Lion of the Blogosphere

Lion was dead-on right about predicted Covid-19 deaths

On August 24, I wrote:

We keep getting worse and worse at social distancing, we are sending kids back to school, a new wave of cases before we get a vaccine seems kind of inevitable. I predict between 400,000 and 800,000 U.S. deaths from Covid-19 before the pandemic is ended with a vaccine.

We have now passed 400,000 officially tallied deaths (although excess deaths are higher than that so one can argue that the real number of deaths from Covid-19 is higher), so my prediction is proven true.

Let’s review some comments I received to that post in August.

“jg” wrote:

Thank you for sticking to a quite high 400k+ US additional death prediction, which I expect will fail.

Sorry, I was right, you were wrong.

“destructure” wrote

Why do you have to be so negative? Do you suffer depression or something?

So it’s mental illness to accurately predict the future? The world needs more mentally ill people.

“Seingalt” wrote:

Lion i think you completely lost the plot. Have you noticed that in countries such as Italy the virus is killing almost no one and the intensive care units are empty?

As I pointed out back then, Italy was benefitting from stricter enforced social distancing than we were in the United States.

Also, there were a lot of comments about Cuomo. Trump supporters HATE Cuomo because Cuomo was extremely good at communicating about the pandemic and thus was widely lauded, while Trump sucked at everything to do about the pandemic. I’ll repeat what I said before:

Trump supporters think Covid-19 is a lot of bullshit. Except for when Cuomo required nursing homes to take back medically stable Covid-19 patients. In that one, and only one, scenario, Covid-19 is a Very Serious Disease.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

January 21, 2021 at 12:13 PM

400,000 in U.S. dead from Covid-19, just as I predicted

Back in August, I wrote:

[T]he cost of a bozo in the White House is 170,000 dead from the virus, and America’s international reputation shattered. The hypocrisy of Trump supporters who railed on and on about how you shouldn’t vote for Hillary because four Americans died in Benghazi, but the same Trump supporters are totally unconcerned about 170,000 dead from the virus. And with Trump at the helm, 170,000 is likely to become 400,000 before he leaves office.

Today, the day before Inauguration Day, 400,000 deaths.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

January 19, 2021 at 8:47 PM

Posted in Politics

Was I racially profiled?

Once, in my parents’ neighborhood in Staten Island, I was walking down the sidewalk when a Chinese woman comes out of a crappy townhouse and starts accusing me of taking something from her lawn or something.

Instead of having a big chip on my shoulder about being racially profiled because I was white and she was Chinese, I instead tried to explain to her that I was just walking down the sidewalk and I didn’t see anything and I didn’t know what she was talking about. But she was not convinced, and I walked away because I had no idea what she was talking about.

It occurs to me that, if I had been black and the woman had been white, and I acted more hostile to her with a big chip on my shoulder about being racially profiled, and I took a video of the incident with my phone, it could have become a viral thing on Twitter with everyone hating on the woman.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 30, 2020 at 9:25 AM

Posted in Technology

Grandmaster plays chess hustler in Washington Square Park

The highlight of the game is when the chess hustler, losing to the grandmaster, attempts to cheat by using sleight of hand to remove his opponent’s knight from the board, but grandmaster Maurice Ashley doesn’t let him get away with it.

Maurice Ashely’s family moved from Jamaica (the island nation) to a ghetto neighborhood in Brooklyn (Brownsville) when he was 12, and he went to Brooklyn Tech high school (which requires an admissions test to get into, but you needed a much lower score than you needed to get into Stuyvesant).

At Stuyvesant, several of the black kids were avid chess players. I had no hope playing against them.

* * *

Why aren’t there more black grandmasters? My theory is that, with affirmative action, a black with the mental discipline needed to play chess can get a much more profitable career doing something else.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 11, 2020 at 11:48 AM

Girl power and chess

Here’s an article about a Chinese girl in Toronto who plays chess. And a pretty good chess player, the top-ranked female in the entire nation of Canada. I could certainly never play at that level (even though it’s probably a level that’s quite a bit below the top-ranked male chess player in Canada).

Like many of these articles, the spin is, how great it is that women are finally getting into chess because of the popularity of that Netflix series. But no one ever asks why that’s a good thing, why it matters. It’s not as if there’s any money in playing chess. Does being a good chess player help you find a job outside of chess? I don’t think so. Is it just a bias that things that men do are inherently better than the things that women do? And it’s always better for women to be more like men? (Although I have to admit that I hold the opinion that playing chess is a better use of time than going shopping.)

