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Escaping the Echo Chamber

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Post subject: Re: Escaping the Echo Chamber
Posted: Thu 30 Jul , 2020 2:50 pm
Posts: 2044
Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Given how they’ve acted so far, it seems likely that Google, YouTube, etc. will be redirecting searches to “approved” pro-vaccine messages once one is approved for COVID-19 in the U.S.

Details of the planned messaging/ advertising campaigns and the various ways groups plan to influence people (I assume it will also include pressure on employers and schools for mandatory vaccination, too, though that isn't mentioned): ... -over-rest

And I'm sure it’s going to be oversimplified once it turns into messaging for the public, as opposed to scientists. This is one of the things I hate about the social media and news media’s “anti-vaxxer” messaging - things get oversimplified into vaccine good/ questioning bad. When the truth is that some vaccines turned out not to be good. And there are legitimate questions about the number of vaccines kids get at one time these days, especially in the U.S., and whether they should be spread out a bit and/or are all necessary for everyone. Or the remote possibility of getting a vaccine and having a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction (which can be usually be treated if you catch it immediately but nothing’s 100%) or various lesser adverse effects.

Balanced against that, of course, is that most of the time, the benefits of getting a vaccine far outweighs the risk of harm. The autism/ vaccine link stuff being pushed by certain anti-vaccine activists, btw, has been thoroughly discredited.

So here’s some information on the different COVID-9 vaccines being made around the world and some concerns. One of the big questions in my mind is the untested platform the U.S. seems to be hanging its hopes on, the Moderna messenger RNA vaccine, which is a type of vaccine that has never
been used in humans.

IMO the other question worth considering (but probably won’t be in the U.S.) is whether taking the vaccine should be recommended for all groups. Kids, for instance, seem to be mostly asymptomatic or have mild illnesses from SARS-CoV2, but their immune systems are strong and I wouldn’t be shocked it antibody-dependent enhancement turns out to be more of a problem for them. The drawback of not vaccinating kids, of course, is the possibility that they’d spread the virus enough to be an issue. (which is still uncertain, though most evidence suggests younger children especially are not big virus spreaders. Not really surprising in a group that gets milder cases.)

On the other hand, if I was elderly with co-morbidities, I’d almost certainly decide that the benefits of a COVID-19 vaccine are far likely to outweigh possible side effects.

What vaccines seem to be front-runners at the moment:
COVID-19 vaccines start moving into advanced trials
A good article on vaccine development: ... 19-vaccine
Vaccines have saved humanity from countless scourges, including measles, polio, and smallpox. But the process of producing a safe, effective vaccine is necessarily painstaking, as the risk of harm is real....

Reasonable backgrounder for laypeople on types of vaccines: ... -pros-cons
While there are scores of vaccine candidates in development, there are only a few ways for companies to make a vaccine. Each strategy has its own set of advantages or disadvantages, and keeping those in mind is one way to evaluate any bits of exciting — or discouraging — vaccine news.

The Verge talked to University of Colorado immunologists Rosemary Rochford and Ross Kedl to break down the likelihood that each vaccine strategy would make it over the finish line. ...
A quick read says their article is pretty decent. One thing they don't mention is that two types of vaccines have been used forever and there is a little basic information they omit about them.

The two traditional vaccines:

Inactivated (killed) vaccines: Barring odd side effects like antibody-dependent enhancement, these are generally very safe vaccines because the virus is dead. If you’re going to give a vaccine to someone who is immunosuppressed, this is an excellent way to go. Mostly when you hear of one of these vaccines gone wrong, it’s because of poor quality control - the lab didn’t completely inactivate the microorganism or the cultures got contaminated with something else. This is not usually a problem these days in developed countries with good labs.

They also neglect to say that killed vaccines mostly tend to stimulate antibodies. Antibodies are useful against viruses outside the cell and sometimes vaccines work well enough by inducing antibody. But once a virus really gets going, a different type of immunity called cell-mediated
immunity* becomes important to get rid of it. So it’s good to have a vaccine that induces both, if you can.

*Sometimes called T-cell immunity in the news. Which is a bit of a misnomer, since certain T cells are also necessary for generating antibodies.

