Wednesday, April 01, 2020

More repercussions in a plague year... and some long term.

First off, I want to discuss a couple of generalities. Let’s start with a fellow by name of Hyman Minsky, whose insights into the nature of stability in human systems have been getting a lot of attention. Basically, during times of great stability, many people - taking continuity for granted - pile up ever greater amounts of risk without hedging against a reversal... till reversal happens -- a "Minsky Moment" when instability suddenly returns, at which point things shake out amid lots of pain. Perhaps everyone adjusts together, weaning themselves of bad habits and making things work better, with more wisdom. Alternately, things may go as Karl Marx, described, viewing such shakeouts as inevitably both culling the capitalist class and impoverishing workers, leading to revolution. 

Take the example of Japan, which had fine-tuned their economy according to the teachings of American quality and efficiency guru W. Edwards Demming. Taking Demming to an extreme, Toyota led at innovating ultra slim, just-in-time supply chains that squeeze every possible drop of margin from goods and services. Like an athlete who tunes her body to perfectly perform a particular movement, companies following Demming principles aimed for zero on-site storage or stockpiling - equivalent to the athlete’s nonexistent fat reserves. And just like such an athlete, stuck on a life-raft for a week without supplies, Japanese companies learned the “Minsky folly” of their mistake, when an exogenous shock - the Fukushima disaster - shattered supply chains and Japan virtually shut down.

As futurist Jamais Cascio  put it: "The villainization of over-capacity has been a hallmark of the current post-industrial capitalism environment. What we have seen over the past couple of months is the value of slack in a world that’s gone unstable." (Personal correspondence.) Certainly the short-sighted selling off of federal U.S. medical stockpiles, not long ago, is a rabid chicken now coming home to roost. One might wonder if this correlates with the rise of MBAs and decline of engineers in corporate boardrooms.

But back to Minsky’s core lesson. Periods of stability lead to unstable ones and vice versa. That is, if we learn lessons and avoid mistakes of the past. (We will find new mistakes to make.) 

My own take on all of this has been to rail for 20 years, all over DC and media, about our need for Resilient Systems that are robust enough to take shocks and ride them out. See this interview in ACM listing a dozen major ways that we have avoided simple preparations for the next Minsky Moment.


== So what do I predict as outcomes from COVID 19? ==

Sone of the following expands on ideas from an earlier posting, but taken logically farther. Other concepts are new. 

I foresee national and international changes falling into several categories.

Short term tactics:
- A friend reports how they’re doing in Hong Kong - "the city is is still pretty well rocking on per normal… we wear masks… time to amplify that message. Masks work! If everyone wears them. And if that works, it helps the doctors and nurses too." Though yes, we should have surged mask and test production months ago.

Impudent experiments:
- Cities and counties may both spur the economy and take advantage of deserted roads, by sending out many teams of two to four workers - trained in hygiene and safety - to fix potholes and repair empty schools. See this pothole option happening at one iconic London site.

It will occur to someone - likely already Elon Musk - to staff a factory or office entirely with COVID-19 positives who are proved to be symptom free. Hospitals may be forced to do this, sooner than anyone. It is already locally possible, even with the outrageously hampered and uneven US testing system. But later, when testing is more reliable and routine, one might envision opening pairs of facilities for positives and negatives. Even restaurants and resorts.  

{Late note before posting: the same idea seems to have occurred elsewhere (duh?) "German researchers are suggesting that “immunity passports” could be given out to workers who have already caught the coronavirus — meaning they’re now immune — in a bid to get them back to work and help speed up the return to normal society." While there is some question about re-exposure to variant strains, what seems clear is that secondary infections of healthy 'survivors' are almost never lethal. We'll see if the idea 'catches.' Of course it will. Though it depends on testing.}

Technological changes: 
- There will be a Manhattan Project scale push to reduce the ramp-up time for testing kits and vaccines for all future disease threats. Abbott Labs now has a 5-13 minute test. They plan to scale up to 5 million/month, based on apparent need. What they need is 5 million/hour, for the US, and far more for the world. Likewise the 18 month predicted path for a vaccine must and will prove much shorter. 

{Late note: Jacob Glanville's lab aims to bypass a vaccine, which demands the body's own immune system gear up to produce stimulated antibodies, and instead mass produce antibodies industrially for injection into infected people, an approach similar to old-fashioned 'serums' based on the blood of immune persons. As in those lurid sci fi flicks OMEGA MAN and OUTBREAK.}


- Local sourcing has long been predicted, ranging from new-techs in additive (3D) manufacturing (now getting a boost making emergency ventilator parts) to farm-to-table food supply chains. Urban farming will range from home gardens to new tall buildings utilizing the sunshine on their southern faces to both treat their own wastewater and grow organics. Seaborne supply chains will be seen as a negative, as managers seek nearer sources, less prone to disruption. Of course there will be climate benefits.

- Business meetingware and work-from-home software - predicted for decades - languished due to managerial reluctance. These will now advance rapidly. But also expect a real estate boomlet in small scale satellite offices, where employees will spend at least part of each day being personally supervised, so their work-at-home hours can be kept effective. Education will go through similar changes. But what's to be done about those mass-tribal gatherings for sports, concerts and socializing>  Interesting times. 

- Expect a revival of the Obama-era push for nationwide broadband, as proved so useful in South Korea and Taiwan. 

Infrastructure. It goes far beyond potholes and school repairs. Democrats have demanded major programs to rebuild bridges etc while improving the quality (vs. quantity) of jobs and increasing money velocity. Republicans - while speaking the "I-Word" have blocked all such endeavors. All of this changes in a major recession, of course. Expect partisan gridlock to break in this one area. {And as we speak, suddenly Donald Trump is talking infrastructure, yet again.}

Transportation. The shift to Uber/Lyft style ride services will boom, short term. But also mid-scale van/jitney services in big cities… followed by a big push for self-driving taxis. But underground metros may not be finished. Today’s filthy subway trains could be supplanted by smaller, more efficient cars that shunt between lines and report in regularly for disinfecting.

Social effects: It will take more than COVID to end the personal handshake, but those European three-cheek air-kisses may be finished. Elbow greetings won’t last - but the fist-bump is likely the big winner, over time, as a compromise that's about 75% sanitary/safe and good enough for the new -- post-COVID -- normal. (My preference? I like the Roman style fore-arm clasp.)

More impudent measures:
- Elsewhere I spoke of several endeavors that make some logical sense to at least try, on a prototype-test basis, but that were politically too fraught. One of these would be to buy up a few of the countless moribund small towns in rural America, giving the few remaining residents a prosperous new start revitalizing another one. Then the evacuated hamlet might become experiments in - say - offering a voluntary place of space and fresh air refuge to some urban homeless. Or temporary homes for refugee families to work through their paperwork while gardening and farming outside of festering (and expensive) lockup cages. There are plenty of other potential sweet-spot uses, and more come to mind, in the era of pandemic.

Stepping back, remember who is hurting: As usual, those suffering most are the poor and working stiffs. Even if they keep a job and can manage the financial strain, families are stressed out in cramped quarters with many ensuing problems, from divorces and domestic violence to unexpected pregnancies. Others may take this as an opportunity to reconnect, with dads - especially - learning more about the difficult job of raising kids. While supporting actions to help, somehow we must also encourage such folks to do one thing to make a difference. Vote.

And yes, some foresee all this accelerating the exodus of the uber-rich, abandoning us to simmer in festering cities and suburbs. Connecticut, Wyoming and New Zealand have seen such influx. Certainly there is a “prepper” wing of oligarchy that’s bought up whole mountain ranges in Patagonia, Siberia and under the sea. I portrayed that mind set in The Postman and in Earth and in Existence. Of course the smarter half of the zillionaire caste wants no part of such insanity. Nor will such preparations avail the selfishness-fetishists an iota, even if the fit truly hits the shan. There are five reasons why this masturbatory survivalist fantasy is utter proof of mental defectiveness.

Finally Smart Sovereignty:
- Whether this Minsky Moment triggers revitalization and waves of new-creative solutions by an empowered citizenry... or one of Marx's purportedly "inevitable" stages of spiral into revolution... may depend on to what extent we revive civic goodwill and use new technologies to enhance logical, fact-centered. pragmatic civil discourse. Recall that earlier communication techs -- e.g. the printing press, radio and loudspeakers -- all led first to polemical horror shows that made things much worse... before folks sussed the new media and learned to parse truth from populist lies, making things much, much better.

That natural progression took decades, though. Time we simply do not have. 

== The jury is still out ==

I left aside possible outcomes that seem more “science fictional”… 

…e.g. what-if there is more to this virus than meets the eye? We already know that corona viruses are not like the flu. Flu stays in business by mutating rapidly, every year, forcing new kinds of vaccines to be developed. (Again, see my predictive short story “The Giving Plague,” which dives into the many ways that viruses and parasites "negotiate" with their hosts.)

Coronas — like SARS and MERS and the common cold — have a different approach. Somehow they convince human immune systems to “forget” them, so they can re-infect at a later date. Generally with milder symptoms, and some think COVID19 will settle down to be more cold-like, with time. But either way, we may need to add coronavirus immunizations to every new flu shot, in coming years.

But you know I meant more than that, by “science fictional” repercussions. And so… I’ll leave those for another time.

115 comments:

Treebeard said...

I read that world mob boss Putin is meddling in American affairs again, this time by sending medical supplies to “help with the coronavirus”. This is of course a transparent ploy to get Trump re-elected and extend Russky influence on our society. I hope the Good Guys and Experts do the right thing here and send the shipment back—not only to send a firm message to boss Putin, but to Trump and the American people, that the Russkies are up to their old tricks, Americans won’t stand for it, and only a traitor would think otherwise.

JC said...

That's not how sickness works...there are 8 different strains of Covid-19, so if there were an office full of asymptomatic positives, they would give each other their unique strains. Also, the body fights off a virus with the immune system. If you're asymptomatic, it's because you don't have a serious case. A good way to stop being asymptomatic would be to consciously go out to get MUCH more exposure to the virus itself.

Keith Halperin said...

@Dr. Brin: It seems that you may have repeated much of the preceding blog in this one (PLEASE SEE BELOW). Was that a Blogger glitch?:

Technological changes: Assuming the grip of lunacy is pried off of federal government... or even if we have to rely on real leadership from California and New York... there will be a Manhattan Project level push to reduce the ramp-up time for testing kits and vaccines. (Side-bet: this may involve human-animal chimeras to shorten the pathway to antibody discovery and deployment.)

Business meetingware and work-from-home software has been predicted for decades and languished due to managerial reluctance. These will advance rapidly. But I predict also a real estate boomlet in small scale satellite offices, where employees will spend at least part of each day being personally supervised, so their work-at-home hours can be kept effective. This “sweet spot” might reduce rush hour traffic, but also strain middle management.

Expect a revival of Obama-era push for nationwide broadband, as has proved so useful in South Korea and Taiwan. There's a constituency now, for sure.

Infrastructure. It goes far beyond potholes and school repairs. Democrats have demanded major programs to rebuild bridges etc while improving the quality (vs. quantity) of jobs and increasing money velocity. Republicans - while speaking the "I-Word" have blocked all such endeavors. All of this changes in a major recession, of course. Expect partisan gridlock to break in this one area.

