Saturday, April 04, 2020

Science Fiction updates!

I just sent out my annual newsletter… actually, the complaint I get is that they are too seldom! It’s actually been 3 years. You can view a web version of the newsletter… and go to the bottom to sign up to receive future missives!

Sundiver, my first novel, came back into our hands after 38 years. We made corrections, gave it a new cover and introduction. Shout if you might want that long-awaited, collectable hardcover!   (It’s one of my few books that never had one.)

All my story collections -  The River of TimeOtherness and Insistence of Vision - are back! (My best work.) But above all... 
 Need cheering up? See my new sci fi comedy novel “The Ancient Ones.” !!!

== A great reading list! ==

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA, Inc.) announced finalists for the 55th Annual Nebula Awards, that will be presented in Woodland Hills, CA at the Warner Center Marriott during a (now virtual) ceremony on the evening of May 30th. Here is the list, so you can hunt down some good reads by fine authors.

Novel
Marque of Caine, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harrow (Redhook; Orbit UK)
A Memory Called Empire, Arkady Martine (Tor)
Gods of Jade and Shadow, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey; Jo Fletcher)
Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir (Tor.com Publishing)
A Song for a New Day, Sarah Pinsker (Berkley)

Novella
"Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom", Ted Chiang (from his anthology, Exhalation)
The Haunting of Tram Car 015, P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com Publishing)
This Is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone (Saga)
Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water, Vylar Kaftan (Tor.com Publishing)
The Deep, Rivers Solomon, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson & Jonathan Snipes (Saga)
Catfish Lullaby, A.C. Wise (Broken Eye)

Novelette
"A Strange Uncertain Light", G.V. Anderson (F&SF 7-8/19)
"For He Can Creep", Siobhan Carroll (Tor.com 7/10/19)
"His Footsteps, Through Darkness and Light", Mimi Mondal (Tor.com 1/23/19)
"The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye", Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny 7-8/19)
Carpe Glitter, Cat Rambo (Meerkat)
"The Archronology of Love", Caroline M. Yoachim (Lightspeed 4/19)

Short Story
"Give the Family My Love", A.T. Greenblatt (Clarkesworld 2/19)
"The Dead, In Their Uncontrollable Power", Karen Osborne (Uncanny 3-4/19)
"And Now His Lordship Is Laughing", Shiv Ramdas (Strange Horizons 9/9/19)
"A Catalog of Storms", Fran Wilde (Uncanny 1-2/19)
"How the Trick Is Done", A.C. Wise (Uncanny 7-8/19)

The Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book
Sal and Gabi Break the Universe, Carlos Hernandez (Disney Hyperion)
Catfishing on CatNet, Naomi Kritzer (Tor Teen)
Dragon Pearl, Yoon Ha Lee (Disney Hyperion)
Peasprout Chen: Battle of Champions, Henry Lien (Holt)
Cog, Greg van Eekhout (Harper)
Riverland, Fran Wilde (Amulet)

Game Writing
Outer Wilds, Kelsey Beachum (Mobius Digital)
The Outer Worlds, Leonard Boyarsky, Megan Starks, Kate Dollarhyde, Chris L’Etoile (Obsidian Entertainment)
The Magician's Workshop, Kate Heartfield (Choice of Games)
Disco Elysium, Robert Kurvitz (ZA/UM)
Fate Accessibility Toolkit, Elsa Sjunneson-Henry (Evil Hat Productions)

The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation
Avengers: Endgame, Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (Marvel Studios)
Captain Marvel, Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck & Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Marvel Studios)
Good Omens: "Hard Times", Neil Gaiman (Amazon Studios/BBC Studios)
The Mandalorian: "The Child", Jon Favreau (Disney+)
Russian Doll: "The Way Out", Allison Silverman and Leslye Headland (Netflix)
Watchmen: "A God Walks into Abar", Jeff Jensen & Damon Lindelof (HBO)

== More sci fi news! ==

The great and mighty SF writer Catherine Asaro has posted the first part from her upcoming book The Vanished Seas

Space Cowboy Books Presents: Simultaneous Times Episode #24 - Featuring short stories by David Brin and Jean-Paul L. Garnier. Travel through space and time with science fiction audio plays set to original music from our team of composers, RedBlueBlackSilver and Phog Masheeen. 

Then consider bringing that nerdiness power to bear on saving the world! At the TASAT project! 

Wanda Kurtçu reports from the recent, Dublin World Science Fiction Convention on how she served on ten panels variously related to diversity! Also about a meeting of  MEGA (Melanin Enhanced Geek Alliance)! She also was the 2019 BayCon Fan Guest of Honor in May. I was writer GoH and we had a lot of fun bandying jokes and talking memes… an amazing person.

I have lectured for the Odyssey Science Fiction Workshop -- a fine (and in many ways far better) alternative to Clarion. Jeanne Cavelos will get you tuned up with all the writerly trick and skills! And donations to the fine cause of developing great science fiction authors should rank on the list for some of you!

Amid all these stories about a "2nd Mona Lisa painting by da Vinci" I am reminded of a wonderful short story -- Bob Shaw’s  “The Giaconda Caper” (1978) about a psychic detective who tracks down FIFTY different versions of that famous painting, most of them still sitting on an apparatus in a cave near Pisa. An apparatus with a strangely mundane yet marvelous purpose and a stunning plot twist. You can find it in his “Who Goes Here” book (which is a novel that also includes this one short story) available on Kindle.

== Good stuff by others ==

Astronomer Andrew Fraknoi published a very short and amusing “sci fi” story about a SETI scenario

This thoughtful end-of-year essay by Dan Wang begins with a riff that makes important points about the recent “trade war” with China, implicitly agreeing with my point that we (America and the West) will do better by stimulating our own innovation (and insisting on a full decade of benefit from each item of IP, than with all the world’s ultimately self-defeating tariffs: 

The US responded to the rise of the USSR and Japan by focusing on innovation; it’s early days, but so far the US is responding to the technological rise of China mostly by kneecapping its leading firms. So instead of realizing its own Sputnik moment, the US is triggering one in China. …  China finds it politically intolerable that the US has an at-will ability to cripple major firms like ZTE and Huawei. It’s now a matter of national security for China to strengthen every major technological capability.”

The author then goes on to a stimulating discussion of Philip K. Dick, Liu Cixin and Olaf Stapledon.

PDK’s novels feature smart—and often even brilliant—elites, who feel hemmed in by forces they cannot understand. PKD’s novels are good at depicting the frustrations of elites, whose only satisfaction comes from toying with the fates of smaller characters. They have good reactive instincts and can manage problems that flare up, but lack the confidence that they can affect larger outcomes, and thus have no real sense of initiative beyond petty matters. That’s the story of an elite in Hong Kong, and I worry that US elites are giving in to the same tendencies. They are well-meaning and well-educated, but also risk-averse and pessimistic: retail sanity and wholesale madness.”

Much more of interest. huh.

In the November 2019 issue of LOCUS there's an interview with L.X. Beckett - who has taken the lessons of "The Transparent Society" to heart (or reinvented them).  Beckett writes in her interview:  "An argument can be made that mostly it's not so much our privacy we care about, except in a few circumstances. It's unequal privacy. I'd be willing to let my life live under that microscope, and let anyone have my whole transcript - if I knew that I could call up any corporate transcript, or if I had those board meeting minutes, or if every time some guy ignored a person saying, 'no, stop!' it actually went into a record somewhere.

"In Gamechanger, the buzzword for that universal lack of privacy is 'mutually assured disclosure.' Everything goes into the Haystack and it's generally assumed that 99% of the information is boring. You still have a form of privacy, just because you're not interesting enough, usually, for anyone to bother reading - the data is going to get used when you and your sister have an argument and she needs to prove that she was right."

Interesting and more intimate than the way I reached the same conclusion, in Earth.

== Videos of brin-blather ==

(1) The “Neo” Project aims to create a vividly beautiful film, 
combining science and art with optimism. They feature my blather 
about peering into the future. Vivid imagery and remarkable sound editing. 

(2) The XPrize Foundation FB-posted a well-produced video 
of me explaining the concept of the self-preventing prophecy, 
and how we gird ourselves through science fiction to face tomorrow's perils. 

(3) Video of my talk on the future of A.I. to a packed house at IBM's World of Watson congress in Las Vegas, October 2016. A punchy tour of big perspectives on Intelligence, as well as both artificial and human augmentation.

There’s an audio version of Sundiver on Audible, which is distributed on Audible via Recorded books, and which you can find here. But again... you could use a laugh right about now!  Yes, you. I can tell, even from here. This might help!

Bee seeing you.

100 comments:

TCB said...

... but the Watchmen episode that really blew the lid off wasn't "A God Walks Into Abar", it was "This Extraordinary Being." (I bet the debates over this nom were a humdinger and A God Walks won by a hair).

scidata said...

Thanks Dr. Brin. I've been wanting to read Arkady (!) Martine's book, but I have a lot of Brin to cut through first. It miss Isaac Asimov, your books help. I re-watched "Fantastic Voyage" (1966) the other day. What a wonderful movie from a glorious era. And I'm not only talking about Raquel Welch.

David Brin said...

Blood bank just canceled me for the 4th time. It would have been my 96th pint. But that can wait. Anyway, see their reasons below. Reasons #2 and 3 are very interesting. But reason #1 is great. We are a nation of citizens.
. . “We are writing to let you know that due to several factors, we need to cancel your upcoming blood donation appointment. These factors include:

1. We have seen a tremendous outpouring from the community and currently have a strong supply of your blood type. Because blood has a shelf life, we can only collect so much at a time or it will expire.

2. We must conserve supplies right now, including conserving plasma collection kits that will begin to be used to collect convalescent plasma soon (plasma donated by recovered COVID-19 patients to be used to help treat patients with COVID-19).

3. Hospital usage is down by one-third, and we expect we will need to call upon you when we experience a surge in demand over the coming weeks.”

We are rising to the occasion, as individuals, families, communities and states. The components of the republic are healthy… and once we get rid of the hypno-toads controlling 40% of our fellow citizens…

(A Futurama reference!)

And yes you can see how I got the idea for "The Giving Plague!"

https://www.davidbrin.com/fiction/givingplague.html

duncan cairncross said...

Giving blood annoys me

I used to give blood regularly but I was living in the UK when Thatcher's "removal of unnecessary regulations" - about cooking animal waste to feed to cows - led to Mad Cow disease and now I am not permitted to give blood!

Bart Massey said...

> Bob Shaw’s “The Giaconda Caper” (1978)

Of all the random things floating around in my head, that story and its fine punchline is one that I would have thought would be gone by now. To be fair, I was probably a HS kid in a conservative family in a small town when I read it, so it may have made more of an impression on me than it should have. But I remember it as a fun story — thanks for the nostalgia in this difficult time.

David Brin said...

Duncan I lived in London then, but just under the time limit. Ah well. Bart... I do think you'd like "The Ancient Ones." though to my incredulous puzzlement I find that it makes a lot of folsk want me dead.

yana said...

Thanks for more tips on reading, still recommend Nathan Lowell's "share" series for sci-fi. It's deceptively simple. Just regular folks getting on with getting on, but after the fast easy books, the reader can't help seeing the triumph of the human soul as a very subtle process. I read all kinds of stuff, and trust me, it shocked the shniz out of me that books where there is essentially no action could re-center my outlook on humanity.

But there's also, you, know, that thing.

What does the All Clear look like? It's coming by decree or de facto, long before a vaccine gets here. Traffic this week was heavier than last week, which was lighter the week before that. Even if the hope is for a vaccine, which takes 18 months from February 2020, that's August of 2021. We're not going to maintain a shutdown until this coming August, let alone a year longer.

The numbers don't add up. If fatality is about 1.7% and the "official" range of death toll is 100,000 to 240,000, that median is 170,000. If 170K deaths is 1.7% then that would mean 10,000,000 infected. What about the other 320,000,000 Americans?

What's the all-clear? People with names starting with "C" "G" and "N" can work, dine, and rave on Mondays? If the last digit in your SSN is a 4 then you can go shopping on the 4th, 14th and 24th of a month?

None of this adds up. There is one pragmatic solution and one magic solution. Sweden is trying the pragmatic one right now. The magic solution is the direct antibody shot. If it works, we'd become largely immune by late Summer 2020. Might be possible to extend the curfews that long, if it's known by May, that a magic solution is coming in September.

Problem with Sweden, is that truly protecting the at-risk would mean sealing their borders for many months after gaining herd immunity. Problem with the antibodies is, as with all magic, it's unproven until it becomes repeatable science.

Real woe to us, if the Swedish Solution actually works. They are a much more homogeneous culture, with a great education system, with far greater interpersonal respect than the USA. If we try that here, and we do it too early, it's 5 million dead.

My hope is that we've got 7 weeks to decide. My guess is that we've got four. Too bad we wasted February on a hoax.

David Brin said...


I have to wonder if Stephen Miller talked Two Scoops into switching from LOWBALLING the likely death numbers to HIGHBALLING them. 100,000 US deaths sounds high and 240,000 absurdly high. My do that? So that when our medical heroes bring it in below that, he can claim credit! Certainly Kushner or Ivanka wouldn't be smart enough to think of that. Maybe Kellyanne Conway. Is there anyone else left, except blackmailed "acting" toadies?

See also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifKbwDf51bA

Then there's him mid-paragraph veering from scientific models to bragging about sex with models. Turpitude R us.

Cari Burstein said...

From what I understand the point of this lockdown is not about keeping everyone from getting it at all, but to slow things down to the point the medical system can handle the flow of patients and buy us time to get better treatments, mitigation and testing. After that we'll likely have to go into some kind of careful monitoring mode where we are extra cautious and might have to periodically go into deeper lockdowns when cases ramp up. But once we have ramped up our options and gotten the cases down to a reasonable level we may be able to focus more on measures like contact tracing that have worked well in other countries that have this better under control.

For the people most at risk, it's quite possible there will need to be a longer term lockdown until there is an actual vaccine, in which case we need to have good systems of support to allow for that. For the rest, I think we're looking at a bumpy ride and some severe adjustment of expectations on what constitutes normal life until there's a vaccine. Big group activities in particular I think are going to be a difficult sell for a long time.

I think the biggest problem in a place like the US is whether we will declare victory too soon without appropriate transitional measures, or be unwilling to apply the brakes quickly when things ramp up badly again. I also don't have high hopes for us having good plans in place for the fall election given that apparently trying to make sure an election happens smoothly and safely has become partisan.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Some of the strongest nominees for the Ray Bradbury awards I've ever seen. Of my three favourites, each excels but in very different ways. "Russian Doll" "Watchmen" and "Good Omens" all deserve to win!

gregory byshenk said...

Yes, as Cari Burstein said...
"the point of this lockdown is not about keeping everyone from getting it at all, but to slow things down to the point the medical system can handle the flow of patients..."

The death rate for Covid-19 seems to be pretty low (exactly how low is uncertain, because we don't have a good measurement of the number of infections) - if treatment is available to everyone who becomes seriously ill. If we don't "flatten the curve" and the number of infections continues to grow exponentially, then the health care system will be overwhelmed and many people will probably die who might otherwise have survived.

I think the issue for ending the lockdown will probably be based on either demonstrably effective treatment or large-scale antibody testing. Antibody testing would give us a good measure of how much of the population has already been infected (possibly with only minor symptoms) and how much is still vulnerable.

Here (in the Netherlands) they have just started a study of antibodies in blood donations to attempt to determine just that. They have started with existing samples, and plan to continue running the tests over time, to attempt to measure the change. Antibody tests are already available (at least here), but have a relatively high rate of both false positives and false negatives. This makes them useful for population study, but unreliable for testing any individual.

David Brin said...

TCB I deleted both comments to give you a chance to get the kinks worked out. I understood neither, sorry!

I tend to lean on expecting LOWER death tolls (which is why I think DT switched to highball estimates, so he could later claim personal victory.) My reason is that the most vulnerable were likely heeding the close-down orders earlier. Also there does seem to be a temperature correlation.

Hailey said...

Apparently cats can contract it from people: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/newsroom/news/sa_by_date/sa-2020/ny-zoo-covid-19

But I suppose it remains to be seen if they could then spread it back to us.

duncan cairncross said...

