What the heck does he do in Tesco?

I have been thinking about the story of Neil Ferguson, the Imperial College epidemiologist who became known as Prof Lockdown.

I feel sorry for Ferguson. I doubt he wanted to be in the public eye. The attention this pandemic has given him had already required that he rather publicly admit to what he thought to be an error in his work, which he corrected because he thought it in the public interest to do so.

Now he’s been caught out taking about as much risk as I do every time I go to Tesco and been pilloried for it.

????

46 thoughts on “What the heck does he do in Tesco?”

  1. Bloke in North Dorset

    Now we can add not understanding hypocrisy by those in authority to infinite list of things Spud doesn’t understand.

  2. No, dear Tim, the question is: Which Tesco? And if we go there, will we get what he seems to be getting at Tesco?

  3. I’m indifferent to his hypocrisy which is, after all, the tribute vice pays to virtue.

    But I am most interested in his apparent lack of faith in his own model (the computer one). Even if he has had this lurgy, who’s to say that immunises him, or immunises him against mutations?

    He behaved as if his model was wrong. That’s the point.

  4. Who knows but I do know what I would like to do in my local not Tesco but next door Morrisons. One of the employees looks like the pre-botox, pre-plastic surgery Renee Zellweger. Same face, and those luscious pouty lips…provide me with enough mental material to last a week.

  5. I doubt he wanted to be in the public eye.

    Clearly not a professor of human behaviour, Professor Lockdown-Pantsdown loves the limelight, even being wrong on numerous occasions does not phase him in the least.

  6. Perhaps the Ely Tesco used to have a singles night that Murphy frequented?

    What, one speculates, would he have put in his trolley as a visual lure for the fair maidens of the Fens?

  7. What, one speculates, would he have put in his trolley as a visual lure for the fair maidens of the Fens?

    A cucumber, a packet of condoms, some margarine, and a copy of The Joy of Tax.

  8. His collection of Rocco videos, I would imagine. I wonder if he has still been servicing Polly and the donkey during lockdown

  9. It was inevitable that he would approve of Ferguson; they’re both raging hypocrites and both absolutely incompetent at their profession.

    I read a shocking review of Ferguson’s modelling program by a 30-year IT expert; I was 40 years in IT and the kind of basic errors, stupidity and concealment of bugs surpassed anything even I perpetrated.

  10. @ PH
    A cucumber, a packet of condoms, some margarine, and a copy of The Joy of Tax.

    and, maybe, a couple of grapefruit?

  11. Dennis the Essential

    It was inevitable that he would approve of Ferguson; they’re both raging hypocrites and both absolutely incompetent at their profession.

    I’d love someone to point out that in his faith in Ferguson, he’s in the company of Boris Johnson who, by the way, appears determined to become Spud Writ Large.

  12. Dennis, Naughty Boy

    When it comes to Spud, anything larger than a baby carrot is false advertising.

  13. Rowdy, will you please post a link to the review? I was in IT for a long time doing maintenance work so I like good stories about bugs and idiot programming errors.

  14. @Kjerulf – “the question is: Which Tesco? And if we go there, will we get what he seems to be getting at Tesco?”

    My guess would be high grade skunk

    @Diogenes – ” I wonder if he has still been servicing Polly and the donkey during lockdown”

    I gather Rocco’s screenplay has the donkey servicing Spud.

  15. This gives insight into how things would pan out if he took charge.

    People have been forgoing going to family funerals taking less risk than he takes going to Tesco. People have been delaying weddings. Not visiting elderly relatives. They’ve stuck to the rules.

    But if you are one of the elite, these rules apparently don’t apply, even for something as non-essential as an extramarital shag.

  16. The Meissen Bison

    Diogenes / BiS

    I imagine that BiS has it the right way around, so to speak. The only credible coupling is where Capt. P provides aseline relief to the four-legged friend whereafter he probably sits out the possible encounter with Polly, if sitting is indeed an option.

  17. As was said of T E Lawrence, Neil Ferguson has a habit of ‘backing into the limelight’. There the resemblance ends.

    @Rowdy
    I read a shocking review of Ferguson’s modelling program by a 30-year IT expert; I was 40 years in IT and the kind of basic errors, stupidity and concealment of bugs surpassed anything even I perpetrated.