Transportation. The shift to Uber/Lyft style ride services will boom, short term. But also mid-scale van/jitney services in big cities… followed by a big push for self-driving taxis. But underground metros may not be finished. Today’s filthy subway trains could be supplanted by smaller, more efficient cars that shunt between lines and report in regularly for disinfecting.

Social effects: It wall take more than COVID to end the personal handshake, but those pretentious European three-cheek air-kisses may be finished. Elbow greetings won’t last! But the fist-bump is likely the big winner, over time, as a compromise that's about 75% sanitary/safe and good enough for the new -- post-COVID -- normal. (My preference? I like the Roman style fore-arm clasp.)

-Keith

sgs said...

Re Demming: One of the key arguments in favor of Communism/State economy was that capitalism tends to create overproduction. (See any economics text) However, that overcapacity creates resilience -- see the US in WWII, for example.
The "just in time" stuff is a way of getting rid of this "waste". And, as expected, it leads to fragility.
The questions that engineers ask when confronted with some grandiose plan are "what if it doesn't?" and "what then?"

Dwight Williams said...

Not sure if this fits into the discussion you want to have here. But as a measure of what the rest of us humans outside of the US are doing and what we're not (yet?) doing...?

https://www.broadbentinstitute.ca/canada_s_response_to_the_coronavirus_better_than_the_us_worse_than_eu

David Brin said...

JC there is some evidence for post-recovery infection with other strains... and no evidence that I've seen of any serious resulting illness. Implying that recovery from one strain gives your body a huge head start against the others. If that is true -- AND I DON'T KNOW, though it seems very likely - then what's your complaint. So a positive, working alongside other positives in the Tesla factory, gets a new sniffle and gets sent back to the Pebble Beack resort for another weeklong golf stint while watched and care for. Your complaint is?

sgs: communist under-production meant commissars got allocation-power, a nightmare to give to bureaucrats over any extended time. (Though necessary today.)

Yes, Keith the repetition was to make this compilation comprehensive. Didn't I say that, up top?

Treebeard's howl is now typical on the mad right. Screech some completely irrelevant magical incantation and it makes you so, so much smarter than the actual smart people. Even Treebeard could answer his ditzy scenario... a neighbor delivering you toilet paper by day while pouring anthrax into your air conditioning inlet, by night. You... are... an... imbecile, sir. Just saying.

Treebeard said...

Right, but there’s nothing mad about a guy who thinks that a particular country is always up to no good, even when they give you a gift. Why not send the gift back then, since it must be a trojan horse? Is saving a few American lives worth the humiliation of accepting aid from an enemy? Same goes for the aid being given to Italy and other countries, not just by Russia, but China, Cuba and even Venezuela. It’s propaganda when they do it, but America's foreign aid is done out of the pure goodness of your hearts, there’s never any ulterior political motive. LOOL, you are always good for a laugh Brin, that’s why I keep coming back here.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

Recently, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have both made it mandatory to wear a face mask in public. Today, Austria is in the process of making it illegal to be inside of a grocery store without a face mask.

The "Masks For All" movement is growing. Here is an important video from the Czech Republic that includes a message from the Minister of Health of the Czech Republic:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZtEX2-n2Hc

They are initially emphasizing homemade masks. With many schools now doing only online classes, some teachers in subjects like art are having difficulty in finding ways to effectively teach online. One way of doing a practical and useful online art class is to have students come up with clever designs for face masks. Already, Zuzana Caputova, the President of Slovakia, is wearing face masks that match or complement her other clothing.

David Brin said...

Unable to even parse my response, he truly is a deeply stupid person.

As for Russia, even if we assume it's the FBI and Intel agencies who are thoproughly suborned (by whom?) and pointing fingers at Moscow and Riyadh (why? for whom?) We are left with Don Junio and brother OPENLY bragging "We gat all our money from Russia."

Jerry Emanuelson said...

Add a 4th European country to the list. Bosnia-Herzegovina has now made it mandatory to wear a face mask when out in public.

Acacia H. said...

In these dark times, we need a little bit of light.

So here, have a master magician enchanting a crowd as she weaves and waves a spell of music while obviously having the time of her life! Seriously, this lady has true energy and vivaciousness! So take four minutes out of your life and enjoy some music. :)

Acacia

David Brin said...

Acacia thanks! And shared! Feeling better?

Keith Halperin said...

@Dr. Brin: DOH!
"Sone (sic) of the following expands on ideas from an earlier posting, but taken logically farther."
It helps if I read things completely.

On a different topic:
ISTM you frequently use the word "traitorous" or "treasonous" to refer to the actions of the Liar-in-Chief and his thuggish supporters. While I believe that virtually everything they do in governing is scandalous and/or harmful, I wouldn't say that they are either of these things in the narrowest, most legalistic sense, because we aren't officially at war with *Russia and the Oligarchs. (It could be argued that we most certainly ARE at war with them ideologically, though.)

-Keith


*Good name for a band, don't you think?

Ahcuah said...

I believe you are mistaken in attributing Just-in-Time to Deming (and thereby also blaming him). When I was with Bell Labs (when that still meant something), our area looked to Deming a lot regarding software quality and reliability. Deming's push was for using statistical techniques and sampling to know just how much quality one's products had, and to make sure that management was finding the source of lack of quality, not just blaming it on the workers (which was often done in those days). In addition, building in quality at the beginning made way more sense (and cost less money) than fixing it at the end. Two resources:

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Edwards_Deming

The "Red Bead Experiment" on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckBfbvOXDvU

Just-in-Time manufacturing was developed by Toyota and as far as I can tell, had no association with Deming (aside from having Japan in common).

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just-in-time_manufacturing

By the way, while at Bell Labs, Dennis McKiernan (Mithgar series) was also there. He wrote for us a pamphlet/parable "Babies in the Water", about a medieval village continually finding babies in the water, and devising all sorts of clever ways of extracting the babies from the water, instead of heading upstream to figure out why all those babies were ending up in the water.

Bob Neinast

duncan cairncross said...

We have had this discussion before

Lean manufacturing - "Just in time" is not so much about reducing "the fat" as it is about reducing the RELIANCE on the "the fat" -

The old fashioned systems with more stock and "fat" respond more poorly to a supply shock like Fukushima - YES they have more stock - but they are operating using that emergency stock to AVOID problems - a big supply shock will still hit them - AND they will be less experienced at getting out of it

The Japanese systems like the Toyota method - DO concentrate on reducing waste
But they ALSO require "Continuous Improvement" - a percentage of everybody's time is always devoted to improvement
Those improvement teams are just exactly what is needed when there is a supply shock

Those teams - the time that everybody has to devote to them - are the companies "future proofing"

A company operating the Toyota Production System is less "fragile" than a traditional one with it's "safety stock"

A bigger issue (that we are seeing with the Existing Auto Makers) is the MBA madness of "Horizontal Integration" - this may save a few pennies (IMHO only in the very short term) but it makes the company massively more vulnerable if a big change occurs
We are seeing this with Tesla - they are able to move so much faster than the existing horizontally integrated car manufacturers

Larry Hart said...

Keith Halperin:

While I believe that virtually everything they do in governing is scandalous and/or harmful, I wouldn't say that they are either of these things in the narrowest, most legalistic sense, because we aren't officially at war with *Russia and the Oligarchs.


Of course, Benedict Donald doesn't meet the Constitutional definition of treason, which is why he won't be hung by the neck until dead for it.

But "traitor" and "treason" have colloquial meanings which are understood as acting against the interest of a family, organization, or country that one ostensibly belongs to, especially if one has taken a solemn oath to protect and defend that country. A sitting president wiping his ass with the Constitution of the United States fits that definition for me. The term works, if only poetically.

David Brin said...

Ahcua, just to bend over for fairness, I edited the Demming remark. And yes Duncan, BAD managers used storage to evade consequences of bad habits. I have nothing against running just-in-time exercizes four times a year, to maintain tip-top efficiencey. But that's not the same thing as relying utterly on it and having no backup plan or ability to weather shocks.

LH right on. Sorry Keith. I will keep using those utterly accurate terms.

Anonymous said...

Random thoughts:
I just finished re-reading Connie Willis' The Doomsday Book. Kinda depressing, but there's a substantial contrast between her near-future society with an epidemic that starts a quarantine when the first patient is discovered, and a medieval society with no defenses against pandemic. Next up: Camus' The Plague. Because otherwise, I'm just too happy, I guess?
The index case in The Doomsday Book doesn't understand what is happening, because he's never been sick before. Every student and staff member at Oxford gets immunized against extant cold and flu varieties, and this young man hasn't had a cold in his life. My questions:
1) Could we do this, or something similar?
2) How much would it cost?
3) What else would happen?
You wrote:
There will be a Manhattan Project scale push to reduce the ramp-up time for testing kits and vaccines for all future disease threats. Abbott Labs now has a 5-13 minute test. They plan to scale up to 5 million/month, based on apparent need. What they need is 5 million/hour, for the US, and far more for the world. Likewise the 18 month predicted path for a vaccine must and will prove much shorter.

So, we'd need to vaccinate against the common cold. Per Wikipedia:
The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. The most commonly implicated virus is a rhinovirus (30–80%), a type of picornavirus with 99 known serotypes. Other commonly implicated viruses include human coronavirus (≈ 15%), influenza viruses (10–15%), adenoviruses (5%), human respiratory syncytial virus (orthopneumovirus), enteroviruses other than rhinoviruses, human parainfluenza viruses, and human metapneumovirus. Frequently more than one virus is present. In total, more than 200 viral types are associated with colds.

Presumably, we would work toward a suite of vaccines for these. Annual flu shots are either trivalent or tetravalent. A suite of 50 tetravalent common cold vaccines would cover the most common 200 strains at any given time. This article claims a $200-$500 million development cost for a new vaccine. If a tetravalent vaccine has the same development cost, that would be $10-$25 billion cost for development alone, or $40-$100 billion if tetravalent is four times as expensive. Plus production, administration, etc.
I think we could get economies of scale. The research should lead to shorter lead times for novel diseases. (part of the answer to q3). According to the previously cited Wikipedia article, "The average adult gets two to three colds a year, while the average child may get six to eight." If effectiveness was comparable to flu vaccine, they might be 45% effective, although I have not explored this topic well. I note in passing that, per Wikipedia, "In the United States, the vaccine costs less than US$25 per dose, as of 2015." which probably means the development cost is lower than I have cited. If it worked as intended, the suite would probably require a jab every 6 weeks, forever, but might result in increased job productivity and educational attainment, and easier surveillance for novel diseases.

It has been obvious for some time that the healthcare sector is incredibly broken, and works poorly with capitalism as it fails the tests for meaningful competition.

-nitpicker357

David Brin said...

nitpicker... thanks, very interesting. From what I've seen, rhino and crona viruses do their business because for some reasons humans have poor immunity memory for them. We remember flus very well... but they mutate rapidly.

Obviously there will be major efforts to beef up emergency resilience and test/vaccine reaction rates. But what are evil men planning in labs?

Wife points out something very significant. If we stopped raising mammals and foul to eat and stopped the wild animal interactions, there'd be a LOT less opportunities for viruses to cross over... and enough food for all, even in a changing climate.

Lloyd Flack said...

What needs to be stopped are the live animal sales in Asian wet markets and the keeping of a large range of animals together. And much of Chinese traditional medicine, especially the use of animal products, needs discrediting.

