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Are Times Changing?

Hector · 10 · 202

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Online Hector

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Robert Giffen, assistant editor at The Economist and President of the Statistical Society from 1882 to 1884, was an early writer to have connected the expression regarding statistics to the expression regarding experts. Writing in the Economic Journal in 1892, he stated:
"An old jest runs to the effect that there are three degrees of comparison among liars: there are liars, there are outrageous liars, and there are scientific experts. This has lately been adapted to throw dirt upon statistics: there are three degrees of comparison, it is said, in lying; there are lies, there are outrageous lies, and there are statistics."
You love or hate statistics, although to qualify that statement, you tend to love those that accord with your own opinion and reject those that do not.  Polls are often self-serving and even those which claim to be independent and impartial can be accused of bias depending upon the reader's inclination.  Take our own Suan Dusit Poll and others over here, whether you believe the results or not depends upon your point of view - and level of cynicism perhaps!  The point is that the plethora of statistics surrounding Covid 19 - infections, recovered, deaths, by day, by country, in total - and so on, perhaps culminating in a rather sordid pecking order of those countries who have done well and those that have not. In my opinion, all this is irrelevant, as it necessarily relates to the past, when what would seem to be far more important is the effect that Covid 19 might or will have on the future.
*The economic effect on all nations bar none has been variously described by economists as catastrophic, disastrous, more serious that the Great Depression etc. Nowhere have I read an encouraging report on the effect on the world's economy.
*The changes that society is by and large accepting - lock-down, self-isolation, social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing .... the list goes on - are possibly more far reaching than we might think.  The effect on some people's mental health, the increase (already apparent) in domestic violence, the longer term effect on children deprived of up to 6 months schooling and the absence of friends and the rough and tumble of playground games.
*Big businesses that have been forced to lay off thousands of workers and even go bankrupt; small ones that have simply gone under either because they have no customers or because they cannot cope with the restrictions imposed - even after some easing of them.
*World travel - will it ever be the same?  Tourism likewise - the very life-blood of so many countries, sport, social interaction, pubs, restaurants, weddings, funerals - whatever you can think of that impacts more than just a few people, is I suspect irrevocably changed.  Can we do anything about it?  Probably not.
On the positive side, pollution has decreased markedly in many cities, the effect on wildlife (eg in parks) is encouraging and there are no doubt other benefits I have not mentioned.
So after this lengthy preamble, a plea: would serial posters, whom this Forum relies on to survive, consider some of these perhaps more serious topics than simply discussing statistics?
Maybe Bob Dylan's 1964 song "The Times They Are a-Changing" is worth listening to again - even if just for nostalgia!  https://youtu.be/rIZ1QAwkZSg
Stay safe everyone!


Online TJD

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A silver lining from all this, in my view, is establishing some degree of muscle memory in the general population on what this kind of response requires. 

As global population continues to increase, these types of events will likely be more frequent and equally wide-spread.  The faster officials and the public take it seriously and react accordingly, the shorter the down time in isolation, and associated economic pain.

Implement Public Service Announcements about disease prevention along with periodic civil defense videos on what to expect and do in response to an outbreak.  Easy to remember jingles and slogans to program the masses. 

STOP, DROP AND ROLL!   
MAKE IT CLICK! 
DUCK AND COVER!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9T8OliPd4jk


Online Roger

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Hector - times have changed already :-

Economic effects including the disruption and destruction of Companies large and small - sad to read the OECD's opinion that of 46 Countries analysed, the UK is likely to have the deepest recession of all https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/coronavirus-uk-economy-recession-oecd-report-a9558191.html In future all businesses will need to achieve 'reserve' positions to help cope with further pandemics - the 'State' may not be able to help next time.

Social changes - our CV-19 'conditioning' will surely be long-lasting as TJD says but this will prepare us for our response to CV-20 if it arises.

Travel and tourism - will never be quite the same and unfortunately, this is going to affect 'Expats' too  :(  Returning to see Family will become more expensive and Thailand may consider requiring us to hold pandemic 'health insurance' at some stage - this is already being mooted for tourists.

Regarding your point on statistics - "all this is irrelevant, as it necessarily relates to the past". I really couldn't disagree more, these figures give insights to our present situation and might guide us to what might be changed or done better - unfortunately, the UK's CV-19 situation cannot in any way, be seen as the 'past' ! Awareness and use of statistics is absolutely vital . . .

Re. your plea - next post  ;)
''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Online Roger

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On the wider point Hector - God knows there's little enough discussion on this (and other) Forums so IMO ALL posts are to be encouraged at ALL times - it is wholly counter-productive to object to anyone who does make the effort. 

Recently you objected to media links yet the media is the source of ALL news and such links provide a basis for more chat if one is interested. Your recent complaint about statistics followed a correction of what appeared to me to be 'fake news' and that was quite important I believe.