Covid-19 virus Death Tolls

The only way that we will be able to see the actual death tolls will be by comparing the death rates in 2019 with the same months in 2020

I suspect that the actual death tolls will be a LOT higher - people are dying but if they don't test positive for the virus then it wasn't a virus death
But with the lack of testing capacity - would they be tested?
If I was a doctor with a limited number of testing kits - I would not bother testing the dying but I would want to test those that could be saved

john fremont said...

Trump could also use the lower numbers to undermine the Democratic governors who implemented shelter in place orders all to sabotage his tremendous economy.

TCB said...

I don't even remember what I tried to post before. Prolly read 30 online articles a day. Seemed important at the time.

...as to the COVID-19 death toll, it's still under 200 (known) for South Korea and the 6 times larger population United States reports 9620 (known) per Coronavirus Dashboard. I blame Trump for ever death above 200 x 6 which adds to over 8400 excess deaths due to bad policy so far.

Also it appears his friends have gone into the business of mask and gown profiteering.

scidata said...

April 6, 1992. I remember the news like it was yesterday. RIP Isaac, and thanks.

A.F. Rey said...

Speaking of SF, as an aperitif or digestif for "The Ancient Ones," you can check out my short story at UFO Publishing, "Demonology for Nerds," one of the teaser stories for Alex Shvartsman's series, Unidentified Funny Objects.

http://www.ufopub.com/2012/12/31/demonology-for-nerds-by-andrew-f-rey/

It's free! (And worth every penny.)

David Brin said...

This extremely widely viewed in-depth exploration of Covid statistics contains a number of surprises and important insights, especially for those who expect rural folks to weather this much better.
https://medium.com/@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-out-of-many-one-36b886af37e9

Separately... this other piece is a bit of a rant, but cogently on-target, appraising the damage already done by Fox-propelled runs on chloroquine drugs and other magical remedies, then goes on the appraise the general rule of right wing media to prey on the gullible.

https://www.salon.com/2020/04/03/behind-the-rights-obsession-with-a-miracle-cure-for-coronavirus-its-not-just-about-trump/

locumranch said...

By quoting Beckett's comments about "unequal privacy" and "mutually assured disclosure", David confirms my impression that transparency is analogous to MAD (aka 'mutually assured destruction') or what I term 'mutually assured complicity' wherein mutual dishonesty is glue that holds modern society together as lying liar equalist 'birds of a feather' flock together & honest truth-telling is tantamount to sociopathy.

This is particularly true in regards to COVID-19 wherein the international progressive elite has managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, insomuch as any overestimate of COVID-19 mortality will reveal them as lying power-grabbing opportunists and any underestimate of COVID-19 mortality will put an end to globalism, open borders, equalism & the non-essential service economy.

The likelihood of the international progressive elite being judged 'exactly right' in regard to this manufactured viral crisis is slim to none, and the potential political blow-back from this global fiasco will be massive, unless all participants declare a state of mutually complicit false amnesia that will allow everything to go back to an arbitrary & meaningless Orwellian state of normality.

And what does the state of Orwellian Normality require?

The capacity to believe lies, lies & more lies -- as practice -- in order to believe the big lies like progress, justice, mercy, duty & equality.


Best

David Brin said...

While typically insane and logically incoherent, locum's latest howl does have a kind of poetical quality to it, ya think?

He does start off correct that reciprocal accountability and trasparency do have something in common with the MAD deterrence equilibrium of 1948-1998 that gave us 50 years avoiding apocalypse and saved all our lives while allowing the world its greatest period of pulling kids out of starvation and poverty, better than all other eras... combined. Only then he cgoes on to call reciprocal accountability... the only thing that has ever worked in the face of human delusion... somehow ... 'sociopathy'?

I really did want to understand that logic! I was curious!

Then I just got tired. Somehow all the scientists and health professionals trying to actually grapple with a crisis are... playing some kind of carnival game?

Zzzzzzz.

Acacia H. said...

Okay. I think libertarians may in fact be completely insane.

A bright, intelligent, educated young libertarian lady I'm friendly with just commented on Twitter going against the government's shutting down non-essential businesses and claiming that business owners are better suited in choosing how to respond to this pandemic. This girl was in college when she was 16 and I believe got her degree by 18. Hell, I've long felt she could have easily gone into the sciences or the like if she chose. But she's drunk the libertarian tea so long that she's criticizing the government shutting down businesses to deal with a pandemic and saying "businesses know best."

The same businesses that ignored the pandemic and did "business as usual" while sending people to and from China know better than the government. The same businesses that SPREAD this damn plague while seeking higher profits. The same fucking businesses that are price gouging to capitalize on fear.

I guess I never was a libertarian. Because I sure as hell was never that naive or stupid to believe government was so bad that during a pandemic a government shutdown of the economy to save lives would in fact be a bad thing. Seriously. How can they look themselves in the eye in the mirror in the morning?

Acacia

Acacia H. said...

Had her respond, btw, and she commented on "aren't grocery stores essential?" I responded but then added a question. If grocery stores and grocery store personnel are essential, then why aren't they making $15/hour with full medical benefits starting wages? Why are grocery personnel so essential... but not important enough to make good wages?

Come to think of it... ambulance personnel (EMTs and the like) are essential. They're not making all that much money given these people save lives. In fact, I've heard grousing that since ambulance personnel only make $15/hour, that giving grocery store personnel that level of wage diminishes their worth. So then... why are these emergency personnel MAKING SO LITTLE MONEY if they are so essential?

Or is it that their services are essential but they themselves are worthless in the eyes of corporate owners who wish to maximize profits?

Seriously. How the fuck did I ever think of myself as a libertarian? Because it is now obviously clear to me that libertarianism is a cancer that seeks to devour society in the name of maximized ownership of private property and money and to hell with people and civilization so long as the libertarians have what they feel is their due.

Republicans are fucking evil. But we can see that with their normal actions. Libertarians are cancerous because they SEEM to have a reasonable argument... but then use it to destroy society itself.

Acacia

Alfred Differ said...

Just watched "This Extraordinary Being."

Yah. Well done.

Gonna watch the other one tonight. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

mutual dishonesty is glue that holds modern society together

Well... Yes. To a point, we DO lie.
I'm sure there are SF stories showing what happens when we are brutally honest with each other. 8)

The neat thing about Equality of Privacy is that new social rules WILL emerge for people who hide too much AND reveal too much.
We are human, so there is no way this would NOT happen. We do this emergence thing without much thought, reason, or design.

David Brin said...

Acacia, I got no problems with the basic PREMISE of many libertarianisms (and there are many)… the Adam Smith premise that COMPETITION is the greatest creative force in the universe, and that the widest variety of empowered, confident, knowledgeable and unafraid individuals and teams can come up with the most and best solutions to most problems.

Now comes the insane part. Almost no “libertarians” today ever glance at 6000 years of the horror show called human history, and ask why flat-fair-open-creative competition failed in almost every society, across all those dark eras. They don’t look and deliberately remain history ignoramuses, because any attention at all to facts would show that the destroyers of fair competition were kings, lords, priests and inheritance brats… and almost never socialists or “bureaucrats.”

Oh, the latter CAN be another version of the same thing, power hungry mostly-males trying to build inheritable empires by suppressing others. But to fixate ONLY on THEM, while ignoring the real enemies of freedom and competition?

That’s… just… stooopid.

In fact, we got our spectacular (and spectacularly rare) renaissance of freedom, science, justice and vast productivity because we BROKE UP CENTERS OF POWER and used bureaucrats carefully to make sure all children got at least a minimum of food and education and hence could actually start to… compete. Yes, compete even with the sons of the rich, those spoiled brats like Trump & Kushner who even Ayn Rand always portrayed as her chief villains

Dig it, Adam Smith would approve of most liberal “programs” that increase the number of competitors and lower the number of ignorant serfs. If it increases the number os skilled, competent and confidents competitors, it should be deemed "good." And hence libertarians are utter hypocrites if they hate liberals, instead of would be oligarchs.

Ask that young woman to refute any of that argument, which was made ENTIRELY in “libertarian terms.” And ask her to paraphrase, to see if she actually understood the parts she claims to disagree with.

And then ask why she is marching to the drumbeat of those who would re-establish feudalism.

Zepp Jamieson said...

