contrarian, society

21st CENTURY FAIRYTALES: THE NATURE OF BORIS, JEREMY SPOKE IN, AND CIRCE CASTING PEARLS BEFORE SWINE

Greetings friends and neighbours!

Welcome to tonight’s etherside chat.

I’d like to tell you three stories. I’ve picked two fairytales and one Victorian version of an ancient Greek story, all three sourced in a country called England in the British Isles. You’ve probably heard of this island nation. It’s where Harry Potter was born. Game of Thrones, set in Westeros, is an England mashup and the book’s plot was in-part inspired by the English War of the Roses between the Houses of York (Stark) and Lancaster (Lannister). England. Not to be confused with Britain, but I don’t need to tell you that.

I’ve titled the first fairytale The Nature of Boris. It’s about a Scorpion called Boris and a frog who’s supposed to represent the English electorate. The fable is an ancient lesson, but our version is contemporary. The second fairytale, also based on an updated classical fable, titled Jeremy Spoke In, carries on where Boris concluded. Together, the pair make an allegory for England today.

The third story is the longest. It’s a reworking of the Ancient Greek myth called Circe Casting Pearls Before Swine. It’s somewhat tragic.

THREE FAIRYTALES FOR THE 21st CENTURY

BORIS

There’s an old fable called the Scorpion and the Frog. It’s about a Scorpion who wants to get across a dangerous stream. The charming Scorpion asks a Frog to carry him over on its back, promising not to sting the Frog in return.

The Frog believes the Scorpion because it’s in the Scorpion’s best interest to keep his promise. The Frog knows if the Scorpion stings him mid-crossing, it would be both of them drowning.

The Frog sets off through the water with the Scorpion is on his back. Halfway across, the Scorpion stings the Frog, paralysing him.

As they’re both drowning to death, the Frog asks “Why?” and the Scorpion, with its shock of dirty blonde insect-hair, replies “It’s my nature.


JEREMY

A bearded man is tending an allotment on the bank of a stream. He’s watching the short-lived cooperation between the frog and the scorpion turn to tragedy.

His plan was to work with his tomato plants and soon as he arrived; he had set his old iPhone 6 counting down from 30 minutes. 30 minutes was the precise time he allowed himself for allotment tending. 29:59:59.

He had to check the stakes and the cages, boost the soil with nitrogen, adjust mesh that supported the plants so the tomatoes grew healthy on properly spaced stems. 29:59:50.

The man noticed one of his tomato plants had fallen over. At once he set to work, placing an upturned hazel V over the plant, threading mesh around the cage supports and then the tomato stems, to lift it into a recovery position. 29:58:33.

Next to the man is a fishing net on a pole. He used it sometimes, to fish tadpoles from the stream, to teach his children about nature.

The bearded man spots a frog struggling across the stream. He watches its progress while he treats his allotment soil. He sees the scorpion stinging the frog and, clicking his tongue knowingly, mumbles “mother nature is a cruel mistress.” 29:56:04.

He remembers the fishing net on a pole. The pole would be long enough to scoop the frog and the scorpion out of the stream to safety. The bearded man looks at the phone’s countdown. 29:54;58.

The man’s coarse fingers work expertly at the tomato-plant mesh. He tends to his young, promising tomato plants one at a time. 14:35:20.

“Be a fine crop by harvest,” he says.

He puts the rest of the half hour to excellent use, working the allotment and pondering how to best divide up his product between the local church collections.


CIRCE CASTING PEARLS BEFORE SWINE

Circe ranks as one of the greatest witches of mythology. A beautiful enchantress – she likes nothing better than to turn men into pigs. It is only when Odysseus the wanderer lands on her island, she finally shaken out of her psychopathic pastoral revenge.

After the Trojan War, Odysseus was on his way home from Troy. He survived a nasty brush with a one-eyed giant, Polyphemus the Cyclops, but not all of his men were so lucky. The Sea God Poseidon was angry at Odysseus for having blinded his son, Polyphemus, and destroyed all his ships except the one he was sailing in.

Now he and his men sailed on across the wine dark sea until once again they caught sight of an island. They slipped their boat into a snug little harbour, and there they slept for two entire days.

The following morning, Odysseus said they should explore the island and discover who lived there. At these words, his men grew afraid. They remembered the terrible Cyclops who had kept them prisoner in his cave, and had devoured some of their companions.

Odysseus divided his men into two groups, so that if one should get into trouble, the other could come and help. He was leader of one group, and Lord Eurylochus (Yuri-Locus) was the leader of the other. They drew straws to see which group should go and explore first, and as Eurylochus drew the short straw, he and his men had to set out and explore the woods.After walking two or three hours, the men came to a clearing. They saw a little house surrounded by wild beasts—wolves, leopards, and lions. One leopard sprang towards Eurylochus. He thought that he was about to die, but instead of eating him, the leopard rubbed up against him like a cat and purred.

The window of the house was open, and inside a woman was singing. Her voice was mysterious but very beautiful, and the men felt themselves being drawn towards the house, for they all longed to see if the woman was as wonderful as her voice. They walked past the fierce-looking beasts, who in fact were really quite tame. Inside they were greeted by a tall and elegant woman, her black hair done up in braids – she did indeed look very lovely.

Her name was Circe, and she invited the men to sit down at her table and drink some of her soup—they readily agreed.

As they drank the soup, Eurylochus said: “When I drew the short straw I cursed my evil luck, but how wrong I was! Our hostess is not so terrible after all, eh men?”

They did not realise that though she was beautiful, Circe was in fact a witch. She had slipped a magic potion into their soup, and when they had finished drinking it, she rapped the table with a magic wand and said: “Now you swine, be off to the pigsty where you belong.”

The men looked up, astonished. “Madam—Did you just call us pigs?” asked Eurylochus. But Circe just laughed in reply, for the nose of Eurylochus was already growing into a pink snout, and his hands were becoming hairy trotters. In fact, all his men were swiftly turning into pigs. They tried to weep and cry out, but all they could do was to snort and squeal.

“Now do as I say,” cried Circe. “Pigs belong in the sty, not in my kitchen. Be off with you!” And off they trotted to their new home.

When the men did not return to the ship, Odysseus grew worried, and he decided to go and search for them. He set out across the island in the direction of the smoke he had seen from the cottage. While he was walking through the woods, he met a young man – more of a boy, whose beard was still soft and downy on his face.

“Stranger, what are you doing here?” asked the young man.

“I’m going in search of my men who are lost,” said Odysseus.

“No doubt they are guests of the lovely Circe. You won’t find them in her house, but outside in the pigsty. Beautiful though she is, she is really a witch, and she turns men into beasts. If you step inside her house, she will turn you into a pig too.”

“My men—turned into pigs!” exclaimed Odysseus. “Is this how you treat guests on this island?”

The young man did not reply, but took a small plant out of his knapsack and handed it to Odysseus. Its stem was black, and its flower was as white as milk. “Eat this,” he said. “It will make you safe against all magic tricks and potions. The name of this plant is molly. It is dangerous for mere mortals to pluck, for only gods can take it out of the ground safely.”

When he spoke these words, Odysseus realised that this was no ordinary young man, but Hermes, the messenger of the gods. He ate the molly plant and went on his way.

Soon he came to the house in the woods that was guarded by wild beasts. Circe’s lovely singing voice drifted out through the window, and Odysseus walked boldly past the beasts and into the house.

Inside he was greeted by the beautiful witch, who told him to sit down and try some of her soup. While she was heating it, she slipped some magic potion into the broth, for she intended to turn Odysseus into a pig like the others. She gave the soup to him, he drank it all down, and then she took out her wand and rapped the table with it.

“Now be off with you to the sty, pig-face,” she cried.

Odysseus did not turn into a pig, but instead leapt to his feet, drew his sword and rushed at Circe. She, terrified, let out a shriek and fell to his feet begging for mercy.

“Please great Lord—do not take such offence. It was just my strange sense of humour. It comes from living alone for so long, here in the woods with nothing but wild beasts for company. It is many years since I have seen a strong, brave man like you. Come, let me kiss you…”

Odysseus let the beautiful witch kiss him, but all the time he was watching to see that she tried no more of her tricks. She called her servant girls and commanded them to prepare a bath for their visitor. They brought hot and cold water and mixed the bath until it was just right. When Odysseus had bathed and rested, he found that they had prepared a delicious meal for him.

“Come, why do you look so sad?” asked Circe. “Let us eat together and wash the food down with honeyed wine.”

“How can a leader eat,” asked Odysseus, “when he knows that his companions are living outside in the muddy pigsty?”

When he spoke these words, Circe knew that there was no use pretending any longer that she was anything other than a witch. She went out to the pigsty and rubbed a magic ointment onto the animals. Then she waved her wand, and they changed back into men, only younger and better looking than they were before. They wept, for what they had been through was truly terrible.

When they had recovered, Odysseus went back to the ship to fetch the rest of his men. They were all united at Circe’s house and sat down to a wonderful feast of celebration.

The Greeks stayed with the witch Circe for an entire month—and she tried no more of her magic tricks on them. One morning Odysseus spoke to her: “Oh beautiful enchantress—too long have we enjoyed your hospitality. We must continue our journey to our home on the rocky island of Ithaca, but unfortunately we are completely lost. We do not know these seas. Can you direct us by the safest route?”

Circe replied: “Lord Odysseus, if it were up to me, I would keep you here always—but I understand that you must be on your way to your home and your lovely wife, Queen Penelope. There is no safe route for you and your men to return home; for when you leave here, you must pass through a narrow passage between the rocks of Scylla and the whirlpool of Charybdis. Both are perilous—for Scylla is a many-armed monster who yelps like a dog. If you sail close to her cliffs, she will reach down and grab some of your men and shove them into her mouth. But if you sail too close to the whirlpool of Charybdis, your entire boat will be sunk down to the bottom of the sea and all of you will drown. It is a terrible choice to make but you are a leader – so plot your course as you see best. Next, if the gods permit you to pass through that dire strait, you will come to the island of the Sun where the great Sun God, Lord Apollo, keeps his herd of sacred cows. Do as I say—steer clear of the island and do not land there. Nothing and nobody escapes the eyes of Apollo as he looks down from the sky. If you value your lives, avoid his island!”

So Odysseus and his men said farewell to the lovely Circe and sailed on their way. After three days, just as she had foretold, they reached the narrow passage that she had described. Up on the cliffs they could hear the monster Scylla, yelping like a dog that has been left tied up for too long. As they drew nearer, they could hear the terrible gurgling sound of the whirlpool, Charybdis.

