Diamond Princess

One epidemic overtakes another:

France has declared an epidemic of seasonal flu as thousands fall sick. Twenty-six people have died since the outbreak began.

Coronavirus might be hogging the headlines at present, but in France normal seasonal flu is proving far more deadly.

Seems that ordinary seasonal flu is worse than coronavirus.

Death rates are the number of deaths per one thousand people per year. The current French death rate is 9.365 deaths per 1000 people per year, The population of France is 67 million. So about 627,455 people die in France every year, or 1,719 per day. An extra 26 deaths should be barely noticeable. But nevertheless, France has declared an epidemic.

Maybe the same thing is happening in China? Maybe the new coronavirus is really no worse than ordinary seasonal flu? The common cold is a coronavirus.

I spent a while yesterday studying the Diamond Princess cruise liner, currently quarantined in Yokohama with about 4,000 passengers and crew aboard, confined to their cabins. It seemed like a perfect microcosm of the coronavirus epidemic, set apart from all the other outbreaks, and isolated from them. At the end of the day they’ll know exactly how many people got infected, and exactly how many people died.

If the normal death rate aboard the Diamond Princess is the same as France, then about 37 people die aboard it every year. One every ten days. Since the ship seems to go on week-long cruises, chances are that one passenger will die on each cruise. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the ship has its own mortuary.

Initially there were 10 reported cases of coronavirus aboard it. This has now gone up to 20. There are no reported deaths, to the best of my knowledge. But since it seems to be about a week since the first case was found, we should expect there to have been one death.

I came across an article: 12 Things Not to Do in Your Cruise Room

1. Smoke
Sorry, smokers, but on most cruise ships, you need to take a hike to get your morning nicotine fix. All cruise lines have banned smoking in cabins, and many have even banned smoking on private balconies. Cigarettes are a fire hazard — ships have caught fire due to wayward ash — and many people also consider them a public nuisance. Understandably, the cruise lines want to limit cigarette use onboard, while still offering smokers a few places to light up. So you’ll need to head to a designated area of an upper deck or specific lounge when you need a smoke break. (If you’re not sure of your ship’s policy, you should read up on Cruise Line Smoking Policies.)

Yet it seems that smoking in cabins was not banned on the Diamond Princess. However, now that the passengers have been confined to their cabins, they have also been banned from smoking.

“We’ve got friends on board who are really struggling though, because they’re smokers.

“The captain announced everyone was banned from smoking in cabins and on balconies, and our friends are tearing their hair out!”

Why has the captain banned everyone from smoking? Yesterday I found that cruise ships have very powerful ventilation systems. One ship had 88 air handling units scattered over it, with a maximum capacity of 1.5 million cubic metres of fresh air per hour. It seems that each cabin has its own separate air supply, so one cabin’s air doesn’t get into other cabins. And this is why passengers have been confined to their cabins: it minimises the risk of infection spreading between cabins. The entire ship is pressurised, so that if you open both a cabin’s front door and its balcony door, you get half a hurricane blowing through. It’s my guess that the air is extracted out of the ship’s rear smokestacks, along with engine exhaust. So when the ship is under way, doing 22 knots, it will be drawing in fresh air on its forward top deck, and expelling it out of the back,

However, the Diamond Princess isn’t moving right now, so there’s an increased chance that exhaust air can mix with intake air. And with most of its restaurants and bars empty, the ship’s ventilation rate has probably been reduced, and perhaps even the cabin ventilation rates have been reduced as well, and that’s why smoking has been banned. Same reason as it’s banned on airline flights.

Anyway, it seems that the WHO isn’t letting any flu epidemic take its eye off the ball. Via Brigitte 4 Feb 2020:

WHO highlights a wide range of proven interventions to prevent new cancer cases. These include controlling tobacco use (responsible for 25% of cancer deaths),

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22 Responses to Diamond Princess

  1. Mark Jarratt says:

    Airlines saved fuel from smoking bans, as less was needed to run the HVAC systems. One unforeseen consequence of irrational fear of tobacco products was the ‘clean’ air demanded by prohibitionists was less clean, as cabin air was changed less often. Be careful what you wish for.
    WHO is corrupted by accepting bribes from the ‘do as I say’ diminutive billionaire lifestyle bully Bloomberg, even appointing him as Ambassador for Non Communicable diseases (i.e. top down social control, whether you like it or not).
    The feeble analytical powers of prohibitionists are starkly shown by simultaneously claiming that smoking costs public health, and smokers die prematurely. The deceased are obviously not a burden on public health, so if the objective is to save public health funds (an emotive stance based in discredited population eugenics) and the claims of premature smoking ‘related’ death are true, smoking would be encouraged, not banned and targeted.

