Saturday, March 14, 2020

Fast-changing times! Whose economy is it? And taxes that could save us.

Fast-changing times! Much of this posting was written way back in the seemingly stable and predictable era of February 2020. It's all still pertinent! But I'll remark here and there from the sci fi lurid movie that is mid-March.

First though... a profane, sarcastic and accurate video on COVID-19 offered as a PSA from "The Government." And yes, we're still free enough to do satire. For now. 

Stay safe out there. 

== Boy, stuff can happen fast ==

The business site Phil’s Stock World carries an excerpt from my book Polemical Judo as a guest editorial. “The War on All Fact People.” For those willing to navigate visitor privilege. And yes, this should be the core topic hammered by every pundit or politician who is not a blackmailed or suborned Moscow shill.

Remember when your RASR friends used to (one month ago) admit every foul stench of Trump and his minions, but then they'd answer with three things that made up for it all: taxes, judges and the Trump economy? (And in a few cases abortion.) Elsewhere we talk about each of these rationalizations and why every one bites the RASRs hard in the nards.

But from February's perspective, wasn't the economy a plus, at least? Braggable numbers in employment, for example?

 Wrong. Here are charts showing that both total and manufacturing employment improved at rates established across 7 years of the Obama Administration, with GOP actions changing those rates not an iota . 

Their giant tax cuts for the rich and for corporate stock buy-backs did accelerate wealth disparity, as has slashed corruption enforcement. But actual take-home pay increases have only happened in blue states that increased the minimum wage. Above all, those tax cuts accelerated skyrocketing debt without ever, even slightly, stimulating R&D and product development or production, as "Supply Side" has always promised to do. It... is... a... proved... cult.

Show these charts especially to any minority folks who are tempted to credit that pack of racist traitors with improved black employment. It was Obama etc. (Chart source: Slate: State of the Economy)

Also from February... at the Evonomics site: “Saving Capitalism from Inequality: Robust middle incomes deliver the demand that businesses need to produce.”

Only now, in mid-March 2020, the "Trump Economy" excuse seems to be collapsing along with the Dow.  And (alas) this will likely affect employment, but without any doubt will reduce tax revenues while sending expenses skyrocketing.

Blue states have mostly done what governments should do, in good times, socked away rainy-day funds. Watch, oh you supposed "deficit hawks" (actually stunning hypocrites), as for the upteenth time Democrats prove to be the fiscally responsible ones.

== How a particular, very small tax might save us all from Skynet ==

Years ago, I joined the very few out there demanding the “Tobin Tax” or a very small tax on every financial transaction (outside personal banking). It’s gaining traction, as we speak. In fact, see the chart below, how all the major Democratic candidates are now for something like a 0.01% tax that no private person would notice at all, but would draw large revenues from the cheating Wall Street firms whose computers perform millions of trades per day, or even minute.

While others promote this method for both revenue and fairness reasons, I am alone in calling it desperately needed, in order to save us all from Terminator! A few of you remember this riff. The rest of you should find it both entertaining and scary! Here’s the nutshell version:

The sanity and friendliness of AI will depend - as it does in animals - upon "what it eats." Fully half of all the money spent on AI research today is spent by Wall Street firms like Goldman-Sachs, creating smart systems whose ethos is predatory, parasitical, insatiable, rapacious and utterly amoral. The transaction tax would end those incentives instantly. Most of the Wall Street “quants” or super-trade programmers would have to get honest work or help make AI at institutions that are comparatively harmless and vastly more inherently moral than Wall Street. Like universities. Or Facebook. Or the Military.

Oh, here are those capsule summary Democratic candidate tax plans.

== Will the Dems use modern tactics? ==

Preliminary signs indicate that the two remaining candidates for the Democratic Party's nom are scheming NOT to harm each other. If so... and if they pick up some fresh tactics and the VP choice is excellent (I pick Liz)... we may see some intelligence among our generals, at last.  (It only took Lincoln four years.)

Example: Bernie and Biden seem to be stipulating things they share in common or are willing to concede to each other. If they do this well, perhaps it indicates some folks on their staffs finally read Polemical Judo!

But they are not our salvation. WE are! The lesson I preached in The Postman. No one will save us if we leave it up to "leaders."

Above all, we need not only to strive for Big Turnout (which worked in 92 and 2008 but utterly failed in 94 and 2010, and failed Bernie two weeks ago). We also need to keep poking and prying at the Confederate coalition! For example getting Utah folks to realize they have nothing in common with states that are steeped in moral turpitude. And getting Republican engineers to see that they should not support science haters.

Yes, RASRs are obstinate!  So? Each one peeled away weakens the Confederate-Putinist-Foxite putsch more than you can know.

The one thing that works: "Let's escrow real money for wager stakes. And choose eminent retired military officers and other conservative types who worked in fact professions to serve as judges. Then I will bet your imbecile ass over any of the rants spewed by Rush Limbaugh, on ANY random day!"

Or else. "Pick at random any 20 of the 18000 registered Trump lies. RANDOM! If 10+ prove to be true, you get my house. 
"If 10+ are proved as outright lies by the President of the U.S., I get yours. Deal?"

Watch them run! Their macho pose fallen around their ankles. Do it in front of witnesses.

And more on how to do this at


scidata said...

Hard to keep up with the Starship progress. SN2 passed pressure tests. SN3 being readied for short flights. SN4 on pace for longer flights. SN5, SN6 rings underway. Second vehicle assembly building under construction. 4 shifts = 24/7 work with plenty of rest and hot food. This is how you get to Mars ASAP.

Oh, and StarLink, Crew Dragon, and Starship booster all proceeding well. Fast-changing times indeed. Wild.

Don Gisselbeck said...

Without teh ebul gummint, the predator class would be unable to do financial transactions, (or escape evisceration in front of their families), so it is only right that they should pay for it.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Since we're all going to be putting in a lot of home time over the next few weeks or months, here's a short list of free online comics worth reading:
Girl Genius
Stand Still, Stay Silent

Streaming shows worth watching:
Kingdom (vampire pandemic in mediaeval Korea)
Russian Doll (Groundhog Day with teeth)
The Mandalorian (Star Wars minus the leaden dialogue and with flashes of humour)

Animated Shows
Vinland Saga (just ignore the dates, which are three centuries out of phase)
The Promised Neverland

Book Sagas
His Dark Materials and Book of Dust by Phillip Pullman
Foundation (Asimov, Brin and others)
Uplift Saga, by the end of which humanity is very nearly extinct, and you get to play Adam and Eve with Ivanka Trump.

