Saturday, May 16, 2020

Your Corona/Covid/Covfefe sideways update

In a moment, much of interest - including startling slides - about the covid-crisis. But first: the Trumpist-Foxite war against all fact professions is zeroing in on a central goal, to crush or eliminate all of the 75 inspectors general in US agencies, for their inconvenient dedication to fact-centered professionalism. See the horrifying progress of this purge... any one incident of which would have enraged any Republican, if a Democratic President even hinted at it.

It seems vital to keep reminding this particular audience of what one of the truest Americans said - with (alas!) prophetic insight about one age-old trend among some of his countrymen:

"Throw in a Depression for good measure, promise a material heaven here on earth, add a dash of anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, anti-Negrosim, and a good large dose of anti-“furriners” in general and anti-intellectuals here at home, and the result might be something quite frightening – particularly when one recalls that our voting system is such that a minority distributed as pluralities in enough states can constitute a working majority in Washington."

Jiminy! Robert A. Heinlein wrote that in the early 1950s! Is there anything he did not hit right on the head? Heck, he even nailed the dominionist "Prosperity Gospel" so popular among Ted Cruz types, promising fervid followers that their "material heaven here on earth" will come by righteously seizing the property of unbelievers. 

Seriously, read his last paragraph (above) again and again to your MAGAs who might be reachable.  Then recall that Heinlein portrayed Nehemiah Scudder taking the White House against the will of a majority, in 2012. (He also spoke of America sinking into "The Crazy Years.") 

Meanwhile... winter is coming. Our latest whistleblower, former top vaccine official Rick Bright, fired by the Trump administration, recently warned Congress that the U.S. faces its "darkest winter in modern history" if it fails to develop a coordinated, effective response to the pandemic. (Late news. Bright is no longer the "latest" fired IG. Two more in just the last week,)

== Covid/covfefe update -- from our unusual angle ==

(1) There is a simple, capitalist/market solution to surging protests against “oppressive” closures of public gatherings like bars and church services. It’s called insurance. Let such groups do as they like, so long as they take out policies to remediate any subsequent outbreaks… and so long as they gather names/addresses of participants/ parishioners/ customers for contact tracing if their event endangers the public with a flareup. Note: except for random compliance audits, the state won’t get that info, only the proprietor. Also…

… if you’re so sure it’s safe, then convincing an insurance company to give reasonable rates should be a cinch, especially since many are run by Republican moguls. Hey! Don’t trust government bureaucrats? Then do it the market way! 

-- MEANWHILE…

(2) Wuhan reported no new Covid-19 cases since April 3rd*. But six new cases just emerged. So now they plan to test all 11 million people citywide in 10 days. That's what you do if you're serious about getting the virus under control and returning to modified normalcy. We (the U.S.) haven't conducted 11 million tests nationwide during this entire pandemic. 
(* With the usual caveat that you can't believe everything coming out of China)

(3) With our regular alumni reunion cancelled, Caltech posted a zoom replacement seminar day. One talk on Covid clarified some scary things. I will append below several of the slides that are frighteningly self-explanatory. Note that nearly all of the downturn in infection rates in the US is because of New York's success turning things around. Russia, India, Brazil and the U.S. are all scary. Meanwhile Florida and other states are desperately avoiding truth-telling by redefining death-attribution and reporting. It won't work. Because of those inconvenient fact-people.

(4) Two (...now five(!)...) previously “negative” sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt in Guam just tested positive, upsetting every schedule to get back in operation. The first one failed to report four days having lost his sense of smell. Indications are that one's sense of smell diminishes by the third day after infection with the novel coronavirus. 

And hence... EVERYONE, SCRATCH AND SNIFF A LEMON, DAILY!

(5) Have any of you out there noticed the surge of road repair work going on? Two months (more) ago I proposed the "Pothole Solution" to under-employment while the streets are mostly empty. I guess the idea was obvious.

(6) Hey, why aren't we seeing FOOD TRUCKS roaming neighborhoods, just like the ice cream trucks of old? With flyers they could let every home know a schedule or make orders to be dropped off. Izzit happening near you?

— AND FINALLY… An astonishing number of Sars-CoV-2 (covfefe) traits have made it more insidious than the original Sars-Cov-1 (SARS). The incredibly long and highly variable asymptomatic contagious period is the main reason for its pervasive spread and why mask discipline is vital.

But other things scare me even more and make me deeply worried and (yes) a little suspicious… like evidence of nerve and kidney damage, even when the lungs are spared. And the still unknown answer to the antibody/immunity question. (Seriously? Still? Shouldn’t the recovered be volunteering en masse for hospital duties? Or be flocking to their own bars and church services and events, so we can get an answer to that vital question? Shouldn’t Elon staff his factory with the recovered?)

All those traits - plus the notorious ability of corona viruses to cause immunity amnesia - beggar the imagination when we’re asked to believe this is just an escaped bat-pangolin virus. Just sayin’.








103 comments:

DRickard said...

We're actually getting (potential) good news about COVID immunity (with lots of caveats about early research etc): https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/05/t-cells-found-covid-19-patients-bode-well-long-term-immunity#

David Brin said...

DR. The first tentative good news I've seen. If true. Adn I'll bet it's more copmplex than that. Since all coronaviruses have a knack for inducing immunal amnesia.

Ahcuah said...

Re Food Trucks. Yes, here in my suburb of Columbus, OH the food trucks are out. However, they are not roaming the streets, but setting up in the parking lots of strip malls around mealtimes.

TheMadLibrarian said...

One thing I did notice during the closure of all National Parks, was that Yellowstone is doing massive road repair, apparently as soon as the roads could be worked on. They just resurfaced the main road to the north entrance, as seen on the webcams (the NPS has a number of live webcams throughout Yellowstone, and other parks as well; check them out!) It appears they are taking the pothole initiative seriously.

yana said...


Somewhere there is a town in America. Probably somewhere in the big red L across the forehead of the Lower 48, a town where they've had enough of libtard hoaxes, and all the schools reconvene on May 25th. Later, we'll all know the name of that little town, famous after all the old people died before June was out. Someone will make a clever documentary in 2025 called "The Town Without Grownups". With Star Trek clips too.

That will be that, and we're all going to be in the Great Pause until Vaccine Day 2021. You must already see, that whenever the schools open up, covitis will spread like shortening on a griddle. It's going to take one unfortunate town to make us all see that. So 2020 is cancelled. If a direct antibody solution comes by late Summer, we will still have the Holidays. If not, then it's Spring 2021. A student of history might naturally wonder about waiting for the second vaccine to hit market, before getting her shot.

On the morose side, what does this bode for health care insurance profits, our de facto death panels? Conflicting views, still undecided here. Lloyd's is predicting a $50 billion hit, and they don't even sell insurance to individual customers. On one hand, the cost of so much hospitalization is ruinous for insurers. On the other, the mortality profile of this virus caps (and finalizes) liability for the sector's most costly 'customers'. The cost of a 12 day ICU stay might actually be less than 25 more years of treatment for such chronic conditions as subsume to covid-19.

That +25 years is one of the triumphs of 20th century science, enriching the arts, the economy and recursively, science itself. One would hope that compassion and empathy reside atop a life-or-death industry. But when it means turmoil which can be exploited for gigantic profits, is there any x-industrial complex which has conscience?

Once a gambler, would bet that the health insurance industry will parlay instability into an October outcry of crisis, demanding an immediate bailout. They will see the political imperative of cashing in, before the election, because their whole industry could evaporate in 2021. In that happenstance, they'll demand another buyout in 2021, and it should take impossible political courage to tell them:

"We already bought you golden parachutes in October 2020. Look, we have the records, we already know, the 2020 money went to bonuses."

Neal Wiser said...

Please be more careful when you make comments like, “beggar the imagination when we’re asked to believe this is just an escaped bat-pangolin virus. Just sayin’.” True; we still don’t know exactly where this thing came from and the array of symptoms and it’s impact on patients does, “Berger the imagination.” However, there is no hard evidence and when you suggest that it’s possible, in this climate where we desperately need reliable, fact-wielding professionals (like yourself), to make such a suggestion fuels conspiracy theories. Please do better.

rwc said...

O2 saturation level drops the patient doesn’t perceive also appears to be an early symptom among the asymptomatic.