    • Fumo ergo sum says:

      “The feeble analytical powers of prohibitionists are starkly shown by simultaneously claiming that smoking costs public health, and smokers die prematurely. The deceased are obviously not a burden on public health, so if the objective is to save public health funds (an emotive stance based in discredited population eugenics) and the claims of premature smoking ‘related’ death are true, smoking would be encouraged, not banned and targeted.”

      This is indeed a very perceptive remark. If the costs of smoking do not outweigh its (financial) benefits, then why is smoking targeted instead of encouraged – or at least ‘left alone’? After all, if there are that many smokers that die prematurely from smoking, governments and other institutions like life insurance companies have to pay out much less in money than if those smokers would reach the age of 80 or well beyond. Ages at which the costs of health care provision really start to boil over – whether you have been smoking throughout your life or not. Not to mention the financial benefits governments gain from extracting smokers’ money through life-long excessive robbery euphemistically known as ‘excise taxes’. Just to mention, in 2018 the Belgian state cashed in about 2.37 billion euro in excise taxes on tobacco. At the same time, and for what it is worth, a study jointly conducted by the universities of Ghent and Brussels estimated both the direct and indirect costs of smoking-related illnesses at 1.47 billion euro. So that means that there is a net positive result of 900 million euro gained from lighting and vaping up. Now, this figure may probably slightly vary as the study has been carried out in 2015, but as I said, the added value of studies like this just stretches as far as it goes. One of the alleged ‘indirected costs’ that the researchers tried to measure was the “loss of life quality” due to smoking and smoking-related ailments. But how on earth do they measure such a variable, let alone attach a currency-converted value to it? Life quality is a highly subjective notion that cannot be measured let alone converted into a statistical data set. When I temporally quit smoking last year (for about three months), I judged that my overall life quality drastically impoverished. But I won’t have been able to describe my loss in life quality (due to NON-smoking) in purely mathematical terms.

      Nevertheless, even if we take such studies at face value and all methodological caveats notwithstanding, the result is that the costs of smoking actually do not outweigh the benefits. And I assume that that the same applies to other countries as well. So then the question why the public health fetishists remain so concerned about smoking – and other imagined epidemics such as alcohol, sugar, fat and meat – remains to be answered. There are two possible answers I think. The first is that the public health bullies in charge may rely on non-utilitarian arguments to pursue their prohibitionist agendas because, as you say, population eugenics is far discredited by now. This may seem true at first glance, since the antismokers definitely use rhetorical tricks such as ‘improving life qualities’ in order to justify their purposes. Life quality could then denote a positive value that goes ‘beyond’ the mere aggregation of ‘costs’ and ‘benefits’ into some econometric curve. But as I said before, ‘life quality’ is a subjective notion that cannot be measured. So the reliance on non-utilitarian arguments would eventually fail. And this is exactly why, if you scratch beneath the thin surface of ‘life quality enhancing’ propaganda, you will most definitely encounter a whole body of statistics, numbers and data that seem to buttress the whole edifice of progressivist Kumbaya-style feelgoodism which is taken as a substitute for what is objectively good and valuable, indeed, even for what is subjectively pleasurable. We live in what the sociologist Max Weber called an era of disenchantment, so the only pseudo-moralistic (I won’t even call it ‘ethical’) glue that sticks society still somehow together is based on an (alleged) agreement on statistics (and the prescriptive ‘policies’ that could allegedly be derived from them).

      But we also live in a ‘post truth’ era in which there no longer exist objectively and/or intersubjectively ascertainable states of affairs but only a mere series of ‘alternative facts’. So perhaps the antismokers simply build their models on wrong or even counterfeited statistics? That could be the case, but I assume that they have exactly the same kind and quantity of information as we possess – or as anybody could have given enough time to peruse all kinds of government statistics, academic studies, press releases, and so on. Which means, then, that they are deliberately lying about, for instance, the costs of smoking to society or the imminent dangers of tobacco smoke? But why would they do that, if they could simply take the facts for granted and actually start promoting smoking instead of persecuting it (because the benefits actually outweigh the costs)? In doing so, they could then contribute to a much higher increase in GDP then would be the case in a near smoke-free world. So are they either ignorant or deliberately lying? I think it may be a combination of both.

      Even though I cannot read the minds of the antismokers (and I am fortunate not to be endowed with THAT ability!), I think following illustrious quote from the novelist C.S. Lewis may be very illuminating:

      “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

      I think we should pay attention especially to this part: ‘those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end.’

