Guest Post: MatrixTransform – The Langoliers

The Langoliers

On the Open Thread, Makka  says: October 16, 2021 at 9:27 am

“The fact is most people threw their lot in with the Man long ago. Credit cards, mortgages, the o/seas holidays, keeping up with the Joneses. Debt up to the eyeballs. To service it there can be no interruption whatsoever to income. Then there is the family ties spread across the wide brown land. That’s life as we know it and for it to continue the turds governing us know the vast majority will comply just to get on with it. The bud has blossomed and died long ago.”

In maybe 2014, I woke one morning with a premonition. Well, a hunch … or maybe a clue.

After a disastrous 2012 and a lacklustre 2013, the pressure to gear up again to tackle big jobs and higher risk, was significant. Something however, told me not to do it. Into 2012 we’d been running at a couple of $meg per year and then it all evaporated. We’d shed all the staff and cash on hand went to zero and we had sat on our bums for maybe 9months. A hell of a lot of hard work for nothing.

I guess this bought up memories of the early 90’s for me which was a pretty trying time and I had vowed never to be exposed like that again. It got better of course, and after a couple of years we were back to profitable but on a smaller scale.

Anyway, interest rates kept dropping and the pressure to expand kept mounting and what my noggin had finally worked was that — Interest rates down = yields down = risk up.

So, instead of biting off too much and chewing like hell, I decided to run the other way.

  • Rearranged all our supply lines.
  • Eschewed all debt and paid out all the leases.
  • Shifted from risky sub-contracting exposed to pipe-monkeys (plumbers) and builders, over to customer direct. Took a while.
  • Targeted large older buildings and portfolios where systems need ongoing maintenance and as time goes by, upgrades and retrofits.
  • Leased the factory out to somebody else and now we are essentially home/mobile/site office only.
  • Focused on quality and tech expertise.
  • Learnt some new circus tricks.

Within our team, it took some convincing but over years of persuasive beer rants, I eventually got my way.

Many competitors just kept growing and started chasing more wet-cement jobs. We looked for all purposes like we’d run our race and the opposition laughed and while they laughed, we took some of their plum maintenance jobs away from them, which we are retrofitting now.

For years I kept marvelling at competitors’ appetites for big capital works and watched them grow more heads and lease more cars and work harder for lower margins. Whoever misses the most in the specification, wins the job with the lowest margin.

It was just yesterday I said to the business partner that, “we’ve been largely immune to the first-order effects of this Covidiocy but that the second-order effects will squish us. We need to re-position again”

Partner says, “yeah, we are lucky”

I said, “lucky, my arse.”

In the old days when we were allowed to go to a pub, “last man standing” is what I used to quip with a beer in my hand and an idiot grin. For years everybody laughed when I said kill the debt and grow some serious cash. They’re not laughing now, but then I was talking about business strategy, not WuFlu. The funny thing is, I’m sitting here typing this unvaccinated so, Last Man Standing smart-arsery starts to sound a little macabre.

Did not see that the thing bearing down on us all would take the form of a pandemic, but the effect was the same. I personally don’t think it’s the disease doing the destruction, more the response from our Guvs. That’s where the real problem is.

Everything of value is being destroyed for a disease with deaths/100k ranging from as low as 0.35 in China (remember China?) to about 600 in Peru.? Australia is currently about 6/100k and that isn’t a very big number at all. How’s the range though, heh? What’s going on there? Well clearly demographics, treatments, policy responses, comorbidities, race, testing regimes, natural antibodies etc have a large part to play, hence these numbers are near useless. I’ll wager lockdowns and mask-mandates have about zero effect. But I can’t show that.

Deaths v Confirmed Cases scatter shows a nice correlation in a narrow band with more cases correlating to more deaths (der!). All that does is show that people die from this covid stuff. By country, it also shows huge variations so metrics such as prevalence or degree of intrusion into a demographic must(?) play a big role. The variations between countries are huge: 0.1% in Bhutan to a stand-out Yemen at 18.9%. Australia is at 1.1%. I can’t easily plot case-fatality against govt policy mostly because I’m too lazy but, I’m smelling bullshit.