“This is indeed a terrible choice”, thought Odysseus, “but is it a lesser evil to lose some of my men, than for all of us to drown? I must therefore chart my course closer to the cliffs than the whirlpool.”

He did not tell his men about Scylla, in case they lost heart and put down their oars. All his men’s eyes were on the dreadful whirlpool, gurgling like a cauldron. The men rowed as hard as they could, but as they passed beneath Scylla, she reached down to the ship. Odysseus fought her with his spear, desperately trying to stab at her arms, but he could not prevent her from snatching up six of his men. The others rowed on, crying for their companions.

Once they passed through the strait, they saw the island of the Sun, just as Circe had predicted.

“Thank heavens for land!” cried the men. Odysseus tried to tell them it was no good. They must not land, but sail on – for Circe had warned him of terrible danger should they set foot on the island belonging to the great Sun God, Lord Apollo.

“Are you a slave driver?” cried out Lord Eurylochus. “In your rush to reach home, you deny us all rest. We are still grieving for our six lost companions. You cannot order us to sail on. We will surely die of sadness and exhaustion.”

Seeing that the men meant rebellion, Odysseus allowed the ship to land with great misgiving in his heart. They found that the island was covered in green fields, and that fat cattle were grazing. The men waited for Odysseus to fall asleep and then killed two cows and ate roast meat on the beach. When the sun rose in the morning, bright Apollo saw what they had done, and said to Zeus, who is Lord of all the gods:

“Great Lord—I am wronged. Those rascals and ruffians who crew the ship of that tricky Greek, Odysseus, have killed the sacred cattle that bring joy to my heart. If you will not punish them, I shall go down to the land of the dead and light up the gloomy underworld. No more shall I shine in the skies above the world.”

When Zeus heard these words, he replied: “It is indeed a crime to take what rightly belongs to the gods. When these men set sail tomorrow, I shall hit their boat with a burning thunderbolt.”

The next day, Odysseus told his men to set sail. When they were out at sea, the sun disappeared behind a black cloud. The angry skies filled with lightening and an electric flash shot down from the hand of Lord Zeus and hit their boat, ripping it into two. All the men fell into the raging sea. Odysseus clung for his life to the broken mast of the ship and somehow survived the storm. The sun shone once again on the now calm waters, and Odysseus saw land. Using his last strength, he swam into the shore and staggered onto the beach where he fell down, exhausted.


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CORONAVIRUS ANTIBODY TEST WITH EU (CE) AND US (FDA) APPROVAL – BLOOD SAMPLE WITH 18 MINUTES TO 98.1% – 100% ACCURACY – AVAILABLE NOW

While the world waits for a Covid-19 vaccine and coronavirus testing remains a hot topic in many countries battling to get coronavirus under control, it looks like Roche (world’s largest biomedical corporation, headquartered in Switzerland) has the regulatory certification, accuracy, processing speed, test cost and infrastructure to meet global demand. Governments in Europe and North America are moving to use this test as the mainstay of their public health testing, tracking and demographic plotting.

  • Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody test available in Europe (and elsewhere in the world) with the CE mark issued by the European Union.
  • Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody test available in the United States with Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 produced by Roche with global capacity delivered tests in “high double digit millions per month” serving healthcare systems in Europe2 and North America1.
  • As of 24 April 2020, no study has tested whether antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 confers immunity to subsequent infection by this virus in humans4.

NOTE: for countries with specific regulatory requirements, local approval timelines apply. There may be other country-specific regulations, such as import requirements, which will determine when the test becomes available locally.

There’s no reason governments should withhold coronavirus testing from the public, except where the Govt has decided to spend less and let infections and fatalities be higher.


BACKGROUND

Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 is an immunoassay for the in-vitro qualitative detection of antibodies (including IgG) to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in human serum and plasma.

Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 serology test is a blood sample. Based on in-solution double-antigen sandwich format. Blood samples taken 14 days after PCR-confirmed infection process Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 test with 100% accuracy.

Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 assay has 99.81% specificity3 and shows no cross-reactivity to the four human coronaviruses causing common cold. Detection of other coronaviruses (non-SARS-CoV-2) detected antibodies at 100% sensitivity.

European CE mark and US FDA EUA (Emergency Use) certification extant for Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 serology test.


PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

  • Hospitals and reference laboratories can run the Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 on the Roche Cobas E411 Analyser.
  • Unit price average $24,500 for 86 tests per hour standard single model.
  • Result (per test) takes approximately 18 minutes start to finish. Higher model Analysers (at greater unit cost) can increase tests per hour throughput to up to 300 per hour.
  • All the Roche Analysers are compatible with the coronavirus Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 test.
  • Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 antigen test available worldwide, with Roche producing up to one billion tests annually.
  • Roche Analysers available in North America, Europe, Japan, China, Asia-Pacific, Australia, New Zealand and other territories.

REFERENCES

[1] The Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) authority allows FDA to help strengthen the nation’s public health protections against CBRN threats by facilitating the availability and use of medical countermeasures needed during public health emergencies https://www.fda.gov/home

[2] CE-IVD marking is granted  through completion of a comprehensive technical validation and self declaration under the European Directive for In Vitro Diagnostic Medical Devices.

[3] Full specifications of Roche’s Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody test and immunoassay systems, including throughput, available via Roche website (or local partner/distributor).

[4] https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/immunity-passports-in-the-context-of-covid-19

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pushback, questions

HOW TO USE YOUR MAC WEBCAM AS MOBILE PHONE CAMERA FOR ANDROID OR OSX (IPHONE CAMERA) – GOOGLE NLP

The 2019/2020 updates to Google search parser have probably served the interests of the corporate advertising making up Alphabet Inc’s biggest revenue stream. Fair enough. It’s a pity this focus has collateral damage, downgrading the NLP (natural language processing) of the once-excellent Google search engine parser itself.

Here’s an example.

I search for “how do I use my iphone as a webcam for my mac laptop?”. The results are mostly on point. It correctly identifies I’m asking about an app that’ll turn my iPhone into an extra camera accessible by my Apple Macbook laptop.

Next, I search for “how do I use my mac laptop as an iphone camera?” or “using laptop camera on iphone” or “how do I use laptop camera through my smartphone”. Variations on a theme. I want to search for info on how to access / use the camera on my laptop, through my iPhone. It’s the opposite of the first search. Sadly, this simple request becomes a demonstration of the degraded Google NLP.

No matter what I try, I can’t get Google to search for a solution to using laptop camera through smartphone. Every result is about using the smartphone as a webcam for the laptop. This coarsening of the Google parser is relatively recent and it sucks.

It used to be an art to find good wording, to narrow down search results until they were on point no matter how esoteric the info required. It should concern us all that this trend is infecting across corporatized tech the world over. It’s the opposite of evolution. Tech improves, function degrades.

If anyone reading this is able to get Google to search for using the laptop camera on the smartphone (as opposed to using the phone camera on the laptop), send a message or write a comment.

I suspect what you’ll find is more and more examples of the dumbing down of the Google search engine as Alphabet cuts the fat on its results. The fat being anything that isn’t a product or service or media, or marketing amplifier for a product or service or media.

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external, society

CORONAVIRUS TESTS -WHAT’S AVAILABLE, WHAT’S COMING, WHAT’S IN TRIAL – JUST THE FACTS (APRIL 2020)

Three basic test types are the focus here, and it’s these we will need to have mass-produced and distributed to a significant percentage of the population. Anything less risks prolonging lockdown or making the relaxing of lockdown a gamble. The gamble may pay off, but it may also end up with a death toll in the millions.

Whether you back “gamble!” or “don’t risk lives!” – and where this preference changes, along the infection + fatality + recovery progress line – it’s a question for individuals and its answer is more about your own personality and outlook than any objective data. Some are more gung-ho about life’s ups and downs (everything is a risk, get living). Others are more socially minded about doing the best for the most (all in it together, we’ll beat this if we unite). Whatever.

Here’s the data. Three test types. A bunch of approved, clinical trial and in the pipeline tests. Best thing we can all do, gung-ho or group-first, is keep a close eye on the facts – not just the numbers but the medical supply chains, testing most of all – and hold to account anyone presuming to take authority (be it the President, State Governors, City Mayors, federal, state and city officials). Keep an eye on where the money is going. Keep an eye on where the supply chains aren’t working. Keep an eye on where the institutions are working and where they’re failing. Get loud about any incompetence, corruption, grift, bullshit misdirection, bogus propaganda, etc.

Stay safe.

APRIL 18th 2020

Type of testTime to resultsWhat it tells usWhat it cannot tell usFigure
Rapid diagnostic test (RDT)10-30 minutesThe presence or absence (qualitative) of antibodies against the virus present in patient serum.The quantifiable amount of antibodies in the patient serum, or if these antibodies are able to protect against future infectionRDT figure
Enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)1-5 hoursThe presence or absence (quantitative) of antibodies against the virus present in patient serum.If the antibodies are able to protect against future infection.ELISA figure
Neutralization assay3-5 daysThe presence of active antibodies in patient serum that are able to inhibit virus growth ex vivo, in a cell culture system. Indicates if the patient is protected against future infection.It may miss antibodies to viral proteins that are not involved in replication.PRNT figure

Tests approved in the United States

Country of developmentUS/China
Type of Serological TestRDT
Authors/CompanyCellex Inc.
DescriptionRDT, lateral flow assay, which detects IgM and IgG to the nucelocapside protein of SARS-CoV-2. The sensitivity is 93.8% and specificity is 95.6%, when tested at 2 Chinese hospitals in a total of 128 COVID19 positive patients, and 250 COVID19 negative patients (as detected by RT-qPCR).
Phase of developmentApproved by FDA for EUA on diagnostics, has CE approval
Proposed releaseavailable for purchase by research labs/healthcare providers (product number 5513)
DateApril 1, 2020
Country of developmentUSA
Type of Serological TestRDT
Authors/CompanyChemBio
DescriptionThis test detects IgM and IgG antibodies to the nucleocapsid (N) protein of SARS-CoV-2. Sensitivity and specificity values were not released.
Phase of  developmentApproved for EUA by the FDA
Proposed releaseApril 14, 2020
DateApril 15, 2020
Country of developmentUSA
Type of Serological TestModified ELISA
Authors/CompanyVITROS Immunodiagnostic Products Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Total Reagent Pack/Total Calibrator (Ortho Clinical Diagnostics)
DescriptionThis test is a proprietary ELISA, and detects total IgM and IgG, but does not discern between the two. The target antigen is SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Sensitivity was 83% when tested in 36 samples known positive, and sensitivity was 100% out of 400 known SARS-CoV-2 negative samples. Sensitivity increases as day from symptom onset increases. This must be used on the platform VITROS® XT 7600 Integrated System, the VITROS® 3600 Immunodiagnostic System, the VITROS® 5600 Integrated System and VITROS® ECi/ECiQ Immunodiagnostic systems.
Phase of  developmentApproved for EUA by the FDA
Proposed releaseApril 14, 2020
DateApril 15, 2020
Country of developmentUSA
Type of Serological TestELISA
Authors/CompanyMount Sinai Laboratory COVID-19 ELISA IgG Antibody Test
DescriptionThis test detects, qualitatively, IgG present in the serum of patients. The ELISA based method uses a 1:50 dilution of human serum that is flowed over a plate coated with the spike protein receptor binding domain (RBD). Sensitivity and specificity are not yet available.
Phase of  developmentApproved for EUA by the FDA
Proposed releaseApril 15, 2020
DateApril 16, 2020