Traditional attenuated (live) vaccines: The Verge mentions these vaccines mostly as an introduction to adenovirus-vectored vaccines, then ignores them. The good thing about traditional inactivated vaccines is that they mimic a real infection with that particular virus, using almost the entire virus, and can stimulate both antibodies and cell-mediated immunity, resulting in stronger and more durable immunity. The bad thing is that the virus may not be “weak” enough in someone with a suppressed immune system and could actually cause the disease. So they can’t be given to a minority of people. For example, they’re not usually given to pregnant women. Also, as The Verge mentions, it can take a long while to develop these vaccines, since you have to knock out the right genes so the virus is weakened and then prove it really is (and even longer if you do it by the trial-and-error methods of old).

One of the issues with vectored vaccines (adenovirus vaccines and the like) or mRNA/ DNA vaccines is that you’re assuming you know which proteins are going to be most important in the immune response and basing the vaccine on those proteins alone. This doesn’t always turn out to be true. It could even be harmful.

This one is somewhat technical but it introduces the question of antibody-dependent enhancement, which The Verge article ignores. ... hancement/
The rapid development of these vaccines has raised concerns regarding vaccine safety. Normal development can be up to 10 years and the typical success rate for vaccine development is roughly 6%. Traditionally, a significant amount of time is used to evaluate both the short-term and long-term safety of the vaccine. Data collection issues are typical to vaccine development as older (and infant) populations, with weakened immune systems, may respond differently to the vaccine than young to matured adult populations1. Time is necessary to flush out these conclusions and determine the correct courses of action to optimize safety and efficacy during development. Additionally, antibody-dependent enhancement could lead to exacerbation of the disease. Again, time and further research are needed to evaluate the concerns.

Antibody-Dependent Enhancement (ADE)

Perhaps the most popular example of Antibody-Dependent Enhancement (ADE) is Dengue fever. ...

Researchers demonstrated that there was an increased risk of a severe course of Dengue fever if the patient had low titers of antibodies from a previous Dengue infection5. During Vaccine Development for Dengue fever, researchers observed this same phenomenon. The vaccine was approved for efficacy trials in 20156. Upon evaluation of follow up data from the vaccine trial, it was determined that after 3 years children (9 years older and younger) had higher hospitalization rates in vaccine recipients than controls. ADE is proposed as the likely mechanism, as the vaccine was mimicking the primary infection. After enough time had passed the patient’s immunity had decreased enough to become vulnerable to ADE with exposure of a secondary infection7.


ADE has been reported for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)....

A reasonable, though long, news article. It’s geared toward scientists but you can probably get the gist of it. Oddly, they discuss ADE but don’t spend a lot of time on it specifically in SARS vaccines, except to quote scientists who dismiss it as a possibility in COVID-19. Which I wouldn't.
As they race to devise a vaccine, researchers are trying to ensure that their candidates don’t spur a counterproductive, even dangerous, immune system reaction known as immune enhancement.

The teams of researchers scrambling to develop a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine clearly face some big challenges, both scientific and logistical. One of the most pressing: understanding how the immune system interacts not only with the pathogen but with the vaccine itself—crucial insights when attempting to develop a safe and effective vaccine.

Researchers need to understand in particular whether the vaccine causes the same types of immune system malfunctions that have been observed in past vaccine development. Since the 1960s, tests of vaccine candidates for diseases such as dengue, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) have shown a paradoxical phenomenon: Some animals or people who received the vaccine and were later exposed to the virus developed more severe disease than those who had not been vaccinated (1). The vaccine-primed immune system, in certain cases, seemed to launch a shoddy response to the natural infection. ...

Here's one of the scientific papers on antibody-dependent enhancement with a SARS vaccine. (Technical, but you can probably grasp the abstract). ... ne.0035421

Some scientific news sources (which, incidentally, are usually written by science writers, not disease experts) mention that ADE was also a serious problem in cats given a coronavirus vaccine. Personally, I wouldn't, since feline infectious peritonitis is a totally different sort of disease. I don’t want to get into it here because knowing just a little about that particular coronavirus might scare the scientifically illiterate but FIP is a weird chronic disease not likely to have any relevance at all to COVID-19.

A list of the various vaccines being investigated in different countries:

A general article on messenger RNA vaccines, pros and cons and issues. It's fairly cheerleader-ish and much of it’s about anticancer vaccines but they also talk about infectious disease vaccines, including the Zika vaccine Moderna has been trying to bring to market for a while.