Happy surfing the plague!

David Brin said...

"Knives Out" was entertaining and had some genuinely original moments and twists... and flaws. But enjoyable. A (very) few watchers noticed that the fictive victim - a renowned mystery writer - had a Hugo Award on one shelf. Don't any of you get any ideas. I'm taking it all with me!

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

My wife and I don't get out to many new movies anymore, but we did go see Knives Out around the first of the year, and I second the recommendation. It was a very enjoyable Agatha Christie-like mystery. Some aspects might classify it as a "comedy" in the fashion of Murder By Death or Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe, though not quite as farcical as either of those.

I had been intending to see it again to notice how some of the twists hold up. Now, I guess I might have to do so on Netflix or the like.

(As for coronavirus-induced binging, we'll probably finish off our remaining 1.5 seasons of Game of Thrones, although I get the sense we've already seen the best of it with Season 6. Sic Semper Television )

Larry Hart said...

Unbidden, an old 1960s-era commercial for a dishwashing detergent--I think it was Palmolive, but I'm not swearing to that--came to mind. In the commercial, a woman's manicurist is telling her how gentle the product is on hands, and then surprises her with, "You're soaking in it." The woman looks horrified at her hand and says, "Dishwashing liquid?!!" to which the manicurist reassures her, "Don't worry, it's [I think it was] Palmolive!"

And I'm thinking that, since soap is apparently a good agent for breaking down the viruses on one's hand, that sort of thing might actually become trendy.

Tacitus said...

Repeating my vote for The IT Crowd on Netflix.

Also surprisingly enjoying the Jack Ryan series there. Anything with even slightly nuanced, interesting characters will do these days. Stargate SG-1 is on Amazon Prime. More than a bit silly but characters you come to care about. And such generous portions....9 seasons!

But in general time to seek out stuff in a more heroic vein. LOTR would be an option but only the 2nd and 3rd installments on streaming. So I've just picked up the book again.

My own off topic, unbidden entry: While spending too much time at the computer I play "Dark Side of the Moon" over the headphones.

"And when the Band you're in starts playin' different tunes......"

T. Wolter

TCB said...

Both of these videos were posted yesterday.

Joe Biden's Illinois Virtual Town Hall

Bernie Sanders's Fireside Chat

Debate is tonight.

David Brin said...

Stargate was the other Star Trek. It had the same can-do spirit and optimistic notions that humanity might be worth something, though more of the underdog dramatic sensibility. My sole bicker was with the obsession that the general public on Earth must NEVER be told "Hey, we're at war with a horrific galactic empire." And it hardly leaks at all.

Why? Past a certain point? Especially the last few seasons when planet Earth, led by the USA, heads a galaxy wide victorious civilization? Um, you won't rock the boat even at that point? ;-)

scidata said...

Stargate reminds me of halcyon days in and around Vancouver where I lived during much of the early filming. Saw a few actors in restaurants, but Canadians don't rush up for pics and autographs (at least not back then). I guess Harry and Meghan find things have changed :(

Tacitus said...

"It's's all REAL".
- Jason Nesmitt, Galaxy Quest

As of course is SG-1.

In a universe of nigh infinite possibilities we ended up with one where in all the millions of inhabited planets every vista resembles one of six filming locations outside of Vancouver BC.

They told us. They flat out told us! You can hardly fault humanity for not believing.

T. Wolter

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

My sole bicker was with the obsession that the general public on Earth must NEVER be told "Hey, we're at war with a horrific galactic empire." And it hardly leaks at all.

Why? Past a certain point?

Sounds like the series was stuck with a trope, similar to that in 1960s-and-earlier superhero comics where the insistence that the hero's true identity remain secret was so prevalent. So many plots centered specifically on the potential unmasking of the title character. In more recent times, that idea has relaxed to the point where Tony Stark can simply announce "I'm Iron Man" at a press conference, and everyone else is probably like "Well, duh, we pretty much thought so already." But it was not ever thus.

matthew said...

I've joined a Slack workgroup called Helpful Engineering with the intent on designing / manufacturing emergency ventilators for use in the COVID-19 outbreak, if possible. URL is if you feel that you may have experiences or resources that could be used in this response to our emergency.

Don't just panic or worry. Act.

matthew said...

I've joined a slack workgroup devoted to designing / producing an emergency ventilator design for use in critical COVID-19 cases. URL is If you think you have skills or resources that may be useful in this situation, please consider joining.

Don't just panic or worry. Act.

(note: this may be a double post. I had an earlier version that disappeared. If a double post, then please ratchet up your response 2X :-)

Keith Halperin said...

@ Everybody: Well, you've opened a real can of worms here.
I've either seen- or heard good things about the following:

2012, W1A
Lemony Snickets: A Series of Unfortunate Events
Little Mosque on the Prairie
Russian Doll
Schitt's Creek
State of the Union
The Good Place
The IT Crowd
Year of the Rabbit

Criminal UK
Deutschland 83, 86
Foyle's War
Giri Haji
Lord Peter Wimsey (Very Old)
Summer of Rockets
The Bodyguard (The recent series, not the '80s movie)
The Capture
The Fall
The Killing
True Detective (I heard S01, S03 are the best.)

Altered Carbon
Avenue 5
Black Mirror
Into the Badlands
Man in the High Castle
Star Trek (Discovery, Picard, Continues, Horizon)
The City and the City
The Expanse
The Handmaid's Tale
The War of the Worlds (2019)
Years and Years (Goes into the near future)

A Discovery of Witches
Dracula (2020 Series)
Good Omens
In the Flesh
Les Revenants
The Magicians
The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead (The two series, NOT the documentaries about science fiction writers.... LOL)
What We Do In the Shadows (Series and Movie), Wellington Paranormal

Hard to Classify/Misc.-
Dispatches from Elsewhere
Russian Doll (also a comedy)

Stay Well,


locumranch said...

A profane, sarcastic and accurate video on COVID-19 offered as a PSA from "The Government."