    Me too, but it’s pretty normal for academic software – see Climategate, especially the “Harry Read Me” file. The problem is that the profs have the ‘genius’ ideas, which are passed down to doctoral candidates to do the grunt programming – often people who lack the necessary software skills and end up producing a mess of spaghetti code that (if you’re lucky) maybe, kinda works. None of those involved have ever heard of structure, documentation or rigorous testing.

    What I don’t understand is that most unis will have a CompSci department that is (hopefully) turning out keen young graduates who should (I’m being optimistic, here) understand such concepts. Why not give the program development work as a project to a good 3rd year student, who could certainly make a better fist of it?

  18. “Why not give the program development work as a project to a good 3rd year student, who could certainly make a better fist of it?”

    The student wouldn’t be “Qualified” because he hasn’t been enrolled in the department.. Imagine someone able to understand and program Difficult Theory that hasn’t been Trained for it…
    And the student, not being dependent on laurelling every brainfart of the Senior Academic for a passing grade, will most likely call bullcrap when he sees the crap pass under his eyes.
    Plus the usual interdepartmental Cold Wars, plus….

  19. For once, and only once, I sort or agree with Spud, well the bit about being safer than at Tesco. The one part of Ferguson’s dodgy model I believe in is that this virus does confer short term immunity so once you have caught it you are safe for some time. This is backed up by all the evidence so far, so he’s not going to be catching that particular virus. Whilst injuries can occur in the bedroom he would be more likely to be a victim of trolley rage in Tescos.

  20. decnine, everyone over 50 has read it as a young teenager. I remember the chapter headings in Finnish, translated into English: “cunt-crazy” and “wanking”. Original English headings may be different.

  21. OT, I drove past Cornsay Colliery pit village the other day, looked like they were ready for a ticker tape parade, all the bunting and flags. One neighbour is now putting bunting up in the bungalow cul-de-sac. Should I report the rest to the police? If you clap for NHS it off-sets lack of bunting?

  22. “He has them rolling in the aisles”

    Whilst maintaining the required 2 metre social distancing, of course…

  23. “Whilst maintaining the required 2 metre social distancing, of course…”

    2 metres from the centre of Mass or 2 metres from his furthest extremity?

  24. ‘Why not give the program development work as a project to a good 3rd year student, who could certainly make a better fist of it?’

    Because you have to codify it. You have to write down in excruciating detail the behaviors. The programmers must have – in writing* – a complete description of how the model is to work. They are programmers, not epidemiologists.

    *Writing it down subjects it to potential review by third parties, like other epidemiologists. Some would welcome it; others would not. I think Ferguson likes “secret science.”

    Based on the code review linked, I’m confident Ferguson never had a coherent vision of what he was trying to do. As Sue Denim said, his program is amateurish. But it’s not clear that his understanding of epidemiology is any good, either.

    Fergeson and Fauci seem the same. Long term leaders in their fields, neither particularly competent. Both with huge failures in their past, making giant failures again.

  25. TJ With Spud, the difference is trivial.

    Isn’t everyone missing the point about Ferguson? He didn’t break any restrictions. It’s his tart made an unnecessary trip across London in flagrant breach of the government’s request to Stay At Home To Save Lives, Save The NHS© He’s complicit in her doing it whilst advising the government the complete opposite.
    But as I said in an earlier thread, the quarantine is for other people to stop their spreading the virus. Individual persons & households are exempt

  26. Dennis, Offender of Krauts, Frogs and other Wogs

    Isn’t everyone missing the point about Ferguson? He didn’t break any restrictions. It’s his tart made an unnecessary trip across London in flagrant breach of the government’s request to Stay At Home To Save Lives, Save The NHS© He’s complicit in her doing it whilst advising the government the complete opposite.

    So you think Neil’s tart bopped over to his house for a quick shag without giving prior notice? The actual point is Neil could have – and should have – told her to keep her ass at her house, grit her teeth, and fuck her spouse until the restrictions are lifted.

    You know, for England…

  27. His excuse about having recovered from the virus & thinking himself immune is irrelevant. It wouldn’t have mattered whether it was him she saw or someone else. She was travelling in breach of the lockdown, presumably with his agreement as it wasn’t a unique vent.

  28. Thanks all for the link.

    Chris Miller: I read it but did not weep, rather I laughed and laughed, and reminisced. When I was a tadpole and set to work to do “Maintenance Programming” I quickly learned that my IT department was a dumping ground for unwanted engineers with no training in coding at all. Not stupid men, but getting to retirement and BigOil did not want them on any large new projects, so Heigh Ho it’s off to IT they go.