David Brin said...

yana is eloquent and passionate. But remember just 6weeks ago we were in a froth over ventilators. I was neck deep in projects to develop DIY versions you could make from Home Depot parts. Barely... just barely in some cases... that curve got flattened just enough through all sorts of innovations by ICU workers... and now Trump-Kushner brag that THEY were the ones who solved the ventilator gap.

The lesson is that we might not see the consequences of the "open-up!" movement with quite the clarity that some predict. And if not, we might see goppers and MAGAs bragging and dissing the credibility of Chicken Little scientists,In fact, for the sake of the victims, one should pray for that, though it will make our job saving civilization ironically harder.

Pachydermis2 said...


I am sure you will be reassured that I am in fact quite outraged, as were the 47 (out of 73) Inspectors General who wrote an open letter complaining that they were unable to properly do their job due to interference from a President who has "impeded" their work and whose DOJ has "..construed other statutes and law applicable to privilege in a manner that would override the express authorization contained in the IG Act."

https://oig.pbgc.gov/pdfs/LTR-2014-08.pdf

Of course the date of this document is 2014.

There's more than one way to have a "scandal free" administration.

T.Wolter

Larry Hart said...

rwc:

O2 saturation level drops the patient doesn’t perceive also appears to be an early symptom among the asymptomatic.


I read about that in the NY Times and actually ordered a home oxymeter (or whatever it's actually called) in order to check that, which I now do daily along with a temperature check. Couldn't hurt to have some sort of early warning.

TCB said...

The current New Yorker (which is on fire these days, I recommend it highly) has a good article on several efforts to design and build new, cheaper ventilators. Turns out it's MUCH harder than rigging up a shop vac or whatever. It's very easy to damage the lungs with too much pressure; not enough pressure and the alveoli don't inflate, especially if there's fluid in the lungs 'gluing' them shut; more damage means less healthy alveoli left to carry the load, more damage, less healthy lung tissue, more damage... and so a downward spiral is a real danger. This is why half the covid patients on ventilators don't make it.

From the article: Since February, engineers in industry and academia have been working on designs for cheap, easy-to-build ventilators. Ford has christened its effort Project Apollo. And yet comparisons to the moon landings may understate the complexity of the problem. covid-19 is a mysterious illness, and ventilators admit to many styles of operation. In the best case, the machines keep patients with failing lungs alive, buying time for the body to heal. In the worst case, they can aggravate lung damage. In the course of the pandemic, critical-care specialists have disagreed about how the devices should be operated and at what point in a patient’s decline they should be used; mortality rates for covid-19 patients on ventilators have ranged widely. Manufacturing a ventilator is difficult, especially during a pandemic, when supply lines are unreliable. Different designs negotiate different bargains between cost and functionality. Reaching the moon is challenging enough. It’s harder when no one is sure where the moon is.

David Brin said...

Well Tim, you got me. For a minute I thought there might have actually been a red-line for you... certainly Romney and Grassley called the latest Trumpian purge a usurpation too far. Then you pulled the "Of course the date of this document is 2014."

Ooooh! you got me! Oh no! Some IGs complained about executive abuses under Obama too! Like pictures of Ike, Reagan and Bush Sr wearing Tan Suits and no lapel pins and having marines hold umbrellas, proving those horrific Obama crimes were Foxite made-up 'scandals.' Well this is turnabout. Oh no! Our complaints about the IG purges are all canceled!

Until... you actually actually READ the 2014 document, and your jaw drops at what we considered - in those naive days - to be "executive interference." DID you read the document? It cited THREE cases in which the Obama Administration delayed sending over some documents because of disputes over the borderlines of attorney-client privilege. In no case was there a hint of an abuse of power scandal being covered, just disagreements over priority in procedures. Not one of these cases, when later uncovered for IG inspection, resulted in scandal.

Did your rightist sources mention any of that? How about Obama's subsequent viciously punitive -- though utterly nonexistent -- firings and bullyings of the IGs who signed that letter? Did your putinist sites show ANY of the horridly autocratic and unconstitutional -- and nonexistent -- purges that Obama ran, to crush civil service independence?

Did those sources mention that a top (openly touted) goal of the GOP is to end the 140 year old Civil Service Act and bring all inspectors to heel? Huh, I din't think so. You are still wriggling and writhing and this has long since passed any point where a patriot would do that.


Pachydermis2 said...

David

I did read it. You'll note that I linked to the official document rather than to the commentary. Primary sources are always best.

I posted this only to point out that there can be friction between watch dogs and the watched at any and all times.

I thought you would find it interesting and yes, I did play out the denouement a bit.

Amusement would have been a better response than impugning my patriotism in the last line, but hey, your blog, your tone.

T. Wolter

scidata said...

Neither side in this war will win over converts using mathiness or obscurantism. The reason is simple: neither side is listening to the other. And until conversion is at least possible, the war will never end (BNW not 1984). Again, not to be Pollyannish, but either all of us get to the stars, or none of us do. Hence, citizen science. Salt and fresh water don't mix? Don't take it on authority - test it.

Dr. Brin: I was raised a strict Presbyterian, so wagers are not a workable tool for me :)

David Brin said...

"I posted this only to point out that there can be friction between watch dogs and the watched at any and all times."

Tim... um... did you ever hear of The Transparent Society? That friction dynamic has been the central focus of my professional life. Transparency and accountability are what will save us... and while they are human and may squirm now and then, Democrats favor light in general and Republicans cockroach flee from it and extinguish it, whenever possible. And I will wager my house on that bold statement, which I can prove.

And no, sir, that meme-and-doc are NOT being spread to show a generality of 'friction.' They are being spread in order to give an excuse to shrug off an utterly unprecedented and dictator-coup level attack upon the very concept of rule-of-law.

"Amusement would have been a better response than impugning my patriotism in the last line..."

I WAS amused by your clever switcheroo, and said so! As for patriotism... when Nixon tried to fire inspector Archibald Cox, dozens of high republicans had the honor and fortitude to resign, before the would-be autocrat got to his toady, Bork, to do the deed. And within weeks Howard Baker and others in the Congressional GOP had enough and Goldwater went to the White House to say 'no more."

There are no such Republicans, anymore. And no red lines. These are times that try men's souls, and we are finding out what our neighbors are made of.

David Brin said...

TCB you are talking about PEP back pressure and it was remarkably easy to arrange DIY. Yes, the result was more of a CPAP - an assistance device for borderline cases who are still conscious and able to command breathe independently, with assistance. But more complex versions have won prizes already and the plans are now out there, in case we get a truly giga crisis someday.

Smurphs said...

Dear Tim (42 equals 1) Wolter,

You're doing your false equivalence thing again. Maybe you think you were being amusing.Ha Ha.

I see it as another symptom of denial.

David Brin said...

scidata, at least you knew what my answer would be. Wagers are the only way to get them to admit facts are pertinent...

....and it ALWAYS works - to the extent of causing them to abruptly lose all smug assurance in their assertions and desperately try to change the subject of divert.

And it ALWAYS fails to get actual money stakes escrowed with judges named and bets adjudicated. Because they run away.

So is it Presbyterian to offer wagers you know will be fled? If the loser has to pay to a chosen charity? (In your case a Presbyterian one?)

The purpose of the wager demand, then, is to show which side has confidence in the primacy of facts. You don't win their cash. (Unless in fleeing they drop a wallet.) But you do own the territory of the playground.

matthew said...

Portland area food trucks are mostly still serving.

They don't roam though, due to our urban design of food truck "pods" where anywhere from a couple to twenty or more food trucks congregate in open air markets with lots of distancing space. My neighborhood has one, and a couple of singleton trucks in parking lots.

The deregulation of food trucks has made Portland's restaurant scene one of the best in the world. A great capitalist success story. Deregulate, re-zone, and lower entry barriers for small time competitors to sell their creations. My booster-ism would sound like the GOP, but then the GOP *never* reduce barriers for the poor to fairly join the market as owners. Seriously, try to find a counter-example?

The list of famous restaurants with their origins in PDX food carts is long and illustrious. Pok Pok, Voodoo Doughnuts, Beast, Blue Star, Kenny & Zukes, Salt & Straw - the list goes on (and colonizes around the world).

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

There are no such Republicans, anymore. And no red lines. These are times that try men's souls, and we are finding out what our neighbors are made of.


