The unlucky country (not us)

Back in May 2020 I wrote about the lucky country, which is a nickname that was given to Australia in the 1960s. In May 2020, it seemed like both New Zealand and Australia were lucky countries, as both had zero to two new COVID cases a day following on from successful hard lockdowns. At theContinue reading “The unlucky country (not us)”

Vaccination & the trolley problem

I have realised that COVID vaccination could be considered as a variation on the trolley problem. The trolley problem is a famous set of thought experiments in ethics and psychology, examining whether it is acceptable to kill a smaller number of people in order to save a larger number. The trolley problem is often referredContinue reading “Vaccination & the trolley problem”

Level 3 treats

People were asking me yesterday what sort of treat I would like once New Zealand, other than Auckland and Northland regions, today reached the coveted status of COVID Alert Level 3. My answer was, a different place to exercise. The Level 3 rules allow day walking in the conservation estate (where Level 4 was ‘closeContinue reading “Level 3 treats”

The Stockdale Paradox

I love it when someone tells me about a paradigm that I haven’t previously heard of. New paradigms are always good for challenging your thinking. Paradoxes are particularly interesting, given that they put two things together that seem mutually incompatible, like Determinism and Free Will that I wrote about earlier this year. So today’s newContinue reading “The Stockdale Paradox”

When facts get in the way

I have been writing material for the annual report of one of New Zealand’s science institutions. There have been some particularly interesting nuggets of information; the one that has stood out for me is that provision of facts can sometimes polarise opinions further, rather than leading to agreement. For some of you this may seemContinue reading “When facts get in the way”

Snakes, ladders and daffodils

Today reminded me of a post I wrote last year entitled “Are we nearly there yet?“.; it turns out I wrote it nearly exactly a year ago. How did that year, and the last 1.5 years, go by so slowly and quickly all at the same time? When I wrote my post a year agoContinue reading “Snakes, ladders and daffodils”

Levels of vaccination

Our government’s reluctance to set a vaccine target doesn’t sit well with me. The current mantra is to set targets for everything, so that you can see if you have achieved them or not and to encourage people to reach them. Whether one should have a target for everything is questionable, but whether one shouldContinue reading “Levels of vaccination”

When to speak…

My dilemma of today doesn’t have much to do with the announcement we were all waiting for at 3pm – cake or death; I mean, do we get minor degrees of increased freedom vs more lockdown. It already seems almost passé that those of us south of Auckland now count down the days till nextContinue reading “When to speak…”

Reading tea leaves

Lockdown ennui is starting to set in and I thought about reading tea leaves to get a steer on what Cabinet might say tomorrow. Of course, I could just wait and find out when they say it. However, it is in the nature of human beings, and particularly this human being, to try and guessContinue reading “Reading tea leaves”

How is a virus like a firework?

There are some key descriptors that tell you the potential of a virus, like COVID-19, to spread. I thought I would have a go at elucidating these numbers using the analogy of fireworks. The R number, or reproduction number, tells you how many people each person is spreading COVID-19 to on average. Or, if thereContinue reading “How is a virus like a firework?”