💉💉 Henry Madison DPhil Profile picture
Interested in just about everything. Scientist, engineer, philosopher, public policy expert, independent scholar. All personal views.
14 Sep
#auspol #covid19aus the weaponisation of Delta. A long thread on how political strategists have used Delta to re-energise the 'live with the virus' strategy, in Australia. Most political strategy happens where the public never sees it, but it happens every single day. /1
It's important to first note that from Day 1 of the pandemic, there have been 2 competing political approaches towards it. One the traditional Australian way, of allowing our public health institutions to manage the outbreak. The other the 'live with the virus' idea. /2
As soon as the pandemic began, the PM established a National Cabinet, almost certainly to deal the federal government into the pandemic conversation, where it has very little constitutional role. States manage most public health activity. /3
Read 25 tweets
13 Sep
Up to 75% of the businesses some plan to save by ‘opening up’ would have failed anyway, inside 5 years, even without the pandemic. The ‘Economy’ isn’t a thing, we need to stop talking about it as if we’re living ‘in’ an economy. /1 #auspol #covid19aus
The Economy began only as a measure of national income. Talking about it as ‘the Economy’ makes as much sense as describing your family as ‘our weekly income’. Somebody who talks about ‘the Economy’ is really only describing the income going to successful people. /2
This is all quite deliberate. By inventing this statistical homunculus as a substitute for society, conservatives can bypass all of the usual social and political problems, in favour of a handful of statistical indicators. Indicators that are themselves…/3
Read 4 tweets
28 Aug
#covid19 #auspol the libertarians have cowed even most experts into believing Covid eradication is impossible. Most surrender at the idea of the social costs. /1

gh.bmj.com/content/bmjgh/…
Let’s consider those, generally. We’re not yet 2 years into this pandemic. The hardship experienced by just about everybody pales into insignificance against what societies endured in the two world wars. And yet everybody seems agreed that it’s all too hard. /2
Much of that is the repeated wearing down of social life by libertarian politics, which began the pandemic by weaponising the most powerful weapon against any novel pathogen - basic quarantine - as ‘lockdown’. /3
Read 9 tweets
23 Aug
#auspol #covid19aus #covid19nsw the key elements from the Doherty Report which are not being prosecuted daily in NSW press conferences. For those who don't understand it or are too lazy to read it, which appears to be most political journalists. /1
The report models degree of public health restrictions (PHSM) required to maintain hospital capacity, at different levels of vaccination for those aged 16 and above. It uses 4 categories of restriction - baseline, low, medium and high. /2
It also models two strengths of test, trace, isolate and quarantine (TTIQ): partial, and optimal. Partial when case numbers are high and compromise the ability to TTIQ. Optimal when case numbers are low enough to allow maximally effective TTIQ. /3
Read 13 tweets
22 Aug
#covid19aus #auspol the Doherty Report modelled vaccination of those aged 12+ only as a ‘thought experiment’. Not because the Doherty people are bastards, but because National Cabinet specifically excluded anybody below 16 in Doherty’s scope of work. /1
Note that the same National Cabinet has now requested updated modelling based on massive case numbers, which the original report said would invalidate most of their findings. No updating though to incorporate health effects on children. /2
The report is appallingly written, an alphabet soup of jargon and passive-voiced prose. You couldn’t have designed a document better to prevent scrutiny. I doubt National Cabinet members understood half of it. /3
Read 4 tweets
8 Aug
#auspol #covid19aus #covid19nsw Camus: “…our townsfolk apparently found it hard to grasp what was happening to them. There were feelings all could share, such as fear and separation, but personal interests, too, continued to…/1

smh.com.au/national/nsw/t…
…occupy the foreground of their thoughts. Nobody as yet had really acknowledged to himself what the disease connoted. Most people were chiefly aware of what ruffled the normal tenor of their lives or affected their interests. They were worried and irritated,…/2
…but these are not feelings with which to confront plague. Their first reaction, for instance, was to abuse the authorities….Could not the regulations be modified and made less stringent?…our townsfolk…persisting in the idea that what was happening was a sort of accident,…/3
Read 4 tweets
7 Aug
#auspol #covid19aus “The key message though, and the Doherty Model shows it, let’s get vaccinated, and that’s the path to freedom”. Stuart Robert on SKY, running the new strategic narrative for LNP governments. The old ‘live with the virus’ narrative, with jabs added. /1
Our health experts are sadly woefully naive in their dealing with politicians. The Doherty Model doesn’t say this, but that’s not what the public will hear. Many everyday folk I talk too are scathing about ATAGI for the same reason. /2
Notice also this continuous use of the word ‘freedom’, the corollary to calling public health measures, designed to keep us alive, as ‘lockdown’. It’s all in the framing. The early genius of the LNP strategists was to get the lockdown term into circulation. /3
Read 6 tweets
6 Aug
#auspol #covid19 much of this pandemic is playing out as Camus would have predicted. Only a novel comes close to capturing the full complexity of social life. Some excerpts in Tweets, today about illness and life in an ‘Economy’. /1
“Perhaps the easiest way of making a town’s acquaintance is to ascertain how the people in it work, how they love, and how they die…Out citizens work hard, but solely with the object of getting rich. Their chief interest is in commerce, and their chief aim in life is…/2
…as they call it, ‘doing business’. Naturally they don’t eschew such simpler pleasures as love-making, seabathing, going to the pictures. But, very sensibly, they reserve these pastimes for Saturday afternoons and Sundays and employ the rest of the week in making money…/3
Read 8 tweets
5 Aug
#auspol #covid19aus can we remember Australia, that during much of 2020, when the federal government could have been improving quarantine and getting the best vaccine procurement deal for Australia, it…/1
1) Dissolved the national parliament and replaced it with an unaccountable National Cabinet, whose deliberations are never published.