Democrats want to defend democracy and Republicans want to defend White Privilege. I'm reluctantly coming to believe that that's the reason Republicans will violate any of their own stated principles in order to maintain power at all costs. Because a government run by Democratic majorities would cause them to be equal in the eyes of the law and society to everybody else--a fate which they consider worth killing and dying to prevent.

Slim Moldie said...

Neal, I agree that we don't want to promote destructive and racist conspiracy theories. However, I also don't have to ride along with the narrative, when the facts given are so incomplete. When I search "origin of Covid 19" ... "Early on, many of the patients at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread."

And when I look up "beggars the imagination"
1. you lack enough imagination to even conceive of whatever preposterous thing you have been confronted with."
2. you cannot imagine a way that it could possibly be so
3. to be unbelievable or not deserving to be believed


I am no good at making my points directly. So today I offer a little parable for Sunday school.

You and 5 friends have just attended a Chili Bake bachelor party. You've all sampled at least 50 different chili recipes. Now you're returning to your motel in the back of a self-driving limousine. You reside in an open carry state so you're all holstering loaded guns, even Sam, who takes his cat everywhere on a leash.

Everyone is having a good laugh about the smoked oysters/Limburger recipe that got honorable mention, when suddenly you smell the most sublimely and simultaneously rancid, rotten, putrid fart ever to whisper through God's domain. You all smell it. But, nobody owns it. There it is again! You all start blaming each other. You open the widows and it dissipates. But then no, just no! You smell it again. Is it coming from the car? You close the ventilation vents. Open the widows. It goes away. It's not from outside.

Then you all smell it again--the most preposterous smelling fart you can possibly imagine. So foul you are smelling colors and textures. It is definitely coming from one of you, or Sam's cat, Mr Smithers?

Even with the windows down, you all are getting nauseous in the cloud of doom floating around you. On the floor the cat steps away from Sam, who is in fetal position trying to shove his third knuckles into his nose. Then, arching its back and with a casual wave of its tail, the cat announces, "Sam farted."

You all draw your guns and point them at Sam. "Okay, I've been farting!" he cries. "But what we're smelling. It's not me! I swear. I think it's Mr. Smithers."

"Let me smell that cat's ass, then!" says Rick. "I don't care if he talks!"
"I'm actually, female..." says the cat with an indignant swish of its tail. "And it is not me. I only get flatulence after eating raw broccoli."
Rick makes a lunge for the cat. "If it not you--then let me smell your stinky little butt hole!" he cries.
"No way!" Sam cocks his gun. "I admit the cat did it! But if any of you try to smell his--I mean her ass, there will be hell to pay."
"Sam, you are a racist, sexist, zoophobic asshole!" Chuck manages to choke through sobs. He raises his gun to his own head and clicks the safety. "Whoever is making these farts. You need to own it right now, I will shoot myself right now!"
"Um guys?" Barney speaks for the first time. "There's somebody I've read somewhere. I think he's on the internet. He writes about dangerous scenarios that can be mitigated with transparency. You know, so people don't resort to filling in the gaps between givens with fictitious scenarios. Damn I can't think of the dude's name."

The end.









Acacia H. said...

David, I am going to ask you for a favor. It's a huge favor.

Dial it back a little.

Also, think back to your subplot where you pointed out that "outrage" and the feelings like it can be addictive. You're starting to act along that line. Now, the written word can have difficulties in depicting emotion, sarcasm, and the like but... what you've written to Tim does not sound very much like the David Brin from a decade ago, the David Brin who welcomed contrary viewpoints and opinions. Maybe I'm looking at past memories with rose-coloured glasses, I'm not sure.

But... please try something. Take a minute away from your post and distract yourself with something, be it drinking a glass of water or playing with the cat or whatever. But let your emotions get distracted and then return to it and look at what you posted... and then decide if you want that tone to be what you're posting.

------------

On the post-COVID front, my friend who has COVID-toe had an... interesting thing happen. The black section of his toe was itching something fierce so he soaked his feet in warm water with epson salts. I noticed the toe looked like it was scabbing around the black area which suggested to me it was a huge scab.

Today it fell out. And my friend said he was able to see the damage done by the covid-toe section, with a chunk of flesh now missing in his middle toe going almost back to the bone of his toe. Fortunately the rest of the flesh is healthy and should grow back in... but yeah. This virus is truly scary and I'm personally feeling fortunate that all I have is diminished lung function... especially as I can just start going for long walks along the hills to encourage blood flow and lung tissue regeneration. I'll recover from this. It just may take some time.

Acacia

Pachydermis2 said...

David

If I did provide you amusement and could not tell from your response, then my apologies if I was less gracious in reply. Internet nuance is difficult.

I'm glad you qualify the phrase " Democrats favor light in general and Republicans cockroach* flee from it and extinguish it.." with the word generally. It is my perception that the Light Favoring Party was not very happy with the recent declassification of materials relating to the Flynn case. I'm not ready to toss that out for discussion just yet....it is very curious stuff. And not everything being written about it is going to be true.

No doubt advocates of the good cause of Transparency will favor additional declassifications.

Regards the case in particular it should be reviewed. IG's must be impartial, neither overlooking misdeeds nor performing the equivalent of prosecutorial misconduct.

Be well.

T.Wolter

*btw any characterization of people as cockroaches, vermin etc sets off faint warning bells for me. I've just read too much unfortunate history. But it would be more in character for you to use the term in the "running away from light" context so I'll interpret it as such.

scidata said...

A cheap telescope, microscope, calculator (or even a slide-rule!), and more recently, a finger oximeter. This is the toolkit I've used to start up science conversations with relatives and acquaintances (even including a few confederates). Curiosity is innate.

The real payoff is when others teach me something new (which isn't hard).

David Brin said...

matthew I am well familiar with Portland’s fantastic food truck scene!

LH, in fact I think racism is less of a driver for any of the three main levels of Republicans: The oligarch master, the “Democrats are worse” somewhat educated RASRs-in-denial, and the confederate masses. Only a sub-section of the confeds are top-driven by race and hence, when liberals make the accusation, it actually lets the majority just shrug off liberals as shrill.

But corner them with the War on Professionals and ‘smartypants’ and they grow nervous, knowing it’s true across the board.

Slim… wow, what a… stinky… allegory!

David Brin said...

Acacia, seriously, I can accept your chiding at face value. I am able to consider its possible value. Then I looked over my recent postings here… and sorry, I simply and in calm abstract disagree with your scaling of my behavior.

Given that I believe that everything I value… my children, my nation, species, planet and our destiny rescuing other species out there… all depend upon restoring a broadly eclectic and transparent politics of mature negotiation to our republic… in light of that belief, you ask that I be tepid? Seriously?

There is a population in the United States… perhaps 1% of Republicans… who could make all the difference. I should not passionately confront their state of denial?

My pulse is slow and I have taken the “minute” you asked for. And I calmly - with all of human history in mind - have chosen to confront those whose state of denial is a direct and likely lethal threat to all I love.

David Brin said...

Tim: “It is my perception that the Light Favoring Party was not very happy with the recent declassification of materials relating to the Flynn case.”

Sure, I believe that was your perception, Tim, though stunningly and spectacularly incorrect. Most dems couldn’t care less about that! Why? Because there’s absolutely nothing there. The ‘not very happy’ that you see consists of us relentlessly demanding that the cult “show us a crime!” Show us how the “unmasking” - which happens routinely and the Trumps have done relentlessly - was anything other that a normal reaction of the top levels of government to getting informed about possible conspiratorial treason by soon to be high officials about to get the very highest security clearance.

When has an incoming administration ever named as campaign chairman and then top advisor a lobbyist for a hostile foreign power who helped a dictator fix elections and jail democracy activists? And the outgoing White House is supposed to shrug all that off?

Again and again, Show… Us… The… Crime. If absolutely every single thing that Hannity screams about were absolutely true, the only complaint boils down to “those who were investigating possible crimes expressed an eagerness to find existing evidence of those crimes.”

Dig it, man. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH INVESTIGATORS WANTING TO FIND EVIDENCE FOR THE THINGS THEY SUSPECT. It is an adversarial process and investigator eagerness is absolutely necessary, so long as they obey rules and don’t cheat. And personal /verbal expressions of wanting to 'catch the perp' are NOT cheating. Even grand juries may express biased eagerness, though not like lynch mobs. It only becomes an illegal search when that eagerness extends to rights violation or fabrication of evidence.
IMPARTIALITY IS FOR THE COURTS.

