DYSKE Philosophy, Food, and Comedy

Day 44: My Instagram usage dropped since the arrival of the coronavirus. With all the restaurants dropping dead, showing...
04/24/2020

Day 44: My Instagram usage dropped since the arrival of the coronavirus. With all the restaurants dropping dead, showing what I cooked at home doesn't feel all that exciting or interesting to me.

Many of my clients appear to be in a holding pattern, so I have some time to work on my own projects. I was contacted by a researcher who is developing a mathematical model for planning an exit strategy. He came across one of my articles and felt we were in sync about how we approach the problem. He had his model worked out in a spreadsheet, but I wanted to make it easier for anyone to play with his model, so I created an interactive version of it for the web. See my profile for the link to the introduction on how to use it.

Upon selecting a state or country, it automatically imports the latest data for the number of confirmed cases, plots them on a chart, and projects the future from it, taking into account the social distancing measures (both timing and degree).

With this, you can be the governor of your state and figure out when to lift the shelter-in-place order and expand the categories of "essential workers." As you play around with different schedules, you realize the enormity of the problem. There is no way to contain it without either killing the economy or the people.

It's easy for corporate employees to suggest that we should all stay home until we have a vaccine, but that is not a reality for the majority in this world. If the economy remains shut any longer, millions of people will start dying, not from COVID-19 but from poverty or famines. Small businesses are going to be wiped out everywhere. (Read the sobering account of the owner of Prunes on NY Times.)

Once we are done with containing the first wave, we'll have to grapple with this moral/philosophical question of what we do next, and more importantly, why. @ New York, New York

Since last week, I've been helping a researcher develop a mathematical model for an exit strategy. He initially contacte...
04/24/2020
This Mathematical Model Shows Us Our Grim Future in the Coronavirus World - DYSKE

Since last week, I've been helping a researcher develop a mathematical model for an exit strategy. He initially contacted me because he stumbled across one of my articles that shared the same perspective he has for how we should handle it. He had his model worked out on a spreadsheet but I wanted it to be more accessible, so I created an interactive version of it for the web. This post explains how this tool works and how to use it.

https://dyske.com/paper/2097

If you are thinking that we are just going to stay home until the dust settles, this mathematical model developed by Robert Shuler can show you what happens to the dust as soon as we step outside. Here is the future of New York:The part on the left looks noisy because Robert’s model uses the actua...

Day 40: Oddly, some people are calling for unity in the current crisis: "Stop fighting! Let's unite!" This is likely bec...
04/20/2020

Day 40: Oddly, some people are calling for unity in the current crisis: "Stop fighting! Let's unite!" This is likely because they habitually think uniting is the way to solve all problems. Uniting makes sense for a war where the scale matters against the enemy. Against a virus, however, it makes no sense. This is a problem of framing (or anthropomorphizing) the pandemic as an "enemy." The problem we are facing now is akin to solving a mathematical problem—uniting (desire for harmony or conformity in a group) would make us less effective in solving it. Groupthink is exactly what we want to avoid.

There is a joke in Japan that goes, "You can cross a red light without fear as long as everyone is doing it." What appears to be happening globally is that all the leaders are adopting the same solution because doing so is politically safest. Even if it turns out to be wrong, they can always point their fingers at everyone else.

This happened for the US invasion of Iraq. Everyone thought Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, so when they found none, Bush and the CIA did not have to be accountable for their false accusation. The fact that Hussein was telling the truth and that there were some people saying he didn't have WMD didn't matter. In the end, nobody took responsibility for the false accusation, because practically everyone thought he had them. Likewise, even if the containment strategy now employed by the majority of the nations turn out to be wrong, nobody would need to be accountable for it. This is the political advantage of following the herd.

This is why I admire the courage of the Swedish leaders. Even if they turn out to be wrong, we can at least learn from their experience. (My view is that their idea is right, but the execution is not.) If everyone adopted the same solution, we are not going to learn anything afterward, and if that solution turns out to be wrong, it will lead to a global catastrophe.

With the Japanese joke, the drivers are humans too. If they see a herd of people crossing a red light, they won't drive into them. Unfortunately, this isn't true for a virus.

This is primarily in response to The Atlantic article titled "Stop Blaming Black People for Dying of the Coronavirus" by...
04/16/2020
Be Careful Before You Accuse Someone of Racism in Fighting COVID-19 - DYSKE

This is primarily in response to The Atlantic article titled "Stop Blaming Black People for Dying of the Coronavirus" by Ibram X. Kendi.

https://dyske.com/paper/2094

For many people, racism is one of the most frightening and dreaded accusations. They avoid it at all costs, which has the unfortunate consequence of suppressing open debate, independent thinking, facts, and truth. In fighting the current crisis, this can lead to devastating consequences if we are…

Day 35: My kid made the marinara sauce for this tortellini by watching a TikTok video. It must have been hard—I mean not...
04/16/2020

Day 35: My kid made the marinara sauce for this tortellini by watching a TikTok video. It must have been hard—I mean not the marinara sauce, but cooking from a TikTok video. This must be the first time she learned something from TikTok.

The other day, I was researching about teenage brains, and I came across some interesting facts. They (I mean their brains) are lazy, moody, selfish, and disorganized. I didn't know because I was not a typical teenager.

She is not particularly lazy, moody, selfish, and disorganized, but even if she was, now I know they are just part of the phase; it doesn't mean she'll be that way forever if I don't intervene. Her brain will eventually mature, and those problems will go away. In fact, I think that is what happened to my wife.

My kid seems to be doing fine with quarantine even though she complains about it every now and then. During the day, it's like she is not even here. Whenever I knock and peek in, she is always on the bed. According to my research, that's where teens are supposed to spend most of their life.

At the beginning of the quarantine, she told me she was concerned that she might get Stockholm syndrome and end up liking me. I said she would need a captor for that, but thinking about it later, that might not be true. Maybe the condition for the syndrome is that you do not see anyone else. If you have no human contact, anyone you have would be better than no one. So, I might be better than nobody.

Once a day, she seems to receive a divine intervention and starts doing something productive, like cooking, cleaning, decorating, reorganizing, etc.. I'm not sure what causes that intervention. I haven't noticed any specific pattern. It may be a particular video on TikTok that she comes across.

At night, all three of us tend to meet and discuss something about human nature. Tonight, it was about some fashion designer on Project Runway bitching about designing for a "real" woman, and about what it means to be nice to other people. I told her it's no use trying to be nice because whatever you need to repress to be nice is exactly what comes out as mean. Just let yourself be. You are fine the way you are.

Here is my analysis of Google's mobile phone data. How different boroughs responded to the shelter-in-place order. Why d...
04/15/2020
What Google’s Mobility Change Data Tell Us About COVID-19 Infection Rates - DYSKE

Here is my analysis of Google's mobile phone data. How different boroughs responded to the shelter-in-place order. Why different boroughs have different infection rates.

https://dyske.com/paper/2092

Google published the data that show the decline in activities at key locations from February 23 to April 5, 2020. They have these data because they have a statistically significant pool of Android smartphone users, and are able to see how people moved.The locations they tracked are…

04/13/2020

The data for death rate by race published by New York City immediately prompted many to conclude that the reason blacks and Latinos are dying at higher rates must be because they are poorer, live in smaller apartments, commute longer, and have jobs with a higher risk of infection. Here is an example:

https://theintercept.com/2020/04/09/nyc-coronavirus-deaths-race-economic-divide/

Here is the original data:

https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/imm/covid-19-deaths-race-ethnicity-04082020-1.pdf

Now, if you are Asian, you will likely see that something is amiss here because the article does not mention Asians. There is nothing wrong with drawing those conclusions but not by ignoring one major racial group. If we are going to analyze the data and draw conclusions, we have to account for all the racial groups and see if our hypothesis holds up.

In New York City, Asians have the highest poverty rate at 24.1%, followed by Hispanic 23.9%, black 19.2%, and white 13.4%. See the data here:

https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/opportunity/pdf/NYCPov-Brochure-2018-Digital.pdf

For some, these numbers might be surprising, because many people think Asians are rich. Some are indeed rich, and if you are white, you likely know only these rich Asians, and the rest are invisible to you—hence the assumption.

If poverty were a significant cause of death from COVID-19, Asians should have the highest rate, but they have the lowest. How do we explain that?

Do poor Asians somehow avoid long commute? Many Chinese workers in Chinatown commute from Flushing in cramped shuttle busses with even less ventilation. Many others take the subway from Brooklyn's Chinatown and Flushing, just like blacks and Latinos. Many Chinese immigrants sleep in bunk beds with many others. Many of them work in restaurants serving and delivering food. Many of them work in retail and healthcare. So, none of those theories holds up if we examine Asians.

Perhaps these theories turn out to be correct in the end, but what is interesting to note is that people who propose these theories do not even try to take Asians into considerations. Asians are simply put aside as an anomaly or an "other" that does not need to be accounted for.

For our current crisis, we would be better off if we didn't follow our leaders, but let them follow us. #coronavirus #co...
04/12/2020
Don’t Follow the Leaders—Let Them Follow Us - DYSKE

For our current crisis, we would be better off if we didn't follow our leaders, but let them follow us. #coronavirus #covid19 #covid_19

During this pandemic, we would be better off ignoring what politicians are saying. Here is why.It may seem counter-intuitive, especially for Westerners, to imagine solutions bubbling up from the people because we are used to thinking of our smart, competent leaders providing solutions to all our…

04/12/2020

How San Francisco managed the pandemic so far is a great story, but what I’m puzzled about is this: Now what? Here is the analogy I can make for San Francisco’s situation. They saw a bunch of zombies closing in on them from far away, so they quickly began building walls with bricks. By the time they finished, only a few zombies had managed to get inside of the walls, which meant it was easy for them to kill these zombies. So, now they are celebrating their victory. But soon enough, they’ll realize that they haven’t thought about how to go outside of the wall in the future. They can’t stay inside forever; everyone will eventually starve to death.

This is the part where nobody seems to have a solution. The current crisis is more like a marathon than a sprint. You could use all of your energy to get to the first checkpoint before anyone else but then what do you do for the rest? Here, energy is equivalent to economy. Shutting down a city is very costly. Economically, there is a limit to how long a city can afford to shut down its economy. There is also a limit to how long the world can do so.

Imagine if China decided to shut down the whole economy and continued to do so out of an abundance of precaution. Where would all of our medical supplies and equipment come from? This decision might be wise for their own people but would be devastating for the rest of the world. And, over time, the things we deem as “essential” will keep broadening as our current supplies run out. For instance, all the supplies needed to maintain our subway cars and busses. If they cannot maintain the cars, what we currently call “essential workers” won’t be able to get to work. Who would be making the screws and lubricants if everyone decided to stay inside the walls?

The Asian countries that succeeded in the “suppression” strategy like SF were able to reopen their economy only because they are able to switch back to the proactive strategy of contact tracing. As far as I know, not even a single Western country has succeeded in proactive containment.

Proactive containment means, even as the virus infiltrates through your borders, you are able to track every single case of it and prevent it from spreading. The only reason Taiwan is able to keep the economy open is that they are armed with a database of their citizens with their travel and medical records. They can preemptively identify high-risk individuals and test them even before they show any symptoms.

South Korea can track every citizen’s movement via their mobile phones. So, upon identifying an infected person, they can trace back their movements and identify others he had contact with.

What Western nations can do this? Certainly not the US. So, what is our strategy for breaking down the walls and dealing with the invasion of zombies again? We haven’t answered this fundamental question.

This is the big elephant that not many people are discussing. Without the solutions for this part, we can’t claim victory to this crisis yet.

Although New York’s handling of this crisis gets an F, the bright side is that it will produce many citizens who are immune to the virus. Eventually, it could be these people with antibodies who can go kill the zombies outside of the San Francisco walls. They could function as a rescue team.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/04/coronavirus-san-francisco-london-breed/609808/

Day 30: Who would've thought of cashiers at supermarkets as heroes before the current crisis? I now see many different w...
04/10/2020

Day 30: Who would've thought of cashiers at supermarkets as heroes before the current crisis? I now see many different workers and businesses in a completely different light.

It started with healthcare workers because they are the most immediate group of people who can save lives. But then we began to see the cashiers as "essential workers" too who are saving our lives. But if they cannot get to work, they cannot perform their essential duties, which lead to thinking of bus and train operators as essential workers too. But they too cannot perform their duties if the trains and buses start breaking down, which will lead to the maintenance workers being classified as "essential." But they too won't be able to perform their duties if their supplies run out, like lubricants and screws. Sooner or later, we would have to include the people who make lubricants and screws as essential workers, even though they had never thought of their jobs as saving lives.

Ultimately people like entertainers may seem the only nonessential workers, but that isn't true either. As the Chinese saying goes, "If you have but two pennies left, buy a loaf of bread with one and a flower with the other." What would be the point of surviving if there is nothing to be enjoyed in life? Why should we survive for the sake of surviving?

In this way, sooner or later, we will realize that everyone is an essential worker, and no amount of money can solve this problem if we cannot work.

The desire to restart the economy isn't only about greed. Even if we were to send a million-dollar check to everyone in the world, if we all stayed home, everyone will eventually die because, in the long run, what everyone does is essential. It is only an effect of time that makes some people appear as essential at this moment. The longer we freeze our economy, the more damage we will inflict on the complex web of dependencies. Rebuilding it will be a long, painful process. Meanwhile, the people of impoverished nations who are barely surviving without the virus will begin dying first. We cannot just think about whose lives we can immediately save. @ New York, New York

Day 30: Who would've thought of cashiers at supermarkets as heroes before the current crisis? I now see many different w...
04/10/2020

Day 30: Who would've thought of cashiers at supermarkets as heroes before the current crisis? I now see many different workers and businesses in a completely different light.

It started with healthcare workers because they are the most immediate group of people who can save lives. But then we began to see the cashiers as "essential workers" too who are saving our lives. But if they cannot get to work, they cannot perform their essential duties, which lead to thinking of bus and train operators as essential workers too. But they too cannot perform their duties if the trains and buses start breaking down, which will lead to the maintenance workers being classified as "essential." But they too won't be able to perform their duties if their supplies run out, like lubricants and screws. Sooner or later, we would have to include the people who make lubricants and screws as essential workers, even though they had never thought of their jobs as saving lives.

Ultimately people like entertainers may seem the only nonessential workers, but that isn't true either. As the Chinese saying goes, "If you have but two pennies left, buy a loaf of bread with one and a flower with the other." What would be the point of surviving if there is nothing to be enjoyed in life? Why should we survive for the sake of surviving?

In this way, sooner or later, we will realize that everyone is an essential worker, and no amount of money can solve this problem if we cannot work.

The desire to restart the economy isn't only about greed. Even if we were to send a million-dollar check to everyone in the world, if we all stayed home, everyone will eventually die because, in the long run, what everyone does is essential. It is only an effect of time that makes some people appear as essential at this moment. The longer we freeze our economy, the more damage we will inflict on the complex web of dependencies. Rebuilding it will be a long, painful process. Meanwhile, the people of impoverished nations who are barely surviving without the virus will begin dying first. We cannot just think about whose lives we can immediately save.

Address

New York, NY
10009

Alerts

Be the first to know and let us send you an email when DYSKE posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Contact The Business

Send a message to DYSKE:

Videos

Nearby media companies


Comments

I am black. I took the SHSAT, passed it and attended and graduated from Stuyvesant HS with honors. My wife was accepted to Bronx Science (another great specialized high school). We did not take any test prep classes. We didn’t have to because our entire academic careers reflected the educational values of our West Indian immigrant parents who made education more important than anything else except for God himself. It is no secret: immigrant groups are driven to succeed, and they pass this insatiable appetite for academic success and excellence unto their children. When other families adopt this value—when they make hard work and indefatigable diligence normative for their children, then we will not have to create shortcuts and quotas, for excellence comes from within. So let’s stop blaming the Asian families who sacrifice nearly everything to get their children the education they value the most. If a culture has found the secret to success academically, why don’t we simply emulate them instead of seeking to immolate them?