Tests approved outside the United States

Country of developmentUS/China
Type of Serological TestRDT, solid phase immunochromatographic assay
Authors/CompanyAytu Biosciences/Orient Gene Biotech
DescriptionThe (COVID-19) IgG/IgM Rapid Test will assay patient antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 from blood or plasma samples. The sensitivity is 87.9% and specificity is 100% for IgG, and for IgM it is 97.2% and 100%, respectively.
Phase of developmentCE approved, used in China in clinical settings, awaiting FDA approval
Proposed releaseShipments should be ready by early April
DateMarch 10, 2020
Country of developmentUS/China
Type of Serological TestProprietary
Authors/CompanyScanWell Health/INNOVITA
DescriptionThis kit is for detection of IgG and IgM for SARS-CoV-2 in the blood, taking only 15 minutes, and is an at-home test. The test has 87.3% sensitivity and 100% specificity.
Phase of developmentCleared by China’s National Medical Products Administration (NMPA), and pending approval by US FDA
Proposed release6-8 weeks (May 1 to May 15), depending on FDA approval date
DateMarch 20, 2020
Country of developmentSingapore
Type of Serological TestNot explicity stated, though their “gold standard” is a neutralization assay
Authors/CompanySingapore/ Wang Lab
DescriptionThe Wang lab developed two tests. One, which has about 90% sensitivity, is rapid and uses recombinant viral proteins to detect reactive antibodies. The second is their “gold standard” and utilizes a viral neutralization assay but takes 3-5 days.
Phase of developmentDeployed in Singapore
Proposed releaseNot stated
DateMarch 1, 2020
Country of developmentChina
Type of Serological TestLateral flow assay (RDT)
Authors/CompanyGuangzhou Wondfo Biotech Co Ltd
DescriptionWondfo SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Test, which is a lateral flow assay that assays patient IgG and IgM. The article did not specify target antigens, sensitivity, or specificity
Phase of developmentCE/IVD, approved by NMPA in China for point of care testing
Proposed releaseCE/IVD in the EU
DateFeb. 22, 2020
Country of developmentChina
Type of Serological TestRDT (colloidal gold lateral flow assay)
Authors/CompanyGuangdong Hecin-Scientific
DescriptionTests for IgM against SARS-CoV-2.
Phase of developmentCleared by China’s National Medical Products Administration (NMPA)
Proposed releaseApproved for use in China
DateFeb. 22, 2020
Country of developmentChina
Type of Serological TestRDT
Authors/CompanyDynamiker
DescriptionThe test, DNK-1419-1, assays for patient IgG and IgM with 92% accuracy.
Phase of developmentThe NMPA has approved it in the 7th edition of Diagnostic and treatment protocol of COVID-19
Proposed releaseUsed in China, no other approvals to date
DateDate not given
Country of developmentThe Republic of Korea
Type of Serological TestRDT
Authors/CompanySD Biosensor
DescriptionUS supplier Henry Schein will distribute the test for IVD use only
Phase of  developmentApproved for diagnostic us outside the US, Research use only in US
Proposed release2-3 weeks
DateMarch 26, 2020
Country of developmentUS
Type of Serological TestELISA
Authors/CompanyMayoClinic/University of Minnesota
DescriptionMayoClinic is developing an ELISA to test for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2. The types of antibodies are not stated, nor is sensitivity or specificity.
Phase of  developmentClinical
Proposed releaseApril 6, 2020
DateApril 1, 2020
Country of developmentUSA
Type of Serological TestRDT
Authors/CompanyAdvaite
DescriptionRapCov Rapid COVID-19 Test is an in vitro diagnostic test for IgM and IgG antibodies. In a study with 18 healthy and 18 COVID-19 positive patients, the sensitivity was 89% and specificity was 100%. It should be noted that “specificity” was only performed on healthy patient samples, not patient samples from related viruses. Further testing is necessary to validate the test. It is currently being used to study community prevalence in Chester County, PA. https://advaite.com/press-release/advaite-deploys-covid-19-rapid-antibody-test-kits-to-chester-county-and-collaborates-with-pennsylvania-companies-to-scale-up-manufacturing/
Phase of  developmentResearch use only (IVD), not approved for diagnostic use. This company was not found on any FDA categorization of tests
Proposed releaseApril 2020
DateApril 6, 2020