One problem libertarianism has is that toxic elements such as Ayn Rand and the John Birch society, their fascist ideologies discredited by World War II. The Kochs, one of the biggest elements in the Libertarian party, actually founded the JBS.
For years, I tended to refer to two types of libertarians: Small Mouth and Large Mouth. Large Mouth were part of the Rand/Koch contingent; Small Mouth were the ones who have honest suspicion of government power and genuinely believed that the rights of individuals were paramont, and should not reside with government, corporations, or churches. This is the Jeffersonian/Adam Smith contingent.

TCB said...

Dr. Brin hath said, "Then I just got tired."

This is, to me, one of the greatest lines in a rock song, ever. (It's based on Dostoevsky's Notes From Underground).

MAGAZINE...A Song from Under the Floorboards.

TCB said...

Sounds ta me like all y'all are ready, I say, y'all are ready, if you haven't already read it, for David Graeber's kinda influential essay On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs: A Work Rant.

I (a mailman) said to a passing sanitation (garbage) worker last week, If the bankers go on strike, nobody would notice. If we (pointing at me and him) go on strike, they'd notice in a hurry. He fully agreed.

David Brin said...

TCB: Yay mailmen! Wait. Something similar.

Zepp, the irony is that Ayn Rand's VILLAINS are nearly always inheritance brats.

David Brin said...

A truly excellent run-down of the mechanics of exactly how the SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19) virus does its work differently than its cousin SARS-COV-1. Incredible how quickly we learn so much, these days... and still have trouble crafting silver bullets.

https://www.philstockworld.com/2020/04/05/what-the-coronavirus-does-to-your-body-that-makes-it-so-deadly/?utm_source=psw&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=Daily%20Newsletter&utm_content=2020-04-06%20Morning

Tell me if you are stopped by a pay wall.

TCB said...

That article at Phil's Stock World makes it clear why health professionals can get taken down so hard by COVID-19. A mild case might be a few virus particles causing one or two lesions, spreading only to adjacent lung cells. But if you're a doctor or nurse working long days with patients, inadequately protected, maybe you end up with fifty lesions at once, as a result of high viral load; maybe you got infected not once but twenty times in different patches of your lungs before the first symptoms even appeared. And it's just too much for your body.

TCB said...

I had a bothersome thought yesterday about the US Navy. Captain Brett Crozier of the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt was fired by the trumpanzee Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly for a letter Capt. Crozier wrote expressing concerns about a coronavirus outbreak on the ship. Modly then flew to Guam to give a speech trashing Crozier to his former crew, who had cheered Crozier as he left them. Now Crozier has been tested coronavirus positive too. Navy ships are far more crammed together than cruise ships. If once carrier has an outbreak we can assume other US vessels have too.

This raises two slim but troubling possibilities.

1. Over the next couple of months we can expect to see many sick US crews performing at less than top proficiency. Mainland China, thanks to its aggressive Wuhan lockdown, probably has healthy crews. Has Donald Trump unwittingly issued an an invitation to the PRC to invade Taiwan during a window of opportunity?

2. Sick crews, performing at less than top proficiency, yes; but also resentful and knowing well who protects them and who... does not. USS Battleship Potemkin?

TCB said...

Re: The Crozier letter, Tweed Roosevelt reports that his great-grandfather, namesake of the ship, wrote a similar letter. It cost him a Medal of Honor but not his career, and he got the medal posthumously.

locumranch said...


There's really not much to misunderstand here as 'accountability' and 'complicity' are both synonyms for the more morally ambiguous term 'collaboration', the only difference being that the former term (accountability aka 'responsibility') is most often judged as a moral positive while the latter (complicity aka 'collusion') is most often judged as a moral negative.

In an attempt to sell transparency by minimising the potentially negative consequences of 'accountability', 'complicity' and 'collaboration', I suspect that our very literate host only feigns confusion, especially when the terms 'reciprocal' and 'reciprocation' are mere euphemisms for retaliation, reprisal & retribution.

This tit-for-tat, eye-for-an-eye & rather biblical approach to 'reciprocal accountability' may appeal to many blue urban dimwits, but this march towards bloodshed & civil war seems poorly considered to me, which is why I much prefer the MYOB approach to tolerance.

MYOB stands for the true tolerance of 'Mind Your Own Business' and a respect for individual privacy, insomuch as any other approach (as in 'reciprocal accountability') exhibits an intolerable level of intolerance of & for differing cultures, moralities and belief systems.

And, assuming you're one of the millions of non-essential hairdressers, solicitors, computer nerds & city dwellers who demands martyrdom from the healthcare provider during this viral crisis, remember that the reciprocation principle demands that you martyr yourselves, too.

So, judge not lest ye be judged, and MYOB lest you be 'called to account' as a direct result of your feckless, reckless & intolerant pursuit of accountability with reciprocation.


Best

Anonymous said...

Robert here,

Acacia, tell your young friend to read The Poison Squad, about the founding of the FDA. It was necessary because businesses were killing their customers with poisonous food. Interestingly, the arguments made by businesses back then are the same that modern libertarians and other small-government types are making right now (and as long as I can remember).

La plus ça change…

David Brin said...

"accountability' is 'complicity'? And black is white and vanilla is chocolate and paper is steel and the bottom of the ocean is vacuum. He truly is a nut job.

Alfred Differ said...

TCB,

sick US crews performing at less than top proficiency

Perhaps, but they shouldn't be talking about it openly.
Not because of career risks or annoying the CIC.
Because ship status is generally classified information.

Alfred Differ said...

Some of the libertarians around me support the vonmises.org position that quarantines absent due process are illegal. We started a nifty email thread (internal) and I took up an opposing view (interstate commerce clause is pretty broad and covers this) and the fireworks commenced. My goal was to limit anything official our local party said by showing how even strict interpretations can require blinders to get to a particular conclusion.

Of course, some pointed out they didn't like the broad interstate commerce clause, but I suggested they take that up with the Framers. 8)


I don't know that any of them are insane, though.
Fixated? Sure.
Unable to see how history demonstrates their error? Sure.
That's the kind of person you want across from you at the poker table, though. Ka-ching!

Alfred Differ said...

Oh....

"Essential" is inherently unknowable. You need a time machine.

Connecting wage to 'essential' is the same error as connecting wage to 'merit'. Really bad idea.
What you 'deserve' has little to nothing to do with prices in free, flat, fair markets.
Prices reflect the value the traders place on the thing being traded.

Our temptation to connect price to 'what we deserve' comes from our sense of justice, not our sense of prudence.
Both virtues, but don't confuse them.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin on locumranch:

"accountability' is 'complicity'? And black is white and vanilla is chocolate and paper is steel and the bottom of the ocean is vacuum.


Whether "collaboration" or "collusion" are bad things depends on what the participants are colluding on. Loc echoes Trump trying to pretend that if his "collusion" is supposed to be a crime, then so it is when any two people plan a course of action among themselves. As if the problem is the concept of "collusion" itself rather than the thing being colluded on.

I have to wonder rhetorically if it seems similarly incongruous to him that "wielding a gun" is considered a bad thing if you're robbing someone or shooting up an office, but a good thing if you're defending against a robbery or hunting for food.


He truly is a nut job.


It's taken this long to figure that out? I'm glad Lent is almost over.

Deuxglass said...

I am not reading any science fiction at this time because I am actually living a science fiction story and I do not like it at all. Although the characters are so well constructed as to give the impression that they are alive, the plot sucks. It drags along without resolution and contains too many subplots. I am still waiting for the hot doctor/scientist/microbiologist/ or whatever to find the miracle cure. I realize that she/he has to convince her/his superiors first (helped along by a college who is secretly in love with that character) but frankly it is taking way too long. I fear that the ending will be wishy-washy with not a clear conclusion. In short, as a book, I cannot recommend it.
Instead I am re-reading the plays of Shakespeare and having a great time figuring out the puns and regaling in the richness of true literature.