      I think that there are two ways to interpret the words ‘without end’ in here, even though both interpretations are actually mutually enforcing. The most obvious interpretation of ‘without end’ would be in the sense of ‘endless’ or ‘infinite’, in the sense that we speak about space to be ‘without end’ or the list of prime numbers to be ‘without end’. This is also the interpretation that speaks most clearly from the context of Lewis’s quote, in the sense that the moralistic tyrant’s hunger to exercise control over it victims is ‘endless’. But another interpretation could be that ‘without end’ denotes something like ‘without purpose’ or ‘being pointless’. Of course, both interpretations are compatible and sometimes even indistinguishable from one another. Think, for instance, about the famous Greek legend of Sisyphus who was condemned by the gods to repeatedly roll a boulder up a hill, only to have it roll down again once he arrived on top, so that he had to do his work all over again. And again. And again. And so forth for eternity. Sisyphus’ work is thus both without end in the sense that he is trapped in a cycle eternally repeating itself, as well as without end in the sense that he is condemned to do what he has to do forever.

      I think there is much to learn from the myth of Sisyphus in order to understand the drives and motives of the antismoking lobby. It is without end in the sense of being ‘without purpose’ in that it finds itself unable to give a cogent rationale why we altogether ought not to smoke. They once legitimized their endeavors by stating that it was for the good of others, so that they won’t be harmed by secondhand smoke, or even for the good of smokers themselves, so that they would give up the “filthy habit” and see their “lives improved”. But with all those smoking bans into force, nobody could actually still claim to be harmed by any whiff of smoke. And those smokers that nowadays still continue their ‘filthy habit’ actually simply persist into pursuing their little leisure activity, notwithstanding all the nagging and bullying around them. So the antismokers are actually running out of arguments, either because they have no more arguments left, or because those who should be targeted have actually simply zoned out long time ago. And this means that the only thing they can do is relying on the self-justifying argument that smoking ought to be fought because it is bad. However, any reasonable interlocutor may then rightfully ask: why, then, is smoking bad? And the most probable answer would then be that it is bad… because it is bad. But this is of course no argumentation at all; it simply betrays circular reasoning. Just as some antismokers would say that smoking indoors nowadays is not done… because it is not done. I think that Frank wrote an excellent contribution on this fallacy a couple of weeks ago.

      And if you are caught into a form of circular reasoning, you will ultimately find yourself trapped, just like Sisyphus, in a cycle fighting endless wars – wars without purpose, because they do not have nor need any justification. So it then remains of vital importance that you keep the cycle going on forever, like a perpetuum mobile, and never reveal your real target because… there simply is no target to hit! It is all a permanent struggle against the hybris, which cannot be one. This explains why the antismokers, some extremist hotheads notwithstanding, will never bluntly ask for plain prohibition, say, of tobacco. If they were to do this, then the cycle of permanent self-justification through bullying, proposing new pieces of legislation and regulation, taxation, and so on would ultimately stop turning. And then they have simply made themselves redundant. This is indeed why they will operate in a piecemeal way, regulating and taxing everything and everybody step by step. So that the cycle can go on forever and forever, because there will always be an aspect of human action that has not been regulated yet. It is also the reason why I think that the antismokers are neither ignorant nor deliberately lying. They will simply use whatever means available to pursue whatever fully unknown end. To propose and implement further regulations and laws for the sake of proposing and implementing further regulations. For the sake of the good because it is good, and in order to combat the bad because it is bad.

      Without end.

      • Barry Homan says:

        Too long, didn’t read.

      • Mark Jarratt says:

        Exhaustively and thoroughly argued thanks Fumo. Tobacco control zealots have a burning (fuming?) desire to inflict their concepts of bourgeois purity on everyone else, without the consent of those they ‘help’ but in fact persecute and rob. It is an indictment of so called leaders everywhere for empowering such a cult of hatred and intolerance.

  2. beobrigitte says:

    Coronavirus might be hogging the headlines at present, but in France normal seasonal flu is proving far more deadly.
    That’s what the BBC just said. I wonder if the French didn’t opt for the vaccination.
    https://www.connexionfrance.com/French-news/pharmacies-across-France-ready-to-handle-flu-vaccinations-as-annual-campaign-kicks-off
    The thing with 2019-nCoV is that it is a novel virus. We will have to wait until it’s over.

    Maybe the same thing is happening in China? Maybe the new coronavirus is really no worse than ordinary seasonal flu? The common cold is a coronavirus.
    Coronavirus accounts for roughly 20% of all colds/flu. As far as I know coronavirus is not included in the seasonal flu shots offered to the public.

    Anyway, it seems that the WHO isn’t letting any flu epidemic take its eye off the ball.
    Neither is the WHO letting a novel corona (?)pandemic take it’s eye off the ball. Perhaps we need to insist on total transparency with respect to funding and how these funds are distributed? At this point in time the WHO is appealing for funds to fight the coronavirus epidemic.
    May I politely suggest it firstly pours in the money set aside for more anti-smoking nonsense before asking for more cash, a ?substantial amount of which, ironically, is the ADDITIONAL tax paid by smokers?