So just for fun what I did was take the data and divide the dead/100k by the IFR to get rid of the dead. This gives me confirmed cases per100k. I did this because all this Govt policy is being enacted in the name of the “cases” for the sake of the still living. What I now need is a new column in my data for the level of Govt fuck-wittery so I can correlate policy v cases per unit population.

I found a nifty spreadsheet for covid-policy-stringency here and by using a pivot table I can get a metric for average govt fuck-wittery by country over time. All I need to do now is match these entries by country with my “get-rid-of-the-dead” entries in the other spreadsheet.

Covid causes dead people (more or less) but in this scatter it looks like Covid policy causes Covid cases but, that’s not really true either. That point at the bottom left is New Zealand, Algeria at the top and Haiti on the right. Australia is in there too — coords approximately (y=550, x=60).

What it really shows is that there is essentially no correlation between cases per unit population and policy … and that, is the scary bit. And by the way, look at this…Harvard Research Confirms What We’ve Been Saying for Months.

Govt Covid policy is a big lie wrapped in a small lie (get VX’d) because apparently, we must beat the epidemic. We’ll beat the virus for sure, but I’ll wager your last dollar we won’t beat the policies.

No, we’ll be stuck with them, or at least stuck with the industrial-strength economy eating energy which is destroying everything and cannot apparently be stopped.

Have you ever seen the Steven King Story, The Langoliers

Well, they’re making a 2022 version. How apt.

24 thoughts on “Guest Post: MatrixTransform – The Langoliers”

  1. The “We Must Do Something” syndrome is one which infects all governments. It is particularly toxic when there’s nothing sensible to do, and to do nothing is the correct answer. Sweden pretty much worked it out.

    Actually I’m wrong: India did the best because they recognized that rolling out an ivermectin therapy packet to all households would be cheap and effective. I’d say that was the best outcome of anywhere.

    So not only did “We Must Do Something” not work here, but it became “We Must Do Something But Not The Only Thing That Actually Works”. That seems pretty typical of Australian governments since Whitlam.

    And now in a couple of weeks we’re about to get We Must Do Something amped up to 11 with the climate confabulation. And none of them dare say the obvious: the best answer is do exactly nothing.

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  2. Matrix,
    I not only remember The Langoliers, I own a copy on DVD, which I am currently looking for as I am packing. I will be moving in a few weeks and do not want to leave it behind.

    Having read your post, I realise we really are in a race for our lives as the chompers are closing the gap on we the fleeing few while destroying everything in our past.

    Do you think there is a hero who will stay awake to pilot our plane through wormhole while the rest of us are asleep? Said hero of course has to sacrifice himself to save the rest of us as we while away the plane ride in our Matrix-like slumber.

    Nah, no heroes, we are on own, as it should be.

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  3. It has been clear, for some time, that all governmental responses are ineffective – at the detailed level (masks achieve nothing, society-wide lockdowns leak badly and fail to contain infections, etc etc).

    At the more general level, you really can’t tell how many people are dying of COVID – the whole “dying with COVID” idea is obviously a highly subjective, deeply misleading travesty (massive over-estimate) while the “number of cases” massively underestimates. For a time, I thought a solution was to count the actual “dead”, the total numbers in “ICU” … no subjectivity there … and compare that with the rolling 3-5 year average deaths per 100k population. Hard data, no room for obfuscation, you’d think…

    …but not so – even with hard data, there is no objective way to separate out the effects of COVID from the effects of the COVID-response. In fact, the effects of the COVID-response will be significantly under-represented in the objective data because the impacts of (to name only a random few) late diagnosis of cardio/cancer; broken education; broken economy; psychological disorders etc etc etc…will largely be felt in the future, wile the impacts of COVID are far more immediate…

    Ultimately, your scattergraph is as good as anything else and the message was clear – doing nothing (except – possibly -focussing on preparing an emergency medical response capability) was the best, cheapest and most sensible choice.

    Of course, protecting the elderly and seriously infirm from infection was sensible, too…but no more sensible than it would have been prior to COVID. These guys die earlier than necessary in large number each and every year.