Really Hector - if you don't like a thread, don't read it. And why not post more yourself ? You are obviously a thoughtful Fellow  ;)
''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Offline Coolkorat

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I agree with you regarding the 'positive' elements of the lockdown: the effect on the environment. It presented (and presents) the single greatest opportunity to address this issue for the benefit of the entire planet. Needless to say, it is being squandered: this from the Guardian about pollution in China returning to pre-Covid levels. This is the time to actively discourage car driving as the mindless convenience we have all come to expect: entire chunks of cities should be pedestrianised, public transport re-thought etc. But the opportunity will slip away....

Regarding the OECD, I am always skeptical about anything they say or do: they are the economic equivalent of the Catholic church.

As far as the UK is concerned, the woes in the retail and hospitality sectors pre-dated lockdown. Jamie Oliver's restaurants collapsed in May 2019. The Restaurant Group was already in dire trouble. The list goes on. If anything, lockdown spared many of these companies a slow painful death and allowed their staff some respite through government wage schemes.

What the world really needs is a 2020 equivalent of the Bretton Woods conference to take a root-and-branch restructuring of the global economic system. Without that, the US and China will stumble into a new cold war, with Russia gleefully stoking the situation. Sadly neither Trump or Biden are the right leaders the US needs. If Biden wins I am guessing he will do one term (without explicitly saying so - he does not want to become a lame duck president). A lot hangs on his choice of running mate; there are some interesting possibilities, and a couple of the suggested names would have the character, skills and gravitas to be very good presidents. On the Republican side, Pence would undoubtedly want to follow Trump into the Oval Office but he reminds me of Dan Quayle. Trump clearly has a vision of creating a Trump dynasty (modelled on the Kim's of N Korea!) and has Don jr, Eric or Ivanka in his mind to succeed him; Pence may well find himself rapidly sidelined and pushed out if Trump wins in November, particularly if Trump manages to solidify his support amongst evangelicals without needing Pence (which he may well have already achieved).



Online Roger

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Hi CK. Re. the OECD - it's just their opinion as I posted but I hope they ARE wrong  ???  Re. the environmental improvements, you comment, "the opportunity will slip away". That's for sure, but hopefully the World can hang onto some of the improvements.  Just now I saw France 24 report that pollution in Paris is already back to normal   ::)
''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Online caller

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As far as the UK is concerned, the woes in the retail and hospitality sectors pre-dated lockdown. Jamie Oliver's restaurants collapsed in May 2019. The Restaurant Group was already in dire trouble. The list goes on. If anything, lockdown spared many of these companies a slow painful death and allowed their staff some respite through government wage schemes.

In fairness, this was the case in many, many countries, not least in Europe and especially in Thailand. Lest we forget.

It seems from the headlines that the Baht is on the rise again, great for those getting rich out of a high baht, but a disaster for a Country where exports were already taking a massive hit and we all know that tourism was by and large a dead duck. Coming out of the virus with such a millstone around their neck could be fatal for Thailand's economy. It simply has to move on controlling the baht, something it seems reluctant  to do, for whatever reason.


Online Roger

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Coming back to the shape of a post-CV19 world, here's one change already under way.

Working from home will be more common   :D 

On BBC Radio 4 'Today' today there was a report of a UK Company forced to set up Staff to work at home when CV-19 arrived. Fortuitously this Company had already given notice on it's Office accommodation and has now decided not to proceed with leasing elsewhere, saving itself a six figure sum. As for the Staff, they're delighted to continue working from home and save thousands in travel costs and gain lots of time from not travelling. Good for the environment too   ;D

This Company intended to have Group Meetings every few weeks to keep things together - it all makes great sense for SOME businesses but won't work for all of course. The programme discussed the commercial property market musing about vacated premises being converted to housing units.

Recently, dealing with 'Direct Line' in the UK - I rang the main no. - the Employee was working at home. It's happening.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2020, 04:11:11 PM by Roger »
''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Online Roger

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I've long had the conviction that the UK 'Retail Sector' was vastly over invested - one small Wiltshire town, I know, Melksham, has 6 major supermarkets. High Streets in the UK have long been in decline under pressure from Amazon & co and now CV-19, so it was encouraging for me to read that High St properties may soon be eligible planning wise, to be converted for residential use. That's a start.

Noticed this in a John Lewis policy statement yesterday :-

"Empty stores to become housing: Without doubt the most striking aspect of the memo was the idea to turn vacant department stores into mixed-use affordable housing with John Lewis as landlord. As the partnership contemplates reducing its shop estate, White said it wants to “put excess space to good social use”."

(As an aside, Argos, a phenomenum from what 50 years ago, are apparently ceasing to list their products in that 1000 page catalogue - a major triumph for the environment. In some familes, I've noticed several copies in the same household - bizarre. When ever I see Argos stores these days, I can't understand how they have survived at all).

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/07/30/john-lewis-turn-department-stores-affordable-housing/
« Last Edit: July 31, 2020, 08:08:54 AM by Roger »
''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Offline Coolkorat

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It goes to show we're slaves to convenience: if the supermarkets didn't have grocery/ meat/ fish/ bread counters then there would be those shops on the high street. The irony is that the supermarkets try to make each area have echoes of the way those items were previously sold. Argos should have jumped when Amazon started, and tried for a slice of that market. Now Jeff Bezos is predicted to become the first trillionaire.....