  3. Joe L. says:

    … the ship’s ventilation rate has probably been reduced, and perhaps even the cabin ventilation rates have been reduced as well, and that’s why smoking has been banned. Same reason as it’s banned on airline flights.

    It’s actually the other way around, Frank (as Mark Jarratt mentioned in his comment above). Airlines realized they could save money by downsizing their ventilation systems (under the guise of being concerned about their customers’ health and safety) by banning smoking on their flights, because without visible tobacco smoke in the cabin air, they figured passengers would be none the wiser if they decreased the frequency of air changes.

  4. waltc says:

    So you’ve got the flu and, against the “rules,” you smoke in your cabin. What can they do to you? Throw you overboard? You’re in quarantine so they can’t call a motorboat to come alongside and take you off the ship. People are far too intimidated by “rules.” Smoke em if you got em.

    • smokingscot says:

      Thought about that myself, however the answer may be they’d just go through your cabin and confiscate everything tobacco related.

      Myself, well I’d check out the bathroom as they’ll probably vent to the atmosphere and have a chat with an employee who smokes to find out what they’re doing about it.

      Worst case would be to start using my efags that I always pack just in case.

  5. Lepercolonist says:

    My wife always heckles me to go on a cruise. I told her that you can’t smoke in your cabin so you can forget about it. I want to enjoy myself and relax. I can be miserable without spending $2,000 dollars.

    • smokingscot says:

      One we didn’t hear much about; refused by St Lucia to dock.

      https://www.foxnews.com/travel/st-lucia-turns-away-cruise-ship-coronavirus

      Fair dues, St Lucia is tiny and their medical facilities limited. Ain’t worth the risk.

      Other story tells of people cancelling their booking for (legitimate) fears of signing up to a nasty, potentially fatal infection – and the cruise line refuses to reimburse.

    • Ryan S says:

      A-fucking-men! I have small children and we went to Disney twice. The first time , they had designated smoking areas within the park. The next time? Get your ass outside the gates! I was also accosted by some obese woman when I lit up outside of our hotel the second time. It was raining hard, no one was around so I figured why not. No sooner did I light up, a slew of people fleeing the park arrived and Ms Piggy started fake coughing. While she was vocal, her coat rack of a husband said nothing. I believe he knew what he was up against. People say smoking is bad for your health, to which I reply so is pissing off a smoker.

  6. beobrigitte says:

    Yet it seems that smoking in cabins was not banned on the Diamond Princess. However, now that the passengers have been confined to their cabins, they have also been banned from smoking.
    I thought this was a little odd. People are stressed and the last thing you want to do is add stress to the situation.
    Oh, well. Last night I watched:

    and was getting frustrated at the 16% nonsense that we should see outside China. Then the Coronavirus ACE2 and the FACT(?) that the infection rate difference is not due to gender difference it is due to smoking.

    And… Ta-taaaa!!!!!!

    There it is: yet another not yet peer reviewed paper:
    https://www.preprints.org/manuscript/202002.0051/v1
    Which, I am sure will be peer reviewed and and passed in no time. Perhaps even today?

  7. Frank Davis says:

    Diamond Princess latest:
    The new cases bring the total number of sufferers confirmed on the quarantined ship to 61, which now includes two UK citizens.

    First it was 10 cases. Then after a few days it was 21 cases. Now it’s 61 cases. Looks like the on-board epidemic is accelerating.

    “They are all breathing circulated contaminated air so they could be getting everyone infected,” she told Reuters.

    I don’t think this is true. It was one of the things I was trying to find out a few days ago, and my conclusion was that all the cabins were getting their own separate supply of fresh air, as well as having their own separate air extraction. That’s why confining passengers to their cabins maximises their safety.

    But the crew?

    He said everyone has been totally confined to their rooms, apart from the crew who eat together in the mess hall.

    “This is part of the problem, as far as I know the crew have not been properly tested. Just a temperature check three days ago,” he said.

    “This is the same crew that prepare all the food and clean all the cabins so I’m finding it hard to trust the food we’re served.”

    Not many people have been tested.

    Japanese authorities have tested 273 people on board the Diamond Princess, which was quarantined after a former passenger, who disembarked in Hong Kong last month, tested positive for the virus.

    “The results of the remaining 171 tests came out and 41 tested positive,” Kato told reporters.

    “Today they will be sent to hospitals in several prefectures, and we are now preparing for that.

    “In total, out of 273 specimens, 61 tested positive,” Kato added.

    So 22% of those tested have the virus.

    But no-one seems to have died.

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