    The code I was to “Maintain” was just like Fergusons. Unstructured code, few comments, no documentation, incorrect documentation, incomprehensible variable naming schemes, assembler language functions, et endless cetera.

    IBM 360-50’s, lovely machines, about half as powerful as my fitbit bracelet.

  29. “2 metres from the centre of Mass or 2 metres from his furthest extremity?”

    Earlier this week I watched a video about using AI to calculate (in real time) the relative separation of pedestrians from each other. So I think it would have to be the latter. I doubt if even AI would be able to determine the centre of Mass of some of the lard arses I have to avoid in my local supermarket..

  30. Why not give the program development work as a project to a good 3rd year student, who could certainly make a better fist of it?

    This stuff is what governments are relying on in decisions which can affect the economy and society for a decade or more, decisions with colossal impact, and we want to let students and academics fudge something together?

    The epidemiologists have the domain knowledge but have no clue about software design. They need professionals to do that, and once done it must be made public for anyone to examine and recreate. It’s unbelievable decisions are being made on the basis of this. Governments, eh?

  31. ‘made public for anyone to examine and recreate.’ That is the scientific method.

    It does seem that I was right. The sacred chickens would give a better result.

  32. I’m torn – should we be avoiding that Tesco because of what he’s doing in the aisle or should be be going there to get in on those free samples?

  33. Because you have to codify it. You have to write down in excruciating detail the behaviors. The programmers must have – in writing* – a complete description of how the model is to work. They are programmers, not epidemiologists.

    I did some very inexpert programming in my third year at university for a lecturer. The thing was that the maths was awkward — we were converting a non-orthogonal axis system to orthogonal, rotating the atoms, then converting back into non-orthogonal. Writing it out wouldn’t have helped — he needed a person with serious chemistry and decent maths just to explain it to. On top of that his original model used Fortran, so the computer science student would have to learn that first.

    However, that said, a person using a model on which to base national level decisions should have the description of his model written out in detail anyway.

    I recently wrote a spreadsheet for converting student’s test scores into a curriculum level grade, and I wrote out the algorithm step by step in detail for myself, let alone anyone else.

  34. Put this fiasco together those over PPE stockpiles & purchasing blunders & a pattern emerges. You can’t really blame it on politicians because you wouldn’t expect the politicians to be fully conversant with any of this. They rely on the advice of their “experts”. Which it turns out are largely incompetent, useless cvnts. Why? In the private sector, incompetent useless cvnts largely get dumped out because failure is rewarded with the P45 bullet. Companies who don’t administer it are uncompetitive with those that do. However the public sector seems to cultivate them.

  35. “However, that said, a person using a model on which to base national level decisions should have the description of his model written out in detail anyway.”

    Exactly right.

    Imperial College had a duty to oversee Ferguson’s work. They failed. Destruction followed.

    “I wrote out the algorithm step by step in detail for myself, let alone anyone else.”

    This need doesn’t arise from inability. It takes work and full UNDERSTANDING. I did an identical exercise many years ago. Perpetual questions – worse, repeat identical questions – on how my system distributed power cost to plant businesses. I produced a document that I sent out to dozens of accountants and clerks on how it was done. There were 25 steps. I gave them snippets of code, variables involved, and an English description of what was going on.

    I generally knew what was going on, but to document it, I had to get down to line-by-line code and SQL. I had to upgrade my understanding to be able to explain it to other people.

    Support from the classics:

    “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” – Albert Einstein

    Dr Richard Feynman said that if you can’t explain it (to freshmen), you don’t understand it.

    Kurt Vonnegut, in Cat’s Cradle:

    “Dr. Hoenikker used to say that any scientist who couldn’t explain to an eight-year-old what he was doing was a charlatan.”

    My point is, if someone tells you something is too complicated to explain, such as Ferguson and his code, he’s lying. It’s too complicated FOR HIM! Complexity is a false curtain.

  36. And enough about Ferguson. The focus should now be on Imperial College and their responsibility. Firing Ferguson absolves them of nothing. They should be firing whoever was responsible for Ferguson. Was a department head? Without the administrators being fired, this shit will happen again and again.

    Wiki has Ferguson as a department head. That tears it: Alice Gast must be fired.

    Academia needs to be slapped in the face.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *