Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Lethally infectious! Was this virus man-made in Wuhan? And even worse viral memes

Some added information about the disease now labeled SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19. 

First let's have some background. “Gain-of-Function” or GoF is a type of virus research in which experimenters augment a pathogen’s abilities to better understand infection processes. According to Strategic News Service, the NIH stopped funding for GoF studies in 2014, given the danger, before lifting the pause under the new administration in 2017and publishing guidelines to avoid creating dangerous pathogens. One GoF project already underway was a collaboration between the University of North Carolina and 15 researchers from various institutions, including  the Key Laboratory of Special Pathogens and Biosafety at the Wuhan Institute of Virology where they  have worked actively on bat coronaviruses. 

Yes, in Wuhan.

Now dig this: “The novel coronavirus is genomically most similar to  bat coronaviruses, excepting that “the receptor-binding domain of 2019-nCoV was closer to that of SARS-CoV.” In other words, somehow this bat virus acquired the binding surface traits that allowed SARS to attach to human cells. Now there are natural ways this can happen! Generally slowly and at low odds, and at first with low human-to-human spreading…

… but those odds can be augmented hugely — in a lab. SNS points out that virulent strains have escaped from Wuhan and Beijing labs before. Moreover, the Chinese government delayed access to the country by outside WHO and CDC teams for no stated reason.

Note also that the bat virus that SARS-CoV-2 is based upon is not endemic to the Wuhan area; it came from elsewhere and hence likely was not a natural infection at the Wuhan animal market.

As SNS summarizes: “If the PRC government insists that any concerns regarding manufactured pathogens are nonsense, it must back up those bold claims with transparent data, granting the WHO and the CDC full access, and it must cease any further obstructionism in the investigation.”

And now the other kind of viral disease, likely far more lethal to civilization.

== Infectious memes feed dictatorship ==

In The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik reviews two books (including How to Be a Dictator: The Cult of Personality in the Twentieth Centuryabout how foolish it is to under-rate despots as merely cruel ogres. More often than not, there is canniness, a feral cunning and brilliance at manipulative use of language. And in many cases — Lenin, Mao, Stalin — a real proclivity for language and articulate writing.  In other cases, the cunning persuasiveness was more direct and visceral, via spoken words.

“Hitler was always unhappy with the slowness of reading and writing, compared with the vivid electricity of his rallies. Where the Marxist heritage - being theory-minded and principle-bound - involves the primacy of the text, right-wing despotism, being romantic and charismatic, is buoyed by the shared spell cast between an orator and his mob. One depends on a set of abstract rules; the other on a sequence of mutual bewitchments.”

And yes, I have said it for years. The deep underlayer of the confederacy - now trying for an 8th time to crush our American Enlightenment Experiment - is romanticism. 

Gopnik should have referred, at least in passing, to Hannah Arendt’s classic ruminations on despotism. But his first paragraph is noteworthy, even if that’s all you peruse. 

We are indeed, amid a rare glimmer of light across millennia of brutal darkness imposed by our worst (if Darwin-explicable) male drives. We must fight for this enlightenment experiment not just because the alternative has proved relentlessly stupid and cruel, but because our way is so vastly more productive of all things — science, art, wealth, and diversely accountable progress. 

Indeed, those traits are why today’s would be tyrants have only one way forward. Encouraging hatred of every single thing that makes us smart or good.

== Overlooking flaws ==

The evangelical community is riven apart over whether to condemn or to worship the most opposite-to-Jesus liar-narcissist-bully-traitor imaginable. What I’m looking for is how this falls out along denomination lines! Whether Methodists and Presbyterians align with Episcopalians Buttigieg and Biden...

... while it’s mostly Southern Baptists and correlated “independent ministries” who support Trump-Putin-Fox, the way similar sects supported the slaveholding plantation aristocracy.

“We’re all flawed humans and sinners,” they proclaim, shrugging off DT’s daily spasms of bile, hate, theft, abuse and schoolyard bullying, an excuse they never allowed for Clintons or Obamas, who – unlike all Trumps - attend church and can recite the Apostle’s Creed from memory. Theirs is a grudge that can never be quenched, despite 25 years searching in vain for substantial and verified sins by either the Clintons or Obamas.

Might one demand some contrition from the Russian mafia-oligarchs who used to be deemed satanic (deservedly so) when they oppressed and murdered and conspired against us as communists, but who now get a complete pass from our right-wingers because they claim to be  “Christian traditionalist”? The very same guys! Might our redders at least demand a surface show of penitence, before handing our country over to them, or denouncing our own “deep state” professionals who are blocking Putin’s perfect putsch?

Now news that the number of Southern Baptist and correlated ministers accused of sexual crimes is approaching 1000 and accelerating as victims come out. And 263 have been convicted. And leaders of the GOP party-of-turpitude lead dems in every category of sin, by far. It didn’t start with Trump. Look up Dennis Hastert. Look up the marriages of Newt Gingrich or recall who was the first divorced man in the White House. Or which states lead in teen sex, STDs, domestic violence, gambling and so on.

Demand wagers on all of the above! Watch how quickly the yattering moralists flee, just like those schoolyard bullies.

== The crux challenge to your decent conservative neighbors ==

When folks ask how anyone would support a thieving, treasonous, infantile, nasty, narcissistic playground bully who is the most opposite-to-Jesus human on the planet, you have only to picture who would deem those traits to be positive things.

The first two words – “thieving” & “treasonous” - are the ones of interest to “ex” communist KGB agents, Saudi murder-princes, carbon lords, gambling moguls, monopolists, Mafiosi and inheritance brats who think they can “control” this populist madness… the way Prussian barons thought they controlled Hitler. They think they can guide their blackmailed assets – Trump and the GOP - into “taxes and judges” while dismantling our sciences, alliances, rule-of-law and other enlightenment strengths, eliminating the “fact elites” that block their oligarchic power…

… all while still maintaining the modern systems that keep them rich and safe from genuine populist revolt. Good luck with that.

Meanwhile, their billions spent on propaganda encourage white working class “populist” resentment of fact elites and law, by portraying both as weaknesses. Ponder that. When we complain about all this – especially when offended by Trump – we are nerds on a playground, whimpering “that’s not fair!”

If any of you who recall what that jungle-feudal playground culture was like – way back in 8th grade – then you remember that whining “That’s not fair!” was mother’s milk for the bullies. They loved it! As today’s MAGA fools adore every single thing ol’ Two Scoops does to upset or enrage us. (George Lakoff laid all of this out more clearly than I can.) Take for example the quintessential bully moment that distilled everything loathsome about Trumpism, when he mocked the disabilities of a reporter, in order to deflect serious questions.

Any person possessed of minimal human decency would have then-and-there declared anathema such a wretched person along with all who cheered him. And yes, there are decent Americans who cringe at the meanness and fact-hating and stupidity and enabling of foreign despots. I reiterate, we must reach out to otherwise-conservative folks like military officers and citizens of Utah, who hate that shit!

Yet so many of them hug Fox, suckling straight from the flickering pixels, desperately swallowing the only rationalization that’s left: “Liberals are worse… liberals are worse… liberals are worse…”

We need to make clear that we are not seeking an extinction of American conservatism, but resurrection of earlier versions that admitted the primacy of decency, logic, empathy, courtesy and facts. That decent American conservatives throw off the movement’s lunatic, plutocrat and Muscovite and Salafist hijackers, before coming back to rejoin us at the negotiation table. We must promise to listen, if they’ll do that. But first they must end – decisively – their affiliation with evil and treason.


scidata said...

Daniel Dennett compares such memes to the brain worm that infects an ant's brain. It compels the ant to continually climb a blade of grass and attempt to stay there. What's in it for the ant? Nothing. The brain worm needs to get into the stomach of a sheep to continue its life cycle. The ant is merely the vehicle. Not all parasites are symbiotic.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Puzzled by the cheers the reptilian Bloomberg was getting in tonight's debate: here's a clue. The Democratic Party was charging between $1,750 and $3,200 for tickets to the debate.


Party of the people, right?

David Brin said...

Huh. Plausible. Though almost any liberal NGO could afford that to send a couple reps.

duncan cairncross said...

Though almost any liberal NGO could afford that to send a couple reps.

But would they consider that a sensible use of their funds?

I'm a Scotsman - so stingier than most - and I would be very unhappy if my NGO wasted limited resources on those tickets

David Brin said...

Hm, well good point Duncan. Still, there are tons of upper-middle classers or lower-uppers ... dentists etc... who can afford such tickets. It's not Rothschild stuff.

Alfred Differ said...


was charging between $1,750 and $3,200 for tickets

That's really not that much for people who actually want to be actively involved in politics. Haven't done it myself, but it isn't unreasonable for some people I know.

I get what you are reaching for, but I suggest looking to events that charge closer to $50K. Those attendees are either funded or self-funded ($$), thus motivated by urges different from the rest of us.

As a funny side note, it's a challenge to get some of my local libertarians to drop even $5. Some are poor enough that I can understand it, but others run small businesses. Donated money really DOES hinge on the perception that a group or candidate can succeed. Think your local political club has a chance for success? Check their budgets and see what they can raise from their people. If it's peanuts, they are wanna-be influencers and NOT because money buys access. Money demonstrates belief.

Alfred Differ said...