And, speaking of significant numerical dumbFALLACY, there appears to be no attempt to distinguish between 'hospital mortality caused by COVID-19' versus 'hospital mortality ASSOCIATED with coronavirus', especially in elderly ICU patients with multiple comorbidities, even though --

"The modern intensive care unit (ICU) is the highest mortality unit in any hospital. There are approximately 4 million ICU admissions per year in the United States with average mortality rate reported ranging from 8-19%, or about 500,000 deaths annually".

Only now, in mid-March 2020, the "Trump Economy" excuse seems to be collapsing along with the Dow. And (alas) this will likely affect employment, but without any doubt will reduce tax revenues while sending expenses skyrocketing.

The very definition of 'Schadenfreude', aka "a shameful delight in the misfortunes of others", which blame-shifts pandemic responsibility away from progressive 'Open Border Globalism' onto the Trump Economy trade tariffs & isolationism, even though the scientific solution to COVID-19 appears to be the outright repudiation of Open Border Globalism & the universal adoption of the Trump Economy 'Secure Borders' agenda'.

Blue states have mostly done what governments should do, in good times, socked away rainy-day funds.

Not true. 'Blue states' have a much higher rate of (1) municipal bankruptcies, (2) underfunded public pension plans and (3) state debt & budgetary deficits as illustrated by the links below:



Alfred Differ said...

... and the Fed moves in a 2008-style liquidity action. Rates cut to 0% and QE to buy Treasuries.

There’s the evidence of a background liquidity issue.

Larry Hart said...


Only Nixon could go to China.

Apparently, only Republicans can do Quantitative Easing (without the chattering classes going nuts about it).

David Brin said...

Locumranch... (choke, cough, spit-take) .... argued... with... Facts? Actual facts?

1. Point taken. I rushed ahead with an inaccurate generalization based upon an accurate one. Yes, note all blue states are the same and New Jersey and Illinois have some malfeasance problems. Western blue states have almost no malfeasance and balanced budgets and rainy day funds... but

2. pension liabilities are problem long in building, largely because Reagan era goppers started stealing the vesting money. Note that confederates have fallen back on "pension liabilities" as their final refuge, since actual BUDGETS and SPENDING are so overhwelming proof that blues and dems are more fiscally responsible.

3. What locum just proved is that he CAN argue with facts. Therefor the fact that he does so seldom is even more powerfully indicative than it was before.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I'll enthusiastically second Keith's recommendations of Good Omens, Years and Years, Discovery, and Black Mirror.

duncan cairncross said...

For people looking for something to read
I have just finished the "Ell Donsaii" series by Laurence Dahners

Excellent light reading - not as good as our host but a "nice read"

Smurphs said...

Wow, Doc. You almost make me want to scroll back up and read Loco's post.


Larry Hart said...


The very definition of 'Schadenfreude', aka "a shameful delight in the misfortunes of others", which blame-shifts pandemic responsibility away from progressive 'Open Border Globalism' onto the Trump Economy trade tariffs & isolationism,...

As usual, you're doing the "bad marksman...missing the target" thing. Globalism has been a corporate goal since the 1980s. Liberals do certainly abhor the racism and prejudice that drives much of official immigration policy, but it's the business community which is fine with putting American workers and producers out of business as long as overseas production is cheaper.

In other words, you can maybe blame liberals for people being able to fly here from China, but you can't blame us for the fact that our supply chain is crippled when China shuts down.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

New Jersey and Illinois have some malfeasance problems. Western blue states have almost no malfeasance and balanced budgets and rainy day funds...

Point of clarification. Illinois has not been a consistently blue state (locally) until our own Barack Obama ran for president. Democratic governor Blagojevich did indeed fail to refill our rainy day fund after 9/11, but any such fund had already been depleted by the previous three Republican governors who ruled from 1977 through 2002. The Illinois state senate was Republican for much of the 80s and 90s, and there were two years in there where even the state house flipped. And during that time, when the economy was soaring and the prudent thing to do would be to build up a rainy day fund, Republican governor Jim Ryan splurged several billion dollars on a "Build Illinois" initiative which exhausted all of the surplus and then some.

Point being, while Illinois does have its own brand of corruption going on, it's not a specifically-Democratic problem.

Larry Hart said...

Goes without saying, any Brin that you haven't read yet would be a good way to fill some time.

Same goes for any Kurt Vonnegut.

There must be more I could recommend, but "I'm terrified* beyond the capacity for rational thought."

* That's a line from Ghostbusters. I'm not truly "terrified", but certainly disoriented to some extent.

David Brin said...

And a reminder.. My comedy novel THE ANCIENT ONES goes live on both Kindle and POD, this Thursday! Hundreds of you have already pre-ordered, helping give it a startup pop. Thank you! Only remember, comedy is hard! My poor attempts at punny har-har might miss your funny bone. But it's also pretty good science fiction (what did you expect?) And at the low price, maybe worth an experiment? Anyway, it IS a Brin novel... ;-)

See my newsletter about it at:

And everyone stay safe out there.

Anonymous said...

@ Zepp: Thanks.

@ Everybody: I recall recent discussion that COVID-19 should more properly (and politically expediently) be called "Wuhan Virus. While that may make sense (from the epidemiological sense), I won't do it. Rather, a free-floating meme from D-Level Hyperspace (or was it E-level Hyperspace?) embedded itself in me and suggested we should all start calling it the "Trump Virus", and spread the word- maybe it could go "viral"... #trumpvirus

@ Everybody: What's a "pension"?

Stay Well,


Alfred Differ said...

The mortality rate in the ICU is pretty high absent things like covid19.

In the fall of 2013 I had something that was thought to be an infection in the lungs, but it didn't respond to antibiotics even a little bit. The evidence was fluid in the lungs. When general approaches failed, my doctor sent me to the ER with the information on everything she tried. I was admitted to the hospital that evening.

Turns out there are two levels to the ICU. One is for patients with infections. The other is for one who don't. They started me in the one without the dangerous patients and figured out quickly it wasn't an infection. I was losing red blood cells from practically every direction... including into my lungs. Long story short... they discovered my immune system was attacking the inner lining of my blood vessels and perforating them. The smallest are most vulnerable, so blood getting loose in the lungs and kidneys. The last thing they wanted to do was move me upstairs to the patients who had actual infections for their immune system to fight as well since the solution I needed was for my immune system to stop attacking anything.

I was told later by my kidney doctor that my odds of survival (through the holidays) the day I made it to the ER was about 50/50. It went up with admission and up again with diagnosis. Once we settled on a treatment plan, it was about 90% likely I'd survive five years and 90% likely I'd develop a very nasty secondary issue to the stuff they had to put me on. I made it more than five years without re-occurrence and I don't think my later colon cancer was on the list of side effects.

The point of all this is that one shouldn't extrapolate too much from mortality rates for people in ICU's if they are already there for some other reason and then get this nasty coronavirus. If something like covid19 had swept through my hospital in Sept 2013, I have no doubt it would have killed me. I was already pretty close. They needed me on a massive dose of Prednisone to halt my own immune system from killing me, so any other deadly organism present would have done the deed. So when you hear people speak in guesses about the mortality rate for covid19, be VERY picky about the numbers offered. What EXACTLY is being measured?

So... stay calm about these things. Stress weakens you too and that's not what the doctor ordered.

Smurphs said...

Thanks for the reminder, I just put my pre-order in.

Lord, I could use some punny har-har right now!

Smurphs said...

All, thanks for the reading/viewing recommendations. I have already imbibed most, or at least they are already in my "get to someday" list. Since we are self-selected through the "I like David Brin" filter, I'm not surprised.

I don't have a lot to add, but a few thing jump out of my memory:

Happy Valley - standard British gritty crime drama, but with outstanding acting.
800 Words - a Kiwi family dramedy, with fun, quirky characters. reminds me of Northern Exposure.

Anything and everything by Lois McMaster Bujold. She's won more writing Hugos than anybody, except Heinlein. (Sorry, Doc, You'd always have my vote, but I'm not a member.) Start at the beginning of either of her two most award-winning series, Shards of Honor for Sci-Fi, "Curse of Chalion for Fantasy. Or jump in anywhere. You won't be disappointed.

Darrell E said...

I haven't read it since I was about 15, but last night I started re-reading The Sword Of Shannara (Terry Brooks). I recently watched the 2 seasons of the show The Shannara Chronicles, currently available on Netflix. I thought there were some good things about the show, but quite a few things about it I found pretty awful. Some things even more stupid than usual for films / shows like this.

This is what inspired me to pick up TSoS again. Got about 100 pages in last night and . . ., I'm liking it. As a teenager I liked both TSoS and The Elfstones of Shannara, but thought the remaining sequels were not so great. I was fully expecting TSoS to have not aged well for me, for one thing I haven't read fantasy for decades, but so far so good.

locumranch said...

Only Alfred appears mathematically literate as the majority (predictably) retreats into fantasy.

So, while we all 'duck & cover' from this statistically irrelevant global pandemic, those who capable of critical thinking look forward to the irrevocable socioeconomic changes that will be caused by both this virus & our inevitable over-reaction to this virus:

(1) An end to open borders;
(2) A decimated service economy;
(3) The collapse of the fast food industry;
(4) The abandonment of brick & mortar education;
(5) The return of tribalism & deracinated xenophobia;
(6) The use of martial law; and, shortly thereafter,
(7) Reactive federal nullification.

The Blue Urban communities will lead (first) by 'incubating' this change in it's densely-packed population centers, (second) by 'laying off' it's newly redundant population while simultaneously demanding it's obedience, (third) by passing well-intended but unenforceable laws, and (fourth) by attempting to enforce these unenforceable & ill-considered laws.

And, as predicted by Asimov's Foundation, the social fabric will fray from the center, allowing civilisation to persist & (hopefully) flourish at the outlying areas who remain secure within the true blue assumption of rural sociopolitical irrelevance.


Darrell E said...

I'd 2nd anything by Lois McMaster Bujold, though I've only read her Vorkosigan stuff. But based solely on that, I'd say anything by her will be a worthwhile read. She's that good. For me, one of her best is her novella The Mountains of Mourning. She excels at the human part of the story writing equation.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Glad you recovered, Alfred, and your point is well taken. High mortality rates aren't limited to ICUs, of course, and one of the glaring inequalities in the physicians' rating system was that, for evidence reasons, podiatrists have a much lower mortality rate amongst their patients than do, say, thoractic surgeons.
Ron Paul, who for some reason is still alive, is saying the coronavirus is a hoax because "less than 100 people have died." It's a bit like jumping off a tall 1,000 foot cliff and halfway down, declaring "See? Falling 500 feet won't kill you!"
And Alex Jones is selling toothpaste he claims cures coronavirus. His ass needs to be locked up in jail.

TCB said...

A classic, as in really really classic, quarantine reader would be The Decameron by Boccaccio.

From the wiki:

"The book is structured as a frame story containing 100 tales told by a group of seven young women and three young men sheltering in a secluded villa just outside Florence to escape the Black Death, which was afflicting the city. Boccaccio probably conceived of The Decameron after the epidemic of 1348, and completed it by 1353. The various tales of love in The Decameron range from the erotic to the tragic. Tales of wit, practical jokes, and life lessons contribute to the mosaic. In addition to its literary value and widespread influence (for example on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales), it provides a document of life at the time. Written in the vernacular of the Florentine language, it is considered a masterpiece of classical early Italian prose."

My word, it's even happening in northern Italy again!!!

If you have Netflix, there's a movie called The Little Hours that is based on one of the better-known Decameron tales.

David Brin said...

Alfred yipe! hat a story. Glad we got civilization?

You medical types... I know a guy with a small, brilliant fluidics company. He and colleagues are rushing to design a DIY build-yourself ventilator that would use 95% Home Depot parts with 5% maybe 3D printed and quick shipped anywhere.

I know these guys, they are bright and capable.

duncan cairncross said...

I third - Lois McMaster Bujold - excellent stories and not "just" about the human side - she is exploring the effects of technological change - cryogenics, artificial wombs, and magnificently different societies

Her fantasy stories are also superb - even the short "Penric" series

Zepp Jamieson said...

Well, the bog flog has reached my town. Where once vast herds of toilet paper roamed the shelves of our market, as far as the eye could see, there now is only a few tattered and torn specimens, squeezed and with teeth marks in them. Reaction from townfolk polarised between laughing at the idiots and gaping in dismay and wondering if they can go four months without having to use the loo.

David Brin said...

And you are surprised? We will discover how deeply suborned William Barr and others are, though alas after they have fled to safety at their reward dachas on the Black Sea coast.

matthew said...