I am sure some of you have set up a spreadsheet or two to try to predict what the eventual number of deaths will be. On mine I came up with 119,000 deaths in the United States so now I am on record. That is a lot of deaths. Most will come from the over 60 group but 40,000 could come from the under 60 group. In a normal year there are 2,900,000 deaths in the United States. If my figures are correct then the surplus death rate is less than 5 percent. That is not much but I must underline that this is a new virus and we don’t know it enough to just shrug it off as we do with influenza. Is closing down the economy worth it for that? I can’t answer that. It’s a new virus and it could mutate or cause effects that we don’t know yet so we might as well bite the bullet now to get a handle on it. Keep in mind that the world is run by people over 60 and they want to keep living.
In any case I noticed that politicians, economists and just about everybody were waiting for a good excuse to go to MMT in a big way and this pandemic provided the opportunity. Austerity is no longer popular. We might end up with inflation and that’s bad but so depression-level unemployment.

As a side note, the Azithromycin and hydroxychloroquine cocktail is widely being used in just about all hospitals here as well as in Italy, Belgium, Spain, Holland as well as others. Doctors when they get sick take the cocktail themselves because apparently they see that there is a positive effect. Now virtually no specialists here are taking the hard line. Put together enough anecdotes with a positive outcome and it becomes no longer anecdotal.

A.F. Rey said...

Can't read the news anymore. Trump removes the guy overseeing the coronavirus aid and appoints his own choice.

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/07/trump-removes-independent-watchdog-for-coronavirus-funds-upending-oversight-panel-171943

How can you make half of America see what is so, so obvious, but they don't want to see? :(

David Brin said...

Taking a break to let out a huge whine of desperation! (Three points to anyone who guesses a past viral meme I am channeling right now... WITHOUT glancing at my FB page! ;-)

---------------------
Leave Jared Kushner alone! Stop being mean to him! Didn’t he solve the Middle East? Opioids and homelessness? Relations with Mexico and China? Didn’t he build a gleaming border wall from sea to shining sea? And stimulate American innovation? Didn’t he end influence and money laundering by Moscow mafias? All those touted “Let Jared do it” missions got accomplished, right? So let him bring the same magic to the Corona-COVID-Covfefe Crisis. He’ll save us; count on it!!

All you smartypants “elites” with your “knowledge” and your “skills” and your “facts”… get out of the way and let a real man take our burdens on those mighty shoulders. Leave Jared alone… and he’ll show you how it gets done!

(Don't let articles like this one sway you about this paramount being, who is straight out of an Ayn Rand novel!)

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/04/jared-kushner-coronavirus-conference-appearance.html

David Brin said...

The fact that most fatalities seem to have had hypertension or diabetes means that this may slam the African American communities especially hard.

Treebeard said...

Deuxglass, now calculate how many people will die or be wrecked by the societal shutdown in response to the virus. The cure could be worse than the disease. Maybe we will have to evolve into a more asocial, misanthropic, hermit-like species in response to killer viruses we can’t contain. If so, it’s not much skin off my back; in fact, I might be in the vanguard of the future. Wouldn’t that be a hoot?

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Our temptation to connect price to 'what we deserve' comes from our sense of justice, not our sense of prudence.
Both virtues, but don't confuse them.


Point taken. But then a large swath of our population (religious, libertarian, or otherwise) has an unshakable faith that the invisible hand insures an exact correlation between wealth and deservingness. That the universe is just whether or not we can fully understand the mechanism. Usually, this faith is expressed by the "haves" in order to justify their good fortune.

So a discussion about how low-paid some essential workers are is a way of arguing against that faith.

A.F. Rey said...

The fact that most fatalities seem to have had hypertension or diabetes means that this may slam the African American communities especially hard.

Heard a piece on NPR this morning on just that. It is true. African-Americans account for higher percentage of deaths in Louisiana than expected, precisely because of those conditions. :(

David Brin said...

Treebeard's expressed position is, of course, loathsome. BUT you all know I also take note of "meta" traits... e.g. that locumranch's most recent was kida poetical, if consistently insane.

Treebeard's "meta" this time was actually not so bad. He fairly and accurately portrayed his misanthropic position.

scidata said...

Canada too is working on COTS ventilators, one team led by Dr. Art McDonald. And vaccines, and AI/computation. BTW those 3M masks that were banned from any shipment to Canada have top-grade Canadian wood pulp as a major component. Awkward.
Stay well, keep fighting. Canada loves you.
Calculemus!

David Smelser said...

Deuxglass,

Counting those harmed by shutdown seems a fair point that Treebeard makes, but you also need to do the same analysis if we didn't have the shutdown (which Treebeard doesn't seem to do).

https://medium.com/@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-out-of-many-one-36b886af37e9
makes a good case for suppression is better than mitigation.

I would like other view on Tomas Pueyo's article.

Keith Halperin said...

@ Everyone:
Re: COVID-19 "Deathtimates":
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/preliminary-in-season-estimates.htm
According to this, there were 24,000-63,000 US flu deaths in 2019-2020.
Is it reasonable to say there will only be 2-5x times as many COVID-19 deaths as flu deaths?

Re: Ventilators:
Though I'm still waiting for some solid, reliable numbers, ISTM that the majority (perhaps a great majority) of those with COVID-19 who go on ventilators do not recover.
Has anyone read of the characteristics of those who go on ventilators and DO recover?
(In 1999, my 77 year old father had pneumonia, went on a ventilator, and didn't recover.)

Stay Well,
Keith

Daniel Duffy said...

RE: The SCOTUS decision to not allow additional time for mail in ballots, thus forcing Wisconsin voters to vote at the voting booth in crowded constitutions during a pandemic.

The GOP just shot itself in the foot.

Old people are the most vulnerable to coronavirus.

Old people are primarily Republican and make up the core of Trump's base.

Old people will be afraid to go to the voting boots for fear of the virus.

Old people will stay home and not vote, and are now prevented from voting by mail.

Trump and the GOP lose the next election.

QED

David Brin said...

Daniel, you have no idea how fervently Trump supporters view him as a messiah and are willing to risk all for him. Seriously, these people are another species.

This Israeli sci fi novel looked ahead from the 1980s to a world pandemic in the year 2020. Naturally, it is much more lurid than the thing we are dealing with. "Hundreds are infected every day. The infected are sent to “The Center for Healing” – a fenced-in zone that resembles a penal colony to which opponents of the regime are also sent. Nobody from either group ever returns to the Healthy Area, and no one knows what becomes of them. The rest of the city residents live in an Orwellian situation, tested every day for the virus. Drugs, alcohol and homosexual relations are totally banned, and extramarital relations are considered a serious hygienic violation. Clubs and bars are considered abominations. Psychotherapy is considered obscene because of the possibility that unacceptable erotic thoughts might be expressed. Porn films feature robots in the starring roles. The daily health news is broadcast every night and housewives are addicted to shows about cleaning products and disinfectants. People are surveilled and phone calls and computer files are tracked."

https://www.haaretz.com/amp/israel-news/.premium.MAGAZINE-this-israeli-author-wrote-about-the-2020-pandemic-23-years-ago-1.8747689?__twitter_impression=true

Cari Burstein said...

Pretty sure GOP is counting on the problem in Wisconsin affecting turnout in the urban areas more than the rural areas. They seem to think they're better off with a low turnout election and they may be right for this particular election. They're calculating on there not being a backlash severe enough to hurt them, and winning that court seat so they can continue to manipulate turnout in their favor going forward.

What is really concerning about all this is the shades of things to come. I don't trust that we'll be back to normal operations by fall, and Republicans seem to be calculating that they will gain more from obstructing a proper election than they will lose from the backlash of refusing to make things safer for voters. I had hoped with the long lead time all states would be preparing for the eventuality of full vote by mail or at least significantly expanded vote by mail, and that for once public pressure would force the Republicans to get on board. This precedent in Wisconsin is not a good sign, and depending on how the Republican voters respond to the situation will probably impact whether they think it's worth obstructing the fall election. I don't have high hopes for Republicans pushing back on this crap :(

The very fact that the decisions about how voting systems are run can be made in a partisan way in the first place is one of the biggest cracks in the US system of government. We have a terrible history of this sort of behavior in the past and it seems we are repeating it.

Ahcuah said...

It appears that we should not believe the death rates. In New York, you are only counted as a Covid-19 death if you'd actually tested positive for the virus. And once you are dead, they aren't bothering to test. Yet, the number of people dying at home for the past couple of weeks is around 200 per day, compared to the usual 20 per day.

https://gothamist.com/news/surge-number-new-yorkers-dying-home-officials-suspect-undercount-covid-19-related-deaths

locumranch said...