Okay. Dark thoughts night after watching the equities markets react in sensible ways to covid19.

Back in 2008 the polls showed a relative tie between Obama and McCain up until roughly when the economy began to melt down. Political theory usually says that's bad for the party in power, right? Theory is often right or right enough that we believe it is right.

So... this time around we've got covid19 making a hash of our global supply chains. Where do the ingredients for your medicines/consumer staples come from? Where does the GDP go when large percentages of humanity self-quarantine? What happens to the electoral mood if WHO gets it roughly right and between 1/3 and 2/3 of humanity gets to experience the actual virus while everyone gets to experience the disruption?

The Progressives might get what they want this time with respect to health care coverage. It's a dark way to get it, but a few million deaths just might do it. A million American losses in poorer states would matter.

Jim might get what he wants for a while too. Reduce fossil carbon emissions. Won't last long, but it could show up as a blip like what happened about 12 years ago.

Me? I'm rooting for Enlightenment Civilization flexing its muscle. Reducing the carnage to a level where our grandkids say "Oh... it could have been much worse" would be right up there with a moonshot I think. 8)

 Ashley said...

I missed commenting on the last post, so first off, congratulations on getting your copyright back on Sundiver.

I had a thought the other day regarding the current political shoggoths.

Reflecting back to Germany after WW1, I wondered why the Communist opposition weren't able to rally an effective opposition to Nazis? It then struck me that the right are always better at hiding their agenda, whereas the left wants proof of purity to allow you to be one of them. The result, the left drives away those who are different, whilst the right only addresses the purities once they're in a position of power.

Just a thought from a social behavioural psychology perspective.

Anyway, I got into a kerfuffle on FB over the NHS, where my opponents were arguing quote, "(The NHS is) a Socialist healthcare system where all nurses are government employees. A system that jealously kills children instead of letting their families freely seek care elsewhere."

I replied, "British socialism is not communism, we have a free market economy with a social welfare." the thread went on for about 60 comments with another person joining the original poster to tag team answers to my responses. My last response was this:

"Oh please, boys you both think you are so funny. It's laughable that you've both missed the point of my argument, and the assumptions that I'm some sort of card carrying socialist shows that you've not done your homework about who you're talking to.

I asked earlier, how do you know what you believe in? We then talked about Trump and the Border camps, and we all agree that this was fake news. Did we not? Surely that must have surprised you that I agreed with you? Or did you think you'd just won a point?

Here's the thing. When I heard that story I thought is that true, and went away and did some basic research on when the law was enacted and found that the previous administration enabled it.

However, all I get from you two is that Britain is a Police State run by communists conspiring to kill children, and yet the first thing you both do is quote media from my country as somehow paragons of virtue reporting the truth in a way that the media in the land of free does not.

This is my argument. I'm done. I have work to do. Have a nice day."

One desultory reply showed the argument had ended. I think I did good. But who knows. The things is, that's a lot of work. which I will no doubt have to repeat if faced with similar bigoted preconceptions.

gregory byshenk said...

One of the odd things about the USA is the fluidity of things like 'upper-middle-class'.

I would think that anyone able to pay $2000.00 for an evening would have to be in the over-$100,000.00/year income bracket (and that is already generous - how many people are really willing to pay 2% of their gross income for one such evening?).

The most recent figures I see (a couple years old, but probably close enough for this kind of sketch) put $100,000.00/year as the top 10% of individuals and top 20% of households.

How do we make sense of calling the top 10% (or even 20%) of incomes (alternatively - more than 150% of the median) 'middle class'?

Tim H. said...

Someone with that sort of disposable income will, IMHO, be predisposed to want more than money in return for their success, they'll want affirmation also. This may take the form of grossly submissive behavior or the availability of nearby, but not too close, economic misfortune. Again, IMHO, these poor bastards, and everyone else, would benefit more from counseling than revolution.

Larry Hart said...

The New York Times tells us what we already know. America was "great" when we wielded soft power, and we've lost that, or at least are in the process of losing that. We're not far from the scene in Camelot where the knights' fight among themselves and (literally and metaphorically) smash the round table to pieces.


There is clear evidence that Mr. Trump’s presidency has eroded America’s soft power — the power to attract rather than command. According to a new Pew poll, only 29 percent of people surveyed in 33 countries trust Trump. He ranks as low as President Xi Jinping of China. A year ago, Gallup polled 134 countries and similarly found that only 30 percent of the people held a favorable view of the United States under Mr. Trump’s leadership. That was a drop of almost 20 points since Barack Obama’s presidency. And an annual British index, the Soft Power 30, showed America slipping from first place in 2016 to fifth place in 2019.

Our power comes not only from our military and economic might. Most previous presidents have understood that power also comes from being able to attract others. If we can get you to want what we want, then we do not have to force others to do what we want. If the United States represents values that others want to follow, we can economize on sticks and carrots. Added to hard power, the soft power of attraction is what the military calls a force multiplier. And that makes our values a source of American power.

Indeed, our absence of government cultural policies like those China promotes can itself be a source of attraction. Hollywood movies that showcase independent women and a free society in action can attract people in countries that lack those opportunities. So, too, does the charitable work of American foundations and the benefits of freedom of inquiry at American universities. On the other hand, when our policies appear hypocritical, arrogant and indifferent to others’ views, the government can undermine our nation’s soft power. When Donald Trump interprets “America First” in a narrow way, he makes everyone else feel second class.

Larry Hart said...

and an interesting analysis of the nature of foreign interference:


A great deal of the Russian troll farm content in 2016, especially the content directed at black voters, wasn’t even directly related to an election candidate. Instead, foreign actors created social justice Facebook groups like “Black Matters US,” “Blacktivist” and “Don’t Shoot Us” to try to amplify existing tensions.

As the KGB defector Yuri Alexandrovich Bezmenov said in an interview all the way back in 1984, the end goal of meddling is to demoralize citizens so that “exposure to true information does not matter anymore.”

The author Peter Pomerantsev offered an updated explanation last year, writing that Russian propaganda seeks to seed “doubt and confusion, evoking a world so full of endlessly intricate conspiracies that you, the little guy, had no chance to work out or change.” Foreign interference, then — to the extent that we can quantify it — is less a battering ram than it is a chisel meticulously aimed at pre-existing cracks in a weakened facade.

locumranch said...

This is tremendous post, an expert post, a tour de force that starts out with an admission that the ongoing Coronavirus crisis was most likely the deliberate scientific creation of an 'enlightened' secular fact-using academic clade -- specifically a "GoF project already underway (which) was a collaboration between the University of North Carolina and 15 researchers from various institutions (and) the Wuhan Institute of Virology -- and then lays the blame squarely on the shoulders of a non-secular, under-educated & self-depreciating evangelical religious community.

Bravo! Bravo! Author!

Besides being a most masterful example of the 'Bait-and-Switch', this is also a most insidious attempt to blame-shift personal responsibility from the scientific to romantic castes.

For it is NOT the flawed evangelical, romantic or 'Trump-Putin-Fox' scapegoats who must be held responsible for COVID-19, but rather the secular scientific academic caste who fancy themselves (in their hubris) as a flawless "rare glimmer of light across millennia of brutal darkness".

There is great irony to be had here, mostly because (1) forgiveness has an expiry date and (2) the evangelical Christian community has been in terminal decline since the late 1980s, leaving the fate of the decidedly flawed secular fact-using, academic & scientific community in the hands of an increasingly merciless, unforgiving & non-Christian polity.


scidata said...

Alfred Differ: I'm rooting for Enlightenment Civilization flexing its muscle.

Again, BNW and 1984 were warnings. Enlightenment isn't simply bequeathed and inherited, it's earned. From a blurb I posted on FB this morning:

One day around 1979, in the outskirts of Toronto, in a tiny workspace above an unrelated shop, I had a long chat with the creator of Micro-Chess for the KIM-1. Wow. That was the clearest example of human intelligence amplification via computer I've ever seen. Something epic was lost when the PC world turned its attention to the endless, mindless sifting of eye candy. Whither computational thinking? Similar to the 50 years of low earth orbit since Apollo.

Neil Postman was right. We are amusing ourselves to death.

Jon S. said...

Alfred, I have only two examples of people running small businesses - my late father, who supplemented his retirement by making wooden toys and decorations that he sold at street fairs, and my niece, who owns and operates a nail salon.

Seventeen hundred dollars to go to a political event? One that runs late into the night, when your shop has to be ready for business no later than 9am the next day? Sorry, pal, that ain't a small-business kind of deal. Seventeen hundred dollars is more than we pay for the monthly mortgage on this house! It would buy rather a large amount of the polish, remover, utilities, and maintenance supplies the salon needs, or a month's worth of wood for dad's toy cars and birdhouses. A small business owner isn't dropping that kind of cash to go watch people argue, especially when they can watch it all on TV for free if they're really interested (or just wait for the highlights on the news or one of the night-time talk shows).

Darrell E said...

Larry Hart quoted...


As the KGB defector Yuri Alexandrovich Bezmenov said in an interview all the way back in 1984, the end goal of meddling is to demoralize citizens so that “exposure to true information does not matter anymore.”

Sounds exactly like what the RP and its masters have been purposely doing to the US population for the past twenty-five-something years. Did they just take notes from the Soviets or has the RP been infiltrated and run by Soviet / Russian intelligence all this time? (I kid. Maybe.)