I'll repeat the offer I made to the slack group working on rapid ventilator design I referenced above to the group David knows - if you have a part that requires 3D metal printing for a ventilator design, I have the best sinter capability in the world for the parts. Stainless, high carbon, and copper.

There are multiple types of metal 3D printing but mine will work best with binderjet or photojet technologies. I can scale to 100k - 1M parts processed per week, depending on size. Processing times in the 24 hour range.

I'm niche, but peerless, especially for designs that require high strength of materials. Probably not called for here, but if a design goes that way...

The Doc has my contact info somewhere in his inbox.

Alfred Differ said...

Without civilization, I'd have been dead many times over.

Age 4-pneumonia. Age 26-severe concussion. Age 44-sleep apnea (might have taken another year or two to kill me in a traffic accident). Age 51-Wegener's auto-immune disorder that is far worse than the nastiest curse you can imagine to inflict on someone. Age 54-stage 1.5 colon cancer than would have taken many years to kill me, but I've seen it in my maternal grandfather. What a terrible way to go.

There are likely other things for the list from my childhood, but I don't recall. I took an awful lot of penicillin. Needed it. Allergic now. 8)

Civilization is amazing not because we accomplish what seem to be miracles, but because the fact professions populated by mere mortals manage to do it. Doctors and nurses aren't miracle workers, but what they actually do is FAR more amazing.

TCB said...

Some articles on climate and the 2020 election. On Biden:

It’s difficult to find many climate thinkers or activists these days who are all that excited about Biden’s entry into the Democratic primaries—and some interviewed for this story worry that if he wins he could actually slow down progress at a time when the planet is least able to afford it.

Methane emissions have gone up in recent years partly due to fracking...

... Where Sanders wants to ban all fracking at once, Biden promises no "new" fracking...

And on Trump:

... a re-elected and emboldened Trump would likely destroy the world’s best-case outcome on climate change, and potentially send us hurtling towards a worst-case scenario. His second term could result in global temperatures roaring past 1.5 degrees Celsius, the danger line identified in the devastating United Nations climate report from 2018, beyond which forests, croplands, freshwater sources and other natural systems that support human life could be irreversibly transformed. We would also likely surpass 2 degrees, the target the world’s nations agreed to in 2015 at Paris, raising the odds of catastrophic tipping points like the melting of all Arctic sea ice.

Alfred Differ said...


I get the need to think about statistics. My general doctor had to approach my condition from the assumption that I was suffering from an external attack. I wasn't, but the odds were high that I was. When she 'gave up' it was a recognition that what should have worked if the assumptions were true did not. It was time to hand me over to ER doctors who start with the assumption the patient is dying and their job is to stall that end long enough to figure out what to do. I get all that because it is pretty obvious if you have enough medical coverage to see each type of doctor. The doctors who showed up AFTER I was admitted had a different set of assumptions yet again. You know all that, though.

Most of us don't go through all those steps, so it is no surprise that they don't know. YOU DO because you are trained. I DO because they gave me two transfusions in one week and the added RBC's allowed my brain to function once again and ponder my predicament. When three doctors showed up one morning with lab coats that said 'internal medicine' and interested looks, I knew it couldn't be good news. 'We think we know what it is.' 'We need fluid out of your lungs and a kidney biopsy to be sure.' 'One in a million cause.' 'You showed up with all symptoms needed to see this and just before infection sets in making it much harder to fix.' Ugh.I could have freaked out, but I didn't have the excess O2.

You, however, ARE freaking out about the socioeconomic changes this corona virus will bring about. All doom and gloom. Those internal medicine doctors were VERY concerned that I not abandon hope. They jumped through hoops trying to sound enthusiastic about my survival. They didn't quite get that I was usually pretty stubborn about things and had already rejected my impending doom. Seriously! Why believe it even when the guy speaking in all caps shows up to take you? I know for a FACT there are atheists in foxholes. 8)

Open borders isn't to blame. The service economy won't die. Fast food will be around for some time, though we might be better off if it wasn't. Brick and mortar education will remain because the tasks of the professor/teacher have seen the least productivity gains of all. The rest of your doom spiral is just the patient admitting they intend to die because they know there is no hope. What a bunch of bullshit.

You really oughta know better. Learned helplessness kills the believer over the tiniest triviality.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Beautifully said, Alfred.

We will, as they say in the old country, muddle though. This isn't 1918, it isn't the periodic polio outbreaks that were a fear-fixture of life through our own childhoods. This isn't the sporadic cholera epidemics and the smallpox and the measles that routinely swept through neighbourboods for the first 200 years of US history. At the very worst, under the most dire scenario imaginable, 98.5% of us will survive and carry on our normal lives. The society will rebuild, and so will the economy, hopefully better and stronger than the one falling around us now.

Ahcuah said...

What a royal screw-up here in Ohio by Gov. DeWine. First we're having the election, then we're not. He asks a Judge who says you have to follow the law. The Secretary of State decides NOT to follow the law or the Judge. (And until now he seemed to be doing a good and competent job.)

What I want to know is: why didn't DeWine just call the General Assembly into emergency session? Get a quorum; get the necessary 2/3 vote for emergency legislation. Then sign the thing. You know, follow the rules.

David Brin said...

Alfred you are a perseverant inspiration.

Matthew please email me vis the web site. I'll introduce you to the Flometrics guys.

TCB I'd rather we has a true leader than a weather vane. But the winds that Biden heeds are the good winds. And if both reality and science join millions who blow at him hard enough he will incrementally do what the facts and decency demand. His crucial aspect come before that... just by ending the war on fact people, overnight, he will unleash our smartest.

The alternative?
The President Is Winning His War on American Institutions

Ony what I've been saying about Fox for 20 years.

scidata said...

Alfred Differ: Without civilization, I'd have been dead many times over.

Not as many beautiful stories, but I do have one. My first son had the cord wrapped around his throat during birth. Other complications meant he was minutes from strangulation, despite the best efforts of the staff present. One of the top obstetricians in the country happened to be visiting our hospital that morning for a meeting. One of the doctors knew that and ran to fetch him. I was allowed to remain despite, or maybe because of the panic. What followed was three minutes of sheer brilliance. Child, mother, and father all made it through unscathed. I tearfully thanked the doctor. He just matter-of-factly said, "We all want a healthy baby" and left for his next appointment.