'accountability' is 'complicity'? And black is white and vanilla is chocolate and paper is steel and the bottom of the ocean is vacuum[DB].

Exactly the Orwellian response that one expects from the individual, organisation or institution who (1) engages in collectivist collaboration, aka 'a collaborator', (2) 'holds others accountable & responsible' to collectivist judgement, aka 'an accusator', (3) cooperates in morally questionable collectivist action, aka 'a complicitor', and (4) conspires to engage in a non-overt collectivist agenda, aka 'a conspirator'.

Also, exactly the approach used to (1) promote
'equalism' by dispensing special protections & privileges to select identities but not others, (2) condemn 'sexism' against one gender but not the other, (3) use the strict application of racial criteria to combat 'racism' and (4) judge others while refusing reciprocal judgment.

That's the problem with all things 'reciprocal':

Reciprocity cuts BOTH WAYS, insomuch as the accountability & responsibility that you foist on others will be returned to you in kind.


Best
++++

Daniel_D indulges in schadenfraude, crows about how in-person voting disadvantages old sick Republicans in a Democrat Party primary election that in no way effects the current incumbent Republican President, and has to choose between a accused rapist or a senile communist. Ha.

David Brin said...

"Exactly the Orwellian response that one expects from the individual, organisation or institution who (1) engages in collectivist collaboration, aka 'a collaborator', (2) 'holds others accountable & responsible' to collectivist judgement, aka 'an accusator', (3) cooperates in morally questionable collectivist action, aka 'a complicitor', and (4) conspires to engage in a non-overt collectivist agenda, aka 'a conspirator'. "

No, it is the response of someone facing a flaming idiot who hasn't a logical bone in his body and has zero credibility after years of drooling sputum.

"Reciprocity cuts BOTH WAYS, insomuch as the accountability & responsibility that you foist on others will be returned to you in kind."

Um duh? Is that um... a sign that you are starting to get it? No. One can tell that even when you accidentally say something true, you truly, truly haven't a clue what you just said.

David Brin said...

Florida voters demanded that ex-felons be treated as citizens. Now the courts agree. This, combined with angry Puerto Ricans, plus those seeing Oceans of GOP turpitude and incompetence in the COVID reaction, could spell trouble for the house of curds erected by cheaters.

https://www.breitbart.com/news/judge-rules-florida-cant-block-ex-felons-from-voting-over-outstanding-fees/

And yes, I've dipped a toe into Breitbart, from time to time. I keep my sources eclectic. Alas, I never get a hint of wisdom there.

Cari Burstein said...

Not going to engage in most of the locum ravings, but I just wanted to ask if he's actually completely unaware that the real prize in that election that is being fought over is a judge seat, or if he's just pretending such because he wants to claim it's somehow not a partisan issue? Trump has explicitly expressed support for his favored candidate for judge.

Alfred Differ said...

George Conway is running a crowd sourced joke thread today on Twitter. Some people are REAL good at the Trump imitation game.

How many people does it take to screw in a lightbulb for Donald Trump?

Tony Fisk said...

Having fired the captain of a stricken aircraft carrier for pleading for help for his covid infected men, the Trump-anointed Secretary of the Navy flies to Guam to personally harangue those men for giving their ex-captain a rousing cheer as he leaves the ship.

The lucky little fellow lives to resign.

TCB said...

Porn films feature robots in the starring roles.

I, too, watch Westworld.

Larry Hart said...

Ahcuah:

In New York, you are only counted as a Covid-19 death if you'd actually tested positive for the virus. And once you are dead, they aren't bothering to test.


When I was still going into an office, my expatriate Iranian colleague mentioned that that very thing was going on in Iran. It's likely pretty common everywhere, as anyone doing the counting--not just Trump--is really desperate to report low numbers.

Larry Hart said...

What locumranch is willfully ignoring is that the bad connotation for "collaboration" is due to the word used as shorthand for "collaboration with the enemy" during a war, most famously French collaborators in WWII. The implied prepositional phrase is what makes collaboration a bad thing.

The general word can be used for such benign endeavors as a private/public partnership, a pitcher and catcher devising game strategy, or the contributions that a writer and an artist make on a comic book plot. The fact that two or more people cooperate on something is not in and of itself a bad thing.

Ditto "collusion". Collusion to rig an election is a bad thing. Collusion full stop is not necessarily so.

Sheesh, does this really need explaining? I hold this truth to be self-evident.

Larry Hart said...

locumranch:

...Democrat Party primary election that in no way effects the current incumbent Republican President, and has to choose between a accused rapist or a senile communist.


The accused rapist is the incumbent Republican (illegitimate) President. Flyspeck, meet beam.

Smurphs said...

RE: Wisconsin voting. The Supremes have spoken, therefore the local GOP has all the cover they need. After all, the SCOTUS is above partisan politics, right?

RE: COVID-19. Two extended family members down with it. Both over 70 and immune-compromised. One seems to be recovering, too soon to tell for the other. And one of those was tested a few weeks ago. False negative. These things happen, but I can't help thinking about the delay in developing quality tests.

RE: Locum. Why are y'all bothering? He's not real, his arguments are not consistent or sincere. He just wants the attention.

kvs said...

@Keith
"Though I'm still waiting for some solid, reliable numbers, ISTM that the majority (perhaps a great majority) of those with COVID-19 who go on ventilators do not recover."

I don't have solid numbers, but my doctor friend said about 40% recover. I might be able to find her source of that information.

Tim Wolter said...

Wisconsinites being rara avis here I suppose it behooves me to weigh in briefly.

I voted absentee by mail. The procedure for doing so was straightforward, well publicized and most importantly mandated by my spouse. I have not seen stats on how many people did this but I'm guessing it will be a lot.

I have no grudge against the current Governor. He seems a decent slightly boring guy. Running a state during economic boom times (until the Recent Unpleasantness of course) is not that hard a job. Perhaps at the time he put social distancing restrictions into place a bit more thought should have gone into election planning instead of trying to do something the day before.

You could argue that nothing could have been predicted, nothing done about it but that's hardly insightful leadership. Anecdotally, while Milwaukee struggled mightily to keep polls open, in my more rustic area I inquired about working at the polls and was told it was already covered.

While we have time and a chance to think ahead, the possibility of a fall second wave of covid19 has to be factored into the much more consequential November election.

I'm very leery of postponing or otherwise messing with elections. It seems a very dangerous precedent. There are so many ways this could be abused. Did a blizzard hit (fill in the blank) on Election Day? Why the citizens of (copy-paste) are disenfranchised...change the rules! And of course while I worry less than y'all about a nascent totalitarian US that's not to say I don't entirely discount the possibility.

This is a hard issue. Partisans on either side are very dug in and angry about anything that might alter election outcomes by changing procedures. I hope there are grownups able to start a discussion now so that there is no need for last minute measures such as Wisconsin has seen this week. It would have been better to put out an early appeal for volunteers to come to Milwaukee to help. I'd of done it.

Was there some risk to in person voting? Possible. I hope and anticipate that many of the more vulnerable out there did as I did. Is this the first time voting has had an element of risk? From Klan violence during reconstruction to Iraqi voters proudly holding purple fingers aloft the answer is no.

Are we made of such lesser stuff?

T.Wolter

Larry Hart said...

Smurphs:

RE: Locum. Why are y'all bothering?


I gave up ignoring him for Lent. Only four more days.

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

Perhaps at the time he put social distancing restrictions into place a bit more thought should have gone into election planning instead of trying to do something the day before.

You could argue that nothing could have been predicted, nothing done about it but that's hardly insightful leadership.


One could also argue that the partisan state supreme court would have nixed anything no matter what the governor did.


Anecdotally, while Milwaukee struggled mightily to keep polls open, in my more rustic area I inquired about working at the polls and was told it was already covered.


The virus is harder to avoid in cities, and social distancing is more difficult there. The political calculation here is that the decision not to postpone helped suppress urban votes while not overly inconveniencing rural voters, which helps Republicans.


I'm very leery of postponing or otherwise messing with elections. It seems a very dangerous precedent. There are so many ways this could be abused.


