"Covid19 Deaths Not A Relevant Statistic"

How to lose less by avoiding stupidity

The Belt & Road Today

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A Fact

Ironic as it seems to me who has lived in Beijing since before the Great Internet Firewall was erected, President Trump's confrontation with TikTok validates China’s treatment of the Internet. The U.S. is starting to view the internet like China does — as a network that countries control within their borders.

Today's global internet has split into three zones:

  1. The EU's personal privacy-focused network.

  2. China's government-patrolled network.

  3. The U.S.-led network that has historically prided itself on being open and unregulated yet has become dominated by a handful of American companies.

As the global internet splinters further, the U.S. and China are entering a Cold War-style battle for the hearts and minds of users and developing nations. This latest change in internet policy driven by Trump Administration led nationalism dramatically weakens the heretofore American ideal of internet freedom and open information networks.

Trump's threat to ban the Chinese-owned TikTok, with Microsoft in talks to buy the video-sharing app's U.S. operations, puts other foreign-owned companies on notice that the U.S. intends to overtly favor American-owned digital businesses. That's a huge departure from a long-established bipartisan consensus that American interests are best served by a marketplace, online and off, managed as a level playing field. The Trump administration's strong-arming of TikTok threatens to cede U.S. high ground as a champion of fair markets and networks. And if Trump gets his way and demands a big cut of any deal as “key money” the entire situation becomes farcical.

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A Musing

For posterity, so that you can explain all this madness to your children and grandchildren, please watch Axios’ Jonathan Swan's 38-minute interview with President Trump. See with your own eyes and hear with your own ears Donald Trump say how everything was going great (economy, the Trade War, etc., he takes full credit for it all) and then states when the Covid19 pandemic hit, “it is incredible the job that we have done” fighting the pandemic (starting around timestamp 4:49). He goes on incredulously to say you can not measure the effectiveness of a national pandemic response based on deaths/population (starting around timestamp 13:50).


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A Book

On Losing Less. Simon Ramo, a scientist, and statistician wrote a fascinating book in 1973 that very few people have ever read: Extraordinary Tennis Ordinary Players. According to Ramo, professionals win points whereas amateurs lose them.

In a professional game, each player, nearly equal in skill, plays a nearly perfect game rallying back and forth until one player hits the ball just beyond the reach of his opponent. This is about positioning, control, spin. It’s a game of inches and sometimes centimeters. This is not how amateurs play. Ramo found this out by doing away with keeping scores the traditional way — “Love,” “Forty All,” etc. Instead, he simply looked at points won versus points lost.

In expert tennis, about 80 per cent of the points are won; in amateur tennis, about 80 per cent of the points are lost. In other words, professional tennis is a Winner’s Game – the final outcome is determined by the activities of the winner – and amateur tennis is a Loser’s Game – the final outcome is determined by the activities of the loser. The two games are, in their fundamental characteristic, not at all the same. They are opposites.

After discovering that there are, in effect, two different games and realizing that a generic strategy will not work for both games, he devised a clever strategy by which ordinary players can win by losing less and letting the opponent defeat themselves.

… if you choose to win at tennis – as opposed to having a good time – the strategy for winning is to avoid mistakes. The way to avoid mistakes is to be conservative and keep the ball in play, letting the other fellow have plenty of room in which to blunder his way to defeat, because he, being an amateur will play a losing game and not know it.

If you’re an amateur your focus should be on avoiding stupidity, not necessarily seeking brilliance. This goes for pandemics and presidents too, in my humble opinion.

Thanks for reading BRAmble,


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