2) The true function of this Cabinet was to deal the feds into the pandemic discussion, where they had little constitutional role. Once there…/2
…they used it to persistently introduce economic counter-narratives to the public health narratives.
3) Established a National Covid Commission to replace parliament as the deliberative body to determine future directions post the pandemic. A commission…/3
Read 5 tweets
3 Aug
#auspol #covid19 for all modelling and government reports, people get lost in the details, and ignore the framing. This report just operationalises National Cabinet’s 4-stage strategy for pandemic exit. It’s not advice on how to best exit the pandemic. /1
The clear (and surrendering) assumption of the National Cabinet plan is that Covid will become endemic. It ran up the white flag, with potentially catastrophic future outcomes. The assumption that an endemic Covid will be relatively mild and controllable has no basis. /2
Endemic disease is a multi-generational, enormous cost, in lives and resources, for any society. It’s a decision to embed a new, potentially highly dangerous, ongoing disease in practical perpetuity. A huge scientific and moral decision. Has attracted almost zero scrutiny. /3
Read 7 tweets
11 Jul
#nswlockdown #auspol #covid19nsw this is the time to think. Large test numbers show again that the community is self-organising beautifully. The daily stern 'naughty children' narrative from the police, government and CHO underway. There's a dangerous disjunction here. /1
The community is clearly mobilising when asked. But government libertarian beliefs can only see that community as disconnected individuals, who are either 'doing the right thing', or not. Stern stories about non-compliance each day only reinforce that. /2
The gap here is at government level. The community is mobilising, but inside a framework that encourages the opposite. Too much mobility, too much pressure on people to go to work because too much non-essential work is allowed to be open. /3
Read 4 tweets
9 Jul
#covid19 it's not news or surprising that putting animals in crowded conditions breeds infectious disease. Antibiotic use in modern feedlot farming is astronomical, to both fatten, and treat infection. But are we seeing the link to our pandemic? /1
A pandemic is a social and political event, not a medical or biological event. The patterns of human gathering and movement are created by our social and political arrangements. For this reason, pandemics don't just appear out of a blue sky. /2
They appear when humans are too crowded, mixing too much and too rapidly, with poor ventilation and sometimes also absence of clean water and food. Mass transport, mass shopping, mass work are breeding grounds for pandemics, as well as the habitat destruction they produce. /3
Read 8 tweets
8 Jul
#covid19 Eventually all debates if they continue return people to first premises of arguments and ideas. In this case, ideas in health care around individual vs collective have also collided with political ideas in the same area. . /1
Political libertarians have been the main drag upon worldwide pandemic efforts, but we're also seeing ongoing tensions between public health professionals and physicians, which reduce to the same ideas. Individual vs collective. /2
All of these fields share the idea that there are individuals, and groups/society, and you have different methodologies for dealing with each. At best they suggest some sort of compromise, where individuals sacrifice some freedom for the greater good. /3
Read 7 tweets
6 Jul
#covid19 #auspol two definitions of freedom doing battle in this pandemic. It IS the pandemic, the virus is just opportunistically hitching along. Developed nations, infected with an extreme libertarian virus about 50 years ago, generated and prolong the pandemic. /1
To most of them, freedom is the freedom from attachments. From State interference. Living off the grid, the ultimate libertarian destination. The problem with this viral set of ideas is, to live off the grid, you need a grid. It's in the name /2
Attachments - mutual social obligations in all aspects of life and business - is what gives us our freedom. That collective effort is what frees up space and time for individuals to flourish. Try doing a Walden and living in your log cabin in the woods. Exhaustion. /3
Read 8 tweets
6 Jul
#covid19aus #auspol vaccination data has quickly become the proxy metric for pandemic success. Australia is actually tracking the world average. In a true global pandemic strategy, that would be seen as a noble thing. /1
The gap, represented by the red arrow, between that world average and the countries at the top, is interpreted as the superior public health work of that top group. It isn't that. It's a supply gap. Created by those same countries, hoarding vaccines. /2