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 11, 2020 at 10:22 AM

Will chess become popular with women?

An article in today’s NY Times says that “‘The Queen’s Gambit’ Is Inspiring Women to Take Up Chess.”

The actress Beth Behrs has a new obsession — chess — and the Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit” is to blame. Her obsession even got her into trouble on the set of the CBS show “The Neighborhood,” where she plays Gemma Johnson.

“They yelled at me at work yesterday because I was hiding my phone under my script,” she said. “I should have been acting and I was playing on Chess.com.”

As typical for this type of “reporting,” the journalist who wrote the article found a few people to prove the articles point of view, and then headily announces that it’s a new trend.

Now fact-based reporting, not found in this article, does tell us that chess as increased in popularity many times normal since the release of the Netflix series, and statistics from websites like Chess.com tell us that a higher percentage of the new signups are women than is typical for the chess site, but still despite the Netflix series being about a female chess player, a very solid majority of the newly-interested chess players are male.

According to an article at Salon.com, chess streamer Antonio Radić says “Normally my viewership is 98% male, 2% female. Right now, as we’re experiencing this boom, it’s now up to 3.6% female, so nearly doubled.”

According to Google Trends, searches for “chess” have approximately tripled since The Queen’s Gambit game out. Google doesn’t break down by men vs women, but it does tell us that chess is most popular in Vermont and least popular in Mississippi.

I do believe that women are heavily influenced by trends, so if it’s perceived that chess is the new trend for women, then more women will try it, at least for a while. But ultimately, I think that despite the new promotion of girl chess players, chess is something that the vast majority of people with two X chromosomes will find BORING.

* * *

Can women even play as well as men? Obviously a top female chess player like Judit Polgar can beat the vast majority of men, but it’s unknown if the average woman lacks raw ability to play the game compared to the average man, or if they just don’t play as well because only men can get so interested in playing and winning at chess that they devote a huge amount of time and mental resources into getting better at it.

* * *

Chess can be profitable for an attractive young women because it’s much more exciting for viewers to watch such an attractive young woman stream chess online than to watch a man with the same playing ability.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 10, 2020 at 1:00 PM

Posted in Nerdy stuff

You don’t have to be that smart to be good at chess

The conventional wisdom is that you have to be smart to play chess well. I think the conventional wisdom on this is entirely wrong.

I will point out again that g (the general factor of intelligence) is the ability to reason and learn. Furthermore, g applies mostly to a specific type of learning, learning by reasoning. Learning by memorization or learning by mimicking are not g-intensive tasks. Learning Japanese seems to me to be a very difficult task, but even stupid children in Japan are able to speak it fluently. Thus not all difficult mental tasks are highly g-loaded. Children learn to speak by mimicking and not by reasoning.

As a blog reader once pointed out to me, the way that most children learn to play chess is highly g-loaded. They are taught the rules (which are somewhat complicated and require a certain minimum level of intelligence to understand), and then they have to figure out for themselves what the correct strategies are. It’s the figuring stuff out for yourself that’s a highly g-loaded task.

Luckily for would-be chess players of only average intelligence, smart people in the past have already figured out the strategies. With proper instruction, chess doesn’t require an above average intelligence, it just requires a lot of memorization (of openings, end games, and various strategy rules), and a lot of mental concentration (to scan the board for all possible dangers and play out several moves in one’s head). Yes, it’s a difficult mental task, but not a mental task which requires reasoning or learning by reasoning. Thus we see the phenomenon of an intermediate school in the ghetto with an excellent chess team. No, this doesn’t mean that kids in Harlem are just as smart as kids in Larchmont, it means that with good instruction and lots of practice, the kids in Harlem can be trained to play chess well, just as they can understand English a lot better than much smarter kids in Japan.

This also explains the phenomenon of not-very-bright chess hustlers in Washington Square Park.

At the very highest levels of chess playing, it has been suggested that g becomes more important, because grandmasters have moved beyond the stage where they can rely on strategies figured out by others and they have to figure out new and novel advanced strategies by themselves, which is a reasoning task. But maybe with chess software to help figure out strategies, even grandmasters don’t have to be as smart as they used to be.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 4, 2020 at 10:43 AM

Posted in Biology, Nerdy stuff

The cult of Trump

For more than a decade I’ve been writing, from time to time, about the psychology of belief, and how people believe what they believe because other people believe it, and not because they know whether or not it’s true. Other people often means other people in their social group, or tribe, rather than all other people in general.

