The Past: an anecdote with a happy ending Today we’re going to start with something that happened to me many years ago and that will serve to illustrate several of the ideas we’ll touch on later. I was going to meet some friends at a terrace in Madrid’s Almagro Street and, as I arrived in … Continue reading Covid… it’s complicated
Since the beginning of the pandemic we have all been consuming A LOT more than usual. That’s normal because many of our usual activities have been taken away and nature hates a vacuum so we filled it with that consumption. Plus, it’s been a stressful year and in times of stress our natural instinct is … Continue reading Food for Covid thoughts
That morning I was lying in bed and, as I gradually woke up, I felt that something was off. Ah, of course, then I remembered that things were slightly different now. So while I tried to go about my day as normally as possible, I was constantly aware, in the pit of my stomach, of … Continue reading Covid is not a piece of cake
Observation As is customary around this time, let’s review the year we left behind. While we were watching the ball drop in 2019, nobody could have imagined the shitstorm that the coming year would bring. If anyone had predicted even half of the stuff that we have gone through, we would have wet our pants… … Continue reading Per Aspera Ad Astra
Looking back, we can see that COVID has clearly revealed the following: One. When faced with a problem, if we have insufficient data to make an informed decision and the potential outcome is disastrous, then the most sensible approach is to be EXTRA cautious.Two. Unfortunately, most people are very loathe to forego even a tiny … Continue reading History doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes
Where I live, in Minnesota (USA), at the beginning of the pandemic, the school authorities understandably sent all the kids home and did a great job in rushing to improvise some form of remote education for the remainder of the academic year. Over the summer, the question on every single parent’s mind was “What are … Continue reading Fair ≠ Equal
Before we get into the post, please have a quick read through these two questions: Imagine you are at a store, about to buy a printer that costs $200, when a friend calls and tells you that he’s seen the exact same model on sale for half the price at a store that is a … Continue reading The Masked Rationalist
The Romans used to say Ora et Labora, that is, you should pray, but also keep working. Do hope for the best, but also prepare for the worst. By all means buy a lottery ticket, but don’t quit your job just yet. I am a big believer in serendipity. I think random chance plays a … Continue reading Profiling times
The two types of problems In life we encounter two kinds of problems: ones that grow quickly and others that grow slowly. By adding Greek prefixes, we can call them tachiproblems and bradyproblems. We humans are good at dealing with things that happen quickly, it’s the way we evolved. Over millions of years, we just … Continue reading Bradyproblems, Goldilocks and loads of babies
It's taken me a bit to realise it...
History has shown that economic cycles last around 10 years, so as we moved from 2018 to 2019, more and more voices in the industry were sending warnings “It’s coming soon, brace for impact”. Some said that the next black swan would be the US college debt, others the transpacific trade war, but when you … Continue reading A Pandemic of Ice and Fire
It is what it is...
If you follow the news closely, you would be excused for thinking that the whole world is going to hell in a handbasket since all we read about is grave danger. While we shouldn’t ignore this (i.e. wear your mask and stop licking door handles), the truth is that there have always been threats around … Continue reading Pandemic of the Mind
Do the times make the man or does the man make the times? These are the two main ways of looking at history; as the inevitable outcome of certain Trends and Forces acting on populations or as the biographies of a series of Great Men who change the course of events (by the way, when … Continue reading How will COVID infect History?
It is often said that there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics. 22 This is meant as a comment on how statistics can be very easily moulded to reinforce any point that we want to make. That’s because statistics are a tool and as such you can use them for whatever … Continue reading The rest of the iceberg
Since the start of the pandemic, most businesses have stopped accepting cash. Personally, I think this is fantastic. I never carry any coins and try to pay for everything with my phone or card. This is for both practical purposes –I like to carry as little as possible on me– and also because I firmly … Continue reading Drop the penny
These days, we’re hearing the word Triage a lot in the news in relation to doctors’ work. For those of you who are not entirely sure what they’re talking about, the term means screening or classification, and refers to the initial evaluation that a patient undergoes upon arriving at the ER, in order to determine … Continue reading Triage
During this confinement, we’re all resorting to technology (even) more, particularly to keep in touch with our loved ones. But, like the analogue apes we are, the digital world is not intuitive for us and we tend to treat these communication channels exactly the same as if we were talking to someone in person. But … Continue reading Digital Social Manual
How can a stranger make you happy to pay money and not get anything in return? I once learned a lesson from a Bedouin. He was our guide, taking us on camelback to spend a night sleeping in the desert and perhaps Allah may know his name because I sure don’t remember. On the way … Continue reading Riddle me this
This situation is bizarre because it has affected everybody in the same way, and yet we each still have our own particular circumstances that make a big difference. That’s because it has put us in a bigbrotherish environment in which the outer world that starts at our doorstep feels a little bit further and less … Continue reading The same, yet different
After the world of human pain that we’re going through now, there will be a world of economic suffering. There is already talk of Depression rather than Recession. Many industries will be completely wrecked by this situation and all will be affected to some extent. As soon as the worst effects for people are over, … Continue reading No more “Bailouts Without Borders”
Humans are more afraid of things they don’t understand, so in explaining the origin of disease, science has made us lose respect for its consequences. What happened to apocalyptic names like Black Death, Cholera, Scarlet Fever, Syphilis, Rabies, Malaria, etc? As with everything, healthcare also requires marketing. The WHO should have a group to come … Continue reading Disease Branding
At the outset of the pandemic, when the quarantines and lockdowns began, I thought that in 9 months we would see a baby boom, but now I suspect that the effect will be quite the opposite. The baby boom occurred because couples who wanted to be together had been kept apart by a war. Absence … Continue reading Baby Bust
When politicians first started talking about herd immunity (like Trump, Johnson and Bolsonaro), the answer should have been a resounding cry: “Great idea! You go first then” Leaders of the free world "Bat Soup" with Jair, Don and Boris In fact, if they had thought about it, it would have been the best (political) strategy … Continue reading Are there any REAL leaders out there?