Tacitus said...

At the moment the markets are spooked by the corona virus and with justification. It is reasonable to assume supply chain impact on the world economy that will start shortly, if it has in fact not already begun. My friends in the supercomputer industry are saying there will be shortfalls of significant components soon.

I think our options regards medicines are a bit less gloomy. I'm retired now but I figure 90% of what we do in medicine could be handled, at least for six months or so, with simpler measures. That's not to say there would not be impacts....if for instance you said that totally elective placement of stents would be halted for a month to make sure we had enough for acute infarct use there would some deaths because you cannot be omnicient in such matters.

Taking a longer view this is likely to be of comparitively small impact on the US. It could be a gigantic, regime challenging matter for China. What happens when a potentially serious global pandemic gets going in places with big populations and small resources is not pleasant to consider. The US economy probably emerges stronger in a year as others reel.

Personally I think we see an easing of the corona virus pandemic in the northern hemispheres until fall. Watch what's going on in Africa over the next six months and buckle up if it gets out of control there.

The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic is the model to consult for comparisons. 1/3 of the world population infected and 3% dead of it. The vaguely similar mortality rate is concerning but there are major differences. So far.

T. Wolter

Larry Hart said...

For Lent, I will give up ignoring you. You've got 40 days (46, but who's counting?) to slander me and have me actually read the posts. Use them wisely.


There is great irony to be had here, mostly because (1) forgiveness has an expiry date

Cute phrase, but I'm not clear how it applies to this or to anything.

(2) the evangelical Christian community has been in terminal decline since the late 1980s,

They own the Senate, the presidency, and the supreme court. I should be so "in decline".

leaving the fate of the decidedly flawed secular fact-using, academic & scientific community in the hands of an increasingly merciless, unforgiving & non-Christian polity.

You're describing my "Mike Doonesbury's Summer Daydream" post-Rapture scenario, not reality. And before you accuse me of murder, dreaming about the aftermath of a clade of people achieving their own stated desire of being removed from the earth and leaving the rest of us behind is not the same thing as wanting/plotting to kill them. It is in fact the opposite thing.

And you really think the country is "non-Christian"? You can't swing a dead cat without hitting a Christian around here. Even Donald Trump--the most un-Christian president in all of history--has to pretend to be one.

Larry Hart said...

This op-ed seems to get what Dr Brin has been preaching for some time...



One of the authors’ central arguments is that liberals have ceded to conservatives a monopoly on such themes and values as faith, family, country and law and order. They have done so because Republicans have “added a meanspirited twist to these mainstream values” as a way of attacking women’s and gay rights, blacks, antiwar protesters and single mothers.

“Because progressives appropriately reject the harsh right-wing interpretations of these values,” Greer and Kahlenberg write, many progressives have “stopped talking about these ideas altogether, sticking to a discussion of public policy solutions and an array of facts, rather than the powerful values that underlie them.”

In support of their argument, they cite research by two sociologists at Stanford, Jan G. Voelkel and Robb Willer, who argue in “Resolving the Progressive Paradox: Conservative Value Framing of Progressive Economic Policies Increases Candidate Support,” a paper that was published last year, that voters are less concerned with candidates’ specific policies than with the values they espouse:

We found that a presidential candidate who framed his progressive economic platform to be consistent with more conservative value concerns like patriotism, family, and respect for tradition — as opposed to more liberal value concerns like equality and social justice — was supported significantly more by conservatives and, unexpectedly, by moderates as well.


sociotard said...

A book recommendation:

I'm in the middle of it and I'm enjoying it. It is dystopian, but a mostly believable one; a plague and big terrorist attack happened at about the same time, and people stopped going out. Now most people work from home and have purchases droned to their door.

Unlike most dystopian novels, the protagonist isn't violently rebelling against bad guys. They just want to hear live music and connect with people.

sociotard said...

Can you tell us more about the Strategic News Service article? Your link just goes to the main page, not the article. I'm having difficulty finding the original source.

David Brin said...

Greg “Upper-middle” is a useful terminology. It means they still have one paramount investment… one home (with maybe a cabin somewhere) and a disaster there could still plunge them lower in caste. It means most non-retirees are still getting up and going to work daily, next to others who have less, (e.g. a Dentist next to secretary and hygenist and hearing their money troubles.) Above all, we must not get THEM identifying as upper class twits, who are adversaries of the middle.

Ashley, your patient persuasion is good labor in the tenches. But sounds exhausting. I find that wager demands make them flee far more readily.

LH thanks. I reposted that on FB almost verbatim.

Yipe, I worry about locum. That jibber jabber foamed with word salad that was positively hydrophobic. Were he in the room, I’d fret about being bitten and would lysol all surfaces after animal control carted him off. Rowf!

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

LH thanks. I reposted that on FB almost verbatim.

I hope you linked to the NY Times article. There was a lot more in there than the few paragraphs I excerpted.

I had never really thought about why it is that liberals seem to shun values like patriotism, family, and faith until the article pointed out that Republicans had successfully framed those values in exclusionary and mean-spirited terms: Loving your family meaning open disdain for those who aren't your family; patriotism meaning flagrant disrespect for other countries; faith meaning dehumanization of other religions' members. Being mean-spirited, Republicans are happy to conjoin those values with their negative interpretations and embrace the whole package. But liberals fall into a trap by which our disdain for mean-spiritedness is interpreted as a rejection of values.

Am I misremembering, or didn't Bernie Sanders (in the 2016 season) appear at some FOX-sponsored event and actually win over the audience by demonstrating shared values? I don't have a reference, but I'm kinda/sorta remembering him asking the crowd who among them approved of the ACA (or maybe it was Medicare for All), and to the surprise of the FOX commentators, the crowd cheered. Anyone else remember that?

David Brin said...

A fellow writes in:"Another prediction hit from "Earth": the Trillion Trees campaign."

Deuxglass said...

The possibility that that Covid-19 (the official name all use now) is the result of laboratory modification has been recognized by experts for a moment now. Also the possibility that it is an escaped pathogen is also generally recognized. However that doesn’t mean that it did happen that way. It doesn’t matter how it came about at this time. We have to let future studies decide that. What matters is that it is here now and that what was feared most by the experts is happening.
The speed at which the virus has spread in Italy has been a shock for the government and the people here in France. What looked to be a China problem is now a European one. They are battening down the hatches. We are getting around the clock updates and lots of advice on how to handle the situation. It’s a given that regions and towns will be quarantined sooner rather than later. If this is the start of the second wave then it risks being meaner than the first. I stocked up a few weeks ago because when I looked at this virus it checked all the wrong boxes so for the first time in my life I decided to take precautions. I am no survivalist but this is an exception. . If my town, a suburb of Paris, is put under quarantine then we can stay inside for a month.

I wonder if Bloomberg has one of those billionaire hideaways in case of an apocalypse. Does anyone know if he has a “vacation home” in New Zealand?

Larry Hart said...

I'm already sick of the term "freakout" as a description of Democrats' reaction to Bernie Sanders.

Don Gisselbeck said...

I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian church. We constantly heard warnings about the end times and the coming of the Antichrist. I am horrified that when an actual antichrist shows up, they embrace him. I have tried repeatedly (without success) to point out that Jesus in the "judgement of the nations" said he would send you to hell if you didn't serve the poor and take in aliens.

duncan cairncross said...

Middle Class

To be "Middle Class" one of the most important measures is Security

Middle Class - means "secure"

Not against Martian invasion or WW3 but secure against the normal pitfalls of existence

Here (NZ) I am secure, I have a house and a pension, before I retired I could lose my job but I would not have lost my house

When I lived in the USA I had a better lifestyle - but I was not secure - One illness or accident would have been survivable - two would have destroyed my and my families lives

Living in the USA to be secure you need your house AND at least $1million in assets

The American "Middle Class" is actually tiny compared to the "Middle Class" in European countries

IF the USA goes to a decent Universal health system THEN the American Middle Class will be HUGE

locumranch said...

Speaking of anachronistic 'freak-outs' ...

Larry_H displays typical progressive ignorance in regards to Evangelicalism, the First Great Awakening, the Second Great Awakening and the Jesus People Revolution, but I've provided links (1)(2)(3)(4) below in the hopes that he may choose to remediate said ignorance.

That the Modern Progressive movement chooses to ceaselessly disparage, insult and 'talk smack' about Evangelical Christianity, this is an especially tragicomic and ironic fact, mostly because Evangelical Christianity has always been & will always be the greatest ally that Progressivism has ever known.

This fact bears repeating over & over:

Evangelical Christianity has always been & will always be the greatest ally that Progressivism has ever known.

It was Evangelical Christianity in its many forms that (a) separated Church from State, (b) gave birth to the anti-slavery Abolitionist movement, (c) championed the now international principles of Humanism & Democracy, (d) campaigned tirelessly for universal equality & suffrage, (e) encouraged unrestricted immigration for all comers, (f) facilitated the Civil Rights movement, (g) extended Christian charity to all races, creeds & ethnicities, and (h) accepted all races, creeds & ethnicities into the 'Brotherhood of Man'.

It's sad that the Modern Progressive movement is now shocked -- shocked, I tell you -- to discover that it has only become weaker & more vulnerable without the tireless support of left-leaning Evangelical Hippies, but no one cares too much anymore, except the dead, dying & practically extinct Jesus Freak.


(1) Evangelicalism as a Social Movement: http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/tserve/nineteen/nkeyinfo/nevansoc.htm

(2) The Great Awakening:

(3) Religious Transformation & the Second Great Awakening:

(4) Hippies, Music & Evangelism:

Deuxglass said...

Also, for better or for worse, we are deep in the Modern Monetary Theory world now. With lockdowns companies and people rapidly run out of cash. Workers don't get paid and borrowers can't pay their debts. Money wasted on stock buybacks will be sorely missed when cashflow collapses. Debt jubilees coming? .

Deuxglass said...

I agree with you Duncan.

David Brin said...

Did my chiding cause locum to take vitamins or a rabies shot? His defense of evangelism would make good points... if they weren't all based upon fictitious strawmen. Evangelicals of the true and "Red-Letter" kind - emphasizing the words of Jesus and not the diametrically opposite and satanic verses in the "Book of Revelation" have long been with us and deeply committed to human progress. Jimmy Carter was a great example and I chided the small minority of liberals who mocked his sincere and generous faith.

That is NOT the same as fundi-dominionist hypocrites who rail that their teensy elect will get all the goodies... both all our wealth down here and then eternal mindless joy while looking down and gloating that all their neighbors, countrymen and children will roast in eternal sadism. While the ratio of S Baptist and related pastors now being outed for sexual predation seems to be on an arc to far surpass catholic priests. (And yes, the GOP is VASTLY more the coalition of utter turpitudes, from child buggering and gambling, to STDs domestic violence and a myriad others.)

These are not the same. These are not cousins.

They are opposites.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfred: It's a lot of money for the 50% of Americans who live paycheck to paycheck and who have the most to gain from removing the corrosive effect of money in politics. I guarrantee that nobody making $9/hour was there to hear Sanders or Warren, but Bloomberg had a lot of his supporters there.

Larry Hart said...


Evangelical Christianity has always been & will always be the greatest ally that Progressivism has ever known.

That was likely true before Reagan. Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed, and their ilk turned Evangelical hypo-Christianity into an institution for defending authoritarians as long as they were not communist and afflicting the afflicted while comforting the extremely comfortable. They've been on the wrong side of every issue from Latin American dictatorships to apartheid South Africa, culminating with this senile fool:



Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, appeared on its flagship television show The 700 Club on Monday to caution Americans against allowing the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia to deteriorate over Khashoggi’s death.

“For those who are screaming blood for the Saudis — look, these people are key allies,” Robertson said. While he called the faith of the Wahabists — the hardline Islamist sect to which the Saudi Royal Family belongs — “obnoxious,” he urged viewers to remember that “we’ve got an arms deal that everybody wanted a piece of…it’ll be a lot of jobs, a lot of money come to our coffers. It’s not something you want to blow up willy-nilly.”


“You’ve got one journalist — who knows? Was it an interrogation? Was he assassinated? Were there rogue elements? Who did it?...You’ve got $100 billion worth of arms sales...we cannot alienate our biggest player in the Middle East.”


Which is the moral equvalent of:

"This is supposed to be a happy occasion! Let's not bicker over who killed who."

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Evangelicals of the true and "Red-Letter" kind - emphasizing the words of Jesus and not the diametrically opposite and satanic verses in the "Book of Revelation" have long been with us and deeply committed to human progress. Jimmy Carter was a great example and I chided the small minority of liberals who mocked his sincere and generous faith.

I won't deny that 1960s hippies were more Christian than 1960s conservatives who never let morality get in their way of profits. But the institution of Christianity made a devil's bargain with the economic conservatives in the 1980s, and have only become worse since then. Today, they really would "rather follow Trump than Jesus."

These are not the same. These are not cousins.

They are opposites.

"The word you are looking for is Christianity. But this is not Christianity. Conservative Christianity, perhaps, but that's a different thing, in fact the opposite thing."

Keith Halperin said...

re: COVID 19: "Survivors" or "The Walking Dead"? (Neither, I hope!)

re: Evangelicism: (https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/01/politics/evangelical-support-trump/index.html) We should be talking about white Evangelicals in this sense, as nearly 40% of born-again evangelicals nationwide are not white....
I grew up in Eastern New Mexico in a town of about 10,000 with 35 churches, mainly Southern Baptist and Church of Christ.
The local whites (it was then about 30% Latinx) were the descendants (quite literally in many cases) of the Confederates OGH often mentions.
(IMSM, there was a chapter of the United Daughters of Confederacy there when I was young.)
Well before Reagan, I found most of the Evangelicals intolerant, mean-spirited, and racist.
A very appropriate term for them was/is "haters".

Zepp Jamieson said...

OK, everybody, you can relax. Trump says there's only 15 cases of coronavirus, and we'll be down to zero in just a few weeks. And just in case that pesky atheist bug is still around, he's named Mike Pence the new Carona Tsar, and he'll pray it away.

David Brin said...

And yet,much of the white support - and yes martyrs - for MLK came from churches and synagogues. A fact locumranch refers-to... before drawing diametrically untrue conlusions. But at least his salvoes were aimed in a general swathe of horizon that's not loony.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Some grim news out of Japan: a woman who caught COVID-19 back in early February and recovered has just tested positive for a reoccurrence of the disease. There had been rumours, but this is the first solid evidence. A most disturbing development.

Tony Fisk said...

Stand still. Stay silent is an online graphical novel with a Scandinavian take on the aftermath of a disease driven zombie/troll apocalypse. It's quite a humourous read, given the subject matter. Nevertheless, its prologue is uncomfortably close to the current state of affairs.

Still, never fear*: Pence is here!

(Got the message re trillion trees.)

*Arthur Dent? Don't be afraid. Be very afraid.

DP said...

Seems appropriate given what we know about the Wu Flu:


TCB said...

@ Larry Hart, Bernie has repeatedly shown that he can walk into the lion's den and walk out with some converts.

His appearance on Joe Rogan's podcast last August is very near the stuff of legend, has 11 million Youtube views, and if we assume he persuaded one percent of those, that's 100k votes right there.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

But at least his salvoes were aimed in a general swathe of horizon that's not loony.

Maybe he gave up loony for Lent?

scidata said...

As one who believes in reading stuff that's contrary to my current opinions, I've been looking at some rebuttals of Dr. Brin's "Why Johnny Can't Code" (2006). He seemed to have really struck a nerve back then. Here's one blurb:

Brin's curmudgeonly sentiment is that the fact that today's computers are rich and capable devices out of the box that can let novices immediately start doing things of interest to them, means that they aren't forced to stare at a meaningless text prompt and have to figure out how to make the machine do anything at all.

That is exactly the feeling I had when I first opened a real (non-picture) book. Where are the bobbles and spinners? Where's the eye candy? I want to do things of interest to me. Then I started reading, haltingly and with difficulty at first. The book was "Have Spacesuit Will Travel". That is the watershed moment between infancy and citizenship. I fear that many have yet to reach that fork in the road. A pity and a peril.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

a woman who caught COVID-19 back in early February and recovered has just tested positive for a reoccurrence of the disease.

What does "tested positive" mean? Was there an interval between now and early February (which wasn't all that long ago) in which she wouldn't have tested positive?

I guess my question is, does that indicate a new infection after the first one was eliminated, or does it just indicate that the virus hangs on for a long time?

Anonymous said...

Back in the 90s I attended a Philippino Baptist church for about a year. Over 2000 members, less than half a dozen of us Anglos. (Interestingly, everyone assumed that us white folk all knew each other and were friends.)

The words judgemental, hypocritical, and racist spring to mind. Anyone who wasn't a Baptist wasn't considered Christian. People text-proofed the Bible to suit themselves. Preachers were proud of how humble they were. Lying and cheating were OK, as long as the victims weren't church members.

Then I attended a small Anglican church. Oddly, the more Evangelical members were more like the Baptists than the traditionalists.

Two anecdotes aren't data. But my experience is that modern evangelicals are more right-wing than traditionalists.

A.F. Rey said...

Maybe he gave up loony for Lent?

I don't think locum believes in Lent.

At best, maybe Loaned, with Interest. ;)

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry: according to the Japanese, this was in fact a reinfection following a period where she appeared to have recovered and was no longer infected.
It does happen, of course, with colds and the flu, which mutate. But if this is any indication of how fast it mutates, then not only is recurrence likely, but an effective vaccine will be nearly impossible to develop.

David Brin said...

Zepp & LH of course the scariest thing is if COVID positive survivors can continue to TRANSMIT the virus months later. Typhoid Marys. Even spectacularly good tests would leave us balkanized into separated quarantine areas. Current survival rates are not Stephen King worrisome but persistent contagion is.

“Why Johnny Can’t Code” was not about getting every student capable of root coding a trillion transistors in moderns PCs or phones. It was about getting maybe a third of kids capable of seeing that the pixels are run by algorithms written by their fellow humans. And a third of THEM might then do some high-layer programming of apps and such. And 1/3 of 1% of them might be encouraged to truly understand the tech.

Anonymous poster, I let a few through that I deem interesting. But most get flushed nowadays. Do choose a screen name monicker and use it at the beginning. That helps me decide to spend more than 1 second skimming.

scidata said...

Sad to watch the Cheeto clumsily trying to apply his transactional 'genius' on an uncaring strand of nucleic acid that can't be bullied, swindled, or bought off. "We'll see what happens". Indeed we will.

Alfred Differ said...

Jon S,

I was specifically referring to some of my fellow libertarians running small businesses. They wouldn’t show up at a Democratic fund raising event anyway. 8)

Your experience with small business is probably too limited to get my point. There are tiny ones the micro-revenues that effectively a job where we manage to pay ourselves. A plumber working under the table jobs can make a living, but they can’t really sell the business. One working above the table is in a slightly better position, but the business would have to be sold to another plumber which means the real thing being sold is the client list since the other plumber probably has their own tools. A dentist in partnership with other dentists might own a majority share and sell it to a non-dentist and it’s at this level that we begin to see the business as a product instead of a job. The other dentists would take on the clients and the non-dentist might be a funding source. Maybe.

The very small businesses like your father’s tend to vanish when the person dies or retires. Small businesses like the one your niece has might not, so the salon’s value independent of your niece can be estimated. Some multiple of book value or future earnings is the usual calculation. If the person buying the business has to have the skill set of the current owner, though, the thing really being sold is the client list. Slightly larger small businesses might employ a few people who can carry on the work under a new owner who does not have the skill of the previous owner. THAT is the level of small business I’m referring to with some of my libertarian friends. Employee count <10 and revenue just large enough to meet payroll and a bit of spare cash to be re-invested.

The typical political donor coming from the small business world is looking to make contact with influencers. Knowing what is going on in local politics can matter a great deal, so the first objective is to get into certain social circles and listen. The second level objective is to influence an influencer. For example, knowing of potential zoning changes being considered can matter to people in long leases or dependent on choice addresses for their location. Letting an influencer know what the impacts of changes could mean to them might prevent or mitigate those changes. Worth $2K for a dinner event? Maybe. If it makes sense as a form of re-investment, then Yes.

jim said...

Two months into 2020 and boy oh boy, this year really looks like quite a wild ride.

The really funny thing (both funny ha ha and funny strange) about this year is that Astrologers have long predicted that this year would mark a major transition in human affairs. For the political (mundane) astrologers this a year of a grand mutation that marks our movement out of the earth signs ( that we have been in the earth signs sense ~1840) and into the air signs.

Now I just find it hilarious that a fossil fuel powered civilization (digging up Pluto’s cursed treasure) occurred during our time in the earth signs and now we are starting to experience climate change as we transition to the Air signs.

What is totally weird is that not many Astrologers think that there is a causal connection between the movements of the planets and the affairs of mankind. Instead I get the impression that they think there is some sort of systematic synchronicity between the two. Which if you really think about it, is just bizarre and reminds me of a Shakespeare quote
“there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Alfred Differ said...


I would think that anyone able to pay $2000.00 for an evening would have to be in the over-$100,000.00/year income bracket (and that is already generous - how many people are really willing to pay 2% of their gross income for one such evening?).

I don’t think that’s how the calculation is done in practice. For someone with no stored wealth (or very little) it DOES make sense to make a ratio with their income as a denominator. If you live a life of mild surplus for a few years, though, you’ll have some stored wealth. Maybe equity in a home or a small-ish investment account. Maybe a 401K / IRA for those of us in the US. Those folks will want their income to continue, but will also think about return on investments. It’s not that the $2K is necessarily an investment, but it might be a defensive purchase for their investments a bit like an insurance policy. Meet actual influencers and find out more about what is going on around them? If that is what they have in mind, the denominator is likely the value of their investments and income.

The other angle comes from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If you are reasonably secure in the lowest two levels, what do you do next? We usually DO pursue higher needs/wants, so access to influence matters. It has a price like other needs/wants too.

Alfred Differ said...


Living in the USA to be secure you need your house AND at least $1 million in assets

I’m not so sure about the house, but I think you are correct about the asset reserve. There are degrees of security, of course. The lowest level one I was taught is to have about four months of income stored in a liquid form for job transitions. At the higher level, ensure you have enough assets so a 5% yearly dividend covers between ½ and 2/3 of your income. Chances are that you can make up the rest of that income during the year being under-employed or taking more risk if the financial markets are ripe for it.

The reason I leave off the house sometimes is they don’t have good returns except during growth periods. If the house is fully paid off then skipping rent can be a big deal, but most home owners aren’t in that position. It occasionally helps to be paying rent instead of mortgage, but only if rental places aren’t scarce.

I bought my first home in 2001 and lived there until 2009. I enjoyed the security and put up with the extra costs incurred fighting depreciation. I had to move in 2009 and turned it into a rental in 2010 that didn’t quite break even. Kept doing that until 2019 when I sold it and bought one where I had found work here in Southern California.

So, between 2010 and 2019 I was effectively a renter… and I was actually better off in that class for most of those years. When I wasn’t anymore, I knuckled down a bought a place. OMG are these places expensive, but that purchase didn’t make me more secure. The equity from one home is now stashed in the next, but it isn’t returning 5% a year. Not even close. On top of that I get to pay property tax on a damn expensive place. Why do it? Rentals were getting scarce and the math worked out in favor of ownership. Also, the wife likes it better this way… always worth considering that angle. 8)

Alfred Differ said...


It's a lot of money for the 50% of Americans who live paycheck to paycheck

Completely agree. Their focus is correctly aimed at the bottom levels of the hierarchy of needs. Been there.

who have the most to gain from removing the corrosive effect of money in politics

Not so sure I agree with that, though. Those 50% stand to gain a lot when we stop the corrupting influence of money in politics, but so do we all. The corruptors are playing a negative sum game where they benefit and we lose more than they gain. Stop them and they lose ill-gotten gains while we stop bleeding. Even someone near the 90th percentile gains from ending corruption. Even at the 99th percentile.

You are doing your paladin thing when you focus on the people with no voice in politics. I get that and appreciate that someone is doing it. All I’m pointing out is that those of us who have small voices also benefit. That makes us potential allies for you as long as you don’t lump us with the corruptors.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Granting that the COVID-19 virus MIGHT have been engineered, is there any credible source that confirms this in any way? So far, all I have found is FUD, and Snopes saying no.

locumranch said...

As usual, most of you continue to miss the point:

Larry_H's opinion of what constitutes 'true' Christianity is irrelevant; Keith_H's childhood Portales NM traumas remain immaterial; and Anon's personal experience with Evangelicalism is also unimportant.

The fact remains that (1) the much beloved doctrines of the Enlightenment, Deism, Democracy, Humanism, Abolitionism & Progressivism are built upon the principles of Evangelical Christianity, (2) Evangelical Christianity has now been declared non compos mentis by the modern variant of Progressivism, and (3) Progressivism, in an attempt to purge itself of unsound religious hokum, is now engaged in the deliberate deconstruction of its foundational doctrine.

Of course, it goes without saying that this game of sociopolitical 'Jenga' is going to end badly for all-concerned because WE KNOW (with 100% certainty) that this whole unsupported construction must come crashing down, sooner or later, assuming ongoing 'unstacking', even though we cannot predict the exact time or cause of its imminent collapse.

Will the cause of this collapse be COVID-19?

This is unlikely.

But, one thing is for certain and the rest is lies, that western sociopolitical collapse is imminent due to the ongoing destruction of its evangelical foundations, despite & because of all of your (stated or unstated) good intentions.


Deuxglass said...

Here in France the number of infected suddenly doubled to 38 with more on the way it was just announced. We have a member of the Assembly sick too. It looks like we are turning into Italy. We have municipal elections coming up in three weeks about. They are important because they ultimately determine the political orientation of the Senate. I wonder how they are going to hold them during an epidemic. It's getting interesting.

If you can catch the virus again after being cured then that would definitely not be a good thing. Colds are like that too. The immunity is short-lived. If that is the situation then we will have to rely on treatment to eradicate it. Fortunately we have some promising molecules in development.

David Brin said...

“OMG (home-ownership) is expensive.”
Um. Assenting as four guys crawl all over our house, repainting for the 1st time in 20 years. Necessary vs termites and the wafting embers from the fires that sweep nearby every 7 years. How I hate eaves! Stupidest architectural feature imaginable.

locum on vitamins!: “The fact remains that (1) the much beloved doctrines of the Enlightenment, Deism, Democracy, Humanism, Abolitionism & Progressivism are built upon the principles of Evangelical Christianity, (2) Evangelical Christianity has now been declared non compos mentis by the modern variant of Progressivism, and (3) Progressivism, in an attempt to purge itself of unsound religious hokum, is now engaged in the deliberate deconstruction of its foundational doctrine.”

Cogently and logically put together! And it’s TRUE… about a minority of progressives…

… and as usual, diametrically opposite to fact in all ways, when it comes to a large majority.

In fact, Enlightenment values derive far more from rediscovery of Athenian ones… and Jewish contributions such as jubilee and the right to yell at kings and sunset limits on slavery.

Aaaaan… he returns to form with “But, one thing is for certain and the rest is lies, that western sociopolitical collapse is imminent due to the ongoing destruction of its evangelical foundations, despite & because of all of your (stated or unstated) good intentions.”

Pfeh. If your oligarchs succeed, all will be moot because most of us here will be shot… and then locum as he screams “But I opposed them! I have the copies!”

Did you see the footage of the deputy Iranian Health Minister hacking and wheezing on Tehran TV assuring everyone all’s well?

Larry Hart said...

Evangelical Christianity has now been declared non compos mentis by the modern variant of Progressivism

It was the other way around.

Larry_H's opinion of what constitutes 'true' Christianity is irrelevant;

Well, in a way, since I've never been a member of the club. But I know what I see and read, and the Trump-loving Evangelicals seem to have no use for the things that Jesus actually preached. Now that we know that, what do we know?

I may not know what true Christianity is, but I know some things that it isn't, and one thing it isn't is a club whose members have more civil rights and privileges than their neighbors.

duncan cairncross said...

"How I hate eaves!"

When I lived in Christchurch there was a subdivision that was "Tuscany Style" - houses without eaves
In NZ that was a terrible terrible design
Here the eaves keep the rain off the walls - and there is little downside

Tuscany has a different rainfall pattern to NZ!

It's different living in a country where the local insects eat houses

Alfred Differ said...

As a younger man in my 40’s, I painted the exterior of my home. Not so anymore. If I climb that kind of ladder, my wife frets about permanent loss of income from injury. Can’t blame her either, but more importantly it shows that home ownership is not necessarily a step toward security. 8)

The way I learned about Abolitionism labelled it as part of the Progressive movement. Definitely motivated by religious concerns for many in the US. Passions ran intense enough to spark our Civil War. Countered by reactionaries from other faith positions, though. Both sides still exist with modern abolitionists opposing human/sex trafficking (what’s left of the institution of slavery) and reactionaries struggling to preserve their hold on the power to determine social rules.

That leaves old school liberals (they are not progressives or reactionaries) poking at traditions occasionally, but mostly demanding that people be let alone most of the time. Not abandoned… just liberated from social rules that are maintained by minority power blocs. Maybe majority blocs too, but that depends on the size of the majority.

Confusing the different faith groups fails to distinguish progressives from reactionaries. It should be obvious to the densest person alive that they aren’t the same. What might not be clear, though, is that they aren’t exhaustive in categorizing us. Both are actually minorities in the US.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfred: I'm going to astonish you and agree. A rising tide lifts all boats.

duncan cairncross said...


As a young man with my first job after Uni I rented

The main reason I bought a house was that I had to move about every six months - things would change and the owners would return or decide to sell or something

After about nine or ten moves I said sodd this and bought a house - and when it's yours you can change things

David Brin said...

A side request. Me+wife+son just caught up on all Big Bang Theory episodes. Recommend another comedy series with similar lightheartedness and a touch of nerdy whimsy?

Keith Halperin said...

@ Dr. Brin: re: TV:
My wife and I enjoyed "Silicon Valley" and (as I frequently worked down there and as Homer Simpson said): "It's *funny because it's true."
I've heard "The IT Crowd" was good, but haven't seen it yet.
IMHO, **VERY funny and about things some nerds like is the series (and movie)"What We Do In the Shadows" and in a similar vein (pun intended) much lower-budget and "amusing" is "Wellington Paranormal". Duncan might be able to tell you more about that (it's set in/from NZ as is the movie WWDITS.)

*Funny but not really "whimsical".

**Frequent, actual, LOL...

Tony Fisk said...

I don't think it fills the request humour-wise, but "Tales from the Loop" just popped up on my radar today. Based on a series of artworks by Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag, and a role playing game set in an alternate '80s. It sounds intriguing... *if* you have Amazon Prime.

Tacitus said...

The IT Crowd for sure. It is a treasure.

T. Wolter

TCB said...

Investigative journalist Greg Palast: How Trump will steal the 2020 election

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Halt and Catch Fire" was also a good "dawn of the home computer age" dramedy, with engaging characters.

locumranch said...

The 'Big Bang Theory' isn't funny, but MSNBC & CNN are.

Today, both MSNBC & CNN are attempting to lay blame for Corona virus-related Stock Market plunge squarely upon the Trump Administration's 'unpreparedness' and relative 'incompetence' in the face of pandemic.

One possible countermove is for Trump to (1) cite DB's conspiracy theory from this week, (2) assert that COVID-19 is the deliberate scientific creation of a traitorous 'enlightened' secular fact-using scientific caste with the 'Deep State' and (3) call for a massive purge of all deep state-employed scientists, the NIH, the CDC, "the "University of North Carolina and 15 researchers from various institutions".

A more extreme move would be to (1) declare that the COVID-19 crisis is a nebulous 'Act of War', (2) invoke the War Powers Resolution of 1973, (2) declare 'war' against an unspecified 'hostile agents' within the US government without congressional approval and (3) apprehend the entrenched deep state secular fact-using scientific caste for immediate & brutal military justice.

The first scenario would be pretty funny, the second scenario less so, but BOTH scenarios would make a great movie of the week starring Dustin Hoffman jumping in & out of helicopters in a daring attempt to save the world single-handedly.


Larry Hart said...

This is why I have no sympathy for Rush Limbaugh's health problems.



The story changed once it became clear that the virus was spreading well beyond China. At that point it became a hoax perpetrated by the news media. Rush Limbaugh weighed in: “It looks like the coronavirus is being weaponized as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump. Now, I want to tell you the truth about the coronavirus. … The coronavirus is the common cold, folks.”

Limbaugh was, you may not be surprised to hear, projecting. Back in 2014 right-wing politicians and media did indeed try to politically weaponize a disease outbreak, the Ebola virus, with Trump himself responsible for more than 100 tweets denouncing the Obama administration’s response (which was actually competent and effective).

And in case you’re wondering, no, the coronavirus isn’t like the common cold. In fact, early indications are that the virus may be as lethal as the 1918 Spanish Flu, which killed as many as 50 million people.


Larry Hart said...


Today, both MSNBC & CNN are attempting to lay blame for Corona virus-related Stock Market plunge squarely upon the Trump Administration's 'unpreparedness' and relative 'incompetence' in the face of pandemic.

And what exactly do you think is wrong about that? Trump didn't cause the outbreak, but he is quite responsible for the lack of confidence in the United States government's ability and competence to react to such an outbreak. The Trump business model relies on followers who will blindly accept anything he says over the evidence of their lying eyes, but the coronavirus is becoming a situation Orwell described as running into Reality on a battlefield.

One possible countermove is for Trump to (1) cite DB's conspiracy theory from this week, (2) assert that COVID-19 is the deliberate scientific creation of a traitorous 'enlightened' secular fact-using scientific caste with the 'Deep State' and (3) call for a massive purge of all deep state-employed scientists, the NIH, the CDC, "the "University of North Carolina and 15 researchers from various institutions".

Is there anything up there other than citing Dr Brin that Trump isn't actually doing, and wasn't already doing even before COVID-19 reared its ugly head? I understand that both you and Benedict Donald would love to purge those evil fact-believing, competent civil servants who have the nerve not to take his word as Gospel, but is that really a good strategy in the face of a situation that might actually require knowledge and competence to deal with?

David Brin said...

Yeah. Alas, locum's ravings are couched as mockery, but I suspect they are actual recommendations for the mafia-oligarchy to put folks like us in camps.

Zepp Jamieson said...

The reason it's in northern California is because the government flew a bunch of people--both infected and not--back to Travis AFB IN THE SAME PLANE, and once there, had DHS employees, lacking both training and protective equipment to deal with the returnees. Then after exposure, they were free to go their own ways. At least one flew commercial to back east. Another, still asymptomatic, infected a woman who had nothing at all to do with Travis. It was so egregiously incompetent that CDC refused to allow itself to be involved once it became clear utter fools in Washington were calling the shots.
So Trump didn't cause the virus, and he didn't cause the financial panic, but his dismantling of administrative overlook of possible pandemic, and the incredible incompetence erased any hope of containing the outbreak.
And of course our disgraceful medical system ensures many many deaths.

scidata said...

I would give a lot for the US to be less divided. My American relatives are split 50-50 Union and Confederate, and I love them all. Here's a Canadian joke to lessen the tension:

Soon Canada will take over the world.
Then you'll all be sorry.

Deuxglass said...

Come one Larry. The US market is down because there is the sudden realization that this virus is going to cause economic disruptions that have never happened before in living memory. If people can't work, goods and services can't be produced and consequently not only do companies not make money, they lose money at an impressive rate so they fire people even those that can work from home. That is why the market is tanking. All stock markets are down roughly the same. It's got nothing to do with Trump. It's got everything to do with the economic fall outs from the virus.

matthew said...

Lots of right-wingers talking about using their guns against the same doctors that could save them, not just loco. Dang, I finally buy my gorgeous first edition of The Postman to replace my battered paperback copy just in time to see the Holnists actually rising in America?! Dafuq!

Oh, and please vote Warren in the primaries. Never have I more wanted a competent POTUS With A Plan For That!

locumranch said...

To change the hearts & minds of those like David who may be prejudiced against the marvelous all-inclusive camp experience, C. M. Kornbluth made the following letter-writing campaign recommendation in his seminal 'how to' manual:

Dear Alma, I am fine and hope you are fine. It is a fine place here fine climate and easy living. The doctor told me today that I seem to be ten years younger. He thinks there is something in the air here keeps people young. We do not have much trouble with the greasers here they keep to theirselves it is just a question of us outnumbering them and staking out the best places for the Americans. In South Bay I know a nice little island that I have been saving for you and Sam with lots of blanket trees and corned beef bushes. Hoping to see you and Sam soon, your loving brother, Ed.

Inspired by both Norm Chomsky & Edward Bernays, C. M. Kornbluth described the best way to 'manufacture consent' (by the judicious use of advertising) during perilous & divisive times such as these. Link provided below.



A.F. Rey said...

Not along the lines of The Big Bang Theory, but my wife, adult son and I really enjoy these comedies on Netflix:

Grace and Frankie: O.F.* comedy with Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston. The two men are partners in a law firm who decide to divorce their wives and marry each other. The two women, who are polar opposites, come together to cope. Good writing and great performances.

The Kominsky Method: Another O.F. comedy with Michael Douglas as an aging actor running an acting studio, and his good friend and old agent Alan Arkin dealing with aging. Also well written. Has lots of fun with serious aging issues.

And one from a few years ago:

Episodes: Two English comedy writers get talking into coming to Hollywood to adapt their award-winning English series to American audiences, and go through hell dealing with Hollywood culture. Matt LeBlanc plays a scummy version of himself, although everyone in Hollywood turns out to be scum, dragging the couple down. Lots of dry English humor and outrageous situations. I have never laughed so hard or so long at a string of invective before or since.

I wouldn't show any of these to children, although they are better than most HBO shows. :)

*O.F. = Old Fart, since the combined age of the starring casts well exceed the age of our country. :)

Larry Hart said...

In private business, if a CEO were running his company into the ground through incompetence and myopia, would anyone accept the excuse that the act of pointing out that incompetence as a reason to remove him from the office is in any way UNFAIR (tm)?

Only in this degraded upside-down world can it be the case that hating what Trump is doing to the country is a bias which disqualifies ones judgement as that of a mere partisan enemy. If defending the country's values is partisan, it is only because the other party has abdicated its role. The fault is theirs, not ours.


TheMadLibrarian said...

Larry, I regret to inform you that running a company into the ground (incompetence and myopia optional) is SOP for vulture capitalists. The MO is purchase a company ripe for buyout by leveraging its own outstanding stock against it, sell off the profitable parts, load up the remainder with the debt incurred from the original purchase, then let it die an unnatural death. See also Toys 'R' Us, sears, and a number of other struggling companies.

Larry Hart said...


Point taken on vulture capitalists, but that's not what Trump ever was. He tries to make a go of businesses just as he's trying to make a go of the presidency as a business, with about his usual level of success.

David Brin said...

Zepp you are on your way to post of the day. Do you have supporting links to that story about Travis.

scidata… you got it backward. Let the US annex all Canada except Alberts. The Senate would be blue and the gOP extinct. We fix things (say from my list of 31 items) and the world rejoices. Then we let Canada leave again, but take S Carolina and Florida with you?

matthew, I agree. She’s not perfect. But Warren is as close as we’ve got to a sweet spot.

Alfred Differ said...

Rachel Maddie was talking about the subject raised here by Zepp. Yesterday I believe.

TCB said...

A ‘Corrupt’ Response and ‘Cover-Up’: Trump Admin Appears to Have Sparked Coronavirus Outbreak in U.S.

Yep, Zepp called it. Both the WaPo and NYT corroborate. It's coming from a whistleblower.

"(1) U.S. workers were sent to the epicenter of the Coronavirus outbreak without proper training or protective gear; (2) those same employees were not tested for the Coronavirus; (3) many of those employees returned home on a commercial flight; (4) after raising concerns about the wisdom of 1-3, she was allegedly reassigned and faced termination for speaking up through the chain-of-command."

I swear, it almost seems like the chuds unconsciously WANT to get tumbreled. They just won't quit while they're ahead.

duncan cairncross said...

Incompetent CEO's

If you actually worked for a large company you you would realise that any criticism of the CEO or the awful incompetent decisions taken will lead to your immediate termination!

The layers below cannot criticises the layers above and keep their jobs

TCB said...

A Third of Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force Is at a Conservative Convention

It just gets better and better. At the post office today, they were handing out antiseptic wipes. After work, I heard people talking about COVID-19 at a store. It's on everybody's radar now. The Trump crew's developing strategy is to blame whatever happens next on Democrats and loose borders.

Tim H. said...

A light's gone out:

Larry Hart said...

duncan cairncross:

If you actually worked for a large company you you would realise that any criticism of the CEO or the awful incompetent decisions taken will lead to your immediate termination!

But the thing is, congress, even the Republicans therein, are not supposed to be subordinates of the president. Their relationship is not one of boss to employee. And that is certainly true of the New York Times or CNN. The media's job is to inform the public of reality, and congress has an oversight role. The idea that they're doing something wrong, let alone something sinister by accurately assessing the root causes of governmental malpractice is absurd. I'll go further and assert that actively trying to defeat a president who is a clear and present danger to the country is no vice.

Limbaugh, Mulvaney, and Benedict Donald himself are the un-American ones in the scenario.

TCB said...

Meanwhile, on the Dem side of the aisle: 'The Democratic Party Has a Problem': Bloomberg Hires Super Tuesday State Democratic Vice Chairs - "It boggles my mind that this doesn't seem to break any rules."

An oligarch is trying to buy the only party that can stop the oligarchs.

Do you want Robespierres? Because this is how you get Robespierres.

Larry Hart said...

Well, it's delayed by a day for leap year, but once again we move ahead from the six consecutive months with seven-or-more letters in their (English language) names to the six consecutive months with fewer-than-seven letters. Usually the most wonderful time of the year.

With all that's going on, it's hard to be excited about such trivialities, but I've got to have something to think positively about.

Tacitus said...

I think efforts to "blame" the Trump admin for whatever happens with the coronavirus are ill considered. Of course there will be screw ups. We are dealing with human beings. If the CDC people on the ground did not follow sensible precautions then then the ramifications are on them and on their supervisors. I'm a fan of firing the incompetent...or better yet their managers.

But if we are being honest there are other factors. This is an evolving situation. Mistakes made weeks ago with the available info can't be judged by today's new data. Although of course it is the job of the managers, not the grunts, to project trend lines.

And limiting air travel from hot spots? Exactly the right thing to do. I know my progressive colleagues here have a hard time admitting it, echoing as it does the concerns about Muslim Bans and Border Walls and such like. But hey, when Obama did something right I said so. Don't see everything as Black and White. Or Blue and Orange.


locumranch said...

Chuddish children on both sides spoiling for a fight: The Right's boorish behaviour seems to court tumbrels & the Left's slanderous accusations invites pogroms.

The odds are 5 to 1 that both sides will get the fight they want, but I'm out -- I'll be napping on the sidelines with the adults -- wake us when you've settled it amongst yourselves.


Zepp Jamieson said...

Doctor: the story is out now--CNN and the NYTs both had it last night.
TCB: Trump is ALREADY blaming Democrats and their "open border policies" for the coronavirus. As of this morning, the US had 68 cases, Mexico 2.
Tim: One expects screwups. The testing kits that didn't work properly are a fairly typical example. Yes, there will be honest mistakes. But the incident at Travis goes far into the realm of utter, mindblowing incompetence. And the fact that all information relating to the spread of the disease is to be funnelled through Pence's office means we will be getting incomplete and inaccurate information, and flat-out lies. The Trump administration cannot be trusted.
Scidata: I always liked Robin William's description of how it is for Canadians living next to the US: "It's like being in a really nice apartment over a meth lab."

Tacitus said...

Zepp I don't straight up trust any official information. Ever wonder why the 1918 virus was called "Spanish Influenza"? All the other major nations were fighting to the death in 1918 and had heavily censored newspapers. Only neutral Spain told mostly truthful accounts of what was going on. And their reward is to have the pandemic linked with their country forever!

Keep a close eye on the cases in Nigeria. If it gets out of hand that's where we will see it first.

T. Wolter

Larry Hart said...


but I'm out -- I'll be napping on the sidelines...

Despite your Roarschach fantasies, we could wish for nothing else.

with the adults -- wake us when you've settled it amongst yourselves.

The adults no doubt going, "What do you mean 'us', white man?" :)

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

I think efforts to "blame" the Trump admin for whatever happens with the coronavirus are ill considered.

Maybe so, although not as ill considered as previous efforts to blame President Obama for ebola--efforts in large part engaged in by then-private-citizen Donald Trump.

I've said often that I'm willing to let Republicans determine the rules as long as everyone then plays by those same rules. I'm not willing to let Republicans lay the blame for any kind of s*** at a Democratic president or congress and then turn around and go "It's not really any individual's fault..." when something similar or worse occurs under their leadership. I've already related (though you might not have been "here" at the time) that I work with an Iranian expatriate who is happy with Trump as president and seems mainly concerned with the fact that the stock market does so well under him. When I reminded him how well the stock market did under President Obama and asked rhetorically whether he gave that president the same credit, he thought about how to answer and went with "Well, really it's not the president's doing either way." But he said it with the kind of look that meant "But in Trump's case, he does deserve the credit."

Fairly or unfairly, your comment above struck me similarly.