Oh, I'm in perfect agreement. I'd be surprised if you think liberals are on the opposite side of this. Postponing the November election would be for the purpose of preventing unpopular politicians from being voted out of office.


And of course while I worry less than y'all about a nascent totalitarian US that's not to say I don't entirely discount the possibility.


I'm curious. You worry less that such a thing will happen, or you worry less about how bad such a thing would be?


This is a hard issue. Partisans on either side are very dug in and angry about anything that might alter election outcomes by changing procedures.


True, but the parties are not symmetrical in their concerns. It seems to me that Democrats want to make sure the extraordinary circumstances don't prevent people from voting, while Republicans want to make sure that extraordinary circumstances aren't used as an excuse to get around the methods they use to suppress the vote. I maintain that those are not things which each party has an equal right to.


Was there some risk to in person voting? Possible. I hope and anticipate that many of the more vulnerable out there did as I did. Is this the first time voting has had an element of risk? From Klan violence during reconstruction to Iraqi voters proudly holding purple fingers aloft the answer is no.


True. That sort of risk is just not something that we as Americans are used to. Like so much else this year, or these past three years, it's unprecedented.

Keith Halperin said...

@kvs: Thank you.

@Everybody: As long as there is a shortage of ventilators, it may be necessary to perform triage if it is possible to reasonably evaluate a patient's condition and the likelihood of recovery. (Wouldn't that be a horribly painful task for most people- deciding who would likely live and who would likely die?)
Also, we've lost a fine musician, John Prine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaDGYFNmtyY

Stay Well

Anonymous said...

nitpicker357:
Off-topic, but of probable interest: Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Pulses

locumranch said...


Larry_H hits the nail on the head when he says "Sheesh, does this really need explaining?" when he admits that 'cooperation' synonyms used to express 'good' or 'bad' moral judgments only reflect the pre-existing prejudice of the word user rather than any larger objective truth or reality.

It is just too bad that the same principle holds sway for all things 'reciprocal', terms that David describes as morally 'good' when defined narrowly in accordance with his personal rule set, but reflecting an unmitigated moral 'bad' when defined more broadly to reflect 'eye-for-an-eye' retaliation, reprisal & retribution.

Of course, we all know that brutal retribution & bloody revenge is NOT exactly what David means when he invokes 'reciprocal accountability' as his overriding thesis but, unfortunately, this is exactly what he invokes.

This is known as an 'unintended consequence'.

I suspect that David really means that people-in-general 'should', 'ought' and 'are supposed' to practice Reciprocal Niceness when interacting with each other, even though this -- like all things that 'should', 'ought' and 'are supposed' to exist in a more perfect world -- is a terribly unrealistic exercise in magical thinking.

And, speaking of the unintended consequences of magical thinking, Believe_All_Women Biden is just the most recent (evil)(white)(male) politician to be accused of rape by Always_Truthful_Women, even though the most prejudiced progressives like Larry_H choose NOT to Believe_All_Women when it calls fellow progressive rapists to account.

Rape appears to exist only in the eye of the beholder, just like every other moral 'good' & every other moral 'bad'.


Best

Alfred Differ said...

TCB,

I, too, watch Westworld.

Ha!
(This chuckle will likely last all day. Thank you.)

That's what HBO was invented for, right?


Me second thought after watching it a bit was "Damn... there sure are a lot of guns."

Orgies come in many types and styles.

David Brin said...

Okay, I'll follow Your advice guys. It truly is looking as if "locumranch" is a deliberate act of urban-web theater. No one could be that combo of articulate, moronic and insane while pushing incredible vileness... WHILE staying on just this side of the fecal spews that got others banned. Ignoring the theater for now. Better things.

Tim, Since this was a WI primary, the one matter that could not be corrected in November was a major judgeship. So, are you like so many RASRs, shaking your head sadly over Trumpism and Putin and the Suadis and destruction of our sciences and alliances and civil servants and truth and decency... but rationalizing "Judges and Taxes!"

All the rest of the tree may be poisonous! But let McConnell cheat and lie and pass appointed shills to sit on benches... and somehow that's a goooooood thing?

So, did you vote that guy into office? How about we make a bet now whether a large % of GOP appointed judges later turn out to be bribed or blackmailed or unqualified-biased shills?

David Brin said...

Apparently my "Pothole Fix" proposal of several weeks ago - which got almost universal derision at the time - is now being embraced hard by many municipalities, especially - proud to say - my old home county. Keeping folks employed while getting badly needed stuff done, while taking measures to keep the workers safe. Look for the win-wins!

https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2020/04/coronavirus-street-repair-transit-construction-projects/609343/

A.F. Rey said...

Anecdotally, while Milwaukee struggled mightily to keep polls open, in my more rustic area I inquired about working at the polls and was told it was already covered.


The virus is harder to avoid in cities, and social distancing is more difficult there. The political calculation here is that the decision not to postpone helped suppress urban votes while not overly inconveniencing rural voters, which helps Republicans.


Not to mention that fact that it is more likely that those in urban areas would catch the virus, and that a certain percentage of them will die from it. Since there are more Democrats in urban areas, Republicans realized that this has the extra-added bonus of taking even more Democrats off the rolls!

Are you surprised Democrats are a bit upset about all of this?

locumranch said...


https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/08/politics/bernie-sanders-drops-out/index.html

The 'fix is in' for 2020, just as it was for 2016, and the US Democrat Party has stopped pretending that 'democracy' has anything to do with its backroom political appointees. Democracy is DEAD, and you are just deceiving yourselves if you thought that (1) your vote mattered or (2) your party candidate represented your political interests.


Best

Alfred Differ said...

Back on the topic of 'essential workers' briefly...

The folks at Bloomberg Technology are taking note of how many companies are trying desperately to have their work-from-home staff remain productive and how dependent they've become on well functioning IT divisions. Whether its a dirty $5 mouse, lame bandwidth on a home network, or a forgotten password, one work-from-home staff member can show where the single points of failure are in unexamined processes. It doesn't take much for a business service offering to fail in the face of ignorance, and boy-oh-boy are we learning a lot.

We won't come out of this in a few months without being changed by the realization that some of us CAN work from home. Really CAN. What remains to be seen is how management will cope with the fact that our children really do out-rank them. Working from home isn't the same as telecommuting when there is no office door to close and the kids are not at school. 8)

Deuxglass said...

Treebeard and David Smelser,

I am well aware of the deaths possibly saved by not having the lockdowns but to calculate that would require a spreadsheet with as many variables as those of atmospheric scientists and since I do not have a supercomputer in my basement I decided to stick to something I can calculate and defend if necessary as opposed to having to use vague generalities that I can’t backup and which would have the consequence of being easy to destroy by even mentally challenged adversaries. There are fortunately people who do have access to the tools necessary for such an ambitious endeavor and their projections as well as the methods used to reach said conclusions are made available generally to those fortunate and fortuned people who have the means to correctly remunerate the researchers. Sometimes their conclusions filter down to main media as a sound bite of not more 20 seconds and used to bolster the position the pundit wishes to convey to his followers. To be brief you have to read and study a few 200 page studies to have an idea of what impact on possible deaths.

matthew said...

A national-politics view of the shenanigans in Wisconsin.

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/04/wisconsin-election-dissents.html

We are seeing the playbook that will be used in November to keep the GOP in power. Blatant disregard for human life, particularly minority lives.

Call your Senator and Representative *now* and demand that vote by mail be mandated nationally before the Presidential election.

David Brin said...

"Call your Senator and Representative *now* and demand that vote by mail be mandated nationally before the Presidential election."

Calling reps is useless. I offer 100+ ways to make November such a blatant blowout that they won't dare try to steal it, and will back off and prepare for the inevitable flake-off of leftists in 2022.

http://davidbrin.com/polemicaljudo.html

Deuxglass said...

Dr. Brin,

Locum is one of your most loyal commentators and has been active for many years now. I am surprised that he keeps coming back when all he gets is abuse and scorn from the people here. It could be explained that Locum is a masochist while the rest of us by the joy we get from putting him down are sadists. That implies that (gasp!) we are a perfect match.

David Brin said...

Deuxglass, one of the things a love about you is your contrariness. I am supposed to consider a fellow who ascribed to me strawman positions that are diametrically opposite to my beliefs and crams into my mouth opinions he knows I would deem loathsome... that, to you, is "loyal." Heh. And you have no idea how that reflects on YOU?