A few years ago my son graduated with honours in math & economics. He's more of an Asimovian than his dad, and that's saying something. His life has, and will continue to add to civilization. We fight this war for the individual, as some Brit once said.

locumranch said...

Alfred's post illustrates the importance of the initial assumption in accurate prognostication or, most importantly, the lack thereof as initial assumptions are most often prejudicial & mistaken.

After that, he makes at least three erroneous assumptions that qualify as 'ideas of reference':

First, he assumes that his emotional state influenced the effectiveness of his diagnosticians; second, he assumes that his personal preferences are universal in scope; and, third, he assumes that all that he considers 'undesirable' is bad.

With such faulty assumptions, he therefore concludes that my prognostications are "doom & gloom", even though all are beneficial as (1) closed borders benefit union labour, (2) service economy consumerism drives climate change, (3) the fast food industry promotes heart disease & obesity, (4) brick & mortar education is a pre-internet anachronism, (5) tribalism is another name for 'community', and (6) martial law & then nullification triggers a resurgence of liberty.

False assumptions lead to false conclusions.


TCB said...

I already skimmed that Atlantic article, not having time to read it all. It notes that Trump has a feral instinct for the weaknesses of people who, in every other metric, are far smarter than him, and just about anyone can be "corrupted, cowed or crushed." This aligns with what Arendt said; the law and its institutions will not save you from the descent into fascism.

When I put my ear to the ground, I hear something that sounds a lot like the rumble of approaching tumbrels:

SoftBank Owned Patent Troll, Using Monkey Selfie Law Firm, Sues To Block Covid-19 Testing, Using Theranos Patents

"Honestly, I'm used to all sorts of awfulness, but this one piles awfulness upon awfulness, and takes it to a level of pure evil. The lawyers filing this lawsuit on behalf of "Labrador" should remember what they've done -- filing a bullshit patent trolling lawsuit, on behalf of a shell company for a notorious giant patent troll, using patents from a sham company, and using them to try to block the use of Covid-19 diagnostic tests in the middle of a pandemic. I wonder how they sleep at night."

Larry Hart said...


WASHINGTON — Running out of federal court vacancies to fill, Senate Republicans have been quietly making overtures to sitting Republican-nominated judges who are eligible to retire to urge them to step aside so they can be replaced while the party still holds the Senate and the White House.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, who has used his position as majority leader to build a judicial confirmation juggernaut for President Trump over the past three years, has been personally reaching out to judges to sound them out on their plans and assure them that they would have a worthy successor if they gave up their seats soon, according to multiple people with knowledge of his actions.


The overt effort by Republicans to create vacancies reflects a realization that Mr. Trump could lose the presidency, or that Republicans could lose the Senate majority and deprive Mr. Trump of his partner on judicial confirmations even if he did gain a second term.

Don Gisselbeck said...

I have "Are there no guillotines?" on autocomplete.

Treebeard said...

It sounds like epicenter China has already gotten a handle on the coronavirus after some draconian measures. Russia has zero deaths so far; they closed their borders and send every returning citizen to a high security airport, where they’re tested and quarantined. So maybe mean Xi and bad Vlad have a few things to teach us about how to secure your society in a globalized world? Meanwhile, the centers of globalism in the West are struggling to contain the virus, reluctant to do obvious things like seal their borders. One wonders if this could be the death knell of the “Novus Ordo Seclorum” globalist dream and the beginning of a new era, led by states like the aforementioned Eurasian powers who appear to be handling the crisis much more efficiently. Or this may all blow over in a few months and people will be laughing at their absurd over-reactions; I have no idea. But I’m not worried, even here at the American epicenter; my low-population density, somewhat asocial lifestyle has been virtually unaffected. It’s a good excuse to do more reading, raccoon-feeding, bird-watching and laughing at the absurdity of humanity, which I enjoy anyway.

David Brin said...

The notion that Treebeard 1-believes what China and Russia say and 2-rubs his hands gleefully touting the advantages of despotism is truly elemental to his mix of naivete and treason.

Acacia H. said...

I see Locu's defeatism and I raise with Hope.

From Tumblr:

say what you will about the world ending and 2020 being hell. since quarantines started, the air is filled with laughter and talk.
i hear kids playing in backyards with their family. i hear people talking happily on the phone with loved ones. everyone has their doors open to the porches at our apartment. you smell cooking, see the lights of backyard firepits, hear children delighted to spend time with parents that are never home. i love the videos of people playing music with their neighbors, playing bingo from their balconies, pranking their family members, and streaming with their friends. i love that my mom and dad keep stealing access to netflix because they are home from work and finally have a chance to watch movies together. my neighbors wave at me when i take the dog out while they laugh with each other over a beer. i know more than anything its a commentary on capitalism but it’s still great to see people being people. its good to know there are still humans and that they are being relentlessly, beautifully human, regardless of what happens.


Everything is terrifying, but humans are so strong.

Societies at my university are doing food bank drives. Italians are singing on their balconies and cheering health workers that go by. My university originally wasn’t going to close so lecturers took matters into their own hands and cancelled their classes, and now the university IS closing. When the government response isn’t strong enough, people are cancelling mass gatherings themselves and isolating to limit the spread. One of my friends is streaming to her self-isolating friends. My mum is going back to work tomorrow in an NHS reception. The Australian Grand Prix got cancelled and now 10,000+ people are watching an esports game version of the race on Twitch and making memes about it. All over the world, people are trying to cheer each other up.

My biggest problem with apocalypse movies, with zombie tv shows, has always been the way it portrays a world post-disaster. When humans were living in caves and hunting for survival, they drew art on the walls and told stories that were passed down in oral tradition. When London closed for the plagues, theater troupes would go around the country performing for the smaller villages instead. The human drive to create, to entertain, to adventure, to see and do new things, has always been and will always be unmoved by a crisis.

So yes people are panic buying, yes employers and governments are being selfish and cruel. But more than ever this has highlighted that, that is not what humans are. It’s something we’re pushed to be by this society, actual cruelty is an outlier.

I’ve been clinically depressed for a long time, so it feels bizarre to say: I love humans. I am overflowing with how much I really, truly, love us. Humans are silly, tender, hopeful, and social creatures. Even something as small as a long train journey, delayed and late at night, is enough for humans to take up solidarity. No matter what happens, what state the world is in, what alterations we have to make to our lives, we will never escape being recognizably, inherently human. Thank god.