Adenovirus-vectored vaccines: ... -19/98/i19
Adenoviral vectors are the new COVID-19 vaccine front-runners. Can they overcome their checkered past?
CanSino Biologics, Johnson & Johnson, and the University of Oxford are all using genetically engineered common cold viruses to make COVID-19 vaccines. The technology is more than 30 years in the making, but it’s yet to yield an effective vaccine for humans
Vaccine timelines in some other countries: ... e-mid-2021
As countries race to find a coronavirus cure, Germany's research minister has said any vaccine was unlikely to be available until the middle of 2021 at the earliest.

“We should not expect a miracle,” Anja Karliczek told a news conference on Wednesday. “We must continue to assume that vaccines for the broader population will only be available from the middle of next year at the earliest.”

Karliczek said Germany was providing funding grants to three German biotech firms — CureVac from Tübingen, BioNTech from Mainz and Dessau-based IDT Biologika so they could speed up the development of coronavirus vaccine candidates...
The article says Russia is expecting one sooner. No idea what type. China, which was working at least on some traditional inactivated (killed) vaccines will probably rush their vaccines out very quickly. The bad part, of course, is that this could mean it’s not safety-tested enough. And, being China, information about a bad vaccine will probably be suppressed.

I should also mention that you're not likely to get a choice on what type of vaccine you want, even if different countries license different types of vaccines. Before a vaccine can be marketed in any country, it has to pass all its regulatory requirements. Let's say Germany has a good vaccine being sold there. The U.S. won't just say "OK, it passed Germany's requirements; that should be good enough for us." and license the vaccine here. The vaccine company would have to apply separately in the U.S. and jump through all the hoops, which may take a lot of time and money and might not be worth it to the company.

btw, as some of us warned, the lockdown response to the virus our politicians chose might end up being worse than the pandemic: ... ading.html
The U.S. economy suffered its worst period ever in the second quarter, with GDP falling a historic 32.9%.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones were looking for a decline of 34.7%.
Neither the Great Depression nor the Great Recession nor any other slump over the past two centuries have ever caused such a sharp drain on the economy.
And sure, changes in human behavior from virus fear might have also had impacts on the economy. But Sweden's economy has apparently not contracted as badly as others, even though they're interconnected with the world and you'd expect some effects just from that. (btw, I heard that their virus-related deaths are about down to practically nothing now, though I haven't gone looking myself.*) And the flu pandemics in 1957 and 1968 did not, as far as I know, have major effects on the economy, even though they also killed many people in susceptible groups. But the news media were not shrieking doom and gloom all the time back then either and scaring people half to death. There's a difference between saying this disease can be very serious in some people and splashing every death in the headlines, especially those extremely rare deaths in children. Or interpreting every bit of data or study the very worst way you can, without putting anything into perspective.

*EDIT: Here's something on Sweden. ... ke-1521626
Amid fears over a potential second wave of the novel coronavirus across Europe, new infections in Sweden, where full lockdown measures were not implemented, have mostly declined since late June.

The number of new cases per 100,000 people in Sweden reported over the last 14 days since July 29 dropped by 54 percent from the figure reported over 14 days prior to then, according to the latest report Wednesday from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Meanwhile, other parts of Europe have reported large spikes in new cases over the same period, including Spain, France, Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands, which have seen increases between 40 and 200 percent over the last month...

The seven-day rolling average of daily new deaths in Sweden has also been declining since around April 15, when it reported a record daily death count of 115. The country's latest seven-day rolling averages for daily new cases and daily new deaths stand at 154 and 2...
Their deaths/population is among the higher ones among all nations, though less than some European countries. But the deaths will keep increasing for a while in the lockdown countries as the virus spreads after lockdown. While Sweden might be mostly done with the virus. Though of course, Newsweek doesn't mention that and tries to do the requisite "oh, but they were wrong, regardless" dance. And of course they don't mention that Norway's health minister once said, essentially "the Swedes were right, we were wrong." and said in hindsight they should not have locked down. I have really come to despise much of the American news media lately. I'd love a site where they just report the facts without all the constant spin and appeals to emotion.

And it seems that, in certain areas, police have been given something new to do, now that they're being so careful about policing actual crimes. Giving the cities more easy money, now that they're all deep in the hole, is, in my cynical opinion, probably also a motivator for politicians. ... ear-masks/
[DC mayor Muriel] Bowser's mandate—extended on July 22—requires that all persons wear a mask outside of their residence when they will be interacting with someone "for more than a fleeting time" and that "businesses, office buildings, and other establishments open to members of the public" post signage to apply that rule internally....