I'm not so interested in blaming Trump for the disease (what exactly would follow from that anyway?) as using this as an I-told-you-so teachable moment as to why many of us seemed to actually care about the fact that this man is unqualified to perform the duties of the office of the presidency. So far, we've been lucky enough for his incompetence and grifting to mean little more than entertainment and a means of upsetting liberals. I expect and fear that is about to change, and that even those among us who don't want a liberal president will rue the day they elected an incompetent one.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Not just Nigeria, Tim. Bangladesh, much of eastern Europe, and the central African regions are all catastrophes waiting to happen.
Truth is the first casualty of war, and we will be at war with this disease soon enough. But in early days most government are interested in truthful and accurate information in order to fight it more effectively. For now, the exceptions seem to be the US, and North Korea.

David Brin said...

Rim said: "And limiting air travel from hot spots? Exactly the right thing to do. I know my progressive colleagues here have a hard time admitting it."

You "know" this, Tim? You know no such thing. It is part & parcel with the desperate need of RASRs ti come up with "liberals are as cray as the rbid insanity of conservatism. Alas for this incantation, it's not even remotely true.

"Mistakes wer made"... like firing all the folks in charge of preparing and/or fast decision making re pandemics? You cannot bring yourself to admit that was insanity and treason and the surface fizz of an al-out war vs all fact professions?

Tony Fisk said...

Why Nigeria?
Well, they had sufficient medical skill to see off Ebola.
They currently have one reported case.

Incidentally, number of cases reported depends partly on the number of checks being made. Apart from the community cluster, Korea has been testing diligently. The US, not so much. Indonesia, barely at all.

Tacitus said...


Nigeria because I'm interested in the seasonality of Corona virus. That will tell us a lot about what lies ahead for the US. Of course influenza is a poor model here but it's one of the few we have long experience with. Historically the strain we are going to see starts in China in the summer but does not make it to the US until winter. With odd exceptions....why cruise ships in Alaska get hit early...?

Will this be a fall/winter disease? If so we might see flares in places like Nigeria (and I don't believe their stats) and alas, Australia/NZ. If so, look out.

Or maybe not. We've had similar epidemics fizzle out for reasons also unknown.

Errors aside reducing the number of cases coming from known hotspots will at a minimum give us a smaller base to the pyramid and a little more time to figure things out.

There is an excellent discussion of the economics of this coming out of the container ship industry.https://pjmedia.com/trending/the-shipping-container-industry-has-gamed-out-what-the-coronavirus-may-do-take-a-seat/ Actual article behind paywall but here's the short version.

Re Ebola response it has been robust and ongoing. I know people in the field right now. The CDC has hardly been gutted, but it has been encouraged to focus on its core mission which is stuff like this. Current director appropriately is a virologist. In the way of our current body politic he did come in for some criticism for business dealings but he is in no way a science denying hack.

T Wolter

Anonymous said...

But the thing is, congress, even the Republicans therein, are not supposed to be subordinates of the president.

The thing is, Trump has spent his entire life in a situation where there is a boss, and it's usually been him. I don't think he understands any other way of organizations working. (To be fair, he's not the only one who makes that mistake. Talk to union shop stewards about the number of managers that need education in actually following the contract — also something that Trump struggles with.)

Looking in from the outside, I suspect your country's biggest problem is that your political system isn't equipped to deal with someone who ignores the unwritten rules. Not just Trump — your whole Republican party (and its supporters) seem to feel that rules only apply to someone else, or that rules can be made and unmade on-the-fly for individual circumstances (something I'm dealing with at work right now, which is why I'm posting anonymously). In other words, the Law is what the strong men (and they're nearly always men) say it is.

Anonymous said...

Robert here,

firing all the folks in charge of preparing and/or fast decision making re pandemics

Mike Harris did that in Ontario just before SARS hit. There's a reason Ontario had most of the SARS cases (and deaths) in Canada.

Larry Hart said...


There's a reason Ontario had most of the SARS cases (and deaths) in Canada.

Dave Sim, who is from Ontario (Kitchener) had a theory for that. Remember, this was just after the US had demanded a "coalition of the willing" to help invade Iraq, and Canada had politely refused. According to Dave, SARS was God's way of demonstrating to the liberals of Ontario the consequences of siding with China over the US. See, China was against the Iraq invasion, and SARS began in China, so...

I wish I was kidding.

Shortly thereafter, there were major unexplained power outages affecting both London and the US east coast. In all seriousness, I wrote to Dave asking if that might be a sign from God that he disapproved of the bombing by those two countries which was knocking out power in Baghdad. He accused me of playing parlor games.

Again, I wish I was kidding.

David Brin said...

Tim said: "The CDC has hardly been gutted, but it has been encouraged to focus on its core mission which is stuff like this. Current director appropriately is a virologist."

So? Only the most paranoid perceive the War on All Fact Professions as intended to destroy all technical abilities and bring total darkness. (Though yes, it sometimes seems consistent.)

No, the aim is to bring the "boffins to heel" and teach the smarty-pants experts to obey like good little nerds. The entire pandemic preparedness division at CDC was not "behaving". Good excuse for a budget cut. For which we may pay thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of doallrs.

locumranch said...

A Public Service Announcement from an ER physician, seriously:

Since Robert has invoked SARS & CNN is in full panic mode due to an isolated case of 'community spread' in a Kirkland WA nursing care center, remember that SARS and MERS are (1) both endemic in North America for 8 and 17 years respectively, (2) both cause respiratory symptoms indistinguishable from COVID-19, and (3) both are CORONAVIRUSES that may be indistinguishable from any other coronavirus with our current rapidly-improvised COVID-19 test kits.

And, please, please, pretty please, DO NOT GO to the nearest ER if you come down with mild to moderate upper respiratory (and/or flu-like) symptoms unless you want to completely destroy our tottering understaffed medical system.


Larry Hart said...

Columnist Clarence Page continues to agree with me. Too much to quote in full, but he hits on all the points I made above: The administration response is more about "It's not my fault" than about solutions; Trump the private citizen repeatedly attacked President Obama for his response to the ebola crisis; and that gutting the CDC will turn out to be a mistake for which the answer to "Who could have known?" is "Anyone with a working brain."


President Donald Trump’s news conference Wednesday about efforts to stem COVID-19, the coronavirus spreading around the world, quickly became focused on stopping the spread of blame to Donald Trump.

As a result, the news conference meant to calm fears appeared to have precisely the opposite effect on jittery Wall Street markets and other yardsticks.


The markets had been spooked, he said, by the possibility of Bernie Sanders or one of the other Democratic candidates becoming the next president.


Then still a New York real estate developer and reality TV star, apparently hurt by the ridicule Obama had heaped on him before an audience of Washington elite at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, Trump tweeted the following:

“Ebola patient will be brought to the U.S. in a few days — now I know for sure that our leaders are incompetent. KEEP THEM OUT OF HERE!”

When the Ebola panic was growing as cases spread in West Africa, Trump called on Obama to cancel flights coming out of the region. “I am starting to think that there is something seriously wrong with President Obama’s mental health,” Trump tweeted in 2014. "Why won’t he stop the flights. Psycho!”


The story of the Trump pandemic response actually began early in his administration when he began cutting funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including major cuts in funds for global disease outbreaks and the National Security Council’s section for global health security.


scidata said...

Starship SN1 blowed up real good Friday night. So it looks like many months or perhaps years to analyze results, rethink, and redesign. Just kidding. They'll begin stacking SN2 in a few days or even hours (this time with the welding torches set properly), still planning orbit by year's end. Astonishing.

Unlike the WH, I don't think Musk wants to bring boffins to heel. What he wants is a different thing. In fact, the opposite thing. As Dave Chappelle once said, "Mars, bitches".

Deuxglass said...

Tim Wolter,

You gave a very good take on the virus situation. The French director-general of health (the top functionary in the department and not a politician) just announced that there are new cases in St. Martin and Guadeloupe which are tropical. They are watching it carefully to see if the virus has a harder time in warm and humid climates. Also he gave a good explanation of why children seem very resistant. Their lungs are immature and haven't yet developed the parts of the cell walls there that allow the virus to attach to them.

Deuxglass said...

For those who like wading through the nitty gritty of planning details, the U.S. department of Health and Human Services updated in 2017 their Pandemic Influenza Plan. It's 50 pages of interesting and useful stuff. It gives us a lot of good details of the operational side.


Tacitus said...


It is very good news that the young seem resistant. The 1918 flu disproportinately killed healthy young adults. It was the overwhelming immune response that actually destroyed the lungs. Then secondary infections finished them off. If you have ever wondered why your kid's are being immunized against a bacteria called Hemophilus Influenza its because this was one of the secondary pathogens isolated early and confused with the real culprit.

With your bit of medical trivia for the day delivered I'll do something that is for me not common. Agree wholeheatedly with Locum. Don't go the the ER for trivial things. You are reducing the survival chances for more vulnerable, sicker people likely exposing yourself to additional risks as well.

At the FIRST robotics event we will be attending in a few days teams and officials are forgoing the usual handshakes and high fives. Lets hope it is an over reaction.

We'll know in a few weeks I suspect.

T. Wolter

Tony Fisk said...

Latest case in Australia stems from someone returning from Bali last Friday (Now trying to get in touch with all passengers on flight). After a month without adequate testing, Indonesia has just flagged two cases.

I gather the Chinese are experimenting with foot taps by way of greeting.

David Brin said...