Well, well, I have nurtured a community with loose and generally open standards. You are an ornery cuss. But you fit in here.

Deuxglass said...

Dr. Brin,

Being an ornery cuss is the central tenet of Geezerism of which I am a firm believer. I decided to convert when I discovered that it is the only religion that is by definition confined to old men and the exclusiveness of it appeals to me since I am an old man. The next step up is to master grumpiness. i am working hard on that.

David Brin said...

Just do it off my lawn!

Tim Wolter said...

Would cancelling the in person vote have impacted the outcome of the Supreme Court race? Hard to say. It got approximately zero media attention, granted there's this other thing going on. Whatever the outcome it "might" have been different, might not have been. I mostly voted because there was a local judgeship, two school board races and a referendum to increase funding for our technical colleges.

btw our household got two somewhat sneaky mailers encouraging us to register to vote early. One looked really official and actually had an application for absentee ballot included in it. In teensy, teensy print at the bottom was the name of a progressive organization out of Illinois. Presumably the Better Half got this based on some juju regards her political inclinations. But then....I got one from a different progressive organization out of Portland. This one was cute, written in a girlish hand with three different marker colors! A flash back from middle school.....shudder.

Governor Evers apparently initially agreed with the Legislature that the election should go forward. His 11th hour change of heart did not sit well. Why on earth Milwaukee did not undertake to have reinforcements called in to keep polls open defies belief. As I said, I'd have gone over for that. Voting is important.

I'll sing the same song in November if conditions are difficult due to covid resurgent.

TW

Oh and Larry, you know me well enough to answer your own question. I have considerable faith in our system preventing dictatorship. Or mob rule. Neither is good.

Deuxglass said...

Dr. Brin,

Being grumpy to someone your own age is no fun. The maximum pleasure comes from being grumpy to youngsters in their teens since they are easy to intimidate. That is what the Good Book of Geezerism teaches us.

Acacia H. said...

Imagine my surprise when I looked at the local news and saw the photograph of someone whose face I recognized from working at the local grocery store as a COVID-19 fatality. I could not be tested while I was truly sick because I had no direct link to someone. But this woman was very possibly one of the people who infected me as I was in her line for buying groceries. And she got it bad enough she was put on a ventilator and unfortunately died... her husband not being allowed by her side at the end.

So it is most likely I was a COVID-19 victim. You know, if I had died from this, I would not be registered as such? After all, they don't bother testing the dead....

In the end, there will be two sets of statistics. The first is the "official" death tally. We'll have between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths (maybe more) that were officially confirmed as COVID-19 deaths. But there will be over a million additional people who died but because they never got tested, died of "unknown causes" during a pandemic.

Ah well. I've got AB+ blood and apparently my plasma is quite valuable. So I could very well help a lot of people once I am fully over this damn thing (and I'm feeling not quite as good today as I did on Monday and Tuesday, so I'll hold off a little bit longer) with plasma that may have enough antibodies to do some good to those who are truly ill.

As for the doomsayers like locu and the ent? Meh.

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

The Bernie Bros are a bit unhappy with me over on Tumblr. They don't like my stating outright "if you refuse to vote for Biden, you are stating you fully support Donald Trump's views and policies." They hate me even worse because I also state outright "if Sanders won the primary then I would vote for him without hesitating. Why are you hesitating?"

But then, I've long known the Bernie Bros aren't actually supporters of him. They are beating loud drums and trying to get people to agree with them, and when some 50-year-old woman calls them on their bullshit, they run into a small wall and just restate the same thing because what are they going to do, say "your mother!" to me? I'm old enough that I don't give a shit what they think, and reasonable enough that they look like true asses if they do go after me.

It's what I like about Warren's supporters. Just about every single one of them stated they would vote for whoever won the primary. That says to me they were true supporters who were voting for who they felt was the best candidate. The Bernie Bros make a lot of noise but if they were truly out there voting, why did Sanders lose?

Acacia

Larry Hart said...

locumranch:

The 'fix is in' for 2020, just as it was for 2016, ... Democracy is DEAD, and you are just deceiving yourselves if you thought that (1) your vote mattered or (2) your party candidate represented your political interests.


Just like in 2016, the candidate with the most delegates from the primaries will be the nominee. How does that mean that democracy is dead? It's not like Bernie won the popular vote but lost in the electoral college or anything like that.

What you mean is that Bernie should be the nominee, so if the process isn't rigged in his favor, then it is de-facto rigged against him.

Larry Hart said...

Acacia:

It's what I like about Warren's supporters. Just about every single one of them stated they would vote for whoever won the primary. That says to me they were true supporters who were voting for who they felt was the best candidate.


That's why my idea is that if no one gets 50% of the votes, the candidates horse-trade their votes to each other until one does have a majority. A Warren voter would expect that if she doesn't win, they'd have some alignment with the one she would give her votes to.

Bernie Bros don't seem to care about the issues Bernie stands for. They just want to stick it to the man. I supported Bernie in 2016, but his other supporters make it difficult to want to be a member of that set.


The Bernie Bros make a lot of noise but if they were truly out there voting, why did Sanders lose?


He lost because his supporters don't vote, and the voters preferred someone who can with states not named California and New York. But of course, they'd tell you he lost because the system is rigged against him. By which they mean it's not rigged for him.

Why do Bernie Bros act suspiciously like Republicans?

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

I have considerable faith in our system preventing dictatorship.


When the Senate and the supreme court are complicit?

I have less faith that the nation can withstand the corruption from within. I have more faith that Illinois (and California) will do the right thing regardless. Serious question that I don't know the answer to--can you say the same for Wisconsin?

David Brin said...

Acacia so glad you are doing better. Stay the course.

Trump just called Bernie a "senile communist." But they are more offended by you. "Whatever you say, Ivan."

Deuxglass -- okay boomer. Tim, I asked about the judge in question. Well?

A.F. Rey said...

Democracy is DEAD, and you are just deceiving yourselves if you thought that (1) your vote mattered or (2) your party candidate represented your political interests.

Why is it that the loudest Bernie Bros. are the ones who hate his political philosophy and would never have voted for him anyway? :)

Tim Wolter said...

Why do you assume I voted for him?

TW

Tim Wolter said...

Oh, I may have misread your last. Are you asking me if I think some of the current WI supreme court justices will be eventually proven to have taken bribes? (not likely but you'll perhaps insist on defining bribe). Or that somebody will call some of the current judges unqualified, perhaps when/if they get the nod for a federal judgeship. Well on that score the ABA has been very hard on Conservative justices so the odds of that happening are pretty high.

TW

David Brin said...

" Well on that score the ABA has been very hard on Conservative justices"

Yes, but as with every fact-checking service, you reflexively assume that determinations of such things fall out the way they do because of political bias across a vast spectrum, rigidly followed in lockstep by disciplined millions of deep-staters.

It never occurs to you that all fact checking services find vastly more Republican lies because Republicans LIE vastly more often. And GOP judge appointees are deemed less qualified by the ABA because they are largely a pack of shills andf partisan hirelings.

It SO frustrates me that there are ways to nail this down... and no Democrat seems to have the brains to see how!

David Brin said...

onward

onward

TCB said...

This happened a few weeks ago. I phoned my daughter to pull a tarot card for a question. I was considering three potentially perilous options. I did not tell her what they were.

"You got the Four of Cups... Fire chose this card for you," my daughter said over the telephone. (In the Rider Waite pack, the Three of Cups, a fellow sits at the base of a tree, looking at three cups. A hand reaches out of thin air to offer a fourth cup, which he's not paying attention to. A fourth, unconsidered, ignored option.)

"What? What did you say? Just now, could you repeat that?"

"I said, Fire chose that card."

"Please explain. What do you mean when you say Fire chose that card."

"When I went to pull a tarot card for the question you asked me about, there was a sticky card, it practically jumped into my hand. That card had soot on it. I have no idea how soot got on there. The book says to pay special attention to anything unusual. That card was chosen by the element of fire."

"That is interesting. That is VERY VERY interesting."

..........................................................

We probably are, indeed, living in some sort of simulation.
Which does not mean the consequences are any less serious for us within it.