Tests approved for research or surveillance purposes

Country of developmentUS
Type of Serological TestELISA
Authors/CompanyEpitope Diagnostics, Ltd
DescriptionKT-1032 tests for IgG to SARS-CoV-2, while KT-1033 tests for IgM to SARS-CoV-2. The kits do not state the antigens of interest.
Phase of developmentApproved by FDA, for clinical use only and for research use. Not for at home testing. The test itself has not been evaluated by the FDA
Proposed releaseOngoing
DateMarch 3, 2020
Country of developmentUS
Type of Serological TestRDT
Authors/CompanyCTK Biotech
DescriptionThe test, COVID-19 IgG/IgM Rapid Test, tests for patient IgG and IgM in a lateral flow assay.
Phase of developmentNot approved for use in the US, but available for purchase by research labs/healthcare providers
Proposed releaseavailable for purchase by research labs/healthcare providers and export out of the US
DateMarch 12, 2020
Country of developmentUS
Type of Serological TestRDT (colloidal gold lateral flow assay)
Authors/CompanyBioMedomics
DescriptionThis assay detects patient antibodies, IgG and IgM, on a lateral flow assay. It uses a recombinant viral antigen, though it does not state the specific antigen. The test is a 3 line read-out, one line for a control, one line to detect IgM, and one to detect IgG. Three lines indicates the patient has both IgG and IgM.
Phase of developmentCE/IVD, approved by FDA but only for research use
Proposed releaseCE/IVD, available for purchase by research labs/healthcare providers in the US, but only for research use
DateMarch 16, 2020
Country of developmentUS
Type of Serological TestRDT
Authors/CompanyRay Biotech
DescriptionThis test, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) IgM/IgG Rapid Test Kit, detects patient IgM and IgG to SARS-CoV-2 in patient blood samples. It detects antibodies against the viral N protein.
Phase of developmentCE/IVD, approved for research use only in the US. Approved for research use under FDA EUA.
Proposed releaseavailable for purchase by research labs/healthcare providers, CE/IVD approved
DateMarch 19, 2020
Country of developmentUS
Type of Serological TestELISA
Authors/CompanyCreative Diagnostics
DescriptionKit DEIASL019 detects patient IgG for SARS-CoV-2, and uses the whole virus lysate as the antibody binding target. The reported sensitivity and specificity are 100% (from 16 and 30 samples, respectively). The DEIA2020 kit only tests for patient IgG that reacts to N protein.
Phase of developmentNot approved for diagnostic use; for research use only
Proposed releaseavailable for purchase by research labs/healthcare providers, but not for diagnostic use
DateMarch 20, 2020
Country of developmentUS
Type of Serological TestELISA
Authors/CompanyEagle Biosciences
DescriptionThis company has two kits, one (KTR-1032) which targets patient IgG, and one (KTR-1033) that targets IgM. The target antigen is an “HRP-labeled-COVID-19 antigen.” They did not list sensitivity or specificity
Phase of developmentResearch use only, CE/IVD outside the US
Proposed releaseavailable for purchase by research labs/healthcare providers, but not for diagnostic use
DateDate not given
Country of developmentChina/US
Type of Serological TestRDT
Authors/CompanySure Biotech
DescriptionThe Coronavirus Rapid Test assays for IgG and IgM antibody in blood or plasma samples, with 92-96% accuracy.
Phase of developmentCE approved
Proposed releaseavailable for purchase by research labs/healthcare providers, CE approved
DateFeb. 2020
Country of developmentChina/US
Type of Serological TestRDT, immunofluorescence, colloidal gold
Authors/CompanyBioEasy/Shenzhen BioEasy Biotechnology Co.
DescriptionThere are three tests: 1) the 2019 nCoV Ag test, which assays sputum or nasal swabs for SARS-CoV-2 antigens and gives a fluorometric read out, 2) the 2019-nCoV Ag GICA test, which uses colloidal gold, and 3) the 2019 nCoV IgG/IgM GICA rapid test which assays for patient antibodies to the virus from blood samples
Phase of developmentCE/IVD approved
Proposed releaseavailable for purchase by research labs/healthcare providers, CE/IVD approved
DateDate not given
Country of developmentThe Republic of Korea
Type of Serological TestRDT (colloidal gold lateral flow assay)
Authors/CompanySugentech
DescriptionThis test is a colloidal gold lateral flow assay that can be read in 10 minutes, and measures presence of patient IgG and IgM.
Phase of developmentCE/IVD approved
Proposed releaseavailable for purchase by research labs/healthcare providers, CE/IVD approved
DateDate not given
Country of developmentThe Republic of Korea
Type of Serological TestRDT
Authors/CompanySD Biosensor
DescriptionThis company currently offers 3 tests. 1) The Standard Q COVID-19 IgM/IgG Duo which tests for both IgG and IgM patient antibodies to SARS-CoV-2. Sensitivity was 82% and specificity was 97% (based on data from 30 healthy donors and 33 COVID-19 positive individuals. 2) Standard Q COVID-19 Ag, which detects virus antigen from nasopharyngeal swabs, and 3) Standard F COVID-19 Ag FIA, which detects viral N protein present in nasopharyngeal swabs in a fluorescence based assay.
Phase of developmentKorea EUA approved
Proposed releaseavailable for purchase by research labs/healthcare providers, but not for diagnostic use
DateDate not given
Country of developmentSingapore
Type of Serological TestRDT, prescreen step
Authors/CompanySensing self
DescriptionThis is a pre-screening, at home test (though not authorized for at-home use yet). It tests for IgG and IgM antibodies, and is reported to be 92% accurate.
Phase of developmentCE certified awaiting FDA EUA.
Proposed releaseavailable for purchase by research labs/healthcare providers, CE/IVD approved
DateDate not given
Country of developmentGermany
Type of Serological TestELISAs
Authors/CompanyEuroimmun AG
DescriptionThis company has two tests, including EI 2606-9601 A, which tests for patient IgA, and EI 2606-9601 G, which tests for patient IgG. The target antigens were not stated, nor were specificity or sensitivity of tests.
Phase of developmentResearch use only, CE/IVD in EU
Proposed releaseCE/IVD in the EU
DateMarch 12, 2020
Country of developmentGermany
Type of Serological TestRDT, lateral flow assay
Authors/CompanyPharmACT
DescriptionThis RDT tests for IgM and IgG of patients, with 92-98% sensitivity in later stages of the infection (day 11-24) with 100% sensitivity.
Phase of developmentResearch use only
Proposed releaseAppears available for purchase by research labs/healthcare providers, but no clear approvals
DateDate not given
Country of developmentChina
Type of Serological TestRDT (colloidal gold lateral flow assay)
Authors/CompanyLiming Bio
DescriptionCOVID-19 IgG/IgM Combo Rapid Test Device is an RDT that tests for patient IgG and IgM antibodies. The sensitivity and specificity for total antibodies were 93.1 and 100%, respectively. For IgG, sensitivity is 82% and specificity is 100%. For IgM, the sensitivity is 62% and specificity is 100%.
Phase of developmentCE/IVD
Proposed releaseCE/IVD
DateFeb. 2020
Country of developmentChina
Type of Serological TestNot listed
Authors/CompanySnibe Co
DescriptionThe company provides two tests the 2019-nCoV IgG , and 2019-nCoV IgM tests. The test is a chemiluminescent immunoassay (CLIA). It has been clinically tested in China, though the exact specificity and sensitivity was not stated.
Phase of developmentCE/IVD approved
Proposed releaseavailable for purchase by research labs/healthcare providers, CE/IVD approved
DateFeb. 19, 2020
Country of developmentChina
Type of Serological TestELISA
Authors/CompanyBeijing Wantai
DescriptionThey offer, 1. Wantai SARS-CoV-2 Ab Rapid Test Kit, 2. Wantai SARS-CoV-2 IgM ELISA kit, and 3. Wantai SARS-CoV-2 Ab ELISA kit. The kits do not state which antigens are used as targets. 93.1% sensitivity and 100% specificity.
Phase of developmentApproved for Research use only, unclear if available in the US
Proposed releaseReleased in China
DateFeb. 25, 2020
Country of developmentChina
Type of Serological TestELISA
Authors/CompanyShenzhen Yhlo Biotech Company
DescriptionThis company provides 2 tests, the iFlash-SARS-CoV-2-IgG and the iFlash-SARS-CoV-2-IgM, which test for patient antibodies to the virus. The target antigen is not specified. The sensitivity of the IgG assay is over 90%, and specificity is over 95%. For the IgM test, the sensitivity and specificity are both over 95%, based on assaying over 1200 Chinese patient samples.
Phase of developmentCE/IVD approved
Proposed releaseavailable for purchase by research labs/healthcare providers, CE/IVD approved
DateFeb. 27, 2020
Country of developmentChina
Type of Serological TestRDT (colloidal gold lateral flow assay)
Authors/CompanySanuo Biotech
DescriptionThe SARS-Cov-2 Antibody Test strip tests for patient IgG and IgM. The press release did not disclose sensitivity or specificity of the test.
Phase of developmentCE/IVD approved
Proposed releaseavailable for purchase by research labs/healthcare providers, CE/IVD approved
DateMarch 12, 2020
Country of developmentChina
Type of Serological TestRDT (colloidal gold lateral flow assay)
Authors/CompanyBioTime
DescriptionThe SARS-CoV-2 IgG/IgM kit tests for patient antibodies to the virus from blood or plasma samples. There is no reported sensitivity or specificity.
Phase of developmentOnly approved for in vitro diagnostic use
Proposed releaseavailable for purchase by research labs/healthcare providers
DateDate not given
Country of developmentThe Republic of Korea
Type of Serological TestRDT
Authors/CompanyGenBody
DescriptionGenBody FIA COVID-19 IgM/IgG (COVI025)
Phase of developmentResearch use only, CE/IVD in EU
Proposed releaseCE/IVD in the EU
DateMarch 2, 2020
Country of developmentUnited Kingdom
Type of Serological TestRDT
Authors/CompanyMologic
DescriptionSeems to be an RDT (probably to IgM and IgG). No description was given, other than 3.5 million tests were ordered.
Phase of  developmentUK has purchased 3.5 million, they are validating now with Liverpool Trop Med and St. Georges, London
Proposed releaseDate not given
DateMarch 29, 2020
Country of developmentChina
Type of Serological TestRDT
Authors/CompanyLivzon Diagnostics
DescriptionRDT, lateral flow assay, which detects IgM and IgG to the nucelocapside protein of SARS-CoV-2.
Phase of  developmentResearch use only, CE/IVD approved
Proposed releaseavailable for purchase by research labs/healthcare providers
DateDate not given
Country of developmentUSA
Type of Serological TestNot stated, seems to be ELISA
Authors/CompanyEmory University
DescriptionEmory University has developed a serological test for COVID-19. Details of the test, such as method, target antigen, and antibody type are not listed. The Clinical Immunology section of Emory Medical Laboratories (EML) plans to begin testing 300 people per day, scaling up to 5000 tests per day by June. They state that it will take one vial of blood.
Phase of  developmentResearch use only, approved under FDA Policy for Diagnostic Tests for Coronavirus Disease-2019 Section IV.A
Proposed releaseApril 2020
DateApril 13, 2020
Country of developmentUSA
Type of Serological TestRDT
Authors/CompanyConfirm Biosciences
DescriptionThis RDT detects IgM and IgG, though the target antigen is unclear. Sensitivity appears to be 93.8%, and sensitivity is 99.1%, in 704 samples tested. The location of the trial was not disclosed.
Phase of  developmentResearch use only, not approved by the FDA
Proposed releaseAvailable for purchase by research labs/healthcare providers
DateApril 15, 2020
Country of developmentUSA
Type of Serological TestELISA
Authors/CompanyAbbott
DescriptionThis test detects IgG to SARS-CoV-2, and must be used on the ARCHITECT® i1000SR and i2000SR laboratory instruments. Sensitivity and specificity are not yet disclosed
Phase of  developmentNot approved by the FDA, appears to be under Section IV.C. Set for distribution in mid-April 2020.
Proposed releaseApril 17, 2020
DateApril 16, 2020
Country of developmentUSA
Type of Serological TestELISA (not stated)
Authors/CompanyRoche Elecsys® Anti-SARS-CoV-2 serology test
DescriptionThis tests detects antibodies, including IgG, to SARS-CoV-2 using the cobas e analysers. The sensitivity and specificity have not yet been disclosed.
Phase of  developmentNot approved by the FDA, applying for EUA
Proposed releaseMid-May in countries accepting the CE mark
DateApril 17, 2020

Tests that are still in development

Country of developmentUS
Type of Serological TestCRISPR-based lateral flow assay
Authors/CompanyBroughton et al (Mammoth Biosciences)
DescriptionUsing a CRISPR-Cas12 based method, they can specifically detect virus RNA for the E and N genes. This is called the DETECTR assay, and does not assay for patient antibodies, but the presence of viral RNA. The CRISPR-Cas12 RNA targeting is followed by isothermal amplification of the target, resulting in a visual readout with a fluorophore.This was 90% sensitive and 100% specific.
Phase of developmentPre-clinical
Proposed releaseIn development
DateMarch 10, 2020
Country of developmentUS
Type of Serological TestNot stated
Authors/CompanyCDC
DescriptionThey are now beginning testing in specific populations, 1) people who have not been diagnosed but live in a COVID-19 hotspot, 2) a later national survey, and 3) populations like healthcare workers.
Phase of developmentClinical
Proposed releaseNot given
DateApril 4, 2020
Country of developmentUUS
Type of Serological TestELISA
Authors/CompanyAmanat et al.
DescriptionAn ELISA based method using recombinant receptor binding domain (RBD) regions of the spike protein or the full length spike protein. COVID-19 patient sera was most reactive to the full length spike protein, while non-COVID-19 patient sera did not react to either protein above background
Phase of developmentPre-clinical
Proposed releaseNot stated
DateMarch 18, 2020
Country of developmentUS
Type of Serological TestProprietary
Authors/CompanyUnited Biomedical (UBI)/ c19
DescriptionThis kit is being tested in a small community in Colorado, in partnership with the Public Health Department of San Miguel County, to test all residents for a SARS-Cov-2 antibody. The assay is testing for antibodies to recombinant fragments of the S, N, and M proteins. So far, the test has 100% sensitivity and specificity after day 10 of symptoms, according to their website. This has not been approved by the FDA. They also state that “Positive results may be due to past or present infection with non-SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus strains, such as coronavirus HKU1, NL63, OC43, or 229E”
Phase of developmentIn testing in San Miguel, CO
Proposed releaseOngoing trials in Colorado, no stated release date
DateMarch 19, 2020
Country of developmentNetherlands
Type of Serological TestELISA
Authors/CompanyOkba et al
DescriptionModifying existing beta version ELISA kits (EUROIMMUN Medizinische Labordiagnostika AG) for IgG or IgA, and an in-house ELISA kit, they coated plates with recombinant S1 domain of the spike protein. The commercially available kits are not yet approved for use. They found that the kits were sensitive and specific for the S1 region of SARS-CoV-2, looking at 45 samples overall.
Phase of developmentPre-clinical
Proposed releaseNot stated
DateMarch 20, 2020
Country of developmentChina
Type of Serological TestRDT
Authors/CompanyJiangsu bioPerfectus technologies
DescriptionThis company has two tests, the PerfectPOC Novel Corona Virus (SARS-CoV-2) IgM/IgG Rapid Test Kit and the PerfectPOC Novel Corona Virus (SARS-CoV-2) Ag Rapid Test Kit. The IgM/IgG test assays for patient antibodies to the virus from a blood sample, while the Ag Rapid test assays for SARS-CoV-2 antigen from nasal swab samples.
Phase of developmentDeveloped, awaiting approval
Proposed releaseAppears available for purchase by research labs/healthcare providers in China, but no clear approvals
DateMarch 3, 2020
Country of developmentChina
Type of Serological TestRDT
Authors/CompanyWuhan EasyDiagnosis Biomedicine Ltd
DescriptionThe SARS-CoV-2 IgM/IgG Antibody test kit uses blood or plasma samples to detect patient antibodies. There is no listed sensitivity or specificity
Phase of developmentNo clear approvals
Proposed releaseavailable for purchase by research labs/healthcare providers, but no clear CE or FDA approvals
DateDate not given
Country of developmentBelgium
Type of Serological TestDipstick (lateral flow assay)
Authors/CompanyCoris Bioconcept
DescriptionThis lateral flow assay detects SARS-CoV-2 antigen in nasal mucus samples. The sensitivity was approximately 60% when tested in two different hospitals.
Phase of developmentClinically testing
Proposed releaseavailable for purchase by research labs/healthcare providers, does not appear to have any approvals
DateMarch 24, 2020
Country of developmentUS
Type of Serological TestELISA
Authors/CompanyVitalant/UCSF
DescriptionIt appears that Vitalant (a blood donation company) and UCSF have teamed up to make an in-house antibody test for SARS-CoV-2. It is an ELISA based assay, though they have not disclosed which antibodies are detected.
Phase of  developmentIn development
Proposed releaseDate not given
DateMarch 31, 2020
Country of developmentUS
Type of Serological TestELISA
Authors/CompanyKlein lab, JHSPH
DescriptionThey have adapted an ELISA, based on Amanat et al 2020, that tests for IgG and IgM to the full length Spike protien and to the receptor binding domain (RBD). They are now working to get a mucosal IgA ELISA working. So far, they are using the kit to test samples from Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Phase of  developmentPre-clinical
Proposed releaseNot given, but being used for research use
DateApril 6, 2020
Country of developmentChina
Type of Serological TestELISA
Authors/CompanyZhang et al
DescriptionThis group developed an in-house ELISA testing for patient antibodies (IgM and IgG) to the SARSr-CoV Rp3 nucleocapside (N) protein. They found that on day 5, 81% of patients were positive for IgM and 100% were positive for IgG (of 16 COVID-19 positive patients).
Phase of  developmentPre-clinical
Proposed releaseNot given
DateFebruary 17, 2020
Standard
external, scribble