Bowser was explicit about what shopkeepers should do if they encounter anyone who flouts her own mandate. "They should call the police and the police will enforce it," she said during a press conference yesterday....

Bowser isn't the only mayor to use cops for a mask mandate. Police in Miami have reportedly set up "mask traps," issuing $100 tickets to those who violate the area's mandatory order. "One woman, Johanna Gianni, says she removed her mask in the parking lot of a Publix grocery store in North Miami Beach, when a police officer approached her and wrote her a ticket for not wearing a mask," writes Christian Britschgi. "Gianni told the Herald the parking lot was nearly empty and that she felt set up by police."

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, a Republican, explained his reasoning in a Washington Post op-ed... "In short, warnings to anyone not wearing a mask need to be backed up with the threat of fines and, for chronic offenders, even arrest," the two write. "There is no time to waste on half-measures."...
Of course. Believe The ScienceTM. But only the science you're supposed to believe and only the prevailing beliefs in your own country. After all, Truth is always black and white, never, ever gray or uncertain with competing studies, issues and considerations.

And why not fill the jails with mask scofflaws, now that you've emptied them of some convicted criminals because of the pandemic, and told the police not to arrest people for certain minor crimes so they won't get the coronavirus while in jail?
Are any of these politicians actually capable of critical thinking?

But the last line is the best:
Disregarding Bowser's order carries up to a $1,000 fine, as well as possible prosecution in D.C. Superior Court. Notably, it "shall not apply to any employees of the federal government while they are on duty." Police are similarly not required to wear them while out on patrol.
I guess Fauci was safe in removing his mask after he thought the cameras stopped rolling, after all.

And where will all this end? After all, masks were only a recommendation from the CDC at the start, until they gradually morphed into more and more strict mandates. ( I just got an email from American Airlines' frequent flyer program where they now "require" that you wear a mask at the airport where you depart and the one where you connect - regardless of what that airport says and whether you're sitting near anyone - as well as on the plane. ) ... read/story
Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested Wednesday that Americans should consider wearing goggles or a face shield in order to prevent spreading or catching COVID-19.

"If you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it," the nation's top infectious disease expert told ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton during an Instagram Live conversation on ABC News.

When asked if we're going to get to a point where eye protection is recommended, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases responded, "It might, if you really want perfect protection of the mucosal surfaces."

"You have mucosa in the nose, mucosa in the mouth, but you also have mucosa in the eye," he continued. "Theoretically, you should protect all the mucosal surfaces. So if you have goggles or an eye shield you should use it."

He noted that goggles and eye or face shields are "not universally recommended" at this time, "but if you really want to be complete, you should probably use it if you can." ...
Full hazmat suits next to go to the grocery store? He's correct about mucous membranes (as I've said before, full protection against airborne viruses in a high risk situation also includes eye protection) but let's get some perspective here. This isn't ebola and we're not walking around in a COVID ward where virus concentrations are high. And, for most of us, the risk from the virus is low.

I'm not sure how much of this is Fauci and how much is the media's interpretation of Fauci's words. I often wonder about this since I doubt he's a fool. Perhaps he meant that people at high risk might want to cover their eyes, which is fair, but that's definitely not how the media presents it.

A story applicable to the current situation: Hendra virus is an Australian virus from fruit bats that's very dangerous to humans. Next to it, COVID-19 is a pussycat. Normally Australian responders would wear full protective suits to investigate horses that might have died with this virus. But sometimes they wear only modified protection. The reason? The full protective suit is so dangerous to wear outdoors when it's very hot that it's worth the small increase in risk.

In other words, the PPE should fit the situation, the hazards, and the ultimate goals. And be sustainable, because this virus is something we're probably going to be living with, at some level, for a long time. No one ever getting this virus and everyone staying "safe" is simply not going to happen, even if we destroy our societies completely in that effort. Meanwhile, the longer we stretch this out, the more people die of other things like cancer.

[Though I have to add that COVID parties are really dumb - the last thing you want to do is expose yourself to someone sick and probably shedding lots of virus. Dose generally does matter. And why deliberately get near an infected person when it will probably happen sooner or later anyway?]

EDIT: I'm also curious whether there will be a rise in things like secondary bacterial pneumonia with universal mask mandates. These infections often come from bacteria that are already present on your skin/ mucous membranes but held in check by things like the balance of other microorganisms. Bacteria and fungi just love moist, warm, darkish environments and can grow excessively there (the reason skin infections tend to be worse in places like skin folds). So, theoretically at least, it seems like a build-up of these opportunists next to your face could take advantage of any mild viral infection that damages your lung's defenses. This could have been one reason for the elevated risk of influenza-like illnesses in the study on fabric masks in hospitals, compared to the surgical masks or the control group. It might be tough to study, though, with everyone having to wear a mask and with COVID-19 so prevalent and causing mild or subclinical infections in many. And all the common respiratory viruses haven't disappeared either. Control groups without masks will be hard to find in many states and some countries (Spain recently jumped on the masks-everywhere-even-outside hysteria after a spat where the U.K. started putting restrictions on tourists going to Spain).

I won't be surprised if bacterial and fungal skin infections around the face increase, too, for the same reason, in people who must wear a mask all day. You'd be able to study that more easily. Maybe eye conditions, too, with some of your breath now redirected toward your eyes all the time, Though that probably depends on the fit of the mask and whether or not you wear contacts.

And, contrary to what some people on social media suggest, medical personnel didn't run around in masks all the time in hospitals before this pandemic - there were times and places where they were used, like with certain patients. Also, some hospital staff are also having to reuse masks more now, thanks to the shortages. Before this, they changed and discarded them often. So things are different there too. No idea if it's true (messageboard post), but I even heard of a SARS-CoV-2-infected pregnant woman who had to give birth in a mask (supposedly the attending nurse, who wore a mask, got infected anyway). I just felt sorry for the poor pregnant woman.


Society can and does execute its own mandates, and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. ― John Stuart Mill

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Post subject: Re: Escaping the Echo Chamber
Posted: Fri 31 Jul , 2020 1:15 pm
Posts: 2044
Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
And here's some interesting news: ... e-patients
Pennsylvania uses 'weighted lottery' to distribute lifesaving remdesivir in favor of low-income patients South Carolina doctor says they will also use a similar system if faced with shortages

Confirmed by the state's site: ... ework.aspx
Ethical Justification for Proactively Mitigating Health Disparities in COVID-19 Outcomes

Epidemiological data reveal a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 in low income communities and certain racial/ ethnic minorities. For example, a recent study found that individuals who resided in a low-income area had increased odds of a hospital admission from COVID-19.ii Health inequities may arise from multiple causes, including higher burdens of comorbid disease, poor health care access, infeasibility of social distancing due to living in densely-populated neighborhoods and households, the higher proportion of economically disadvantaged individuals who work in jobs classified as "essential" during the pandemic, and the need to continue to work in public-facing occupations due to economic hardship. Public health interventions are commonly used to mitigate disparities in outcomes across communities...

The Department of Health has developed an initial framework for the allocation of RDV. However, it is incumbent upon hospitals to develop ethical treatment policies and protocols that are consistent with the ethical goals of the allocation framework outlined in this document. Hospitals may seek further guidance from their respective ethics committees, boards, or Crisis Triage Officer Teams that are outlined in Interim Pennsylvania Crisis Standards of Care for Pandemic Guidelines.

Crisis Triage Officer Teams in each hospital should be leading the implementation of the allocation framework, rather than relying on treating clinicians to determine which patients receive scarce medications. Ideally, a clinical leader in the hospital should lead the team, with assistance from key stakeholders and experts. The team should be blinded to information that is not relevant to fair application of the allocation framework, such as patients' names, religion, race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, presence of a disability, and immigration status....

...Team should assess the three characteristics relevant to the weighted lottery:

a. Is the patient from a disadvantaged community? The allocation team should determine whether the patient resides in a disadvantaged community, defined as their residential address being in an area with score of 8, 9, or 10 on the Area Deprivation Index. This can be determined by entering the patient's address in the Neighborhood Atlas website Opens In A New Windowunder the "mapping" tab.

b. Is the patient an essential worker? In conjunction with the patient's attending physician, the Crisis Triage Officer Team should determine whether the patient meets the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's definition of an essential worker, as specified in this Industry Operation Guidance document....

c. Is the patient expected to die within a year from a chronic, end-stage condition? ...