BTW… Peter Strzok was a cheating husband who was incautious with emails. But there was nothing wrong with him wanting to find out if the smell around Trump led to the Kremlin. Moreover, he was the top counter-intelligence man and eliminating him was a huge victory for the FSB/KGB.

What hypocrisy. Republican “law and order” stances railed for decades against “tainted fruit” evidence rules when they protected poor or middle class suspects. But now any wish by FBI agents to probe into the miasma stench of treason at the top is violation of rights by a deep state.

David Brin said...

https://www.salon.com/2020/05/16/obamagate-and-lock-her-up-pointing-the-way-toward-heil-trump/

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

LH, in fact I think racism is less of a driver for any of the three main levels of Republicans:


When I say they're motivated by White Privilege, I don't mean that they are necessarily racist. That is, they don't have to think they're a superior race or hate people of other races. But they seem to think that their own race confers upon them a superior status. And they seem to fear that if a different race ascends to the top, then they themselves will be treated as they've treated others all these centuries.

To a subset of them, I suspect that even true equality is an uncomfortable prospect. They need to be on top, which means that someone else has to not be on top. But I get the sense that what the White Grievance crowd most fears is that without eternal vigilant defense of their social position, they might become a minority who gets treated the same way they now treat blacks or Muslims, or the way Jews were generally treated before Hitler made anti-Semitism unpopular.

They will betray any principle to keep that from coming to pass.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Again and again, Show… Us… The… Crime. If absolutely every single thing that Hannity screams about were absolutely true, the only complaint boils down to “those who were investigating possible crimes expressed an eagerness to find existing evidence of those crimes.”


Damn straight! For decades, I've heard Republicans insist that abuse of police powers against suspects is justified in order to protect society from perps who are obviously guilty of something, even if the "something" isn't specifically the crime they are accused of at the moment. And now, they worship at the altar of a so-called president who is obviously guilty of many somethings, even if those "somethings" aren't contained in articles of impeachment.

#ThereAreNoGoodRepublicans

Larry Hart said...

From the salon article linked above:

He [Trump] continued: "If I were a Democrat instead of a Republican, I think everybody would have been in jail a long time ago … it is a disgrace what's happened. This is the greatest political scam, hoax in the history of our country."


I think he means "If I were a Democrat, I'd have locked up my political enemies long ago. The only reason those criminals have escaped the righteous hand of justice is that the government is in the bag for Democrats." Which is absurd, but makes sense in Trumpworld.

Taken at face value, though, Trump's words happen to be true. If he were a Democrat instead of a Republican, everybody in his own corrupt administration would have been in jail a long time ago. "What's happened" in the past three years is indeed a disgrace, and quite possibly the greatest political scam/hoax in the history of our country.

Kal Kallevig said...

Tim Wolter

You appear to be looking into the Mike Flynn case: "It is my perception that the Light Favoring Party was not very happy with the recent declassification of materials relating to the Flynn case."

If so, you must be aware there is a lot of BS out there about that. If you want detailed analysis of current legal matters one of the sources you should be looking at is: An example EmptyWheel post about Bill Barr

Others post there as well. I recommend the site if you want in depth analysis.

Kal

Jon S. said...

I find Tim Wolter's post particularly disingenuous in the light of the Friday night story:

https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/15/politics/state-department-inspector-general-fired/index.html

In short, Trump fired Linick, Inspector General for the State Department, after Linick opened an inquiry into certain suspect behaviors of Secretary Mike Pompeo.

Find me the "Obama did it too!" story about that shit, Tim. And this is just the latest firing, and the most blatant example of firing in order to protect his cronies.

Luke said...

Good evening sir,
I just wanted to make sure you were aware of this book: https://www.amazon.com/Open-Borders-Science-Ethics-Immigration/dp/1250316960
Open Borders - The Science and Ethics of Immigration
It seems very relevant to the topics covered across this blog. Libertarian Economist (of the competition>property sort, it seems) Bryan Caplan and comedy web-cartoonist Zach Weinersmith lay out an evidence-backed case for how (despite what some might claim) nobody in government is actually advocating for open borders when it comes to immigration, but we should be because we're missing a huge opportunity to not only do the right thing, but to prosper by doing so!

David Brin said...

This is classic... and no, I don't think he was as great as his top boosters proclaim. He utterly failed to realize that politics was dead, and could only be revived by utterly defeating thye hijackers of once-proud US conservatism. Still, a good and intelligent man who administered extremely well and who ran the only absolutely scandal free 8-year administration in US or human history. Carter came close but had one peripheral 'scandal' in 4 fraught years... and Clinton dammit could not keep it zipped.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkPSbp3zTfo

And yes, he "lives inside Trump's head."
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/17/opinion/trump-obama.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage&section=Opinion

Seriously, the wager demand is out. Here's another.

Let's take the ten WORST days of the Obama Presidency and compare presidential BEHAVIOR and OUTCOMES to the five BEST days of Trump's.

SOund fair?

duncan cairncross said...

Chris Ladd
The Republican who has renounced the GOP and is now posting as a "Political Orphan" (dunno what he has against the Democrats - they kicked his dog or something)

Has posted a rather neat article comparing the Administration's actions to the Obama white houses guidance booklet

https://www.politicalorphans.com/how-a-competent-administration-might-have-contained-c19/

Link to the guidance booklet
https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/6819703/WH-Pandemic-Playbook.pdf

A German Nurse said...

@Inspectors General: Isn't this whole process of appointing and firing government watchdogs a constitutional flaw? Should't they be responsible to any other branch of the government, but not the one they are assumed to control, e.g. Congress? Just wondering.

Smurphs said...

The thing I like best (sarcasm) about the current Micheal Flynn fiasco is not the fact that it is about investigators doing their job and finding evidence. Horrors!

It is that poor Mike Flynn must have been forced into a confession, he must be innocent. Is there any other possible explanation for his guilty plea?

I mean, we all know Obama's henchmen must have locked him in a cell for days and forced a confession without any legal representation. It's not like he had the best lawyers money could buy and spent months negotiating his plea deal, like all of those people convicted from the Democrat reign of terror.

I am so glad the Attorney General of the United States is looking out for the victims of Obama's tyranny.

scidata said...

The Grifter-in-Chief's Project Warp Speed
https://www.nj.com/opinion/2020/05/a-coronavirus-vaccine-at-warp-speed-but-is-it-safe.html

Has anyone at the WH ever watched "I am Legend"?

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

From the very article you just linked to ("Obama Lives Inside Trump's Head"), this is exactly what I was talking about concerning White Privilege. It doesn't require outright racism--just a perceived threat to one's own fortunate position:


...
These voters chose the opposite of Obama, they chose the moral and intellectual antithesis, someone who could arrest the advance that Obama represented: an ascension of multicultural power and a coming erasure of white advantage and the dominance of white culture, all of which establishment forces had either allowed or encouraged.

Trump was elected to restore the cultural narrative of the primacy of whiteness.
...

Kathy said...

Don't leave out the fact that apparently COVID-19 can be transmitted to cats, dogs and tigers... who knows what other livestock! Pigs? Chickens?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eD3ztjqYGbg

David Brin said...

“The Republican who has renounced the GOP and is now posting as a "Political Orphan" (dunno what he has against the Democrats - they kicked his dog or something)”

I can understand it. He wants to retain cred with RASRs so he can be more effective drawing them out of the madness.

“Has anyone at the WH ever watched "I am Legend”?” More apt comparison is the latest (and excellent) Planet of the Apes spinoff.

Pappenheimer said...

I am hoping that we can get to the "Coventry" part of Heinlein's timeline without enduring the religious dictatorship, revolution and civil war bits.

I'd propose Idaho. but 1. there's not enough agricultural land for the population we might have to move there and 2. It is way too close to my home.

Pappenheimer

scidata said...

Isaac Arthur on "Conscious Stellar Objects"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_3CMve_gHI

Makes my recent computational stars thoughts almost mundane.

Jon S. said...