DOES YOUR LOCAL HOSPITAL OR CRITICAL CARE FACILITY MEET THE BASELINE FOR COVID-19 TREATMENT?

Early on in this crisis we were able to swab people who died at home, and thus got a coronavirus reading. But those days are long gone. We simply don’t have the testing capacity for the large numbers dying at home. Now only those few who had a test confirmation *before* dying are marked as victims of coronavirus on their death certificate. This almost certainly means we are undercounting the total number of victims of this pandemic.”

Mark Levine, Chair of New York City Council health committee

Critical care facilities across European countries range from 6.6 beds per 100,000 citizens in the UK to 34.9 per 100,000 in the USA and 36.2 per 100,000 in Germany. By way of comparison China has 3.6 and India has 2.3.

NOTE: the UK’s new Nightingale Hospital in London doubles its critical care capacity from 6.6 to 10.3 beds per 100,000 population.

DOES YOUR HOSPITAL’S CRITICAL CARE MEASURE UP TO THE CORONAVIRUS BASELINE?

Coronavirus Cases – Deaths – Recovered – Active/Critical – Testing

Country,
Other
Total
Cases
New
Cases
Total
Deaths
New
Deaths
Total
Recovered
Active
Cases
Serious,
Critical
Total
Tests
Tests/
1M pop
World1,346,004+73,14274,654+5,229278,445992,90547,513
USA367,004+30,33110,871+1,25519,671336,4628,8791,914,5405,784
Spain136,675+5,02913,341+70040,43782,8976,931355,0007,593
Italy132,547+3,59916,523+63622,83793,1873,898721,73211,937
Germany103,375+3,2521,810+22628,70072,8654,895918,46010,962
France98,010+5,1718,911+83317,25071,8497,072224,2543,436
China81,708+393,331+277,0781,299265
Iran60,500+2,2743,739+13624,23632,5254,083186,0002,214
UK51,608+3,8025,373+43913546,1001,559252,9583,726
Turkey30,217+3,148649+751,32628,2421,415202,8452,405
Switzerland21,657+557765+508,05612,836391162,50018,776
Belgium20,814+1,1231,632+1853,98615,1961,25770,0006,040
Netherlands18,803+9521,867+10125016,6861,40986,5895,053
Canada16,667+1,155323+433,61612,728426330,9018,767
Austria12,297+246220+163,4638,614250111,29612,357
Brazil12,183+929564+7812711,49229654,824258
Portugal11,730+452311+1614011,279270110,00010,788
S. Korea10,284+47186+36,5983,50055461,2338,996
Israel8,904+47457+85858,262140109,72412,677
Sweden7,206+376477+762056,52459036,9003,654
Russia6,343+95447+24065,8908758,0005,194
Australia5,895+14545+82,4323,41896303,53611,903
Norway5,865+17876+5325,75783111,29920,530
Ireland5,364+370174+16255,16516530,2136,119
Czechia4,822+23578+111214,6238485,0147,939
Chile4,815+34437+37284,05032754,8642,870
India4,778+489136+183754,267140,293102
Denmark4,681+312187+81,3783,11614452,9369,139
Poland4,413+311107+131624,1445085,4672,258
Romania4,057+193176+254063,47517940,9872,131
Japan3,906+25292+75923,2226446,172365
Malaysia3,793+13162+11,2412,49010255,5661,717
Pakistan3,766+60953+62593,4541735,875162
Ecuador3,747+101191+111003,45615613,039739
Philippines3,660+414163+11733,424122,958210
Luxembourg2,843+3941+55002,3023324,29138,805
Saudi Arabia2,605+20338+45512,01641
Peru2,561+28092+99971,4728920,414619
Indonesia2,491+218209+111922,09011,46042
Thailand2,220+5126+37931,4012325,071359
Serbia2,200+29258+71182,0241018,552979
Finland2,176+249273001,8498132,8005,920
Mexico2,143+25394+156331,41629318,034140
Panama2,100+29955+9142,0318810,2972,386
UAE2,076+27711+11671,8981220,00022,244
Qatar1,832+22841311,6973738,10813,227
Dominican Republic1,828+8386+4331,7091474,542419
Greece1,755+2079+62691,4079026,1932,513
South Africa1,686+3112+1951,579758,098980
Argentina1,628+7453+73251,2509410,709237
Colombia1,579+9446+11881,4455027,685544
Iceland1,562+766+24601,0961127,88081,701
Algeria1,423+103173+21901,160463,35977
Singapore1,375+6663441,0252565,00011,110
Egypt1,322+14985+725997825,000244
Ukraine1,319+1138+1281,253165,864134
Croatia1,222+4016+11301,0763611,4642,793
Morocco1,120+9980+108195915,104138
Estonia1,108+1119+4621,0271421,86616,484
New Zealand1,106+671176929339,9188,278
Iraq1,031+7064+3344623
Slovenia1,021+2430+21028893028,25313,590
Moldova965+10119+43790980
Hong Kong915+2442166951296,70912,900
Lithuania843+3215+288201125,5999,403
Armenia833+118+162763304,9291,663
Bahrain756+564458294447,68428,023
Hungary744+1138+4676391722,2822,307
Diamond Princess712116198210
Belarus700+13813+5536341140,0004,233
Bosnia and Herzegovina674+2029+64759845,9341,809
Kuwait665+109110356120
Kazakhstan662+78646610165,093271
Cameroon658+8917632
Azerbaijan641+577445901145,0004,438
Tunisia596+22225569397,725654
North Macedonia570+1523+530517155,2912,540
Bulgaria549+1822+2394882615,8992,288
Latvia542+9116525521,45311,374
Lebanon541+1419+160462279,6531,414
Slovakia534+492+18524316,1912,966
Andorra525+2421+33147312
Costa Rica467+13218447145,3631,053
Cyprus465+199454111111,6649,661
Uzbekistan457+1152304258
Uruguay415+96123286145,3851,550
Albania377+1621+111624072,571893
Taiwan373+1055731137,2191,563
Afghanistan367+1811+418338
Burkina Faso364+1918+1108238
Cuba350+309+118323125,234462
Jordan349+46+1126217517,0001,666
Réunion349+5403094
Oman331+332612683
Channel Islands323+147+1272891,1576,655
Ivory Coast323+62341279
Honduras298+3022627010
San Marino277+1132352101458617,270
Palestine254+1712422912,7382,497
Niger253+6910262174,081169
Vietnam245+495150894,305969
Mauritius244+177723024,9133,863
Malta241+145236310,92324,738
Nigeria238+653519825,00024
Montenegro233+192123041,7222,742
Senegal226+42921321
Kyrgyzstan216+694+33317959,6181,474
Ghana2145311782
Georgia188+1423914762,762692
Bolivia183+2611+12170359151
Faeroe Islands183+21077614,934100,976
Sri Lanka178+253813553,248152
Venezuela165+67659361,77963
Mayotte164+1721514734791,756
DRC161+7185138
Kenya158+166+2414824,27780
Martinique151+24509720
Guadeloupe139+473110114
Isle of Man139+12155831,63819,263
Brunei1351825238,26118,883
Guinea128+75123
Bangladesh123+3512+3337813,61022
Cambodia114536115,768345
Paraguay113+95+2129681,877263
Gibraltar109+652571,38741,168
Rwanda105+14101
Trinidad and Tobago105+18+1196833595
Djibouti90+31981
Madagascar82+102806
Liechtenstein771552190023,605
Monaco77+414724
French Guiana72+434381
Aruba71+72699108,523
Guatemala703155231,13463
El Salvador69+74+15604
Barbados60+42+165245571,938
Jamaica59+13848540182
Togo58+14323321,467177
Uganda52523,16069
Mali47+25933
Congo455238
Ethiopia44+1243811,84316
Macao4410341
French Polynesia42+1426182,200
Bermuda39+22+217202984,785
Cayman Islands3911373655,554
Zambia39153361934
Sint Maarten37+126+21301052,449
Bahamas33+455231
Saint Martin3227236
Eritrea31+231
Guyana31+748198115146
Benin26+41+1520
Gabon24+31122
Haiti24+312324722
Tanzania24+21320
Myanmar22+11211,24623
Libya19+1111731245
Maldives19136
Syria192215
Guinea-Bissau1818
New Caledonia181172,1357,478
Angola16+22212
Equatorial Guinea16313854609
Namibia16313362142
Antigua and Barbuda1515140408
Dominica15+11142934,070
Mongolia15+1213
Fiji14+214
Liberia14+1338
Saint Lucia14113
Curaçao13+2157
Grenada1212245400
Laos12+11262185
Sudan12228
Greenland114771812,648
Seychelles11+111
Eswatini10+146
Mozambique101936312
Saint Kitts and Nevis10101492,801
Suriname1019
Zimbabwe10+11931621
Chad99
MS Zaandam927
Nepal9181,65657
CAR88
Turks and Caicos8+317611,576
Belize7+21+161268674
Cabo Verde7115
Somalia716
St. Vincent Grenadines716
Vatican City77
Botswana615966411
Mauritania61236714
Montserrat66
Nicaragua615
Sierra Leone66
St. Barth615
Bhutan523
Malawi5+151
Gambia4121
Sao Tome and Principe4+441987
Western Sahara44
Anguilla33
British Virgin Islands33
Burundi33
Caribbean Netherlands2210381
Falkland Islands22
Papua New Guinea2+12728
Saint Pierre Miquelon11
South Sudan11
Timor-Leste11
Total:1,346,004+73,14274,654+5,230278,445992,90547,513
Standard
questions, society

QUESTION: SHOULD SOCIAL MEDIA BE REGULATED?

Arguments against regulating social media corporations imposing censorship on their platforms tend to call on freedom of companies to make their own rules, however arbitrary. This isn’t reality.


“The threat today is not passivity, but pseudo-activity, the urge to “be active”, to “participate”, to mask the Nothingness of what goes on.”

Slavoj Žižek

Corporations have longevity, resources and reach way so far beyond any individual, their regulation should be considered in the same way state or national government must have legal limits to protect the individual from potential abuse of overwhelming power.

Let’s not conflate the regulation of immortal corporations with individuals. Free speech absolutism must apply to individuals but multinational megacorps like Facebook or YouTube have the potential to be a ‘holocaust’ against libertarian (or any dissenting) content.

What’s more, the censorship can be reduced to an algorithm or subordinated to authoritarian direction that effectively sends content creators into life-changing exile for minor or unknowable transgressions of arbitrary rules; with no way to appeal.

If anything corporations should be regulated AGAINST censorship – typically against those labelled alt-right as a one size fits everyone not towing one of the mainstream tribal lines.

Regulating the corporation is a necessary safeguard to protect individual free speech. As it happens, this includes those voices most likely to have something important to say about freedom.

Standard
contrarian, politics, questions, society

NEW RULES, NEW STAKES, OLD ELECTORATE

The end of the decade is fast approaching. On the 12st of December 2019, the United Kingdom goes to the polls in the most divisive, fucked up election in living memory. Whether the voters know it or not, the stakes are enormous. Eleven months later the United States Presidential election will play with similarly high stakes. The two great English-speaking democracies are facing an unparalleled existential threat.

On one side, the democratic ideal, fact and accountability, public service as a standard that transcends political team games. This might be public service as social democracy provisions, national utilities and wealth redistribution but equally it could be serving the public best by regulating the level playing field for competitive winners-and-losers free market capitalism. Between those poles is politics and that’s fine.

But on the other hand, the dealer’s side, this British election and elections elsewhere is entrusting the future of a free and democratic society to the vicissitudes of an stupefied electorate that’s been degraded by austerity, distracted by Brexit and targeted relentlessly by a media who’s purpose is to amplify the agenda of freewheeling big capital.

Government always exists in tension with sovereign speculative wealth but in the UK, the Conservatives – traditionally party of business and self-interest – has been taken over directly by big capital completely. This takeover is a game changer. The same has happened in the United States and it has created an unseen but fundamental schism at the heart of government. It means at least one of the main parties likely to be voted into executive power is no longer looking to govern for the sake of the best possible future for the country. In the United Kingdom, less resilient than the United States, executive power equals authoritarian power and the potential for abuse is unregulated even by checks and balances.

Big capital actors don’t care about what’s in the national interest. Why should they? That’s not the game they’re playing. They’re not concerned with the traditional political arguments about more or less socialism, bigger or smaller budgets for public services versus spending on stimulating business as the engine of economic growth. Big capital is about profit and monopoly. These speculators are global in outlook, because national borders are a ringfence for the unimportant distinctions between mythologies of populations; idiosyncrasies to be exploited, nothing more. It’s your problem, if you’re an advocate for democracy, to deal with the collateral damage of big capital’s hunt for profit running through the domain of public interest. The masses exist to work, pay tax, consume and – when necessary – take the hit when the boom bust economics dip into the red.

Big capital owns most of the European and American media. Big capital interests largely control the message (through media and advertising and consumer services). Big capital is profit-driven. Its interest in people goes only so far as how best to use their labour and exploit their consumption. This makes the training of a stable culture of mass-consumer acquiescence a collateral requirement of the profit chase. Stability and consumption are a tricky proposition, balancing well-defined homogeneous demographics at the same time as keeping the population atomised against socialist ideas.

Collective power versus entrenched power. The mainstream must be regulated, subordinated to the dictates of the consumer here and now, or else profit suffers. Profit can’t be allowed to suffer so big capital dominated government becomes, inevitably, an organ of control, not liberation. By default it’s an ideology of mythology over history, reaction over reflection, short-term instincts encouraged to eclipse long-term interests.

The Conservatives in the UK, just like the Republicans in the USA, have been taken over by the big capital ideology. Emboldened by the capitulation of the population to austerity and the government to underwriting consequences of bad investment (diverting tax income and future debt into the coffers of the speculators), big capital is pushing to seal the deal.

In a sense the UK election – and the American 2020 vote – are a line in the sand. Will big capital succeed in placing its well-paid employees in government, taking control of the reigns of power to deregulate and deck stack its entrenched power? Or will the public get wise to this?

Have enough regular voters been affected by the degrading of their own lives so they realise the real enemy of their long-term quality of life? Or has the media and the stubborn consumer conservatism of the electorate built up a coda of mass introversion where the public opt for a surrender to populist fantasy?

In short, has the ever-practical, patient big capital cabal trained enough turkeys to not only refuse the hands that feed but instead, far worse, on December 12th 2019 and November 8th 2020, vote in favour of Christmas?

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THE WORD “POSH” IS AN INSULT POPULAR IN UK MEDIA – WHAT’S IN A WORD?

Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg  are often condemned for being “posh”. Private schools en masse are targets for the wrecking ball as bastions of entitled “privilege”.

Words become redefined to suit underlying goals, proliferated into millions of opinions by mass media to such an extent the words become appropriated and twisted to make public discourse more narrow, less free flowing pursuit of truth, more rigid parroting of ready-loaded assumptions.

Boris Johnson is certainly a turd but “posh”, while evocative and no doubt a useful journalistic shortcut to hit a reader’s sensibilities, is a poisonous word to use.

“Posh” isn’t poison to the current Tory gov’t or its privileged frontmen but to the opposition parties and left-leaning journalists abusing the word and, more corrosively, to the British people themselves, as it becomes conflated with excellence, expertise and education ambition.

Greed and abuse of privilege are bad.

Philanthropy and lifelong professional excellence are good.

Wealth is agnostic.

Conflating all these through a prism of ideological hyperbole causes great harm across society. It becomes an enabling act for tribalism, division and a bitter culture hunting for easy scapegoats to blame rather than big picture standards to master and improve.

Modern countries don’t benefit from tribalism.

Blame culture is a nation rotting from the inside and it soon becomes an excuse for tearing down where we should be striving to surpass.

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Machine Elves and the Psychedelic Stone Babies

Psilocybin. D-methyltryptamine. Ayahuaska. Psychedelics. Ingesting Dreams. Transcending Spacetime. Alien Worlds. Encounters with Angels. Meeting the Machine Elves.

Psilocybin occurs naturally in Magic Mushrooms. The laboratory isolated the psychoactive chem, distilling it as Dimethyltryptamine or D.M.T. It’s often called the Spirit Molecule.

Psychedelics are fascinating. For decades – particularly since public research was abruptly curtailed by luddite governments of the 1960s – the pioneers of psilocybin have claimed it is Mother Nature’s most maligned tool. The psychonauts have consistently urged society to reconsider.

Since the turn of the millennia the movement has gained momentum. Documentaries and respected scientists back legalization and universities are carrying out research once again. Microdosing has become de rigeur in some parts of America, especially in high pressure creative fields.

Into the collective consciousness

A canon of psychedelic folklore, mixed in with Hindu and Buddhist spiritualism, has taken root in the collective consciousness. These are increasingly focused on key, ubiquitous experiences that seem to be shared by psychedelic pioneers and psychonauts of all colour and creed.

We polled a wide-spectrum group from the general public. Certain questions were repeated time and time again:

Is psilocybin a portal to strange new worlds beyond our own solar system? Are we meeting alien beings?

Is DMT a glimpse of the immortal afterlife? Can we use it to talk to God or maybe his angels?

Does psilocybin let us access the collective unconscious? What is consciousness? Are we all part of the living universal Gaia?

The so-called psychedelic experience – profound altered states of consciousness – meetings with transcendent intelligences – is it all just the drugs talking?

Does DMT unlock the secrets of the universe?

NO. The answer to every one of the questions above is NO.

But wait a moment. How can the answer be “no” and the psychedelic experience not be just the drugs talking? That’s contradictory. Isn’t it?

Let me tell you what’s happening here. It’ll be a five minute read. It could change your understanding of what it means to be a human. Be warned, though. The truth is strange and unsettling…


I want to tell a different story about the so-called called Spirit Molecule. Its implications are extreme and very real. Psilocybin is far more profound and eerie and unusual than clichés about interplanetary mentalism, chats with God, peepholes in heaven, or wise happy aliens…

Psilocybin isn’t aliens. Sorry. It’s not a gateway for your immortal soul to reach out to the quantum collective consciousness (or whatever).

It doesn’t teleport your mind to an encounter with omnisapient divine love.

Like many things in life, however, the truth is weirder and more disturbing than the colourful imaginings of our shaman and psychonaut speculations.

When you take D.M.T or mushrooms the familiarity, that beautiful sense of belonging communicated by strange shining beings who seemed to know everything about you, is real.

The D.M.T. trip takes you to what feels like another world. Which should be alien and frightening but instead it’s a safe land and you know profoundly you belong. It can be more real than anything or anywhere on Earth.

That sense of having come home is important, because you – ARE – home. Hold that truth. You are home but you haven’t travelled telepathically to get there.

The psychedelic space that’s accessed by the psilocybin trip isn’t external. It’s a space that’s entirely within your own brain. The travelling experienced by your liberated consciousness is not outward but inward, through the amygdala substrate barriers, into the limbic subconscious.

Some call the DMT a waking dream but the sensory experience is both too lucid and too visually original to be the mere rolodex rehash of the everyday dream state. It’s profound, fundamental and feels like a communion with knowledge far beyond the ordinary.

People mistakenly but understandably call DMT the spirit molecule and it’s this impression of transcending what you know makes DMT convince most they’re encountering something greater than themselves, like God or souls or aliens.

Time and space lose meaning in the interior psychoverse but consciousness persists. Awake. Alert. Your conscious awareness stays powerful and safe in an innerscape created – after all – by your own brain.

The psychoverse visuals and the sounds are usually awe-inspiring, the stuff dreams are made of – quite literally – but most striking is the realisation you’re not alone. This innerspace is populated and, consistently, most report their encounters with incredible sentient beings. It’s these we mistake for aliens.

Here we’re getting close to the truth of the DMT revelation.

What we encounter are indeed conscious, self-aware entities. These entities are alive, in a sense. Diverse too, and beautiful, intelligent, benign. Towards us, at least.

The conscious beings always feel familiar, so much like you yet alien too. The beings often know you – the real you – indescribably well. It’s a deeply affecting encounter and your feelings don’t lie. What’s wrong has been the explanation. Aliens. Spirits. Divine avatars.

Let’s try to explain this; for everyone, not just DMT users.

All of us contain this luminescent psychopaths.

All of us have aliens in our brain.

Except they’re not alien.

These brilliant entities that seem to have self-awareness, identity and feelings of their own – feelings about you – are personality fractals. These so-called aliens are independent distinct shards of consciousness, existing deep inside your brain. Most of us never meet them directly except through communions like the DMT trip.

The fractals live as long as you do. They share your brain but in the Darwinian survival of the fittest, the conscious “you” reading or listening to these words is the survivor, the winner, the alpha-identity dominating the cerebellum and all its executive function. The consciousness fractals have been silenced (except in certain damaged psyche) and must “live” alongside you in the unknown the anonymous depths.

These fractals – and you – are born from the same zygote fertility. More than brothers and sisters, you are meeting you.

Most of us have a notion of the physical limitations of our flesh and blood bodies, imperfect senses, imagination writ large but encased in a skull.

Welcome, then, to the prisoners of your mind. Not trapped in a physical body but in a timeless, non-spatial void created and buried by your brain. The fractals are the losers in the Darwinian psyche, earlier attempts at intelligence, weaker personality experiments superseded by superior neurological offspring.

Psilocybin opens channels. Communication becomes possible at last and this splits the void split – briefly – long enough to meet the evolutionary stone babies. The machine elves. You to the infinite power. Expressions of intelligence, imagination, love, the deepest roots and an impossible certainty of belonging; but trapped. It should be no surprise the sudden opening of the portals creates a flood of sensation.

We are lucky these fractals bear no ill will to the successor consciousness but self-preservation needs self-love – traits effective for evolutionary survival – so the prisoners accept their lot. Faith is woven into their existence and by default this is a faith in you!

You were selected long before your first memory: the best choice for your brain and body’s survival in the world. With faith comes love and it’s this love everyone feels when DMT opens the portals that allow briefly a communion between you and your dependant fellow travellers.


Long ago, the abortions and the inferior creations of an evolving human brain were disarmed, buried. Not all disintegrate, however. DMT releases the floodgates. An eon of Prometheus Pandoras all suddenly given light and sound and touch; and in return they give back emotion enough to create an elemental intensity of feeling.

Loci of consciousness stretch out across a trillion trillion buried neurons and synapses in loops and curls and intertwines like tangled Christmas lights. You are not alone. Cognizant, sapient homunculus versions of you made by the brain finding your most stable successful manifestation and older less recognisable consciousness shards going back all the way to the mammalian origins in the amygdala lizard brain.

Evolution finds the path of least resistance. It has no intelligence itself but the brain has spent millions of years chasing stable consciousness then millions more improving that protohuman to become intelligent, imaginative, creative, resilient. We’re lucky these traits we value so highly are also the most effective expression of homo sapiens’ drive to survive and carry the genes generation to generation across the sea of time.

Most of the conscious fractals may have been recycled into more advanced versions but the remarkable brain can make intelligence ad infinitum. Some of the most advanced personality shards must have gotten quite close to final selection but you, the dominant you, won out. The superseded barely-you fractals and the aborted nearly-you personalities are the prisoners, conscious in their psychoverse in all ways except a way out.

At times in life there may be a dream-induced or unusual exposure similar to the effect of psilocybin. Perhaps this is one of the well-springs of inspired creativity and certainly there’s plenty of historical corollary: mystic visions, artistic rapture, holy revelation, inspired human imagination, ancient Gods and Demons emblazoned on the myths and religions and art of a thousand civilizations.

So yeah. Something like that.

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Scientific Method – Data Uber Alles But Feelings Welcome Too

Bias and prejudice are bad traits but scepticism and independent thinking are not.

Scientists respect science because they’re respectful of other people’s peer reviewed conclusions.

Scientific method boils down to data collection and analysis. What scientists conclude and what science accepts isn’t binding nor does it exclude anyone from being involved in collecting more data, analysing it and challenging extant paradigms.

It’s false equivalency to compare what scientists conclude and what non-scientists believe. Not because the former are better than the latter but because the latter can’t be fucked to look at the evidence (data).

Scientists often get called arrogant by believers cuz the latter’s beliefs aren’t taken seriously (for the billionth time) but this is projection. The conceit is with the believer who presents the beliefs on a level with science. It’s a conceit because the believer hasn’t done any work, hasn’t sifted the evidence, isn’t presenting an informed conclusion. It’s just hearsay. To presume it’s on a level is to disregard all the hard work the poor scientist has had to do, constructing a conclusion block by block out of data.

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pushback

SNAKE OIL INFESTS THE INTERNET OF THINGS (FOR SALE)

Rather than suggest a specific site for product reviews, I’ll do a short list of “tells” I use to rate a site as biased, corrupt, feeder, independent, sold out, expert etc. Based on the final “score” of a site, I’ve found it pretty effective at saving hours going through semi-convincing blarney and – more important – saving me losing money on purchasing substandard products.

  1. If there’s a link to Amazon (or equivalent) to buy the product being reviewed, the site is getting a kickback and the review will be biased. This has infiltrated many of the established review sites as they try to stay profitable, compromising integrity.
  2. Is the site is specialist? Does it focus solely on certain types of product (e.g. high-end audio equipment)? Is the site independent (i.e. not owned by some megacorp)? Then it will be worth looking into further.
  3. How much history does the site have? When was it founded? Was it once (or is it still) print media? How many mouths does it have to feed? Truth is, a site that began print media and contracted online only but maintains a staff, should be treated as suspect. They’ve every reason to sell bias and corrupt reviews.
  4. Does the site have no product purchase links of the type of product you’re looking into? Sometimes sites only link to specific affiliates (i.e. sponsors). Does it have no Amazon ‘deals’? If not, then this is promising.
  5. Is the site well established but not linked into the top pages of Google and not thrown up as a top search result by dint of sponsorship? This is promising.
  6. If the site is selling the product directly, in-house reviews will be biased and “verified purchaser” reviews will likely be corrupted.
  7. Sites like Analyze and identify fake reviews and ReviewMeta.com – Amazon Review Checker can be useful for extreme cases but these days they’re easily fooled too. Still, another layer of safeguarding.
  8. If the site is sufficiently general – like if it does more than just review products of a certain type – it may be on Trustpilot Reviews: Experience the power of customer reviews and this is worth checking. If the site is listed bad on Trustpilot then it’s got problems.
  9. What I do is pick a few products I know personally – ideally one’s with specific flaws that are obvious to any purchaser but won’t be in the press releases – and see if the reviews hit on those issues. If they do, and there’s similar integrity and fidelity on comparable products (i.e. the site isn’t just a feeder for a certain brand, rubbishing everything else) you may have hit gold!
  10. Is the site up to date? Is the site suspiciously recommended on 3rd party platforms like Quora, often using a cut and paste answer to semi-related questions (a keyword sniper bot).
  11. Does the site frontline articles that try to look like reviews but are trying to cover products not yet released to the public? Unless the site has a pre-release physical product this is a surefire blag and the reviews will be compromised.
  12. Does the site cover only big brand names? This is a bad sign. No product type is populated solely by big household name brands.
  13. Does the site cover a reasonable spectrum of price options for products of the same type? If not, there’s reason to be concerned. Example: a site reviewing action cameras will invariably have the GoPro but there’s options for 1/10th the price – not as good but still, similar basic functions.
  14. No review site can be authentic without dealing with both highest and lowest price and, most important, giving you satisfactory explanation WHY there is such a difference between top and bottom.
  15. Is the review site classifying based on price rather than rating? This should be looked into because many sites use the budget v best divide to avoid having to directly compare essentially similar products. It’s a tactic you’d expect from a site trying to sell expensive and budget versions without putting off the buyer by telling the rich guy he’s paying more for nothing, or the poor guy he can’t actually afford a decent version of the product.
  16. Does the review site include the name of the individual reviewer of the product? Is there contact details for that reviewer? Does the reviewer include an abridged resume? If not, it’s cause for concern.
  17. Online versions of newspapers sometimes do ‘best in class’ reviews for mainstream products under headlines like “Which is the best blah blah?”. This will likely be biased, compromised and an evolved money spinner for the newspaper.
  18. You’ll be able to tell a fake review if the review/list has very little about the shortcomings and frontline issues with whatever technology (industry standards) instead focusing on positives.
  19. A genuine enthusiast (or expert) will review with sincere interest in the product type as a whole. This review will put the product in context, make comparisons with other options, pinpoint pros and cons some of which will be industrywide and therefore on ALL reviews of the same type.
  20. Does the site review brand names far above anything generic, no matter what the generic spec is? This is a sign of bias and corruption.
  21. Does the site have a summary star rating or percentage? If so, a common check is to look at a popular frontline brand review – like Jabra Elite 65t earbuds at $125 – and look for an average generic review – like
  22. Does the review blindly accept the press release ‘industry standard’ limits and use language that tries to gloss over (or reassure you) about obvious objective negatives? This is another sign of corruption. For example: The TrustedHoverReviews.com site reviews the best hoverboards of 2019. It covers known brands and a few generics.
  23. Have you found some negatives in the review – enough to make it seem like it could be genuine? This algorithm is a bit more complicated. See, bogus reviews will smokescreen by writing up negatives but these will only be negatives by comparison with other product options of the same type. It’s a cheap tactic and can actually be a good sign of deeper corruption as the review is going to such trouble to hide its true agenda.
  24. Does the site or the product have customer submitted reviews? Verified purchase began as a good idea but it’s actually a sign the review is more likely to be corrupt as so many products include a chit with the product or send out the product free to a mailing list, offering discounts/deals in return for 5* reviews.
  25. If the site or product has customer submitted reviews the only useful info can be gleaned is from the “eloquent midrange” i.e. 2 and 3 star, and longer considered 4 star reviews. Cut off the 5s and the 1s. The former tend to be biased. The latter tend to be edgecases like a product delivery being screwed up (which tells you nothing about the product itself). Cut off reviews that are shorter than 2 sentences. Cut off reviews that don’t mention at least three specific features of the product with an opinion, i.e. the battery life was excellent is OK but the phone came with a replacement battery is not!
  26. Biased or covert-sponsored reviews share some techniques. Most abused is “infectious enthusiasm” where the reviewer moons over tech – scripted by press releases – glossing over shortcomings e.g. “the battery life is a decent 25 seconds” or “sleek, chic, Milan-inspired design contours more than make up for the loss of headphone jack; and of course most have switched to USB-C already.” Real reviews are less bright and bubbly, more demanding and pedantic.
  27. Many sites try to appropriate an expertise they may (through the individual contributors involved) be able to call on, but experts need money same as everyone else and selling endorsements – even on the level of an obscure tech geek – can be a nice little income; and is popular with corporate brands as it boosts edgy and niche credibility (on which mainstream success MUST be built, if it wants to last).
  28. Genuine enthusiasts, experts, geeks, or everyday serious users (e.g. a parent with a site reviewing baby high-chairs) will quickly J-curve their ratings so there will be very few highest rank (5-star, 98%+), more high-mid, mid and low=mid ratings and – most important – no less lowerst rank (1-star or 0-star, 25%-) than middling. This is the nature of consumerism: for every decent product idea there will be a handful of innovators, a handful of a handful of innovators also wed to quality,. a majority of copycats or minor variations on the copycat theme, and PLENTY of cheap shit, outright scams, etc. A non-corrupted review site will have a spread of ratings (or review conclusions) matching this range. Bias, corruption, covert-sponsorship: there will be an overload at the top/highest end and either an absence of 2-3 stars + plenty of 1* or a lack of 1* and some 2* and 3*. These latter will often be the non-brand name versions.
  29. True review articles will weight more towards criticism than congratulations, i.e. the review will be into the type of product or the genre of service so will be very aware – and keen to share – insight into the shortcomings of the industry as well as the failures of the actual product. Corrupted or dodgy sites won’t have this sort of scope. It doesn’t help the cause of easy profiteering to have normal industry standards exposed as sub-standard nor does a product sell as well if a trusted review spotlights its pros and cons without 4 to 1 favouring the pros.

