two majors in 2017. Especially satisfying was his stint at Wimbledon, which was dominating in the fashion that you have expected ten years ago, not today.

Celebrity Moment of the Year: I love a good Halloween costume, and it’s pretty hard to beat Gwyneth Paltrow’s costume this year.

Best TV of the Year: The Fatwa sex episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm was the single best episode of TV this year (and probably the best episode of anything since the last season of Curb). But the mini-series Big Little Lies was enthralling (I hadn’t read the book). Easily Reese Witherspoon’s best role to date and the rest of the cast was amazing as well. I’m annoyed that they are trying to do a season two (let good things be!) but we’ll always have the original.

Movie of the Year: I could not have enjoyed The Disaster Artist more. What a fitting tribute to the best worst movie ever made, The Room. James Franco probably won’t get an Oscar, but he deserves one.

2018 Pop Culture Moments That I’m Most Looking Forward To: I’d say the World Cup, but the USMNT screwed the pooch on that one. So sports wise I’m placing all of my hopes on an entertaining Winter Olympics, music wise I’m stoked for Lucy Dacus’ new album due out in March, and TV wise get ready for season two of Westworld!

05 Oct 13:05

Review: Robert Plant, 'Carry Fire'

by Tom Moon

The Led Zeppelin frontman's 11th solo effort is a finely woven blend of folk, Celtic, blues and world music.

04 Oct 19:55

Green with envy...

You know I love eating healthy, Elaine, but can’t we just buy bagged salad like everyone else?

07 Sep 13:45

Review: Emily Haines, 'Choir Of The Mind'

by Stephen Thompson
Emily Haines

The Metric singer returns with her first solo album in a decade — and another set of reflections too raw for the band that made her famous.

(Image credit: Justin Broadbent)

08 Aug 13:02

McDonald's Best Friend Sounds Solid

FAIL struggle McDonald's funny fast food - 9062185472

Submitted by: (via Chasing_life)

02 Aug 18:29

"Pssss Kid Come Sit on My Lap"

wtf kids creepy - 9060634880

Submitted by: (via gryff42)

Tagged: wtf , kids , creepy
11 Jul 20:04

Man Checks Can of Beer as His Only Luggage

by Gary Leff
10 Jul 18:20

Review: Waxahatchee, 'Out In The Storm'

by Stephen Thompson

Katie Crutchfield has polished Waxahatchee's sound to maximize its glimmering-but-spiky forcefulness, but her words remain as bracing and unsparing as ever.

(Image credit: Jesse Riggins/Courtesy of the artist)

19 Jun 13:08


cute puppy carrying a bucket falls into a pool

Submitted by: (via Garrythemod)

Tagged: fail gif
25 Mar 17:08

Review: Aimee Mann, 'Mental Illness'

by Stephen Thompson
Aimee Mann

For her ninth solo album, Mann says she set out to write the saddest, slowest record she could. But Mental Illness still sparkles in buoyantly catchy ways.

(Image credit: Sheryl Nields/Courtesy of the artist)

25 Mar 17:07

2017 NFL Playing Rules Proposals

A list of the proposed rules changes that the NFL will consider for the upcoming season.
27 Feb 17:54

The Departed

09 Feb 14:01

Why magic is overrated

by Tyler Cowen

A few days ago you all were speculating about which fictional objects you might wish to own.  I was struck by how the more extravagant answers seemed to fail, and partly because of what my early teacher Ludwig Lachmann called “the complementarity of capital.”

Say you had a time machine to visit the past.  Sounds like fun, right?  But consider the violence in earlier eras, trying to understand their languages, or avoiding nasty germs and infections.  How can you return to the current day without a risk of bringing back a plague that will kill many people?  Markets have not provided the complementary goods to make these trips work.

How about a pen that creates any object you might try to draw with it?  Expect a knock on the door from McLean, or if you are less lucky some polonium in your Product 19.  I wonder for how long you could keep such a device secret, and do you always know when there is CCTV?  I wonder for how long you could stay alive.

A transporter might kill you through the act of copying you, but that aside how would you know you are not putting yourself into moving traffic or a lake?  What kind of monitoring stations do you hope to make use of?  How many cultures would attack the arriving visitor for witchcraft?  Maybe there is a way to plop down in open fields only, but at that point you might wish to consider a business class ticket along with checked bag.

Even owning something as simple as the Mona Lisa would be problematic.  You would have to protect it and install climate control — who is going to pay for that?  How might they rezone your house?  Or would you never ever tell anyone, and thus keep all your friends at a distance?  For what gain, ultimately?

Having one extra thing is devilishly hard to make extremely valuable, even if you are allowed to invent something that doesn’t exist or violate the physical laws of our universe.  The real gains in this world are from cooperation and networks of support, and having something unique doesn’t much plug you into those.  In other words, trying to bypass market evolution isn’t nearly as powerful as you might think.

The post Why magic is overrated appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

30 Jan 20:37

Monday, Explained:

25 Jan 19:38

Rules for a Happy and Successful Life: Don't Smoke, Learn to Park

fail parking note don't smoke

Submitted by: (via plax1780)

Tagged: note , parking
24 Jan 21:07

File Under: Things You Don't Need a Test For

fail pregnancy test

Submitted by: (via whosalexander)

09 Jan 22:10

Twitter Says Bye Bye to the Terribly Titled Horror Movie “The Bye-Bye Man” With The Roast of the Season


The laughter after this trailer at the last movie I saw (Passengers) was theatre-wide and amazing.

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, but definitely judge a horror movie by it’s title, especially when that title is something as stupid as The Bye Bye Man.

You might not have heard of The Bye Bye Man because you’re busy, you know, living an important life. But lurking in the peripherals of your life is a horror movie with a really, really dumb title. That title: The Bye Bye Man.

What does the Bye Bye Man do? Presumably he makes people go “Bye Bye” and talks like a baby for some reason.

Anyway, people haven’t even seen The Bye Bye Man yet Twitter is having a field day with the title. Check out the roast of the season as people say "bye bye, man" to The Bye Bye Man.

Submitted by: