About marc

I am a scientist interested in laser safety, modeling and simulation, and statistics. I speak some Spanish, German, and Chinese.

The Confederate Flag

Today I had a discussion with a colleague on the “Confederate Flag” (the most common representation is not any of the three official iterations of the Confederate Flag). I hope I bored her to tears, but I find the topic interesting. I may have to expound upon this topic.

Gig Work

Today I found a author/editor whose work I know complaining that he had been applying for jobs. The context was that he has been a gig worker for some time (to the extent that he may be considered internet famous). I have found the idea of gig work unseemly for as long as I’ve been aware of it. Like so many things these days, I see it more as a symptom of a systemic problem.

There have long been freelancers. Though the word itself is only from the early 19th century, the concept of mercenary goes back at least to medieval times in Europe, and has analogs in other cultural systems.

The freelancer can be quite a bargain:

  1. The equipment (the “lance”) is literally free. A musician or another artist generally brings along the tools of his trade.
  2. The training he brings was already acquired prior to the employment, so it is also free.
  3. The employer generally has little or no obligation to continue compensation after termination.
  4. There is no implied continuity of support before or after the term of employment.
  5. The employer may renegotiate the contract in his favor at his pleasure.

The important feature of the last three points is that there is a required context. This context is that there should be little or no safety net. Any social safety net will work against these features. Insurance – be it unemployment, health, disability, etc. – provides a level of assistance that reduces the level of urgency intrinsic to a spell of unemployment. As such, the bargaining power of the potential employer is greatly reduced.

Since FDR, the Republican Party has made a religion of dismantling the social safety net.

The concept of the “gig,” coupled with this weakening of support, allows for the greater power of the employer over the employed. The combined result is the rapid upward transfer of wealth from the employed to the employer.

I Lied

I kept trying to revise my model. Unfortunately, it is difficult to cleanly factor in the social distancing and shutdown portion. But this will soon be alleviated, as those in power are apparently angry at the slowing of the upward transfer of wealth that occurs in a shutdown. As such, we will soon resume the exponential rise. Then the 2019 novel corona virus will cease to be referred to colloquially as COVID-19. It will be thenceforth be known as “The American Flu” or something of that flavor.

I’m Actually Working, I Swear

I’m working on an analysis. It seems that, despite Trump’s criminally late response, there is some good news. While the inaction of the incompetent imbecile and his toadies (along with some good old-fashioned corruption) will kill many Americans, the infection rate seems to be breaking away from a strict exponential growth. While the US will surely become the late-comer epicenter of this plague, It is likely that we will not hit the worsts predictions of my earlier model. As I had stated in my assumptions, the effects of isolation (even limited and voluntary) will help. Most of the country hasn’t been hit as hard as New York. Donald has a particular hatred of New York. It was a place where all who knew of him knew him as a fraud. And now this enclave, home to nearly 5% of Americans, will feel death at the hands of a petulant child in the guise of an obese elderly child molester who serves a foreign master.

Tomorrow, I’ll Revisit the Trend

There was a small amount of good news recently. Today’s tally fell short of my initial prediction. Yesterday’s tally of 68,211 was markedly less than the rough prediction I had made two weeks prior to that date (100,000). That is good. But all it really means is that the minimal measures taken thus far have slightly curbed the otherwise exponential growth in the infection rate. Tomorrow, I’ll try to explain that better with some math. Though I should note that one day after that prediction (and as I type these words) the number of identified COVID-19 cases in the US stands at 85,991.