Alfred Differ said...

Even just stopping the raising and eating of mammals would go a long way. Many of the cross-overs come through domesticated mammals.


Also, I'm inclined to go more with Duncan than our host when it comes to supply shocks. I've seen continual improvement done where (without any leading hints) the worker-bee's asked what they could/should do in scenarios that sound much like content that would appear in business continuity and disaster recovery plans. A CI feedback loop run by people who don't live in the loop obviously doesn't work because it isn't grounded in reality, but when run by people who live there, it is a wonder to behold. Fragility turns into robustness and eventually anti-fragility.

gregory byshenk said...

FWIW, I recall seeing somewhere (no reference, unfortunately) that the "supplies from Russia" was purely a publicity stunt. There wasn't actually much sent, and what was sent was basically useless, according to the medical people.

This as opposed to the Chinese shipments that Italy (among others) have received. Yes, they are no doubt partially for the publicity, but the supplies themselves are useful.

gregory byshenk said...

Also a note about transport. I don't really think that "filthy subway trains could be supplanted by smaller, more efficient cars". The problem is that you need mass transit to deal with urban areas. Self-driving cars or little "toy" trains just won't handle the traffic.

Just as an example: the RER A line carries over 300 million passengers per year, 50 thousand per hour during rush hour. "Smaller" won't work.

It is also important to note that "filthy subway trains are a choice. Nothing prevents cleaning (and if need be disinfecting) subway trains at every turnaround. Most places in the USA have chosen not to spend the money to do that, but that very thing is done in other parts of the world.

Unknown said...

You are just scratching the surface.

What happens to large public gatherings in short and long term? What will that to do sporting events? Concerts?

What happens to restaurants and the food service industry? We have a short term change to pick up or delivery. That might stick, especially since people will be reluctant to go back to crowded eateries for a while. Will we get less crowded restaurants, or more establishments that do pickup/delivery only? (almost as easy as making a food truck)

Education? Do we go back to the way it was, or use more remote learning? Is there a good balance point between in person and online learning that we haven't found yet?

Manufacturing? Warehousing has just shown it's limits. But additive manufacturing (3D printing) has stepped up, even at the amateur level to fill the gaps. What does that mean for intellectual property? Does a device maker publish everything, or keep CAD and source files in escrow in case of emergency? If you keep your designs secret when needed, does that make you evil? Should all medical devices be designed in a way that they can be repaired and replaced as needed, onsite? Do we build 3D printing devices that are designed for medical equipment (ie: sterile and sterilizable)? Does just in time manufacturing expand to make repair parts in other areas (it should)?

Cruise Ships? Yeah, those are probably going to go away, fast.

Military service? We already have an aircraft carrier in trouble. How will we address a new pathogen in submarines? In barracks? Will our bio-weapon responses need to shift as well?

Airline travel? How can we do it safely without spreading disease? Are we going to see more restrictions as a knee jerk response to the virus?

New disease discovery? We really can put DNA/RNA sequencing in every doctors office now, and coordinate results online (databases, as well as flagging possible outbreaks). How does that change treatments? How much will doctors have to learn, versus how much can be automated?

B*ggery. The virus and responses have exposed a lot of weak spots in our society and economy. Who is going to exploit those, how badly, and how quickly?

That's it for now. I really should stop writing questions and start writing short story answers.

Daniel Duffy said...

Given that:

Trump's political base skews old (the median age of a Fox and friend's viewer is 68), and

the coronavirus largely attacks and kills the aged, and

projected deaths are now from 250,000 (if we do everything perfectly) to 2.2 million, and

rural areas are just now beginning to be hit by the virus and these areas completely lack enough hospital facilities, ventilators and medical personnel, and

Trump won by razor thin majorities in the rural areas of 3 states, therefore

The coronavirus will essentially kill enough potential Trump voters to make his re-election impossible.

yana said...

Hey nitpicker357, thanks for trotting out the science. Again, i recommend "Plagues And Peoples" (William McNeill, 1977) for a baseline of the concept of negotiation. A virus doesn't want to kill the host. To do so is a failure for the virus.

The very fact that we can classify a virus into a family implies a commonality. You don't have to get 99 rhinoviruses and the bitch ain't one, to gain immunity to the whole family. Obviously, we don't get influenza four times every year without our security-blanket shot.

With the Human Genome Project under our belt, we are about to end negotiations and start to impose our own terms on microbugs. There is a dawning knowledge that "health" requires the presence of some microbes we previously thought our enemies. Asthma, eczema, and allergies could be eliminated by a parasitic worm which our advances in sanitation have removed from most people's lives. Not by the worm, but by bugs in the worm's gut.

Increasingly, it seems we are not at war with germs. The only negotiation we will need in the future is between humans, doing science, deciding what virus or bacterium a patient needs, at what time, and which bugs need a boot on their tires for the moment. Not too far in the future, a combination of individual genome and personal microbiome will form the basis for every medical diagnosis, and every prescription.

yana said...


nitpicker357 thought:

"the healthcare sector is incredibly broken, and works poorly with capitalism"

Not the fault of capitalism, but in leadership. There are a set of capitalist acts which we commonly legislate off the table. Raising prices during a crisis, employing a hitman, firing workers during a strike. Commonly, legislators decide which kinds of weapons are only for the military, and which are allowed only to a regulated militia, and which are OK for anyone to possess. Similarly, electric and water and communications are regulated capitalism, whereas entertainment is not.

With proper leadership, we can work out what parts of healthcare are core to cultural continuance, and which parts are essentially elective. Take capitalism out of the parts which matter, leave it in where it can make a buck. 50 or 60 nations will do this in 2020.

David Brin's accomplice thought:

"If we stopped raising mammals and foul to eat and stopped the wild animal interactions, there'd be a LOT less opportunities for viruses to cross over."

Maybe not what we want. Remember that it was milkmaids who stopped smallpox. Plenty of research shows farmkids don't get allergies. The last pandemic, swine flu, was the result of avian influenza and human influenza, mixing with porcine influenza, all in situ, inside a pig.

It can be argued that ancient taboos in Near East tribes viz a viz keeping pigs might not be based on trichinosis alone, but a fuller body of generational storytelling. Pigs are not dirty, contrary to cliche, but on the inside they're just sluts for a virus. That's why immunological research with pigs is more effective than with mice.

Three of the past five pandemics came from interspecies viral mixing inside a pig. What didn't make news is the millions of microbes we get from pigs which don't cause any disease.

Closing ourselves off to carnivorism might remove our last intimate circuit to the natural world, one which has been improving our immune systems for millions of years. Citrus Greening disease is reluctant to jump to humans. The bug making grocery bananas crappy these days does not infect us. The Emerald Ash Borer does not have a taste for human flesh.

The microbes are here to stay, we don't have to pay them to evolve, we only have to keep track. For every coronavirus which evolves mischieviously, some other virus will evolve which attacks the cells of colorectal cancer, but only in people with >2% West African DNA. AI is going to be a gigantic help in this, with sifting data and predictive analysis.

If we stopped raising mammals and fowl to eat, we would not get the myriad innocuous microbes they evolve and pass on. We would be making ourselves pure, and thus doomed.

It's all of a piece. A political system which does not bend will snap, an industry which entrenches will be outrun, and a genome kept pure withers.

Daniel Duffy said...

Let's take Florida as a special case. Despite the idiot governor of Georgia claiming that he only found out yesterday that asymptomatic coronavirus infected people can spread disease, Gov. DeSantis of Florida is a special kind of stupid. Having delayed a shut down during spring break. Florida is a month behind the rest of the country in dealing with the pandemic.

In a state where 25% of the population are old retired white people (aka "Trump's supporters") living in close quarters in retirement communities up and down the state.

The disease will devastate this aged population - and turn the state permanently blue.

So try winning the White House without Florida.

Daniel Duffy said...

Those who say that low population density will protect rural Americans from this disease don't understand rural living patterns.

Rural Americans don't live in isolated farm houses evenly spaced across the countryside.

They live in clusters in small cities and towns strung like pearls along major state arterials.

And each one is less than a half hour pickup truck ride from each other.

This disease will spread though rural America like a flame spreads from one match head to another in a book of matches.

And rural America is mostly populated by vulnerable old people.

And they are lacking in hospitals, ventilators and medical personnel.

Rural America is a dead man walking.

And so are Trump's re-election chances.

His base is simply going to die between now and November.

Tim Wolter said...

I've had less appetite for politics of late but the above does warrant a brief comment. LarryH is about as negative regards Trump as anybody here but correctly points out that using terms like Treason and Traitor can have, to him, both a literal and a colloquial meaning. btw if I am not stating this correctly LH, my apologies.

I think this is spot on. When I use those terms I mean them entirely literally. If I were to describe much of Trump's behaviour in the colloquial sense I'd opt for "jerk, tool, and various scatological terms I don't chose to deploy in polite conversation.

But I think there are a couple of points on which all might find agreement.

1. Trump has an enormous ego. Outsized even for a politician.
2. Trump has superb political instincts. Hey, were this not so he'd never have become the most implausible President in modern history. You might disagree on this, your privilege to so do.

Combine these two factors and assume a modicum of intelligence and I figure that Trump knows that response to covid-19 will be the major perhaps sole thing on which history will judge him. His more vehement detractors realize this as well. Some of them have egos almost as outsized.

So we'll see. Will the outcome be bad, horrible or catastrophic in absolute terms? Will it be better, same or worse than outcomes in other developed nations?

I don't know the answers yet. We will find out.

TW

Tim Wolter said...

"Wife points out something very significant..."

Togetherness AND Tofu?

TW

Ahcuah said...

In my comments about Deming I failed to add that I totally agree with you regarding your comments on Just-in-Time (and/or lean manufacturing). It now seems be part and parcel of the Chicago School of Economics where greed is good and self-regulatory, while, as you say, not being able to account for shocks. Part of that is removing the social contract that applied to the Greatest Generation (and Boomers for a while), where companies tried not only to make money but to improve society. Of course, the Chicago School managed to sell the idea that making money was the only way to improve society. (I'm exaggerating, but not my much.) And of course, a lot of that is/was Elizabeth Warren's theme.

Example of totally screwing over the social contract, when I took a special retirement package from Lucent Technologies (where Bell Labs was spun off to in the AT&T break-up), one of the inducements was that they capped the amount they would pay for health insurance, but then pledged that they would continue to pay 90% of that cap for premiums. About 5 years later, they set that "cap" to zero (and 90% of zero is of course zero). No, they never said that they couldn't or wouldn't screw with the cap, but c'mon. And that excess money they liberated? Right into the corporation's pockets (and which later let them be bought by Alcatel, and then even later Nokia).

Regarding treasonous and traitorous, as physicists we are of course familiar with carefully defined words of the physics world (e.g., momentum). But we don't make a fuss when they are used in a colloquial non-physics ways (e.g., momentum by a sports team: where's the velocity? where's the mass?). So I'm agreeing with both you and Larry about pedants who insist that one can only use "treason" as per the Constitutional definition. Trump and most Republicans are traitors guilty of treason. Words mean what they are used to mean, not what somebody tries to define them to mean.

scidata said...

SF idea #1: a wandering survivor of the apocalypse is digging through the rubble and finds a slide rule.

SF Idea #2: a top-level scientific advisor receives death threats from the demagogue leader's rabid troglodyte base for being contrarian. - No. Too fantastical.

Keith Halperin said...

@ Dr. Brin & LH: Fair enough.

@ Everybody: Re: ventilators: I heard this morning on NPR (can't find a link yet) that beyond a need for more ventilators, there needs to be more training of people to properly use them.
Also, does anyone have some reliable statistics on the percentage of those COVID-19 patients who were ventilated and subsequently recovered?

Stay Well

David Brin said...

yana, ““We would be making ourselves pure, and thus doomed.”

In Heart if the Comet I posited that one of a physician’s top jobs was to release minor/benign viruses to “challenge” immune systems and keep them tuned-up, even if folks complained of a sniffle.

BTW. I do not demand strict veganism. Human tastes will likely keep meat around as a condiment and dairy will last longer than vast cattle feedlots, though heavily modified. But much of what remains may switch to tissue culture… slabs that either secrete milk-like products or provide sliced meats… that are virtually karma free and certainly virus-free.

So we’ll need to get most of our challenges from stuff dragged into the house by pets. Or designer challenges..

DD: “The disease will devastate this aged population - and turn the state permanently blue.”

Gotta doubt that. And pray you're wrong about the death rates. My best guess is that Trump gave the 100,000 plus number in order to switch tactics from downplaying numbers to highballing them. That way anything lower will look like a victory.

---
Gotta wonder, given national moods and the skyrocketing respect for Dem governors like Cuomo, Newsom, Inslee and Whitaker ('That woman") and now add in the geriatric age of Biden and Bernie... if a brokered convention with B&B as revered elder kingmakers might not be a best outcome. It won't happen. But as a judo move, it'd be devastating.

(You'll recall I earlier bemoaned that governors do better in most ways.)

Larry Hart said...

Daniel Duffy:

The coronavirus will essentially kill enough potential Trump voters to make his re-election impossible.

...

The disease will devastate this aged population - and turn the state permanently blue.

So try winning the White House without Florida.

...

Rural America is a dead man walking.

And so are Trump's re-election chances.


Which means that we must be especially vigilant toward the inevitable attempts to suppress or forestall elections. The Republican party is well aware of the demographics, and won't give up their stranglehold on power without a fight.

Legally, absent a re-election, Trump ceases to be president on Jan 20, 2021, whether or not there is a replacement. In practice, whoever the Senate, the supreme court, and the military say is president is president. We might soon all have to take sides in a Constitutional crisis.

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

LarryH is about as negative regards Trump as anybody here


Thank you. :)


but correctly points out that using terms like Treason and Traitor can have, to him, both a literal and a colloquial meaning. btw if I am not stating this correctly LH, my apologies.


I'd say you nailed it.


I think this is spot on. When I use those terms I mean them entirely literally. If I were to describe much of Trump's behaviour in the colloquial sense I'd opt for "jerk, tool, and various scatological terms I don't chose to deploy in polite conversation.


Ok, but I describe his flaunting of the US Constitution--especially from the office he holds--as going beyond jerkiness and into anti-Americanism. What makes America great (tm)--what makes America "America"--specifically involves ideals like rule of law and equal justice for all. "Article 2 says [the president] can do whatever [he] want[s]" is a very un-American statement. For the president himself to assert such a thing in the first person strikes me as treason in the colloquial sense.

I use that term to evoke the same sort of visceral response that others try to invoke by calling white non-supremacists "Traitors to our race" or calling non-feminist women "Gender traitors". It means more than simply "You're doing something we don't like". It means more like "You're doing something we have every right to expect you not to do because you're supposed to be one of us." And all that that entails.


Trump has superb political instincts. Hey, were this not so he'd never have become the most implausible President in modern history. You might disagree on this, your privilege to so do.


Oh, I think that's obvious...to a point, anyway. Trump is very much--again metaphorically--an idiot savant. His "savant" area is in public relations. He was born to be a reality tv star. In earlier days, he'd have been a carnival barker or a snake-oil salesman or a revivalist preacher. Unfortunately for us, the times were just right for a public relations-savvy con man to con himself into the highest office in the land. And in the skillset necessary to be president, day in and day out, that's where the "idiot" half comes in.

CardassianScot said...

I fear that before any split in the work force into shift patterns by immunity, they will start with just the immune working, which lead to a massive increase in infections and deaths as people deliberately infect themselves so they can work.

A.F. Rey said...

The coronavirus will essentially kill enough potential Trump voters to make his re-election impossible.

I've been back-of-enveloping this for a while, and I don't believe it is certain.

One site I found said the split for voters 65 and older was 40/60 between Hillary and Trump in the last election. That means that, for every 10 voters over 65 who became, ahem, unable to vote in the next election, there would only be 2 fewer Trump votes.

The same ratio applied to voters from 45 to 65, IIRC.

For those under 35, the split reversed to 60/40.

So to decrease a state's vote for Trump by 100,000, you'd need about 500,000 voters of a certain age "taken off the roles" (assuming the virus really doesn't care about political affiliation). Even including the natural death rate, that would probably occur only in the worst-case scenario.

The effect would be easily overshadowed by people simply changing their minds about who to vote for, in either direction.

At least, that was my conclusion from the last envelope. :)

locumranch said...


The hallmark of prejudice, prejudgement & circular thinking is the preternatural ability to arrive at the desired conclusion regardless of available data, and this is exactly what we see now during our current Minsky Moment:

When confronted by system failure, the circular thinker concludes that the solution to said system failure is MORE OF THE SAME policies & precautions that precipitated said system failure.

Centralisation: The circular thinker always demands more & more centralisation, even when said system failure is typically precipitated by the over-concentration of power & authority into fewer & fewer hands, mostly because prudent balkanisation & resilient decentralisation are 'inconceivable' to those who are enamoured by central planning.

Global Interdependency: This is the Central Planning model on steroids and, although it leads directly to inventory shortfalls, labour inequality, regional economic collapse & viral pandemic, the circular thinker demands more aid from & more cooperation with foreign pest-holes, even though self-sufficient nationalism is the only reasonable response to global dysfunction.

Infrastructure: Since our current infrastructure was designed to facilitate the commerce & transportation needs of 20th Century, the circular thinker concludes that infrastructure construction will facilitate the indefinite continuance of 20th Century-style commence & transportation, even though international commence, easy transport & globalism are the very conceits that have precipitated system collapse.

Transportation: Even while acknowledging the wasteful & resource-intensive nature of 20th Century transportation model, the circular thinker demands more of the same (central planning, investment, infrastructure, commerce & globalism) as if 'more of everything' will allow the indefinite continuance of the 20th Century transportation model.

Social Issues: Imagining minor social changes as a result of the pandemic, the circular thinker will automatically reject as 'unthinkable' any major changes like the rejection of the brick & mortar educational system, the rise of nationalism and the collapse of the left-wing victim agenda, unless those changes coincide with pre-existent progressive prejudice.

Kudos to Treebeard, btw, for pointing out yet another hilarious example of circular thinking, specifically how an acceptance of foreign interaction, interdependence & cooperation is only 'treason' or 'collusion' when suspect US conservatives do it, but never when non-suspect progressives do it. Globalism, we call it, when the non-suspect progressive coalition COLLUDES with foreign governments, insomuch as 'non-suspects' must be assumed innocent & 'suspects' must be assumed guilty.

After all, cooperation and collusion are merely different names for the same action.


Best

Jon S. said...

I think Larry's closer than Tim W. on Trump's instincts. Someone with great political instincts knows when it's time to negotiate with the other side, because that's basically what politics is. Ronald Reagan was no intellectual giant - but he was a truly savvy politician, and knew how to make even his surrenders look like victories. And how and when to fold a losing hand and claim that his opponents' ideas were his own.

Donnie isn't even that great at PR, but he's got what it takes to be a great snake-oil salesman. After all, to con somebody doesn't require you believe the con, nor does it require that you catch everybody - that Nigerian Prince email only needed, as I recall, less than 1% of recipients to fall for it in order to make scads of money.

Larry Hart said...

locumranch:

Kudos to Treebeard, btw, for pointing out yet another hilarious example of circular thinking, specifically how an acceptance of foreign interaction, interdependence & cooperation is only 'treason' or 'collusion' when suspect US conservatives do it, but never when non-suspect progressives do it. Globalism, we call it, when the non-suspect progressive coalition COLLUDES with foreign governments, insomuch as 'non-suspects' must be assumed innocent & 'suspects' must be assumed guilty.

After all, cooperation and collusion are merely different names for the same action.


Except that--again in colloquial usage, "cooperation" tends to refer to a mutually-beneficial arrangement wherein both sides openly benefit, whereas "collusion" is indicative of a shady deal by which the individuals doing the colluding benefit in secret by way of dereliction of their duty to others.

It's not that it's only good when progressives do it and bad when conservatives do. More to the point, progressives act in good faith while conservatives do not. That may not be a truism for all of history, but it is the case today. Furthermore, as Dr Brin is wont to say, you know this. The fact that you're happy about conservatives acting in bad faith does not mean that that's not what they do.

Treebeard said...

Locum, most modern “liberals” are products of that model; it’s what they know, and it’s what brought them power. So they’re unlikely to change their thinking until the society breaks in a way that their assumptions can’t fix. For example, maybe a virus starts a cascading failure that leads to a larger social collapse. It’s happened periodically in history, and we’ve seen how it plays out: widespread disregard of the elites, simplification, de-urbanization, imperial collapse, followed eventually by a rebirth with a new elite and new societal assumptions—a process tendentiously called a “dark age”.

One might hope that this experience will bring an end to the American exceptionalism delusion, more humility and less hubris in general, a rethinking of urban globalism uber alles, and more value placed on localism, resilience and stoicism. I’m not holding my breath though; already people like our host are proposing grand schemes to re-engineer society (by the Good Elites, of course), introduce ever more technology and prevention measures (which means more complexity, dependence and fragility) without questioning their basic assumptions. So this process will continue, until it can’t.

A.F. Rey said...

It’s happened periodically in history, and we’ve seen how it plays out: widespread disregard of the elites, simplification, de-urbanization, imperial collapse, followed eventually by a rebirth with a new elite and new societal assumptions—a process tendentiously called a “dark age”.

The big problem with your theory is that these are the morons who think they are going to remake America. :D

https://deadstate.org/

If you can't understand a simple virus and how it works, how are you going to create a better world? :rolleyes:

Robin Cook said...

David, here's the big issue with the current state of meetingware: A huge percentage of human communication is non-verbal. Right now, the current state of the tech (& the lack of ubiquitous bandwidth such an advance will require) doesn't provide for that piece. I'm not saying that we're far off from that capability, but from my limited knowledge it doesn't seem as if there's very much focus on developing it.

As long as the tech can't accommodate that non-verbal piece, effective 100% virtual operation is really not possible. A team can't build the level of trust necessary to become high-performing absent that critical communication element.

Larry Hart said...

Treebeard:

One might hope that this experience will bring an end to the American exceptionalism delusion,


Not as long as you conservatives are in charge. Right-wingers are the purveyors of American exceptionalism as a slogan. Remember how Barack Obama was vilified by the right because although he agreed with the concept of American exceptionalism, he mused aloud that other countries probably believed themselves to be exceptional too? And right-wing media went nuts over the fact that he didn't dismiss those other countries as wrong and insist that America was really the only exceptional country?

Darrell E said...

I'm (not) sorry, but the claim that Trump has great political instincts is ludicrous. Absolutely ludicrous. He doesn't have great, or even good, or even okay, or even poor political instincts. He's got about as close to 0 political instincts as a human can have.

No, what Trumpers and Trump accommodationists, and anyone who claims Trump has great political instincts are doing is confusing an instinct for appealing to the worst aspects of human nature in others in thrall of a supremely narcissistic personality with actual political skills. They are confusing a good instinct for thuggery with a good instinct for politics. It could be argued that a good instinct for thuggery is a useful tool for politics, but it sure as fuck isn't sufficient.

Let's look at some facts. The leaders of nearly every nation on Earth think Trump is a dangerous moron, and treat him like one. The few that don't, which include icons like Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, Rodrigo Duterte and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, treat him in some cases as if he were a tamed stooge (Putin) and in other cases as if he were a powerful moron that due to his susceptibility to being stroked by dictator-like strongmen is worth running a con on (Kim Jong-un). This is not the fruits of someone who has great political instincts.

On the home front, Trump is the no-holds-barred record holder for the POTUS having the most consistently low job approval rating and the most consistently high job disapproval rating in modern history. Could be ever, haven't checked. Definitely not even close in anyone here's life time. This is not the fruits of someone who has great political instincts.

What a delusional idea. I'm trying to be polite. I don't mean it as an insult. It's simply an accurate assessment given the data. Tim is delusional when it comes to politics in the past 30 years or more, and never more so than in the Trump era. Tim, your ability to accurately assess and compare the behaviors of those holding high political office is seriously impaired. This is not a matter of opinion. I simply do not believe that you are anything remotely like a "deplorable." And yet you still equivocate between Trump and any Democratic candidate, and RP politicians and DP politicians. That only leaves one thing I can think of. Delusion. The facts are out there. If you were able to assess them the way we have seen you assess peoples' behavior on this very blog here for years, you would not still be equivocating as you do. By that I mean you seem to be a good and decent human being, treat others as such and expect to be treated as such yourself and you hold people here to a certain ethical standard. The mystery is why you can't do that when it comes to high politics. Your civilization needs your help Tim.

Daniel Duffy said...

The simplest and most effective thing the government can do is just lower the eligible retirement age for both full social security and medicare to age 60 (the same age as in many industrial nations).

This will reduce unemployment pressure and ease boomers out to pasture where they belong - making room for people with families to have jobs.

If you want to be cold blooded about it, we can afford this now because there will be fewer seniors in our future.

Keith Halperin said...

@ Treebeard:
You might like this guy: John Michael Greer https://www.ecosophia.net/the-end-of-the-dream/
I followed his blog for awhile until his his blatant Trump apologism and magic/astrology/spirituality-oriented posts were too much for me.
While I disagree with much of what he says (*OGH's good "fact lovers are Greer's bad "managerial elites"), he writes well, IMHM...

Stay Well, Everybody

Keith "Possibly Opening a Can of Worms" Halperin



*Judging by these, I do not think that OGH and Greer are BFFs: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-masterful-art-of-manipulation.html, https://www.ecosophia.net/men-unlike-gods/

Zepp Jamieson said...

The EU and perforce the UK are considering "Antibody passports". Anyone possessing the antibodies where the virus has infected and either been fought off successfully or the person has had symptom and recovered is presumed to no longer be at risk of being a carrier. There's a couple of obvious unverified assumptions in there, of course, but it buttresses the doctor's assumption that those who have had the disease may no longer be a threat. Hopefully that turns out to be the case.

David Brin said...


AFR: “So to decrease a state's vote for Trump by 100,000, you'd need about 500,000 voters of a certain age "taken off the roles”…

That’s ‘rolls.” And FLA elections have been closer than that. Especially if the dems have their act together vs. the usual voter suppression.

David Brin said...


I started reading locum’s latest thinking - from the 1st paragraph - that it might be one of those all-wrong but at least interesting ones. Alas, then I saw:

“Centralisation: The circular thinker always demands more & more centralisation, even when said system failure is typically precipitated by the over-concentration of power & authority into fewer & fewer hands, mostly because prudent balkanisation & resilient decentralisation are 'inconceivable' to those who are enamoured by central planning.”

You are a true imbecile, sir. Yours is the centralizing cult, gathering evermore power into a small clique of oligarchs. Small business startups, entrepreneurship and product inventiveness all boom under democrats and fail under Republicans. Always. And if you had a scintilla of guts you would step up with a deposited wager on that. Coward.

Further, it was US labor unions who fought USSR communism, while Taft and the rest of the post WWII GOP wanted isolationism. And it was our network of alliances that defeated the soviet monster… that you cult is happily reviving under different symbols. Further every country that gor both middle class conforts and democracy is now a friend, so we did very well… till you morons took over.

So there is no way, at no level, that you statements aren’t fact-opposite idiotic drivel.

Oh and giving 90% of the world’s children full bellies and a chance for schooling… that’s the “globalism” that leftie “jim” would demolish. It is the same effect that demolishes Treebeard’s claims of “American Exceptionali

Zepp Jamieson said...

Florida governor Ron DeSantos says that the "no gathering" law may not apply to churches. From a constitutional viewpoint, he's quite correct, but there's an internet meme that should be posted in front of every church meeting: "When three or more gather in my name, I am present." -- Covid 1:9

David Brin said...

See my last chapter of Polemical Judo wherein I discuss what might happen if the Foxite-Putinists calculate Trump is dragging them down to utter incineration. Things could happen very fast, if they either jettison him (dangerous) or decide he’ll serve them wel as a martyr. I pray for the US Secret Service.

I take the Treason accusation toward Foxites and Trump FAR more literally than simply their carelessness toward the law and national health. I would wager all my liquid assets - given fair odds - that these monsters intend actual harm and demolition of the United States and its entire premise and Great Experiment in accountable government, flat, opportunity rich social structures, fair-competitive enterprise and every rising circles of tolerance/rights.

Their systematic destruction or all of our strengths — alliances, sciences, civil servants and grasp of factual reality, plus a million mal-governances - compose too much of a pattern to be anything but deliberate.

Trump and Putin simply rode in on Rupert Murdoch’s prime strategy, to turn workingclass white males away from noticing oligarch oppression by aiming their reflexive ire - as always with confederates - toward “smartypant” folks who know stuff.

Keith Halperin said...

@ Dr. Brin: re:"Trump and Putin simply rode in on Rupert Murdoch’s prime strategy"-
I'm curious: do you (or anyone here) know if Lee "Southern Strategy" Atwater and Murdoch's people had any links, formal or otherwise?

Anonymous said...

A huge percentage of human communication is non-verbal. Right now, the current state of the tech (& the lack of ubiquitous bandwidth such an advance will require) doesn't provide for that piece. I'm not saying that we're far off from that capability, but from my limited knowledge it doesn't seem as if there's very much focus on developing it.

One of the problems with being on the autism spectrum is that picking up non-verbal signals is hard. Given that tech people are often on the spectrum, I wonder if there's a certain subconscious blindness to how important non-verbals are because, to them, they isn't important?

Also, non-verbals are often culturally specific so even harder to compress and transmit.

David Brin said...

Please sign all anonymous postiungs with your chosen monisker, preferably up top. And I prefer you get a log-in.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

these monsters intend actual harm and demolition of the United States and its entire premise and Great Experiment in accountable government, flat, opportunity rich social structures, fair-competitive enterprise and every rising circles of tolerance/rights.


Which is what I mean when I refer to them as traitors. They would claim that they love America, by which they mean a North American government with a big army and a militarized police force dedicated to the proposition that private property is everything and there's no such thing as the commons. But the characteristics you list above are what really does make America great, and what the ideal of "America" represents to the world. And they are traitors to that ideal, one and all.

David Brin said...

Yes, we agree on the effects. Whaat I say in addition is that much of that treason is open-eyed, deliberate and in service to hostile foreign powers. You don't even need for it to be greed or ideology driving it. Blackmail will suffice. And may we live to see that whole edifice burned out by light.

duncan cairncross said...

Back to the numbers to change Florida to Blue

In 2016 Hillary got 4,504,975 ---- Trump got 4,617,886 --- a margin of 112,911

At the last census 17% of Florida was over 64 - 3,259,604
Four years since the last election - over 64's die at about 5% a year (before Covid) - so 20% of 3,259,604 is 650,000

Taking the voting change as effectively one fifth then - there has already been a change of 130,000
That is of all voters - but a lot don't vote (or get registered!)
Let's say that 70% of those were "voters"
So 90,000 "votes"
Trump's margin was 112,000

Now I'm down to a difference of 25,000

We need another 25,000 to make up the difference
By the 20% rule that means 125,000 voters - and by the 70% who vote 180,000 people

If 4% of the over 64 who get infected die and that was 180,000 people then it would be necessary for 4,500,000 people over the age of 64 to be infected

That would be GREATER than Florida's over 64 population

The over 64's were already dying at about 5% a year - so even with a 100% infection rate the Covid virus would only be the equivalent of another one year of demographic change

scidata said...

There doesn't need to be any hoopla from the Dems from now to November. Earnestly and sincerely fight the virus and advocate for citizens. No need to get down in the partisan muck, farcical courtroom debates, or degrading media whoring. Just have both halves of the ticket silently walk around each carrying a sign. One saying "Healthcare" and the other saying "Science".

Acacia H. said...

Heyla! I just thought I'd touch base with doing grocery shopping, seeing I'm two weeks into the first time I had symptoms and that was how long I was told to self-isolate (also, I and the flatmate desperately needed groceries at this point). First, I do live in Massachusetts so things are likely different elsewhere, but enforced social distancing was in effect at the grocery store. There was a line to enter, and only a set number of people were allowed in at a time. As people left, more people would be allowed in. There were even a couple police on hand outside to keep an eye on things.

There were no shortages that I noticed (there was even toilet paper according to my flatmate, though we've plenty of that for now), and while my favorite flavour of ramen was out, I frequently encounter that problem (especially near the end of the week). However, the mood in the store was... like being in a funeral home, or a battlezone.

My flatmate especially noticed it. He said it felt dark in there. There was no chatting between people. Some folk were on their phones getting supplies, but mostly it was people grimly going about their job of getting groceries, and I don't recall seeing any small children. Over half of the people had masks of some sort, one of which were full-blown gas mask with the eye protection and all that, and most being variations of dust masks you'd use for working on wallboard in a house.

Anyway, you all keep safe and healthy.

Acacia

David Brin said...

Duncan it depends on whether folks systematically become more Republican with age... in which case the dying clade of elders gets replenished with fresh blood... so to speak.

Naturally, it is other factors like voter registration drives and DNC audits to make sure those registrations stick. And felons reclaiming voting rights. And young people actually turning out. And ex New Yorkers who are proud of NY's response vs. DeDantis. And Puerto Rican expatriates remembering Trump's insults. But yes, demographics also matter.

David Brin said...

" No need to get down in the partisan muck, farcical courtroom debates, or degrading media whoring. Just have both halves of the ticket silently walk around each carrying a sign. One saying "Healthcare" and the other saying "Science"."

Oh if only. Sorry no. What must be demolished is the delusion that macho bluster = "strength" and you only do that by cornering Trump and his ilk and making them whine.

Final note, note for blog posting but down here. Bizarre how the countries with most cases PER MILLION OF POPULATION include Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and other rich places. Perhaps because a lot of them traveled?

It does seem that there's also a TEMPERATURE correlation, though warmer countries may also have little testing. Anyway, there's Iran. Still, Singapore and Hong Kong have things under control. Who knows?

duncan cairncross said...

"folks systematically become more Republican with age"

I don't think so
There is a tendency to become more conservative with age - but IMHO that is not so much people becoming more conservative as society becoming more progressive - moving the goalposts!

In the 50's allowing racial intermarriage was a very "progressive" position (in the USA)

In the 70's - it was almost a moderate position

in the 90's - even the "conservatives" were OK mostly OK

Somebody who grew up in the 60's and 70's has become more progressive
But possibly not as progressive as society in general has become

In America it also appears that political parties have become more "tribal"

matthew said...

There is a very dark part of me that thinks the rapid and early rise in cases in Iran sounds like something that Trump would have engineered while thinking he was being very smart. A deliberate introduction into an Iranian backwater sounds like a Bannon move if there ever was one.
In just the same way, I see the fumbled Trump response to the virus on US soil as a deliberate move - allowing stock manipulation and skimming from the tax teat while simultaneously trying to "poison" the big cities.
The pattern is too consistent to not be enemy action. Like David says, *all* decisions have favored the end of America and the ability to skim money away. Even an idiot would have made a random good decision by now.

Alfred Differ said...

In Heart if the Comet I posited that one of a physician’s top jobs was to release minor/benign viruses to “challenge” immune systems and keep them tuned-up, even if folks complained of a sniffle.

Yah. That's what I think about every time you mention the need to keep locumranch and treebeard around. And now jim.
Keeps us (mostly) from turning on each other.


(sniffle)

Alfred Differ said...

Tim,

Trump has superb political instincts.

Snort.

Only if you consider old school political boss methods currently useful political instincts.
He's not even a good political boss, though. THEY knew how to negotiate and 'kick people upstairs.' That's how TR became President.

Nah. He has the instincts of a con-man / cult idol, but he's not good at it.

From where I sit, y'all chose to drink the stupid-juice, blame the very people who could help, and elect someone who promised to rape you. Seriously. I'm not over-charging those words. That's how it looked from my chair.

Alfred Differ said...

I think y'all are calculating with the wrong numbers when trying to figure out how Florida will vote in November.

In the last two weeks, US unemployment went up about ~6%.
10,000,000 people filed for benefits.

We are potentially heading for Depression Era unemployment BEFORE the November election arrives.

Ponder that.

David Brin said...

matthew there are different kinds of conspiracy theories. See my chapter about this in Polemical Judo! One of the very top tests is “How many skilled henchmen would the plot require? And how can you be sure they won’t blab?”

SOME Trump conspiracies satisfy that test easily, especially if all he has to do is make shill appointments to “acting” positions and insult allies and refuse to act upon advice. He’s harmed us so much in those ways that Goldfinger’s Law was surpassed by mid 2017. Yes, he is a deliberate traitor and colludes with a few well-paced others.

In contrast, sorry, but sending trained agents into Iran to spread a deadly virus… doesn’t pass the test. It would take cooperation from many in the loathed “deep state” and most of them skilled, dedicated people who are likely more loyal to America than to Trump.

This is of course why if they get a second 4 years the GOP’s top goal will be evisceration of the 140 year old Civil Service Act.

Tim, would THAT be a redline for you?

Trump does not have political instincts. What he has is perfect playground bully bluster. And there are millions who think that is “strength,” as with those supporting Maduro, Erdogan, Duterte, Orban and Putin.

That can be shattered, but it takes more tactical insight than showed by even smart dems like Schiff.

Anonymous said...

Do you have a citation (or 4) for the poor immune memory of coronaviruses ? I'm looking at a 2014 overview of respiratory coronaviruses, which shows suppressed T-cell during infection, but no problem with memory T-cells, so vaccination might work fine. The T-cell suppression is a problem because "T cells of the adaptive immune system have now been shown to suppress overzealous early innate responses to
infection that can lead to 'cytokine storm'–mediated death". Antibodies also appear to clear rapidly, with reduced B memory cell formation.

wrt rhinoviruses, "Rhinoviruses, consisting of well over one hundred serotypes that cause a plurality of common colds, are completely cleared by the host immune system after causing minimal cell death, but often without inducing long-term immune memory." [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23485454]

I note that I am not a medical person.
-nitpicker357

the hanged man said...

On Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day, I heard a newscaster mention, with wonder, at the “peaceful transition of power”, and a great shiver ran through me, as I sensed in that moment that the Republicans would never willingly hand it back.

My apprehension has grown increasinly since that surreal day as it seemed, with every day’s news, that the Republicans have brazenly done ever more reprehensible deeds with no apparent concern for consequences —acting as though they knew there be no consequences and no more presidential elections.

For some time now, I have thought that they want to destroy all the liberals, but now I agree with Dr. Brin; I think they want to destroy America entirely. In addition to the American oligarchs who control the Republicans, I believe all the oligarchs of the planet — whom I think of as The Rulers of the Earth — want to destroy the structures of democracy and cull the entire human population.

I can’t help but wonder if Covid-19 was not an accident at a wild animal market, but an intentional release of the virus from the lab in Wuhan. Of course, the oligarchs would have already developed their secret vaccine, to be used only for themselves and their minions. Just the fact that the Republicans seem to be intentionally putting their base at risk makes this scenario seem more plausible.

Of course, certainly, the virus will not kill everyone, but it will break down our hospitals and medical care providers. It will kill many people with other serious health emergencies who cannot get the help they need. It could break down our food distribution system. It could create so much chaos that there may be no election.

I sure hope I am just wrong and paranoid, that would be so much better. Oh, one irony — has anyone seen the new U.S. 2020 quarter with the fruit bats on the back?

TCB said...

A really good E-mail interview with Ted Chiang (author of the story Arrival is based on, among other things) about the pandemic, and how it may change the world.

Hot quote: TC: A lot of dystopian stories posit variations on a Mad Max world where marauders roam the wasteland. That’s a kind of change no one wants to see. I think those qualify as doom. What I mean by disruption is not the end of civilization, but the end of a particular way of life. Aristocrats might have thought the world was ending when feudalism was abolished during the French Revolution, but the world didn’t end; the world changed. (The critic John Clute has said that the French Revolution was one of the things that gave rise to science fiction.)

TCB said...

Here's a super-simple math metric to judge the Trump regime's COVID-19 performance.

South Korea, as we have heard, tested rigorously and clamped down on the epidemic. The US has botched testing and response. The two nations had all relevant data at the same time (the end of December last).

According to the Coronavirus Dashboard, as of April 3:

South Korea has 10,062 confirmed cases and 174 deaths. Total population: 51,270,000 roughly.

The United States has 245,442 confirmed cases and 6098 deaths. Total population: 330,528,000 roughly.

US population is 6.44 times that of South Korea. As a strict ratio, if the US did exactly as well in its coronavirus response, you'd expect the US to have 64,800 confirmed cases; we have 3.7 times as many, so far. You'd expect 1120 deaths so far; we have 5.4 times that number. Every death above 1120 is unnecessary, if you assume US healthcare and disease control is at least as good as South Korea's... right? It is at least as good, isn't it?

(Crickets from the conservatives)

So you could say, as a shorthand, "As of April 3, Donald Trump has caused 4978 needless COVID-19 deaths."

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Nah. He has the instincts of a con-man / cult idol, but he's not good at it.


You (and others) scoff at the notion that Benedict Donald possesses good political instincts, and yet he has managed to somehow stumble into a position where he can not only personally charge the taxpayers for services his own properties render himself and his staff, but where the US Senate and the supreme court (if not Article 2) say he can do whatever he wants.

He's either the luckiest man in all of history, or he's got instincts which serve him well.

"Instincts" in this case meaning a quality that he may not be invoking consciously. He may not be smart enough to handle his office, but his gut reactions lead him to a good place for himself, though not for the country.

Larry Hart said...

the hanged man:

it seemed, with every day’s news, that the Republicans have brazenly done ever more reprehensible deeds with no apparent concern for consequences —acting as though they knew there be no consequences and no more presidential elections.


That sounds so eerily like a climactic scene in the concluding episode of Season 6--the last good season--of Game of Thrones.

Without spoiling too much...

"Cersei knows the consequences of her absence, and she is absent anyway! That means she doesn't expect to face those consequences! We have to get out of here, now!"

locumranch said...


David has a selective memory:

Yes, it was US labor unions who fought USSR communism, but they were rapidly betrayed by the specious US Democrat Party platform of 1960 (1) which promised "full employment", "an end to tight money" and protection from "unfair competition", only to deliver the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (2) which catered to "a strong demand for immigrant workers by U.S. employers, led to rising numbers of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. in the decades after 1965" and hopelessly crippled the union worker by diluting the US Labor pool with a vast population of non-union immigrant laborers who were willing to work for a pittance.

(1) https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/1960-democratic-party-platform

(2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_and_Nationality_Act_of_1965

At best a fair-weather friend to the blue-collar Union worker, the US Democrat Party delivered the coup de grace later (in the 1970s) with 'Stagflation' (3), prompting the end-to-tight-money Democrat Party-appointed "Chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker to pursue a course of aggressive interest rate increases that increased the value of the dollar and decreased U.S. exports, decimating the manufacturing sector", leading all major US industries to 'downsize' domestic employees, 'outsource' employment to non-union foreigners and relocate their manufacturing centers to more favorable foreign climes (also in response to onerous regulation & taxation).

(3) https://psmag.com/economics/what-caused-the-decline-of-unions-in-america

Of course, the simultaneous destruction of both the US domestic labor market & the US manufacturing base did have a bright side, giving 90% of the world’s children full bellies and a chance for schooling (aka 'globalism'), all while condemning the average US blue-collar worker to a lifetime of debt slavery & penury, by stealing from the domestic economy (Peter) in order to pay & reward other more competitive foreign economies (Paul).

There's a reason why Trump & US Republicans have managed to turn working class white males away from the more progressive US Democrat Party, mostly because everything that progressives say & do spews massive amounts of HATE for the redundant working class white male, which is why selected males now offer this sage advice to our newly unemployed, non-essential & unnecessary urban friends:

Learn-to-Code, you arrogant bastards, Learn-to-Code.


Best

+++++

David & Larry spew some nonsense about "accountable government", yet they seem quite uneasy about being 'called to account'. Why is that, I wonder? Could their faith in unconditional love, Humanism & Human_Goodness be fraudulent? Or, do they hate & fear other humans even more than I do ?

Tim H. said...

"Stagflation"* was initiated by Richard Nixon's desire to not have a recession prior to the 1972 election, right wingnuts have been trying to hang on Jimmy Carter ever since.

*If the economists hadn't coined it, it would've been an excellent descriptor of deer hunting stories!

Jon S. said...

Larry, the only "luck" was that the Republican machine found someone so stupid and gullible that he could be manipulated into using his talents as a salesman to help convince juuust enough people to keep them in power long enough to solidify that power as a permanent feature.

For good or ill, though, this pandemic seems to have peeled that facade away - Donnie's starting to lose even some of the hard-core wingnuts who believed every single lie that poured out of his spray-tanned face. Now even Fox has begun turning away from his daily press rallies.

Keith Halperin said...

@ SciData, Dr. Brin:
"Just have both halves of the ticket silently walk around each carrying a sign.
One saying "Healthcare" and the other saying "Science"."

I suggest a similar tactic (with a variation):
Imagine a series of large, silent marches, either socially-distanced or after things "settle down" again, where you see men, women, children (ideally with attractive, WASPy-"Real American" types prominently featured for Midwestern Swing State voters.)
Pan in on one marcher: a 9 year old girl.
She carries a sign with words and a picture of an elderly woman on it:
"President Trump LIED, and my Grandma DIED".
Rinse and repeat.

As LBJ is alleged to have said:
"If you grab them by their balls, their hearts and minds will soon follow.)

Stay Well

A German Nurse said...

The individual infection rates and death tolls of each country depend on the general stability, flexibility and reserves of the respective health infrastructure, as well as contact restrictions and sheer luck.

I think it is to early to say which country fares best, but I bet we in Germany will have a comparatively lower death rate than the US.

Re: Luxemburg and Liechtenstein: These countries have a high number of commuters fromm France and Germany, and Switzerland and Austria, respectively. Also, the start of the pandemia in Germany coincided with the time of the traditional carnival festivities, which are all thing in the catholic federal states (South and West), and I assume this also to be the reason why eastern France is hit hit so hard. The protestant areas (north and west) have far lower infection and death rates, with the exception of Hamburg and Berlin.

Side Note 1: Whenever I hear or read Americans utter that a public health system is socialism I smile. The inventor of the current mandatory health, unemployment and retirement insurances was Otto von Bismarck, a conservative noble. He attempted to weaken the rise of the social democrats, but in the long run, failed at this policy. His system, however, survived him for 150 years.

Side Note 2: Apparently, the US buy off protection equipment ordered by Germany and France, at highly inflated prices. The US government tried to acquire a German Company (CureVac) a few weeks ago to gain the exclusive rights to the research done there. The Federal Government as well as the company and their primary investor (Dietmar Hopp, co-founder of SAP) turned down the offer.

A backstabbing ally, we have.

Side Note 3: It seems that the CDU (center-right, party of Angela Merkel) benefits most of the current situation. At the start of the year, they were almost done, having löst one-half of their current voters. It was a realistic perspective that Germany would get a green-led government. Now, they are again at over 30% approval, whereas the right-wing AfD lost considerably.

Larry Hart said...

A German Nurse:

A backstabbing ally, we have.


I wish I could disagree.

Dwight Williams said...

@ A German Nurse: More evidence for your argument, sadly. And more fuel for the truly and justly righteous anger of many Americans who wish that you were wrong. Care of CBC News, the tale of 3M caught between Trump's rage-tweets and Canadian need:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/3m-n95-masks-1.5520326

scidata said...

I hope that the WH makes an exception for the 'no masks to Canada' policy for those many health workers in Windsor who risk their lives daily in the fight to save Detroit.

David Brin said...

Dizzy Wheeeee! magical incantations about 165 immigrant bills... without any statistical evidence... lacks some credibility when it ignores the rampaging elephant of the Vietnam War, which was 99% responsible for most 1970s calamities.

Fool.

David Brin said...

Interesting suggestiong that inhaling one stray virus, here or there, may not be quite a disaster: "> Humans also exhibit sensitivity to viral dose. Volunteers have allowed themselves to be exposed to low or high doses of relatively benign viruses causing colds or diarrhea. Those receiving the low doses have rarely developed visible signs of infection, while high doses have typically led to infections and more severe symptoms."

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/01/opinion/coronavirus-viral-dose.html

These Coronavirus Exposures Might Be the Most Dangerous
As with any other poison, viruses are usually deadlier in larger amounts.

Hm, well, if it's in the Times....

TCB said...

If you wanna be a dictator for life, maybe don't piss off the military. You might need their goodwill some day.

locumranch said...


The New York Times erroneously reported that President Trump was WRONG about the possible ameliorative effects of hydroxychloroquine on COVID-19, and they still haven't corrected their many errors, so why would anyone believe anything they report? Meh to urban yellow journalism.

Fifty years after passage of the landmark law that rewrote U.S. immigration policy, nearly 59 million immigrants have arrived in the United States, pushing the country’s foreign-born share to a near record 14%.

Between 1965 and 2015, new immigrants, their children and their grandchildren accounted for 55% of U.S. population growth. They added 72 million people to the nation’s population as it grew from 193 million in 1965 to 324 million in 2015


https://www.pewresearch.org/hispanic/2015/09/28/modern-immigration-wave-brings-59-million-to-u-s-driving-population-growth-and-change-through-2065/

How many immigrants are living in the U.S. illegally? There were 12 million immigrants living in the country illegally as of January 2015, according to the most recent estimate from the Department of Homeland Security.

https://www.factcheck.org/2018/06/illegal-immigration-statistics/

Since 1965, the US total # of legal & illegal immigrants and their offspring is 84 Million, and current US population is 327 Million, which means that immigrants have increased the US population -- and, by implication, the US labour force -- by nearly 35% since 1965 and now account for almost 26% of the total US population, weakening the bargaining power of the average US worker by at least the same percentage.

I love 'Maff' because it makes great evidence.


Best

Alfred Differ said...

An offer to relocate given by Trump is not the same as the US government attempting to acquire a company. When the offer comes from Trump, it's more likely that HE wants to buy the company. Rejection is the appropriate response since he'd likely bankrupt it or turn it over to the Russian Mafia.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

....yet he has managed to somehow stumble into a position....

He's being used and he's using others. He knows how to be a bully if his simplistic cons are exposed, but that's not political instinct. Not even mammalian.

He's either the luckiest man in all of history, or he's got instincts which serve him well.

I don't think so. There are more than two options to consider for an explanatory narrative. Imagine trying to write this as a fictional story 20 years ago and give it a non-fantasy foundation. Lucky Man is too fantastical. Good instincts isn't, but it does risk becoming competence-porn. What else can the author imagine? Conspiracy?

Our host imagines a were-elephant loosely directed (indirectly?) by golf-buddies. US political parties have died before. The last big one to go was the Whig party and its death was spectacular. The GOP was born then and the hot phase of our Civil War happened shortly after that. BOOM!

David Brin said...

In fact, LEGAL immigration is something Democrats definitely pushed and perhaps (arguably) too far. I have long viewed - as many of you know - the Family Reunion process to be outrageously unfair and even evil in its deep moral justifications. I'd be willing to negotiate.

Though Republicans are in no position to throw stones. Until 9/11, ALL GOP presidents and Congresses crippled the Border Patrol in order to let in swarms of ILLEGAL immigrants who could not press for working conditions or join unions or ever hope to vote. Even to this day, the BP slyly winks and looks away from GOP connected employers.

BTW, BOTH legal and illegal immigrants have lower crime rates, work harder and are more productive tha the Trump whiner demographic.

So sure, immigration is an area (among the few) where GOPper polemic at least has a starting point worth discussing... it is THEY who poisoned the political dialogue with 95% loony-insane-stupid-treasonous crap. It is they who made negotiation impossible, even in areas that merit it.

Alfred Differ said...

weakening the bargaining power of the average US worker by at least the same percentage

Technically false because of the large time frame involved. Those immigrants ARE US workers now. Their children and grandchildren too.

My mother WAS one of those immigrants. She'd have been offended at the notion that she weakened US workers somehow since she saw herself as one.

Mike G in Corvallis said...

But back to Minsky’s core lesson. Periods of stability lead to unstable ones and vice versa. That is, if we learn lessons and avoid mistakes of the past. (We will find new mistakes to make.)

We -- some of us -- might learn our lesson from this crisis about being prepared for the next plague.

Will anyone in a position of authority be smart enough to generalize the lesson to being prepared for a natural or "anthropogenic" EMP disaster?

Alfred Differ said...

For anyone here tempted to believe dark-of-night conspiracies about the intentional release of an engineered virus to bring down the US economy, I invite you to consider a light-of-day vaccine for it.

1. Our intelligence folks are pretty good at what they do and get a lot of help from allied foreign intelligence groups. Look at here the intelligence on Trump's interactions with the Russians came from before arriving at the FBI as examples. [We might not see them doing this all the time, but we see enough ripples on the surface to surmise undercurrents.]

2. Our civil service folks have a number of people among them who do-the-right-thing. Look at the people who DID show up to testify as fact witnesses for the impeachment. Look at the way information leaks to the Press. [They are in there, but it isn't always obvious WHICH civil servant will do it. That gives them camouflage, so let's appreciate that.]

3. Over the course of years, politicians come and go. More importantly, groups in power lose power and then gain it back later. Turn-over happens especially around mid-term elections. [The 2018 mid-term enabled one check on Trump. The impeachment trial was predictable in Nov of 2018]

With all that, what are the odds that Evil Group X could produce a biological weapon and deploy it AND NOT get noticed AND NOT face retaliation in the relatively near future?

[Our host's "Henchmen numbers" idea is just one of the ways information breaks the vessel in which we try to contain it. Our intelligence folks have MANY more tools.]

So, imagine your are a powerful person in China. Can you? Can you imagine the strengths and weaknesses of your US opponent? If you can, surely you'd realize the folly of intentionally deploying a bioweapon against us. If you can't, maybe one of the others of your peers could?

Mistakes have happened before when it comes to judging US responses. Hitler underestimated us. Bigly. So did some in Japan, but not all of them. The modern Chinese leadership has all of 20th century history to ponder when thinking about their options with respect to us. We won three world wars. No small feat.

I put to you that they are better served NOT attacking us. Things are going their way relatively smoothly without the need for hostilities. Over the next decade, the power balance between them and Russia is likely to flip giving them central Asia in their sphere of influence. The world is trending back toward multiple poles of power with no fully dominating hegemon. Relationships are complexifying as nationalism and regionalism returns. THEY DON'T HAVE TO DO MUCH to continue these trends beyond what they are already doing.

So, I think the odds of an intentional release of a bioweapon are fantastically small. They aren't zero because mistakes DO happen. I don't think this one is likely, though.

TCB said...

When we hear talk of 'waves of illegal immigrants" this usually refers to people fleeing calamities in their native Latin American homes. It's late and I am tired, but sometime I'll write up an entire rant about the School of the Americas AKA WHINSEC at Fort Benning, Georgia, and how it has trained generations of torturers and despots, who returned to places like Guatemala and Chile and threw labor organizers and liberal newspaper editors out of helicopters, installed far-right dictatorships, partnered with CIA and US corporate interests, and just generally made it nigh suicidal to stay at home and improve one's lot.

This is one of the reasons "democracy" got a bad name in places like Iraq. When the only version of democracy you've see is what College Republicans and Blackwater mercenaries bring, how is that better than Ba'ath? how is it better than what Revolutionary Guard or Hamas did? As a neurolinguistic programming lecturer noted, (I think it was Tony Robbins) you can connect very deeply with people and be very persuasive on the level of their deepest values; but if you use that deep trust to deceive them, they will never trust you again.

Our own (conservative) politicians have exported fascism to other nations longer than I have been alive, but most recently to Bolivia; those same politicians scapegoat the refugees created by their own evil; and the millions sleep. If you have even heard of the School of the Americas, you are either in the Army or you're one of those pinkos who've been complaining about it for years (like Blackwater, SOA changed the name but not the villainy; now it's Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. Fascism, which American conservatives plant wherever they can uproot a socialist experiment, has leaked back into America. It is no accident that some locum-type trolls make sly jokes about giving progressives "helicopter rides".

Well, I guess I mostly did my rant anyway...

Moral: if you want immigrants to stay where they came from, HELP THEM IMPROVE THEIR HOME. God dammit. I am not not not saying life would be all peachy keen south of the border without the bad old Norteamericanos. They, like everyone, would have all the usual problems in the best of circumstances.

What I AM saying is that a great deal of what good things people in Latin America have accomplished is more in spite of the United States, than because of us. It was our CIA that allowed some Nazis to use the 'ratlines' after the War to flee to South America, and influence politics there to the present day. The Beast Reawakens. It was our CIA that helped install Pinochet. The Beast reawakens. And... here at home... the letter agencies who worked overtime to stamp out every leftist subversion they got a whiff of... somehow lost all their turgor when confronted by far-right subversion. If I told you a clique in the New York FBI office would knowingly help install a Communist in the White House... preposterous. Hollywood fantasy. But if I told you clique in the New York FBI office helped install a fascist in the White House? Why, that's public record.

The Beast Reawakens.

David Brin said...

THMan: “I can’t help but wonder if Covid-19 was not an accident at a wild animal market, but an intentional release of the virus from the lab in Wuhan.”

The intermediate hypothesis has some merit… an accidental release of something engineered in that Wuhan lab.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

"He's either the luckiest man in all of history, or he's got instincts which serve him well."

I don't think so. There are more than two options to consider for an explanatory narrative. Imagine trying to write this as a fictional story 20 years ago and give it a non-fantasy foundation. Lucky Man is too fantastical. Good instincts isn't, but it does risk becoming competence-porn. What else can the author imagine?


Mule powers, of course. Occam's Razor demands it.

:)

Larry Hart said...

TCB:

It was our CIA that helped install Pinochet.


On September 11.

1973, but still.

A German Nurse said...

Or Operation Ajax, 20 years earlier.

David Brin said...

Or a very useful carnival barker who fronts well for his masters.

reason said...

He has particularlt annoyed the Navy and not for the first time - wasn't it an admiral he sacked from the CDC head? David has commented before about the indepence of the Navy brass. My guess is they are playing the services off against one another and don't trust the Navy. Pethaps because the Navy spend much time in peace time in fireign territory and so understand diplomacy.

locumranch said...


Alfred rejects my argument in regard to how immigration diluted the US labor market because it is 'Technically false because of the large time frame involved'.

This is a baseless objection to an unassailable numerical argument which proves that immigration increased the US population & its domestic labor force by almost 35% over a 50 year period.

In 1965, the US population was almost 240 Million. Subsequent immigration added about 84 Million to the total US population over a 50 year period.

240 Million + 84 Million = 324 Million.

This gives us the total US population in 2015. It was also associated with a 35% increase in available labor & a relative decrease in individual labor unit value due to the Laws of Supply & Demand.

The Laws of Supply & Demand state that an increase in commodity availability (in this particular case, the US domestic labor supply) reduces the scarcity value of said commodity, since the scarcity value of any commodity is inversely proportional to the available supply.

This is simple math that cares not a whit about the legality, deserving-ness, ethnicity or current nationality of said immigrants.

That most of you dare to call yourselves 'fact-users' while rejecting even basic math, this is inadvertently hilarious, especially when a much more apt appellation would be 'irrational magical-thinking nincompoops'.


Best

scidata said...

Dr. Brin: a very useful carnival barker who fronts well

Of all the nicknames for DT I've heard, 'puppet-clown' is the most accurate. His masters toss him shiny bobbles, table scraps, and copious flattery, and he then enthusiastically sells out the free and the brave, and everything that took centuries for them to build. All to the wail of projection: "fear the elites!". The grifter-in-law referred to the Federal stockpile as belonging to us. Who is us?

The strongest shield against demagoguery is widespread literacy in general and scientific literacy in particular, with citizen science as the swiftest delivery vehicle. An example is the 'basic math' that diversity strengthens the gene pool and thus species-wide immunity. Fisher's Theorem, look it up.
Calculemus!

David Brin said...

Again, loony tunes. ALL economists associate growing population with rising economics, so long as the new workers are productive and raise educated Americans. Locum assailed our allies for declining population and dying out.

If the children of these immigrants are fully acculturated, English-speaking, rambunctiously individualistic-compassionate and culturally American, only an asshole would care which country or skin color the parents came from.

THAT by the way is why I DO want strong control of our borders. Immigration must come at a rate that does not create a teeming resentful and fundamentally hostile underclass that does NOT get melted into the pot. European cities have such suburbs and they spell trouble and pain for all. But America HAS melted and absorbed those millions, who retain many cultural identities and flavors and songs, enriching us... but learn American individualism and produce women who don't take shit.

A.F. Rey said...

Quick note: P.Z. Myers gives a nod to The Postman in a post today.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2020/04/04/as-much-coronavirus-stuff-as-i-can-stand/

Jon S. said...

"...America HAS melted and absorbed those millions, who retain many cultural identities and flavors and songs, enriching us... but learn American individualism and produce women who don't take shit."

See, that's the part I don't think some of these anti-immigrant "conservatives" get. Immigrants in a lot of countries, even (perhaps especially) Europe, have a harder time "assimilating" because in those places, the national mindset is fixed, and any attempts to change it are considered troublesome. It's hard to make it in, say, France when you're unwilling to abandon the food and music of your former culture.

But here, the American identity has traditionally been sufficiently malleable that rather than insisting newcomers had to conform to us, we melded with them, and what they had to offer that was best became a new part of us. (Heck, the popularity of pho, a traditional Vietnamese dish, across this area should demonstrate that plentifully! Or check out the street music and styles of San Diego, for the influence of Mexican immigrants there - and great food, too.) The only problem we've been having lately, really, has come from folks who want to try to "fix" the American character into a particular conformation, and reject the "foreign" influence of our newcomers. That has the doubly-bad effect of forbidding us to change, and discouraging the newcomers from changing if they don't want to simply abandon everything - and I mean everything - they once were. That last bit especially, as that's been how we've always taught our new neighbors to "learn American individualism and produce women who don't take shit." That's one of the pervasive parts of what can be considered American culture, and if you insist on an all-or-nothing change in new arrivals, they will often select "nothing", because "all" means cutting loose of everything that defined them as human beings, from clothing to language to cuisine.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

If the children of these immigrants are fully acculturated, English-speaking, rambunctiously individualistic-compassionate and culturally American, only an asshole would care which country or skin color the parents came from.


That's because you and I believe that America is a nation based on ideals that has room for anyone who subscribes to those ideals.

Those who believe that America is a blood-and-soil homeland for northern European non-Jewish white people would beg to differ.

TCB said...

Immigration and borders, by the way, are one of those things that can be viewed biologically. Every living cell (or half-living virus) has its vital inner mechanisms contained by a cell wall, a membrane that lets in whatever helps the inner mechanism work, lets out whatever wastes it may need to expel, and keeps out whatever may damage the inner mechanism. Soap and water kill viruses because the soap attaches to the lipids that make the outer wall and tears them apart. A nation's borders, like those of a cell, must be both closed enough to protect its functions and open enough to let in whatever may serve them. In any case, this process demands intelligent policy. For instance, you don't chase away your best minds, nor create a place that would not attract more. (I do take Dr. Brin's point about poor assimilation in French faubourgs, etc.)

But borders can be porous not only to physical people; they can also be porous to money and jobs, technology, information, influence, and yes, viruses.

Republicans love to talk about "securing our borders, but they tend to mean only halting the movement of physical human bodies. And yet: didn't Citizens United throw our borders wide open to foreign money in our elections? didn't giving citizenship to Rupert Murdoch throw our borders wide open to subversion by a foreign native who never believed in our country's principles?

Borders are a funny thing. Here's a story about borders from recent days.

Donald Trump has been leaning on 3M to sell all its N95 masks only in the United States, and to hell with what our friends in Canada need. The Canadians are, no surprise, unhappy about this.

But wait! Where does the best pulp for the N95 masks come from?

It comes from Western red cedar from British Columbia. In Canada. You know, on the other side of that border.

Sampson said the Harmac mill is the world’s only producer of the particular grade of paper pulp used in the manufacture of surgical masks and gowns and that the mill has been producing it since before he came to work there in 2008.

“K10S is the pulp that we’re producing for these medical supplies. We’re the only one that produces it,” he said. “Different pulp mills run different grades of pulp – almost kind of like recipes.”

K10S pulp is made from western red cedar that produces a soft fibre that makes it suitable for the final products made from it.

Now, there are probably great alternatives to western red cedar pulp that researchers could make superfine filters from. Carbon nanotube fabric, maybe? But we need the masks today, now, not in five years.

Strong borders, heh.

TCB said...

By the way, Coronavirus Dashboard tells us that US deaths from COVID-19 rose from 6 to 8 thousand in just a couple of days, while South Korea is still under 200.

Remember, US population is about 6x that of SK and so we can reasonably blame Trump for every excess death over 6 x 200, or 6800 and counting.

TCB said...

Incidentally, Mexican drug cartels like Los Zetas benefited from US military training too.

The Zetas, hired assassins for the Gulf Cartel, feature 31 ex-soldiers once part of an elite division of the Mexican army the Special Air Mobile Force Group. At least one-third of this battalions deserters was trained at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga., according to documents from the Mexican secretary of defense.
They have high-powered weapons, training and intelligence capabilities, said Francisco Castillo Zaragoza, brigadier general at the 8th Military Zone in Reynosa, Tamaulipas.


Mexico’s military has also received US support: between 2006 and 2017, Washington provided just over $2.7bn in security assistance, including military and counter-narcotics support.

According to Kate Doyle, senior analyst at the National Security Archive in Washington DC, the US focus on military aid to the region has helped drive the militarization of Mexico’s drug conflict.

“That US military training and intelligence techniques ended up in the wrong hands is far from unusual. Its lethal spillage into the contemporary criminal context is one of the legacies of US security policy in Latin America,” she said.

Larry Hart said...

Bill Maher:

"...So let's also skip the 'We need to be less partisan' virtue signalling, when it's obvious that Republicans have a proud legacy of Government Dysfunction Syndrome. Yesterday, it was Bush and Giuliani. Today, it's Trump, and McConnell, and Ron DeSantis. And we can only be safer when every last one of them is voted out."

Dwight Williams said...

Yeah.

*worries about the friends and relatives who live near that pulp mill and the forests that feed it*

TCB said...

By the way, if I say By the way or Incidentally one more time, somebody please kick me under the table.

David Brin said...

Onward

onward

Robin Cook said...

Re: Immigrant Acculturation/Assimilation

This is old data which I hope has changed. However, when I worked for the Chicago Department of Human Services from '75-81 (in the old CETA job training programs), we had people coming in to apply every day who were born, raised, & graduated high school in the U.S. & didn't speak a word of English (or at least were not fluent enough to qualify for the programs).

Frankly, I blame it on the state of the public school ESL programs at the time (& again, I hope there's been further evolution since that time). The original premise of ESL was terrific - to provide a bridge while student learned English so that they didn't fall behind in their studies. However, by the 80s, it had become 12 years of education in their original languages with little incentive to learn English.