The thing about Flynn is, either he lied to the FBI during the course of an investigation, which is a felony, or when he confessed to that in court he committed perjury, which is a felony. Either way he's a lying felon.

David Brin said...

Pappenheimer said...I am hoping that we can get to the "Coventry" part of Heinlein's timeline without

Well it's complicated. What Heinlein posited was that in addition to the Constitution there's a "Covenant" that everyone signs, surrendering some 'natural liberties" in order to live day to day in a generally democratic society. We all "sign" this IMPLICITLY by obeying the laws and voluntary tax compliance. RAH pondered making that acceptance an explicit contract signed at 18. And if you refuse? Well there's a place you can go. While I like that thought experiment and the thought-provoking questions... I hated the actual scenario. In milder form... including allowing the basics like civil right laws and a vigorous EPA... I'd be willing to see Idaho try out being libertarian "paradise." Houston has no zoning laws... auto repair shops next to suburban houses. Last year that all went to hell.

Deuxglass said...

About Covid-19. There are serious indications that the virus or more appropriately, a variant of it has been circulating around the world since at least May of last year. It was not picked up because it was mixed into the Flu statistics of that time and didn’t stand out. Later on there was a mutation which increased its lethality and we are now living with the consequences. If we compare it with previous pandemics you come up with interesting parallels. In 1919 the first wave was mild. It was called the “Three Day Flu” and no one worried about it. Later on it mutated into a much more virulent form and started the second wave. A third wave came about after that but it was much less lethal than the second one. Since this time around if covid-19 had already been in circulation last year it could mean that this time around we are on the tail end of the second wave and not the first wave. It also implies that the third wave will come in much weaker that feared. The fact that even if it is highly infectious there seems to be also a level higher than expected of people who are immune for a variety of reasons which we do not know yet which explains at least partially why the number of actual deaths is well below the projected deaths. Another mystery is that it seems there is a disconnection between the methods used to contain the virus and the results of those containments. To finish up, we could be at the end of the second wave and that the next wave will be weak. We soon could be home free.

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

The thing about Flynn is, either he lied to the FBI during the course of an investigation, which is a felony, or when he confessed to that in court he committed perjury, which is a felony. Either way he's a lying felon.


I'm not sure pleading guilty when you didn't do something technically counts as perjury.

Still, neither does a guilty plea typically result in all charges being dropped. I've also never heard of charges being dropped after a defendant has been convicted.

None of which invalidates your last sentence. :)

David Brin said...

"...either he lied to the FBI during the course of an investigation, which is a felony, or when he confessed to that in court he committed perjury, which is a felony. Either way he's a lying felon."

Well, if the confession was done under illegal duress, he might have a case. But he did it while living at home, as part of a normal judge supervised plea bargain in which the judge asked repeatedly about duress and state of mind. And this is a macho-uber-alles macho man who declared the utter legitimacy of torture, then squeals because some of the agents sniffing at his agent-of-foreign-powers betrayals and lies said they WANTED to find evidence against him. That's it.

What a balless weenie.

Larry Hart said...

Deuxglass:

To finish up, we could be at the end of the second wave and that the next wave will be weak. We soon could be home free.


That would be a wonderful outcome, except that Trump would take credit for it, and if he gets reelected on the basis of his "great" handling of the pandemic, the cure might literally be worse than the disease.

scidata said...

Re: end of the second wave

Perhaps. Or maybe it's the first wave, and the second wave will be far worse. And the third wave worse than that. And a fourth wave providing the solution to the Fermi Paradox. It's a novel virus, whether 5 or 12 months old. The Great Leader says, "We'll see what happens". Indeed we will.

David Brin said...

Intersteallar viruses... hm... where've I seen that before? Where in all of EXISTENCE?

A German Nurse said...

Interstellar Viruses: I also recommend "Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow", from Peter Hoeg.

Alfred Differ said...

The argument that Flynn is making is that his previous counsel was inept. Basically, he wasn't properly represented. Had he been, there would have been no plea agreement.

It probably won't work, but it's all he's got at this point.
I don't see it as a lack of balls, though.
Rather it is too much gall.

Ah well. Defense attorneys aren't supposed to be likable to the people who feel their client is guilty. Their duty is to their client.

Ugh... but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Alfred Differ said...

A German Nurse,

I'm sure I can find the debate in the Federalist/Anti-federalist essays from way back, but I think I can wing it.

Our branches of government are supposed to be co-equals with some limited authority to look upon what the others are doing. They are not supposed to hold any real authority over each other, though, when it comes to valid powers granted to one by the Constitution.

An IG is unelected. They get into the executive post on appointment and Senate consent. Traditionally, we've been very picky about that consent thing. It is NOT Senate authorization. It is supposed to be the Senate checking to see if there are any issues serious enough to tempt them into breaking customs leaving the branches as co-equals. It usually takes a huge deal before they decline to consent.

More importantly, the House has no role to play, thus it isn't really Congress overseeing the Executive. It is the States doing so because they were the entities being represented in the Senate. Important difference that we muddied when we forced Senators to be chosen by popular election much later.


The way out of this trap has been suggested by our host. An IG overseeing DoS should not report to DoS. They can still be in the Executive branch and not break our co-equal branches expectation, but they need some distance. [Wouldn't have worked in this case. I suspect the Cheeto was itching for a cause to fire the person.]

Tony Fisk said...

Interstellar viruses as a communication medium.
They came bearing a message of peace, and eradicated much of humanity...
Heard that before, too. (and there is a story about that, but I can't remember the name of it)

Deuxglass said...

Larry Hart,

Well what we could do is encourage risky behavior in order to provoke more deaths with the aim being to cause Trump to lose the next election but that seems to me to be somewhat immoral. It just might be better to beat him on ideas.

This crisis shows the genius of a federal system of government. It allows, nay facilitates the transfer of blame and the accumulation of merit between the different levels of government. The federal level can blame problems on the states and the state governors can blame the federal government for the same problems and all parties are right. There is well enough blame and merit to go around. It cultivates a certain ambiguity as to who should be sanctioned and who should be rewarded which is absent from a unitary state such as France where the government is the source of all responses to the epidemic. If it goes badly, and it is, there is no one to pass the blame to.

Tim H. said...

An interesting bit of news yesterday:
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52717161
"Drumph!" is self-medicating with hydroxychloroquine, one of whose approved uses is suppressing an over enthusiastic immune system for folks with auto-immune disorders, so it might have a legitimate use for COVID patients whose immune systems were creating more damage than the virus. To this non-medical person, it sounds worse than useless as a prophylactic, so, borrowing from Niven & Pournelle, I must think of it as "Evolution in action".

Deuxglass said...

I noticed how nicely General Flynn was able to go from captive to captor. It took some time but he turned the tables. That took smarts, persistence and big balls.

john fremont said...

@Pappenheimer
@David Brin

Heinlen's scenario or thought experiment you're discussing sounds very similar to what the Free State Project in New Hampshire has been working towards over the last 15 or so years.

Once we've taken over the state government, we can slash state and local budgets, which make up a sizeable proportion of the tax and regulatory burden we face every day. Furthermore, we can eliminate substantial federal interference by refusing to take highway funds and the strings attached to them. Once we've accomplished these things, we can bargain with the national government over reducing the role of the national government in our state. We can use the threat of secession as leverage to do this.

The Founder Dr. Jason Sorens has long since moderated his views on secession since he penned that announcement in 2001.

https://ncc-1776.org/tle2001/libe131-20010723-03.html

This was the most recent article I found on the Free State Project.

The successes – and failures – of the Free State Project
If less than 20,000 members have moved to NH by the year 2022, the Free State Project will reassess its current operations.
Wednesday, December 4, 2019

https://manchesterinklink.com/the-successess-and-failures-of-the-free-state-project/

Have either of you heard of this group? The only famous libertarian I know of that had joined the group was
Kenneth Royce AKA Boston T Party, author of Boston's Gun Bible . He later broke off and formed Free State Wyoming.

Lorraine said...