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  4. UK was going to do essentially nothing and rely on herd immunity developing until that idiot predicted mega deaths.
    The Swedes sure came out of this looking good.
    No, we won’t “beat the virus”. It is endemic and appears to have animal reservoirs. Cats, dogs, deer etc.
    Smallpox it isn’t.
    Against this we have MT’s anonymous mate saying get vaxxed despite mounting evidence that the vaxxes are nowhere near as safe as claimed.

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  5. So not only did “We Must Do Something” not work here, but it became “We Must Do Something But Not The Only Thing That Actually Works

    Not only that, “the more we spend, the more it’ll seem we are helping” infests government thinking.

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  6. “the more we spend, the more it’ll seem we are helping” infests government thinking

    Hence the $1.2 trillion in debt the useless squandermonkeys have run up. Makes that pair of imbeciles Rudd and Gillard look positively thrifty.

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  7. Yes I have seen The Langoliers… now you have reminded me, I feel even more alone in all this!

    And now there is the “Pandemic Legislation” as Dear Leader put it in his press conference on Sunday – to replace the Emergency powers ending mid December.

    What happens to my mate that had the Covid… now the pubs are opening but he can’t go in, he has no vaxx passport to show the publican.

    This isn’t about health, it’s about control. As a wise Cat once told me, it’s all too late, communism is here already.

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  8. “Have you ever seen the Steven King Story, The Langoliers? “

    Surely “V for Vendetta” is singularly appropriate in the current circumstances.

    On a totally unrelated topic, I have the recipe and instructions for creating gunpowder… you never know when that might be handy.

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  9. It would be interesting to plot Dan-O-Stan results on that graph and compare it to the rest of the world. Dan-O-Stan being the home of the worst government overreach and the worst covid outcome in Oz. My bet is that it would be around y=1200 x = 70-80.

  10. Miss A:
    Yes, there is a very handy document from the US military on how to make lots of stuff, including detonators etc, from readily available materials – for example, how to obtain potassium nitrate from organics rich soil. I highly recommend that everyone download a copy – as I noted, you never know when it might come in handy. Especially with President * in the WH and China getting belligerent, we might find ourselves in a very nasty spot.
    Better to have the information you need to defend your country and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

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  11. Making that stuff is over-rated as a political act or capability. It only takes a little to do harm, but a lot to do good. For instance, the supply chain has become episodic, and we need rather a lot for our business.
    Similarly, after 1996 some of us thought it good to maintain the capability to make our own gear; but the capability to make it good and plenty just isn’t worth it. It is far, far better to use the strengths of our economy and culture to deliver top quality for market prices, and get the law in line with the good of the people.
    But when law is set by a culture that insists lies are reality, that cannot happen.

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  12. For years I kept marvelling at competitors’ appetites for big capital works and watched them grow more heads and lease more cars and work harder for lower margins. Whoever misses the most in the specification, wins the job with the lowest margin.

    I enjoyed reading of your experience and strategies, Matrix. Many…many similarities with my own. And, yes, I witnessed the above in my own area – even fell into the trap myself before extracting, still solvent but only just staying ahead of the langoliers.

    Everything has turned around for the New Broom – work coming out his ears, good margins, turning the low margin/annoying stuff away. The temptation for him is to put on extra f/t staff, but as I detailed the on-costs, he backed away big time. Better to employ contract, part time at a slightly higher rate.

    It’s good to read something from someone who has done real, practical work and run their own business profitably. More strength to your arm.

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  13. The comment from your business partner leads me to believe that you keep him around because he doesn’t get in the way

    he’s pretty sharp for an old nana
    reckon he’s forgotten more than I know

    we are um, different thinkers and completely complementary.
    it’s a match made in heaven

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  14. More strength to your arm

    Thanks Calli,

    it is a very seductive trap … the second mouse gets the cheese
    I hope the New Broom can keep the hopes in check

    Better to employ contract, part time at a slightly higher rate.

    also we have a virtually full time subby for things that the old fella typing this is too old for
    we feed him and he feeds us
    another heavenly match.

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  15. No, we won’t “beat the virus”. It is endemic and appears to have animal reservoirs. Cats, dogs, deer etc.

    my theory is that we end up Sweden anyway … eventually
    prolly getting there soon anyway

    if you follow the Burning Platform link in the post, that’s more or less what the Harvard study says

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