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Wayne D Holt

There are a lot of folks in Galveston who are very anxious about whether we really are past the crisis stage of this pandemic. Sadly, a lot of this anxiety is the result of the early predictions of mass death in the US that conditioned many of us to believe the worst was upon us.

It was with amazement that I just read a report evaluating the quality of research that characterized the Imperial College London's (ICL) statistical analysis that drove the recommendations to UK health authorities and that our own CDC used to flip out and close down Main Street America. Without a doubt, the output was WORTHLESS when it came to any sort of predictive value. The evaluation was done by a 30-year veteran of software development with a background at Google and US/UK firms. Here are a few low-lights of what was found:

"The GitHub repository code has been heavily massaged by Microsoft engineers, and others, in an effort to whip the code into shape to safely expose it to the pubic. Alas, they seem to have failed and numerous flaws and bugs from the original software persist in the released version. Requests for the unedited version of the original code behind the model have gone unanswered."

"The most worrisome outcome of the review is that the code produces non-deterministic outputs. Due to bugs, the code can produce very different results given identical inputs. They (ICL) routinely act as if this is unimportant. This problem makes the code unusable for scientific purposes, given that a key part of the scientific method is the ability to replicate results. Without replication, the findings might not be real at all..."

"In one instance, a team at the Edinburgh University attempted to modify the code so that they could store the data in tables that would make it more efficient to load and run. Performance issues aside, simply moving or optimizing where the input data comes from should have no effect on the output of processing, given the same input data. What the Edinburgh team found however, was this optimization produced a variation in the output, “the resulting predictions varied by around 80,000 deaths after 80 days” which is nearly 3X the total number of UK deaths to date. Results that randomly change from run to run are a common consequence of thread-safety bugs. More colloquially, these are known as 'Heisenbugs'."

"Because their code is so deeply riddled with similar bugs and they struggled so much to fix them that they got into the habit of simply averaging the results of multiple runs to cover it up… and eventually this behaviour became normalised within the team."

"Most of us are familiar with the computing adage, “Garbage In/Garbage Out” and the untrained reader may think that’s what being asserted in this code review. It isn’t. What’s being asserted is that output is garbage, regardless of the input."

And so on. This data was largely the block of information used to insist we had to incinerate small/medium business and throw now 33,000,000 Americans out of work. This is the level of insight that was relied on by politicians to go into full "abundance of panic" mode and from which they still operate (see closed businesses waiting for an OK from the clueless to try to survive).

Historians of the future will marvel at our serene acceptance of the cult of the expert that has led us to our present state of calamity. Watch the narrative change on the part of those responsible as the true level of damage unfolds and the true story about what they relied on is understood.

Ron Woody

Hear, Hear!

But, but, Wayne, but Wayne the peak is coming or has it already arrived. Where is the rolling peak, where is the Galveston County/Texas peak that was going to arrive the first week of May! Why does every statement begin and end "within the next two weeks"?

Do not really want to regurgitate Bill Mahrer, but it appears that we have a virus that one's immune system defeats or doesn't and the way to fight it is to remain healthy and keep it exercised by exposing it to the elements. Obviously keeping the elderly and the compromised removed as much as possible helps, but for others!

Amanda DeVries

You are exactly right....everything is “within the next two weeks” . Oh or the “second wave will be much worse”, because we’ve had a first wave? And all these decisions based on lousy data and unfounded fear and from people that never miss a pay check and haven’t had to meet a payroll.

Ray Taft

Galveston's current love-hate relationship with tourists has more to do with politics than it does safety.

Recently the mayor was saying Galveston couldn’t handle large crowds. Pre-coronavirus the mayor was saying large crowds were good for Galveston despite any concerns from citizens.

Republicans and most people want to move back towards normalcy. Democrats and their naysayers want the lockdown to go on and on for purely political reasons. The Democrats’ long standing mantra is to ‘never let a crisis go to waste.’ Democrats hope to gain politically from this crisis, so they want the misery to go on and on.

Best thing to do is to decide for yourself if you want to get back to normalcy or stay in your self-quarantine. But don’t think that because you buy into the Democrats’ politicalized fear-mongering that everyone else has to play along.

Don Schlessinger

I must say, as a victim of a STR, I've enjoyed the peace and quiet in my neighborhood during the virus problem. Not having to fight for parking in front of my house has been like being on vacation. I think it's time for Galveston to limit the number of rental units of any kind on a neighborhood block. The street I live on has restricted parking. On one side of me a STR sitting on a half lot has four visitor permits, and on the other side of me a house that has been broken up into three LTR apartments has six visitor permits. That's ten visitor permits in two structures. It is very stressful when you're a senior citizen with inconsiderate neighbors operating commercial properties next door.

Wayne D Holt

Don, I think you have articulated something that is illustrative of what my beef has been with the government response to this virus. It seems to me that we have government at all levels that lurches into situations that a little bit of forethought and planning could either avoid or at least mediate.

In the case of Covid-19, it appears that those with their hands on the levers of government were unaware that when you shut down entire swaths of the economy, you are going to have other problems, some of which may be greater that what you were scrambling to solve. In your case, everyone is in favor of free markets and making a dollar, but Galveston has been famous for putting visitor interests over resident interests. Is it really that knotty to determine what the maximum number of STRs should be in a given area and limit density to that, or regulate the number of STRs within a certain distance of resident homes the way bars are regulated near schools and churches?

IMHO, government wants to appear relevant and needed to solve all our problems and repeatedly jumps in with half-baked solutions that create another set of circumstances needing the correction of...you guessed it, government.

I would much prefer the political classes sit down and be quiet until they come up with solutions that don't create more problems for the rest of us.

Bailey Jones

I agree with you Don, and I'm an STR owner. Any business that operates in a residential area is at best a nuisance, at worst, a hindrance to residents. It shouldn't be that way - residents in your situation should have recourse to the city to get you your own parking place in front of your own home. STRs are licensed, and that license comes with responsibilities, chiefly that they don't create a burden on the neighborhood.

If you think your STR is operating under the radar, you can go here and check to see if they are registered with the park board - at least you'll know they're paying their taxes - https://www.galvestonparkboard.org/174/Hotel-Occupancy-Tax

Don Schlessinger

Thanks Bailey, I feel sure this STR owner is honest, just inconsiderate. As I said this STR is on a half lot. The owner of the other part of that lot is expected to give up their portion of the curb for the STR customers and is hassled by the proprietor about it. These people definitely make STRs look bad.

Mary Branum

STR's located in a designated historic district are limited to one car per bedroom, no more than two parking on street with all others off street parking required. As an STR owner I have more issues with residents. The property next door has two garage apartments and house in front. All totaled 7 vehicles, 5 have off street parking. Same block has numerous garage apartments with zero off street parking. Whether long term or short term, there will always be parking issues in various area of Galveston. Residents are not limited to the number of vehicles they own or where to park. If there are issues with an STR, report it! This is why we have City Ordinances. Same with neighbors. We love the STR next us. Quiet and well taken care of for the first time in decades. Now the permanent residents at the end of the block are another story; yappy dog 24 hours a day (Yes, animal control has been there numerous times) cars parked in yard and trash everywhere. There are bad neighbors everywhere, no matter their residency term.

Bailey Jones

Yes, we try to be the best neighbors on our block.

Mary Branum

[thumbup]

Don Schlessinger

I'm wondering if you park on the street Mary?

Mary Branum

My home has a long driveway, no need to park on street. That was one of the requirements when looking for a home here and not choosing East End or San Jac. We do live in mid town. Lots of room for parking.

Don Schlessinger

[thumbup]

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