A fixture of the Detroit of my childhood was the produce truck, a produce market on wheels, or maybe a motorized version of the fruit cart that figures in all those multigenerational Italian-American success stories you hear. It was the place to buy fruits and vegetables. The meaning in present day American English of "food truck" seems to be some kind of hipster phenomenon. Certainly in immediate pre-COVID Detroit the Wayne State campus was practically a 24/7 food truck rally. I actually still haven't sampled the new food truck cuisine as I'm on a strict zero-discretionary budget. As recently as 20 years ago "food truck" meant something else entirely, it worked the blue collar lunchtime market, mostly industrial parks in the suburbs, and the vehicles were known colloquially as "roach coaches." The level of cuisine (and pricing) was comparable to a vending machine stocked with sandwiches (primarily of the cheezy-melty variety) situated next to a microwave oven, typical setting for one might be a hospital visitor waiting area; also break rooms in the larger workplaces.

Andy said...

Perhaps it is confirmation bias, but it definitely seems like there is quite a bit more roadwork being done here in Indianapolis.

Slim Moldie said,
"And when I look up "beggars the imagination"
1. you lack enough imagination to even conceive of whatever preposterous thing you have been confronted with."
2. you cannot imagine a way that it could possibly be so
3. to be unbelievable or not deserving to be believed"

I agree that this phrase as used wasn't quite the right one... perhaps "strains credulity" would have been better.

Tim H. said...

Lorraine, my coworkers & I used to refer to those trucks as the "Roach coach", even though the food was reasonably safe.

Darrell E said...

I'm skeptical that Trump is actually taking hydroxychloroquine. Sure, he may be telling the truth. But, Trump family trusts all have investments in a mutual fund whose largest holding is Sanofi, the manufacturer of Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine.

From the get go his plugs for hydroxychloroquine look exactly like the typical Trump behavior that has been a trade mark of his for decades, taking every opportunity to hawk a scam currently in play. Trump is, at base, a carny and not a particularly sophisticated one at that.

A German Nurse said...

@Alfred Differ: Thank you. Still, I am somewhat puzzled about the design of the system as it (in my eyes) makes the role of the IGs somehat difficult if not all participants in the system have the same set of values. As I see it, any law should incorporate the possibility of misuse to minimize the risk of Gleichschaltung.

@interstellar viruses: What if a plague was indeed an intervention of an extraterrestrial species? It wouldn't have to be malign in purpose (if the aliens even had roughly the same range of virtues than we have). One reason could be to educate and guide us towards more enlightened forms of society; or at least protect us from extinction through other means (such as, say, a charismatic, fascist dictator with access to nuclear arms).

Larry Hart said...

Deuxglass:

Larry Hart,

Well what we could do is encourage risky behavior in order to provoke more deaths with the aim being to cause Trump to lose the next election but that seems to me to be somewhat immoral.


I wasn't suggesting that as a course of action. Just worrying about the seemingly-inevitable consequence of the disease not being as deadly as feared. It's my curse to see what can go wrong in any situation.

And in fact, I don't think that Trump will lose the election on the basis of more people dying. Somehow, his followers will be convinced that someone else is to blame, and that Trump is the only one who can fix it.


It just might be better to beat him on ideas.


Well, my cat could beat him on ideas. What we have to do is overwhelm their electoral cheating and win despite it.

Larry Hart said...

A German Nurse:

What if a plague was indeed an intervention of an extraterrestrial species? It wouldn't have to be malign in purpose (if the aliens even had roughly the same range of virtues than we have). One reason could be to educate and guide us towards more enlightened forms of society; or at least protect us from extinction through other means (such as, say, a charismatic, fascist dictator with access to nuclear arms).


Scott Snyder's version of Batman comics a few years ago portrayed The Riddler as considering himself to be strengthening the good citizens of Gotham City by making them more resilient. Likewise, Snyder's Joker felt himself to be Batman's best friend, forcing the caped crusader to be hard enough to handle his mission, and disdaining those hangers-on who make Batman weak, such as Robin and Batgirl.

Alfred Differ said...

A German Nurse,

Our approach isn't really a solution to the problem. I suspect the problem has no solution... that doesn't cause other worse problems. That was the common thread in the Framer's debates. What can we manage to do that is reasonably good enough and allows for future generations to learn and adapt.

I'm pretty sure IG's aren't mentioned by name in any of our earlier documents. Maybe the role went by a different name? Not sure. What I am sure about is the Framers of our Constitution had no intention of telling us exactly how to do everything. They knew they couldn't. A big part of why the States were treated as sovereign entities is so they could try all the various experiments in how to do things. MOST of our laws that affect us personally are written at the level of the States and that's still true today. It's about a 90/10 split from what I've heard.

With the next Congress, I hope they take up the issue of IG independence again. They have to walk a fine line so the Court doesn't throw out 'oversight by unelected officials' and 'power usurpations', but I'm sure we can improve on what we have. As always, though, the problem to be solved must be considered in context. Every solution causes other problems.

Gleichschaltung

Yah. I knew I had encountered that word in recent years in my reading. I like the way German compounds nouns and adjectives, but I rarely see the terms unless I'm reading authors who speak German as their first language. Or some variant. So... I hit the shelf with Popper and Hayek on it. I can trust them to have tried to bring German terms across into English for exactly these situations.

Thank you for expanding our vocabulary. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

Darrell E,

I'm skeptical that Trump is actually taking hydroxychloroquine.

Worth considering your point about him hawking a scam. It's not like he's never done that.

The counter-argument is mutual funds tend to own a lot of things. Index funds own a bit of everything, right? We should consider whether the fund specializes enough to making the scam worth hawking at all.

My suspicion is that the carny doesn't know how not to be a carny.
He doesn't have to benefit financially if he can benefit politically.
Same skillset. Just re-use it.

matthew said...

Flynn is a member of a transnational crime syndicate, as is Barr. It does not take "smarts, persistence, and big balls" to be a mobbed-up crook. It takes a criminal aptitude, no morals, and betraying his oath to the US Constitution. In Flynn's case, he also added treason and attempted kidnapping.

I look forward to both Flynn and Barr rotting in jail until they die for their crimes. I will work hard to make it happen.

Deuxglass said...

Darrell,

Sanofi is one of the most widely-held pharmaceutical stocks in the world. Hydroxychloroquine generic retails at only 37 Dollars for 100 tablets so to make blip in their sales would take many billion of tablet sales. A better play would be to buy stock in a much smaller company and then hawk it. Two examples would be Gilead which makes Remdesivir and Moderna which makes the new vaccine. Take a look at their stock prices and then see who hawked them. Of course many people bought across the board all medical stocks when the SARS-CoV-2 virus hit. It was a no-brainer.

David Brin said...


I share the suspicion Trump is lying about taking the stuff. Though I doubt for commercial profit. A carnival barker barks. That's all.

“With the next Congress, I hope they take up the issue of IG independence again”

Alfred, my IGUS proposal - one of the 31 in Polemical Judo - would make all inspectors general officers in a uniformed corps like the Public Health Service and Coast Guard, accountable to strict standards and independence… and possibly any appointee would have to spend 6 months in ‘boot camp’ before taking position.

“I like the way German compounds nouns and adjectives”
As in “The Crystal Spheres!”

Anonymous said...

Robert here,

Alfred wrote: "MOST of our laws that affect us personally are written at the level of the States and that's still true today."

Most are passed at the state level, but I thought that institutions like ALEC wrote a lot of legislation and helped coordinate campaigns to get it passed.

David Brin said...

The governors' conferences have been what little domestic government remains in the U.S. And partisan squabbles kept those coordinations limited to regions.

Larry Hart said...

matthew:

I look forward to both Flynn and Barr rotting in jail until they die for their crimes. I will work hard to make it happen.


Not by voting third party because Biden is too corporate, you won't. Just sayin'

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

Alfred wrote: "MOST of our laws that affect us personally are written at the level of the States and that's still true today."

Most are passed at the state level, but I thought that institutions like ALEC wrote a lot of legislation and helped coordinate campaigns to get it passed.


Alfred lives in California. Probably not a huge ALEC-friendly state at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Robert here,

According to Wikipedia, ALEC-based laws have passed in a majority of states for things like gun rights, voter restrictions, privatizing prisons, etc. All pretty standard right-wing stuff.

And from what I've gathered here, the Republicans need a majority of states not a majority of voters.

According to the Guardian ALEC is actually working on other countries as well as the US. So those of use outside the US have reason to be concerned as well.

Alfred Differ said...

Every industry group I've come within sniffing distance of has a squad writing and promoting state law. Some are obviously more successful than others. 8)

If you sincerely believe in a particular approach to legislating, you really SHOULD join one of these groups and amplify your effort. Or you can join an opposing group for the one you don't like. Your choice.

Uniformity between States does not undermine my earlier point, though. Most of the legislation that affects us daily is State law. Between those of us here living in the United States, we could pick a number of State Constitutions and try to print them to show just the tip of the iceberg. The US Constitution is tiny by comparison. Most States have huge legal codes too.

CP said...

It makes for good stories but most science fiction portrayals of interactions between terrestrial and alien biospheres aren't very realistic.

Viruses can replicate in our cells because they are intricately compatible with them in a manner that allows them to co-opt the cell's molecular machinery for their own replication. Even within our biosphere where the basic chemistry is largely the same viruses can usually infect only a small segment of the extent diversity. Many are host-specific. And, when they do jump between species it's usually between relatively closely related hosts--we seldom have to worry about viruses jumping to humans from anything but mammals (and, sometimes, birds). So, the likelihood that an extraterrestrial virus could infect humans is effectively nil.

This goes for biology, in general. The 20 some amino acids that typically make up proteins in terrestrial life are drawn from a pool many times that size. Although there may be some selective advantage in the ones that were retained there was probably also a large random component. The same goes for which nucleic acids are used for encoding information, how the information is encoded, which lipids are commonly used in membranes, etc. So, when we meet aliens they almost certainly aren't going to be able to eat/parasitize/infect us and we almost certainly aren't going to be able to eat/parasitize/infect them. The risks of cross contamination are probably far lower than generally portrayed. But, so are the possibilities of compatibility. In other words, colonists are unlikely to be able to "live off the land." The most likely result when the intrepid explorer lands on an alien world, opens the airlock and takes a deep breath is probably anaphylactic shock as his immune system responds to all the very strange compounds floating around...


scidata said...

The NASA head of human spaceflight is stepping down with only a week to go before the resumption of US manned launches (SpaceX). Odd. I hope the insane palace intrigue hasn't infested the space program.

David Brin said...

"This goes for biology, in general. The 20 some amino acids that typically make up proteins in terrestrial life are drawn from a pool many times that size. Although there may be some selective advantage in the ones that were retained there was probably also a large random component."

In fact, they are 20 of the 15 most-stable. And Adenine happens so easily and is one of the 4 nucleaic acids AND the backbone of ATP. So in fact I am betting on similar life, most places. But yes, getting past skin and mucous and other barriers requires that viruses etc latch-hijack very specific mechanisms. The EXPANSE Prot Molecule is fun... and unlikely.

But my version of interstellar "viroids" are much more adaptable.

duncan cairncross said...

The reason that you are having problems with HUGE laws and with groups like ALEC writing your legislation is that you are not structuring them sensibly

The top level "Law" should be short and sweet - and MUST involve the purpose of the legislation

Once your legislature has that in place then the next level - the "Regulations" should be written by the bureaucrats - and should be able to be rapidly changed when required

When the courts get involved they should always start with the "Purpose Statement" - the regulations must be related to that

The USA started with a superb "Purpose Statement"

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,

do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Unfortunately you then immediately ignored that very powerful "purpose statement"

A German Nurse said...

@Dr. Brin: "The Crystal Spheres" was an entertaining an inspiring read. If I had not multiple RPG projects on my hand, I'd be tempted to borrow it. (Maybe Jeff Grubb was inspired by it in 1989 when he wrote the Spelljammer setting for AD&D).

And, before I forget it: Congratulations for getting away from Bertelsmann (Bantam is owned by them, I believe). Though not as vile as Fox-Murdoch, the Mohn family has done considerable damage to our social security systems (labor market reforms, health sector reforms). If we have a clan of oligarchs bend on creating an inverted-totalitarian state, they seem to be the surest candidate.

Alfred Differ said...

Duncan,

The Congressional register is already much smaller than the Federal register showing how regulation is created by a delegation of legislative powers.

Much the same happens in a lot of States too. Certainly in California... we couldn't function anywhere close to the manner we do right now if legislative powers weren't delegated.

I like purpose statements, but I'm more interested in sunset clauses.

A German Nurse said...

Alfred Differ:
“I like the way German compounds nouns and adjectives”

Yes, sometimes it is nerdy fun to create new combinations.

Yet, [I]some[/I] words are to be used very carefully - Nazi vocabulary was deceptive and mostly sounds harmless in German unless you know the background of the word in question. Even the word I used sounds like something technical or administrative, to shroud the first years of terror, oppression and killing during the formative years of the regime. Some even added insult to injury. For further reading, I recommend Victor Klemperer, LTI - Language Tertii Imperii.




Daniel Duffy said...

"Corona/Covid/Covfefe"

I have a theory, that a time traveler went back in time to May 31, 2017 and tried to warn Trump about the Coronavirus and Covid-19 pandemic 3 years into the future.

Not being very bright and being less than literate he misspelled it as "Covfefe" in a tweet later that day.

Then promptly forgot about it.

The rest is history.

Pachydermis2 said...

German Nurse (and Alfred)

Words and phrases across different languages are fascinating. The simple act of asking somebody how their day is....in Italian you ask (approximately) "How do you stand" and in German "How does it go". Metaphors perhaps for the more relaxed worldviews of Italy vs Germany.

I understand that the classic word for nurse "Krankenschwester" is being officially retired. Fair enough in an era where there are male nurses and when their origin in religious orders are just a historic footnote. But it had a certain ring to it.

I will investigate the Klemperer reference. He was a lot smarter than his most famous character. Or given the good Colonel's (Oberst) ability to avoid the Eastern Front despite a ziggurat of reports on the desk of the local Gestapo....maybe not!

T. Wolter

Pachydermis2 said...

Oh, my obvious error. Viktor and Werner Klemperer were relatives but not the same guy. I've read the latter's diary of the era of course.

T.Wolter

David Brin said...

DD you and I are the Time Travelers who even remember stuff like "covfefe." I sometimes wonder about this pervasive amnesia.

Back in the 70s, Buckley and that era's conservatives were sweaty over the likelihood, if pension funds were fuilly vested as planned, that by 2020 the workers would organically and without any revolution or confiscation simply "own the means of production" and being rich would simply mean having two houses a horse and a large boat. No more.

Something had to be done! And so the great ripoff began. But I can find NO ONE... not even sagacious economists of my age... who remembers what was the fixation of the right, back then. Oh, they vaguely recll, when I remind them. But putting it all together?

Darrell E said...

Well, how about that? Trump wasn't lying. I didn't know he knew how. Looks like he is taking hydroxychloroquine. His doctor has confirmed it.

Jon S. said...

"Well, how about that? Trump wasn't lying. I didn't know he knew how. Looks like he is taking hydroxychloroquine. His doctor has confirmed it."

The only statement I can find from his doctor is a vaguely worded one that simply states that Donnie thinks HCQ is effective, and could probably survive taking it. The only "confirmations" have come from Donnie himself and his official spokesperson, who from previous statements she's made was apparently selected on the basis that she somewhat resembles Ivanka (a very important point for Donnie, let's not look too closely at that one) and that she lies as easily, as often, and as poorly as Donnie himself.

Alfred Differ said...

A German Nurse,

Nazi vocabulary was deceptive

We all play that game to some degree. Persuasion attempts do more than adjust how people think. They adjust the language people use to think. Reagan's 'Strategic Defense Initiative' as 'Star Wars' to other people. Just renaming our Department of War to Department of Defense shows an attempt to alter perceptions by attaching different connotations.

Inheritance Tax becomes Death Tax (Who would want to tax someone grieving for a lost parent?)
Democratic Party becomes Democrat Party (Subtle for the less-than-fluent. Note 'rat' at the end of the name.)
For the most explosive ones in the US, though, reach into our past for terms from the Slavery and Jim Crowe eras. It's hard to talk about the 'N' word even in an academic sense. Too much baggage.

I'll look into your suggestion, but my primary interest* is in how autistic boys pick up language. Some do, but they way they do it is atypical. My own son loves languages now, but it's been a long slow climb. Some skills he nails immediately. Some he hasn't. Simple things like 'second person' pronouns are things he can say, but he doesn't really use them on his own. It speaks to what is going on inside his head. 8)

* [What really drove me down the book learning path on this was D. Hofstadter.]