Until now, I’ve usually been critical or people in mainstream media or elite liberal circles believing in untrue stuff, or people believing in religion. But unfortunately, I now have to call out the fact that what one may call the red tribe has now gone all-in on believing that the election was “stolen” by the Democrats because of massive “fraud,” without any evidence that this is true.

Trump has somehow gone from being a real estate developer to reality TV star to politician and now to cult leader. (The general definition of a cult includes veneration of the cult’s leader, and belief in stuff that’s considered nonsensical outside of the cult. The cult of Trump is a secular cult; it doesn’t involve the belief in anything supernatural.)

I want no part of this cult. Any of my readers who are cult members should just leave and stop reading or commenting.

* * *

Also, I don’t know how people can think that the electoral process is biased against Trump when Trump did way better than expected based on polls or logical thinking about the electorate. People who rightly called out Democrats for not accepting that Trump beat Hillary are now doing the same thing to Biden, but at a ten-times amped-up level.

If only Trump hadn’t discouraged his supporters from voting by mail, giving a big advantage to the other side (you want your supporters to vote by any which way possible), he might have even won re-election.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

November 23, 2020 at 1:08 PM

Posted in Biology, Politics

Covid-19 November update

Back in August I wrote:

We keep getting worse and worse at social distancing, we are sending kids back to school, a new wave of cases before we get a vaccine seems kind of inevitable. I predict between 400,000 and 800,000 U.S. deaths from Covid-19 before the pandemic is ended with a vaccine.

My prediction continues to be on target. The last update from the Covid Tracking Project is that we have record number hospitalized and record cases in one day, and if the trend continues this will keep getting worse. We already have 233,000+ deaths.

We are heading into Thanksgiving, and unless the government shuts down all the roads to prevent people from going places on Thanksgiving (and we lack the political will to do that), Thanksgiving will cause a major spike at a time when the virus is already out of control.

Trump insisted we are “rounding the corner” and that the media will stop reporting on Covid-19 as soon as the election is over. Trump is being proved horrible wrong. We are not rounding a corner, we are in slow-motion heading into a huge collision.

It’s also obvious that eventually Covid-19 will be so bad we will say “oh shit, this is bad, we have to change our behavior” and state governments will start closing stuff, but we lack the wisdom to close stuff BEFORE it gets like that, thus we condemn a few hundred thousand to unnecessary deaths because we are too stupid to do the right thing at the right time.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

November 12, 2020 at 5:17 PM

As Lion predicted, Biden wins election

I’ve been waiting for things to settle down a little before I wrote my I-told-you-so post. Since way back in 2019 I’ve been saying that Trump would not win re-election.

Part of the calculation was that polls were so in favor of Biden that, even if Trump beat the polls by a substantial amount, he would still lose. It turns out that Trump did beat the polls by a substantial amount in some states, so once again the polling industry did a crappy job. I’m going to have to side with conspiracy theorists here. The polls could only be so bad because the pollsters intended them to be bad because people like to vote for a winner, so creating the perception that Biden was winning would bring out more votes for Biden.

The above probably explains why the media never fully acted like Biden had the election in the bag. They probably knew all along that the polls were rigged to exaggerate Biden’s lead over Trump.

Another part of the calculation that Biden would win was that the mainstream media had given up on being nonpartisan, and would do everything they could in order to ensure a Biden victory. And that too is what happened.

Even though Trump did much better than I expected, he did less better than it seemed on the night of the election as more mail-in ballots have been counted. Trump may have doomed his re-election with his insistence that his supporters not vote by mail. As a candidate, you want people to vote for you by any which way they can.

At the end of all the counting, Trump lost the big-three rustbelt states of PA, WI and MI which he won in 2016, plus also probably lost GA and AZ, two states that have voted for the Republican candidate for president for longer than some people voting last week have been alive.

If only Trump had taken the virus seriously, he probably would have won another four years in office. But it’s a testament to the power of cult-belief that so many people voted for him anyway despite how bad he’s been and how he has continually lied and bullshitted about the pandemic.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

November 9, 2020 at 1:37 PM

Posted in Politics

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