And finally we have a Russian comedian filming the responses of a residential complex to President Putin's portrait being glued in an elevator car, just to end on a humorous note. :)


duncan cairncross said...

Couple of points -
I love the Putin portrait - but here or in the UK something similar would not have survived - somebody would have destroyed it!

The Chinese (and Asian) response
I really do not see it as a result of "despotism" - the people have responded and the Government has led the response and added the bits that only a Government can do

The difference to the western approach appears to be that the Government responded fast enough to be actually LEADING
The people in Europe and here (NZ) appear to be doing the same but our Governments are trailing and not leading
Our own Government appears to be one of the leaders (just)

Unfortunately that does mean that we (the west) are going to get hit harder than we should as time is critical to keep this sort of thing under control

scidata said...

Niall Ferguson’s Networld: Episode 1 – “Disruption” | PBS

Zepp Jamieson said...

Just saw a SyFy movie on Hulu that turned out to be astonishingly good. Intellectually challenging, solid science, good acting and direction. "Arrival."
Yes, I looked it up afterward, and my only excuse is that family obligations pretty much divorced me from popular entertainment for 2016 through 2019. Hugo Award winner, Ray Bradbury award, raft of other honors.
For me, a totally unexpected surprise (SyFy isn't exactly a great source of movies). Recommend it highly.

Acacia H. said...

Meanwhile, France is warning against the use of NSAIDs in treating fevers caused by COVID-19. I have to wonder if some of the deaths from the virus are due to NSAID use. But then that also wouldn't explain some rumors of mass graves in some third-world and second-world nations such as Iran....


Alfred Differ said...


his emotional state influenced the effectiveness of his diagnosticians

Nonsense. They were quite capable of figuring out many things without me. My cooperative state DID help, though, in that they had a high probability diagnosis and I supported collecting more data to nail it down. The doctor who wanted the fluid in my lungs was looking for blood and found it. That distinguished the possible sources for what was showing up when I coughed it up. The doctor who wanted a piece of my kidney told me he didn't really NEED it, but his suspicion could be confirmed with a thin slice on a slide. There was a 1/10,000 chance I'd lose the kidney (infection) and 1/100,000 chance of dying, but one of his patients HAD lost their kidney. I was not to dismiss the possibility. I paused a bit and weighed it against the unknowable odds of doing some drastic therapy on information I could have helped perfect. No brainer.

My emotional state DID help, but it wasn't strictly necessary. Turns out they were right. No doubt the extra information helped convince the insurer they were right. My emotional state was needed more for the therapy I chose. That chemo-drug made me want to puke every morning for a solid year all while being aware of the 90% chance something bad was going to happen from it. I flirted with bladder cancer if I didn't do the rest of the cocktail just right.

So… you won't convince me that emotional states don't matter at some point. A co-worker's mother did the same therapy, made it through a few years, and then relapsed. She didn't have the heart to try again and accepted death. When he learned what I had, he went white as a sheet. I was walking dead to him… but I'm not his mother… and there is a better, FDA approved, time tested therapy now just in case I relapse.

his personal preferences are universal in scope

Nah. You should know me better than that already. Ask around here if I expect my preferences to be universal. 8)

he assumes that all that he considers 'undesirable' is bad

Now you are just playing your definition game again. I have an autistic son, so I've had to learn a thing or two about languages and how they are learned. The game you play is for toddlers.

With three (a magic number) errors of which I am guilty, your incantation is complete. Time to cast it to the aether and see what it does. Surely it dispels my conclusions. It must, right? It doesn't. You are liked the drowning rat in a barrel of water who gives up the fight to survive long before reaching their physical limits. Your mental limits will be your end.

I refuse to drown with you. Maybe later… but after I see your carcass sink to the bottom.

Larry Hart said...

In a bizarre and ironic way, it's a good thing that Republicans are in charge during this crisis, because if Democrats were the ones in control, the chattering classes would be screaming "How are you going to pay for that?" and "The national debt is the biggest threat to our nation's future" at every attempt to mitigate the economic harm caused by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

Because Republicans are in power, they get to hand out checks like candy and no one bats an eyelash. I'm being cynical, but (given the circumstances) am legitimately glad that the party that gets to do whatever it wants with no adverse consequences is the one talking like this:

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration called on Tuesday for urgent action to speed $1 trillion into the economy, including sending $250 billion worth of checks to millions of Americans, as the government prepared its most powerful tools to fight the coronavirus pandemic and an almost certain recession.


During lunch on Capitol Hill not long after, Mr. Mnuchin privately told Republican senators that he envisioned the direct payments covering two weeks of pay and going out by the end of April, according to three people familiar with the discussion who described it on the condition of anonymity. Additional checks would be possible if the national emergency persists, Mr. Mnuchin told the group.


Hopes for a more powerful stimulus package, combined with more emergency measures from the Federal Reserve, helped markets bounce back on Tuesday from their worst day in decades. The S&P 500 rose about 6 percent, rebounding from a 12 percent collapse on Monday — its steepest drop since 1987.


Larry Hart said...

New York Times columnist Thomas Edsall tells us what we already know:


Nonetheless, Stevens’s forthcoming book, “It Was All A Lie,” makes the case that President Trump is the natural outcome of a long chain of events going back to the 1964 election when Barry Goldwater ran for president as an opponent of the Civil Right Act passed earlier that year.

“As much as I’d love to go to bed at night reassuring myself that Donald Trump was some freak product of the system — a ‘black swan,’” Stevens writes, “I can’t do it”:

“I have no one to blame but myself,” he declares on the first page. “What I missed was one simple reality: it was all a lie.”

What were the lies? That the Republican Party “espoused a core set of values: character counts, personal responsibility, strong on Russia, the national debt actually mattered, immigration made America great, a big-tent party.”

And what is the truth? The Republican Party is “just a white grievance party.”


TCB said...

Oh boy. Here's the Imperial College of London report: Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID19 mortality and healthcare demand

And here's a Twitter thread reader summary. The president and his people were told this, and it's why they finally started taking COVID-19 seriously. It's SO much worse than it seemed. If we do nothing, or not enough, several millions of Americans die. If we relax suppression before there's a vaccine, several millions of Americans die. If we do EVERYTHING right and get a vaccine ASAP, life maybe goes back to normal in as little as 18 months. (We've now entered the Second Great Depression, I suspect.)

locumranch said...