These are just some rough notes on the product fake-news reviews and sites that claim to be a one-stop place to find information and comparison tests between ‘rival’ products. Keep an eye on this page for an updated version in the near future with polished, properly categorised points and – later this year – a website and an app with access to an NLP/machine learning benchmark set (code versions of what’s listed above) that’ll let you subject any site or any review or any media outlet or any selected product to unbiased uncorrupted scrutiny.

3-May-2019

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NAIVE POTENTIAL IS WEAKER THAN INHERITED CONVENTION

Habits become boring. Conventions are the inheriting, by stealth, of degraded traditions – the indiscriminate baggage of past generations. Salary jobs are the archetypes of conformist routine. Careers make fait accompli of a dangerous faith in impersonal networks of shared self-interest. It seems to work out for most, rewarding (on very limiting terms) the giving away of a person’s youth – and its wonderful indiscriminate energy – with better chance of security by the time prosaic middle age comes along. It’s an understandable choice but an anathema to me.

Wageslavery seems to be an enabler of inevitable conservatism, too. It makes life a parochial inspiral on a shrinking canvas, increasingly shackled by responsibility, anxiously guarding a home, a family and a trove of consumer trinkets. The package deal is presented as inevitable but it’s a honey trap that plays on certain instincts like security, ownership and comfortable routines that’re made compulsory by circumstances designed to twist sense of duty and conscience into perpetual conformity.

The corollary of all this, incidentally, seems to be a perversion of one’s natural conservatism, marking out one’s precious territory within society by protective rules and regulations, accepting (or desiring) these protections to ringfence the future. It’s a mentality easily persuaded of the need to make laws governing the freedoms people are allowed to enjoy; and this is just a few babysteps from allowing (or encouraging) the safe certainties of fascism.


I engendered a form of ‘escape’ by dint of highly motivated focus on early life financial freedom then very deliberately dropping out of the rat-race once a liberation threshold (income plus longevity) was crossed.

By the late 20s a preference for younger friends developed, as jobs and careers absorbed and came to define age peers and older people seemed broken and depressing.

Old fashioned prudence, when it comes to living one’s life, suggests choices most fit for purpose of stability in the present and preparing for oneself in the future, from raising a family to those sunset years old and infirm. This giving weight to far future days is an approach honed with age that becomes an unquestioned habit.

This prudence is not natural for me. Never has been. I think I’m motivated by something simpler; if divergent.

Rejecting the work-a-day security needs practical, pragmatic quid pro quo. There’s a bounce back from refusing the stability paradigm: one turns instead to humans still vital and hopeful with somewhere to go. This is an increasingly younger gene pool as years go by.

It wasn’t so clear-sighted and calculated back in the day, but with hindsight the trend stands out. In the 2000s the details of a changing social circle were organic and, all in all, the approach stands up to scrutiny. It made for a good life throughout the 30s.

I remember waking up the day I turned 40 and thinking how life to date had been 100% true to my weird axioms: live free, live happy, live without chains, live without boredom, live both without being a wageslave and without being an owner of wageslaves, follow the better path at every fork in the road and never be forced down the wrong way though it may be the path of least resistance.

It was, in my own mind, a perfect score in the game of life.

Let me make clear, at this point, when I say a perfect score and 100% true to life, I mean perfect for me, to me, against a scale that has what’s realistic, plausible and reasonable baked in. Life throws up a million things that affect you profoundly but are outside your control. Parents having died long before their time is a miserable fact and it’ll be a source of sadness for the rest of my life; but I can’t change it nor could I have stopped it from happening.

Things one can’t affect also can’t be a factor in the life score I’m using. My system is an equality of opportunity, individualised criteria, affirmative action scoring method. Everyone should have one but everyone’s will be different…


Something changed between 40 and 45 and it seems to be a change many people notice in their 30s and 40s. It may be the catalyst for the so-called midlife crisis though I reckon that phenomenon comes late 40s or 50s and has to do with last changes and time running out. Midlife crisis is a state of mind rebelling against mortality as old age first becomes visible as an approaching reality. The change I’m talking about comes earlier, maybe the point one’s connections change from younger to older, when metaphorically one must turn away from looking at the world through vigorous youthful eyes to instead face the rest of life looking at the world through eyes of pragmatic deterioration.

Whatever the change is called, it’s undeniable. The weights and measures of personality shift; and not always for the better. It’s driven by physical conditions but it’s not infirmity. There’s a strong sense of time running out but not running out on being alive – this isn’t about mortality per se – it’s a degrading of options that’re actually compelling, in this world of 7+ billion souls.


The ditzy diversity is fascinating, when it’s new, but novelty isn’t wholly satisfying. Eventually the novelty of a thing needs to give way to its actual substance. This must have enough depth and/or subtlety else the fascination fades; and with each fade in the specific, the general energy reserve needed to engage the next is slightly less.

The importance of options is not something given much thought ten or twenty years ago. What I mean here is on the one hand, there are flavours of splendid isolation (i.e. where other people don’t matter en masse, there being no imposed interaction) and on the other, the connections that evolve into roots made with particular entities, groups, structures and institutions of the anthropocultural world.

If one wants to be IN the world we define as society – and everyone has their own hierarchy of Venn diagrams making it up – one’s got to form the connections needed to get anywhere interesting. How easily, quickly, profoundly these connections are created and developed varies wildly and personality plus talent count for much. Associations (recommendations, guidance by an agreeable insider) and will to engage count for more.

Access and energy were always taken for granted and that either could become lost would have been dismissed years ago. This may have been a profound mistake.

The conventional world, which is almost all of it, changes over time in how it reacts to you and what is held open with an offer access. It’s popular to lament “I Don’t Feel This Age!” and often truly said but society doesn’t care about your individual story (because it doesn’t know it). You are what you look like and, most pointedly, this is defined by age.

Eventually the world changes in how it perceives you – how strangers in their plethora of bit part roles react to you at first (and often throughout) an individual interaction. The strength of convention increases over the years, smoothing the edges of the conventional – insofar as their public persona relates to the world. After a few decades the conventions get so defining they can’t be redefined by an individual except with great effor. The end result is doors, most you never even thought existed, close to you as you get older.

I’m, like you, participating in this life of finite time. There comes a reckoning eventually. The revelation of options narrowing – including ones you might desire to pursue – is profound. It changes things, overspilling consequences into all aspects of.daily life. It alters the perceived rules. Crossroads change overnight into forks in the road.

This is the yangtime.

Conditions are different.

New relationships tend to be mercenary before anything else, self interest the requisite energy to drive out the hand of friendship.

The now much younger vitality is too basic, too cul-de-sac, too far back along the line to give years to hauling out of the mire.

Just as important, any younger friends are now the age I was when we went through the unusual quid pro quo, when I benefited from the hopeful energy.

I’m antsy because of the sense of closing time and opportunity.

Those friends are mid-30s, going through their own rootless need for an injection of energy on the threshold of middle age, left unimpressed by the mainstream – as I was, no doubt.

In my mid-forties I’m at best in the same boat; and this makes me little help. I’m over sensitive to devoting time to anything that doesn’t feel like a solution. I might be able to come up with a route to that solution, which could helps all, but there’s no guarantee of that WHATSOEVER. Thus, a doldrums that’s hard to solve. It’s not horrible but it isn’t wise and it’s extremely boring a lot of the time.


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