The call for vaccination targets in Oz, to get jabs in arms ASAP so we can get the borders open, is just a global pissing contest. A league table of vaccine hoarders. The entire global pandemic strategy has been driven off course, by the hoarders. /3
Read 6 tweets
5 Jul
#covid19 will we get to a point where we stop being naive and realise that the same conservatives happy to incinerate the planet to protect vested interests, won't blink an eye killing millions in a pandemic, for the same reason? /1

scientificamerican.com/article/climat…
From Day 1 of the pandemic, most conservative governments have had zero intention of following any sort of public health response. They immediately saw the threat to their protected economic status quo that public health restrictions create. /2
They've been undermining them ever since. Whether it's to cast doubt on the actual lethality of the virus, or to talk about balancing public health work with economic activity, or to continuously weaponise public health concepts in ways that.../3
Read 5 tweets
3 Jul
#auspol #covid19 the perverse calculus of 'freedom' in this pandemic. The loudest voices for removal of public health measures have been libertarian political voices. This is dangerous, disingenuous, deliberate strategy. /1 Image
To a political libertarian, the pandemic SHOULD be all of their dreams come true. 'Locking down' removes social life, generated and managed by the State, not individual life. Each individual in their own home with negligible State contact is the libertarian idyll. /2
The 'freedom' so liberally bandied about in this pandemic is the freedom to engage in social life, not individual life. The freedom to shop, travel, to do business etc. All things the State makes possible. So what's with the libertarian 'freedom' push? /3
Read 9 tweets
29 Jun
#covid19aus #auspol tens of billions are being spent on transport projects in major cities. Few begin with the basic assumptions. Why do we need so much transport? Why do people require so much mobility to undertake basic everyday life? /1
Imagine that money being used to develop new models of decentralised work, people working from home, neighbourhoods strengthened so that they’re no longer just overnight carparks for commuting workers. /2
Conservative governments love transport projects. We don’t often question why, everybody seems to share the assumption that it’s normal for people to need to move so extensively every day. Meanwhile our living spaces outside major transport hubs wither on the vine. /3
Read 8 tweets
29 Jun
#auspol #covid19 watching the UK news is a jaw-dropping experience of seeing the regulatory capture of democracy by venal corporate interests, in real time. /1

news.sky.com/story/covid-19…
A story about the apparent disgrace of sending 250,000 students into isolation after COVID outbreaks in schools, because ‘only 9000 were actually infected’. Only! /2
In the same bulletin, CEOs given quarantine exemptions to sign major business deals to help the UK economy. And employers urged to allow workers to finish work early so they can watch a fucking soccer game. /3
Read 7 tweets
27 Jun
#auspol #covid19 when we turned our societies into economies, they lost the resilience to do the most basic act. Taking shelter. If societies had that resilience, to allow most to stay home for weeks, the pandemic would never have happened. The 'Economy' doesn't allow it. /1
What we call the Economy is really the continual displacement of people and things from their 'home'. Whether it's the daily commute, or the international circulation of goods and people, the Economy is really code for movement. And movement in turn displaces, literally. /2
That displacement is political. The old saying, a person's home is their castle. Forcing the continuous displacement of people and goods is designed to remove that sovereignty from peoples' lives. 'Go where the jobs are'. /3
Read 8 tweets
26 Jun
#auspol #covid19 it's amazing that the same experiences, repeated multiple times, teach us nothing. Symptomatic of us using our 'normal' life thinking to try to understand a pandemic, the thinking that actually created the pandemic. About toilet paper.../1
This isn't 'panic buying'. Logistics experts have said (but aren't listened to) multiple times that this is the result of a too-lean, just-in-time supply chain. Another facet of our gig economies, engineered to maximise profit and minimise resilience. /2
Every time we've had a major outbreak, this has also been a 100% reliable indicator of what's about to occur. Crowds are wise, in the right situations, smarter than anybody in them. Google the research on this, collective intelligence, crowd wisdom. /3
Read 7 tweets