Alfred admits that his emotional state could not & did not influence the events related to his medical circumstance, while simultaneously insisting that his emotional state DID "matter at some point".

Acacia admits that she's "been clinically depressed for a long time", while simultaneously claiming a superior understanding of hope & what depression is NOT.

Just now, Governor Cuomo (NY) admits that New York has a severe projected deficiency of certified hospital beds & certified medical providers, and his brilliant solution is to abolish the certification process, in the mistaken belief that this will somehow create the CERTIFIED beds & practitioners that he desires out of thin air by verbal legerdemain.

All-of-the-above are examples of CIRCULAR REASONING, aka circulus in probando, in which the reasoner attempts to force a false conclusion by beginning with a false premise.

Emotions either effect material reality or they do not effect material reality; individuals either possess hope or they experience depression; and NY either possesses sufficient hospital beds or it does not.

You can't preserve your cake & eat it, too.


A.F. Rey said...

A.F. Rey said...

The apocalypse has officially begun.

A friend of ours is selling her mother's house, and had painters freshening up inside. Her sister came in this morning and discovered the painters had stolen all the toilet paper and liquid soap.

Food riots and cannibalism are just around the corner! ;)

Alfred Differ said...


You can be very dense at times.

Emotional state and amygdala responses can connect. Fear can be learned by the BLA and drive the amygdala.

My interest is to avoid conditioning that leads me to give up too early. What 'too early' is varies among us, but once armed with knowledge of the conditioning process, we can (possibly) notice and counter the affects.

Brains are layered structures while minds are recursive structures. We reflect upon ourselves and others in mirrored rooms. What the amygdala is doing depends somewhat on what is happening in the fun house, so stress hormone secretion can be influenced. How much? Less than the people who believe in magical thinking want and more than the people who divorce body and mind imagine.

My particular health circumstances just contribute anecdotes, though. I get that. I was asked more than once what caused the onset of my condition and responded each time that we aren't ever likely to know. The experiments needed to find out would be highly unethical. Maybe with a bit of luck we will learn, though the poor soul who contributes THAT anecdote won't think they are lucky. Maybe with a sideways approach we will inch up on the explanation and corner it. There DOES seem to be a lot of auto-immune disorders being found lately.

It's not circular reasoning, though. It's recursive reasoning. Big difference.

TCB said...

Isn't Locum a just-retired MD? Did I hear that right? He could make himself REALLY USEFUL right now? Just sayin'.

TCB said...

Coronavirus Shows Us Rapid Global Response To Climate Change Is Possible

Op-ed in Teen Vogue, which is a really woke media source these days.

Ahcuah said...

Since the comments talk about ventilators, here's a story about an Italian company that was able to use 3D printing to produce that special valve needed for ventilators.

Their reward? Being sued by the company that holds the patent.

Zepp Jamieson said...

A.F.Rey: Cannibalism is such an ugly term. Call it "enhanced human resources repurposing."

Larry Hart said...


His stated wet-dream for years has been the undeserving rest of the world begging for his help which he can then refuse.

Larry Hart said...


...Being sued by the company that holds the patent.

I wonder if there's some way to allocate royalties to patent holders rather than refuse to let others produce needed products in an existential crisis.

Otherwise, as oft noted here, the solution will be guillotines.

TCB said...

@ Larry Hart, So. This guy, basically.

Acacia H. said...

I find it amusing that Locu takes a post about hope and uses it to tear me down.

Thank you, Locu. It's always good when I can smile and get a good-natured chuckle over a post. It's even more amusing when you take someone's attempt to spread fear and despair and instead choose to find humor and amusement out of it.

Humanity is going to prevail. We may see thousands or millions of deaths from this, but humanity and society itself is stronger and better than you are claiming. We are going to reach out to one another and realize we are neighbors and friends and a community. We're going to stop hating and fearing and we're going to ignore you curmudgeons, naysayers, and defeatists and move forward.

You can sink if you want. But you will not make me give up. I will smile at your posts, roll my eyes as your attempts to depress me and encourage me to give up fail time and time again, and I will prevail.

And if one day you go silent? I'll raise a glass in toast to you and hope you are living well outside of the Internet... or that if you've passed on that your next life will be more fulfilling and with more joy and happiness. You take care of yourself, Locu.

Acacia, who embraces hope.

Larry Hart said...


So. This guy, basically.

"...and I'll whisper, 'No.'"

Exactly what came to my mind as well, although I was thinking of the first page of the graphic novel instead of the movie. Same scene, though.

David Brin said...

Snyder is the most FAITHFUL director of source material. Which was a blessing in WATCHMEN and an incredible curse in "300."



Tacitus said...

I've pondered the DIY ventilator proposal. I could do it faster and cheaper. You just need to modify existing EMS bag ventilators with a reciprocating "squeezer". I got stuff in my basement sufficient for that.

But alas, it has some very impractical aspects when considered a bit further. In general people on a vent need to be sedated and paralyzed. This takes constant monitoring and drugs that have a high risk of misadventure. You also have to suction respiratory secretions regularly, safey and with highly contagious biomaterial...carefully. Heart, bp and oxygen sat monitoring, someone to empty the foley, somebody who can actually place and replace the ET tube. I'm not saying this hillbilly tech can't be done, just that the machine alone is not enough to make a difference. It is a whole package sort of deal.

Regards attitude and outcomes. It is an interesting proposition. As another fairly recently retired ER MD I have plenty of stories to tell. You'd often see an elderly person die not long after their spouse. I guess what attitude - be it positive or negative - tends to do is fill out detail in informed consent. I just heard today of an acquaintence who died very rapidly from cancer, I'm presuming pancreatic. In that scenario I know how I would approach the prospect of treatment. Morphine and schedule a fun party while I was there to enjoy it. You mighty make a different call and I'd not criticize.

The decision to fight on.....or to coast towards a hoped for reunion with your spouse of 70 years....might have some bearing on less dire situations.

Well, enough musings. If you hear that I've been pressed back into service then things are off the scale bad. Until then I leave you with the wisdom of my retired self.

Life is precious, uncertain and always too short to drink bad beer.