Deuxglass said...

A news release dated May 14, 2020 from the National Institutes of Health titled:

NIH begins clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin to treat COVID-19
https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-begins-clinical-trial-hydroxychloroquine-azithromycin-treat-covid-19

Dr. Fauci is quoted in the news release:

“We urgently need a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19. Repurposing existing drugs is an attractive option because these medications have undergone extensive testing, allowing them to move quickly into clinical trials and accelerating their potential approval for COVID-19 treatment,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “Although there is anecdotal evidence that hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin may benefit people with COVID-19, we need solid data from a large randomized, controlled clinical trial to determine whether this experimental treatment is safe and can improve clinical outcomes.”

It’s a long news release with some interesting information. I read the NIH's news when it comes out.

Acacia H. said...

BTW, Dr. Brin? I know I've not always agreed with you on various topics, but I do want to say thank you. You taught me a couple of important lessons. First, don't just assume that what you know is in fact correct. Also, don't assume that just because you start trying to correct your fallacies that you won't be wrong in the future. And finally (and this is quite hard for me), don't talk down to people as if you're the end-all and be-all of authority figures.

I just had a bit of a discussion on Twitter about webcomics and social media presences and I did my absolute best to avoid sounding like an authority figure (as I'm most definitely not). I also added a caveat at the end to take my advice with a grain of salt because I've been wrong before and undoubtedly will be again.

This is a lesson I learned on here. You opened my eyes with my hatred of Bill and Hillary Clinton and to verify facts rather than just buy what "everyone else" had to say on the topic, especially as I was letting my biases color where I looked for information. I'm not quite sure if this is critical thinking skills at work, or something else that is along that line... but you helped encourage this with me.

Might this be a means of reaching out to the more hardcore conservatives, I wonder? They hate being told they're wrong (even if they are). Being suggested something and even adding in a caveat of "and feel free to take this with a grain of salt, I might be wrong" could get them thinking. After all, the "illusion" they like to think of "lib'rals" is condescending elitists who talk down to everyone and assume they are always right. By admitting to having been wrong in the past and possibly in the future, it humanizes folk. And for those listening, when the asshole conservatives jump down the throats of those who admit vulnerability and use this to claim everything a non-liberal says is false... well, there will be others who listen and go "you're talking just like you claim liberals talk" to the Trumpists who claim up is down and left is right.

Just some thoughts. Take them with a grain of salt. :)

Acacia

David Brin said...

Acacia thanks for your multi-layered statement about the fallibility of human perceptions and obstinate belief... a topic which has been cetral to much of my work including The Transparent Society and promoting flat-fair competitive reciprocal criticism.

You know the term CITOKATE, right?

In fact, there are two chapters in Polemical Judo about how to reach out across party linesas you recommend... only I go into great detail about starting with those values we all share, generally as people and specifically as Americans. I believe one of those chapters is available for free and you might find it interesting. http://davidbrin.com/polemicaljudo.html

I'm all in favor of such outreach. With the full understanding that 90% of our confederate neighbors are in full psychotic fury, addicted to the macho-playground-bully rush and there is only one way to get through to them. All admissions of error on our parts will be welcomed as proof we are either 100% in error or too stupid to fight well. Or both.

I'm afraid the only way to deal with this... as in every other phase of our 250 year civil war, is crushing victory. Showing that the nerds fight back and bully macho doesn't pay and the playground will operate under our rules, not theirs.

Yes, there are 10% who are capable of sapient discussion and those chapters are aimed at ways to reach them. But 95% of those RASRs are in utter, desperate denial: "I know Trump is a monster and Putin has tentacles into the GOP... but... but... Democrats are spendthrift and just as dogmatic!"

While I will reach out to such with courtesy - I deid with a friend last night... we must also be relentless at confronting denial-justifications that are outright lies. Demanding wagers - I have found - ALWAYS rocks them back. Some writhe, some flee, abandoning parts of the playground. And a few... too few... adjust and morph back toward Goldwater-mature conservatism and agree they need to vent their rage at the hijackers of their movement.

Too few, alas. But at least my method does SOMETHING. Nothing else works at all.

matthew said...

Larry - I haven't voted third party since the late 80s. I'm not a splitter. I'm just a progressive that now hopes I get to vote for Biden / Warren. Hard stop.

I think the Libertarian party are a bunch of right-wing willing shills for the oligarchy, and the Greens are currently a Russian op.

I've been active in the Democratic Party since 1988 (working for Jackson's Rainbow Coalition), pushing it on my progressive issues, but never voting against it in a general election. Last time I voted for the GOP was a vote in 1988 for Sen. Pete Dominici, *after* he called me a son of a bitch, I should note.

If you want to talk about state constitutions, I ran a campaign to change the constitution in NM via voter (campaign failed under my leadership, I stepped back and in a lesser role helped to run it again two years later and got it passed). I have a lot of thoughts on how to handle changing state laws and constitutions.

I've been a registered lobbyist, I've ran statewide campaigns. Politics is an enthusiasm of mine.

Dunno who you're talking to, Larry, with the "vote Biden" comment, but it sure ain't me.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Inheritance Tax becomes Death Tax (Who would want to tax someone grieving for a lost parent?)


Worse than that, it sounds as if you're being taxed for dying. As if the government is trying to punish you for having the nerve to die.


Democratic Party becomes Democrat Party (Subtle for the less-than-fluent. Note 'rat' at the end of the name.)


Again, that's part of it, but I also feel there's something more subtle in the way the term sounds. Maybe it's just me, but the fact that "Democrat" is a noun and not an adjective makes "Democrat Party" sound intentionally stupid. And they can get away with it because "Republican" is both a noun and an adjective, so "Republican Party" sounds more to the ear like "Democratic Party" does, but they can pretend that, hey, they're just saying the name of our party the same way as anyone would say theirs...only ours sounds stupid.

Maybe that's just me.


my primary interest* is in how autistic boys pick up language. Some do, but they way they do it is atypical. My own son loves languages now, but it's been a long slow climb. Some skills he nails immediately. Some he hasn't. Simple things like 'second person' pronouns are things he can say, but he doesn't really use them on his own.


When my daughter was just old enough to learn to talk, I was very interested in seeing how a child picks up on the fact that she's supposed to say "I'm climbing on your shoulders" when we would describe the same event to her by saying, "You're climbing on my shoulders." It seemed to me that would be a very heavy lift. Experience tells me that a lot of that is learned by hearing how two or more other people talk to each other.

sociotard said...

Some dolphins in Australia have been bringing gifts of coral to people. The guess is that they miss interacting with humans.

https://www.reddit.com/r/interestingasfuck/comments/gnf7qo/some_dolphins_in_australian_are_bringing_gifts_of/

Keith Halperin said...

@ Dr. Brin: I actually remember the term "pension fund socialism"...
What's a "pension"? LOL.

@ Acacia H: I can't find where I said it here before, but ISTM there's no point in debating someone unless you and they can positively respond to the following:
"Please give an example of a time when you changed your opinion on a major issue, and elaborate." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservatism_(belief_revision))
Also, it's implicit in a debate that both/all parties are more or less equally powerful-
someone doesn't have to debate you if they can COMPEL you.

SWA,
Keith

Larry Hart said...

matthew:

Dunno who you're talking to, Larry, with the "vote Biden" comment, but it sure ain't me.


Sorry. My mistake.

Unknown said...

The real danger is that a Nehemiah Scudder might be created by a fusion of Christian fundamentalists and the Republican reactionaries. Trump for all his flaws is secular, not religious.

David Brin said...

onward

onward

Anonymous said...

Dave about 3 weeks ago, there was a report covering multiple autopsies out of a Swiss coroner’s office (Zurich I think). They noted inflammation of the epithelial cells wrapping the small blood vessels across multiple death modalities. Their take was if your comorbidity presents any circulatory issues, that is where you get nailed. Clotting and inflammation of your peripheral circulatory system and kicking off the cytokine storm. Explains a lot and is consistent with 25-year-olds dropping from strokes (weak spot exacerbated), amputations etc. Does not seem to have had widespread acceptance/distribution, not sure why. Though, in a world where POTUS suggests we mainline Lysol, I suppose it is not much of a stretch to imagine how this one dropped through the cracks. Wish I had kept the link, can’t find it now.