4. Conduct the lottery for each eligible patient....
Hang on, so your age and any disabilities (some could potentially increase your risks) are NOT to be taken into consideration, but your address and whether you work in a grocery store (essential worker) or as a computer programmer (not an essential worker) is?

A 50-year-old, who may still have many years left, is to be weighted the same as an 80-year-old is this lottery. An institutionalized person with a serious mental illness, who doesn't exactly have a great life, is to be weighted the same as a grandmother raising her daughter's kids.

But living in a low-income neighborhood and the governor deciding not to close your workplace during the pandemic lockdown gives you a better chance at the drug than someone else.

And the attending physician, who knows something about the patient and might have some points to make to an ethics committee, has seemingly been taken completely out of the picture.

This is, to be blunt, the most completely nutty document I've seen in a while. The only factor that actually makes sense is whether you're likely to die within a year anyway, even if they successfully treat COVID-19 (and it says something that this is their LAST consideration).

No wonder it was leaked to the press.

I wonder how many other states have gone insane. I'd love to see California's.
And it sounds like this might be a new "social justice" movement for other drugs in scarce supply, as well as organ transplants (the organ transplant one apparently got a lot of pushback so got shelved)

EDIT: btw, it seems the NY Times approves of this: ... ation.html
They spin it by implying that "essential workers" are only healthcare workers and leaving out the details I posted above. But that's bullshit. I know people who had essential worker letters just because they couldn't do their jobs at home and had to go in to the office at times. (btw, Pennsylvania has now hidden their definition of essential workers. Surprise, surprise.) And Pennsylvania's lottery has already affected lives. This is what the Times says about it in a generally approving article, where they interview the same people who designed the drug lottery and suggest a lottery for the vaccine:
To allocate the drug, Pittsburgh doctors decided that the lottery would give preference to health care workers and emergency medical workers. The doctors also weighted the odds to favor people from economically disadvantaged areas, who tend to be mostly Black and Hispanic.

People with other illnesses and limited life spans, like end-stage cancer patients, had the odds weighted against them, giving them a smaller chance to win in the lottery. The system did not consider age, race, ethnicity, quality of life, ability to pay or whether a patient has a disability.

The lottery began in early June, Dr. White said: “We had 64 patients. We had to make the supply of remdesivir last at least two weeks. We only had enough to treat one in four patients

Some other states, like Minnesota, have come out and said that their scarce drug lotteries are NOT influenced by your job and address, but fair ones that either consider only medical factors or just go with a straight lottery.

btw, the lowdown on the U.S. remdesivir study. which was stopped early, with some things still in question. Some experts agree with doing that; some think they should have kept going. : ... vir-study/

Speaking of distributing scarce resources, the line is forming for who gets the vaccine first: ... d-be-front
When and if the world has a COVID-19 vaccine, who should get it first? That question came into sharp relief last week. A committee that makes vaccine use recommendations to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wrestled with the issue in a virtual meeting...

Tom Frieden, who headed CDC in 2009 during an influenza pandemic when a vaccine was in short supply, recalls the debates that erupted within the agency and the outside pressures it experienced. He foresees intense lobbying as a COVID-19 vaccine nears reality. “There may be groups that from a societal or health standpoint may not appropriately be in tier one but are quite insistent on it,”...
I don't have a problem with it if the "bioethicists" insist on low income neighborhoods getting earlier access to a vaccine, as long as it's within an age- and risk-stratified system where all the elderly get first dibs, before it's offered to younger people in general. But I will howl loudly if anyone proposes some social justice scheme to distribute the vaccine to everyone in low income neighborhoods before older folks in more affluent neighborhoods get access.

And this guy is a complete idiot:
Ezekiel Emanuel, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, says there’s even room for debate about the assumption that the elderly should receive the vaccine early. Emanuel, who stresses that he is not recommending “sacrificing” older people for the young, says it may nonetheless make more sense to prioritize vaccinating younger people who develop stronger immune responses than the elderly do. “You try to get to herd immunity with people who are going to react well,” he says. The less virus in circulation, the less risk to the elderly.
No, you damn well don't do that. You give the vaccine first to the people who are more likely to die, whether they're old or at risk for some other reason, like another disease. Or they are at high risk, like healthcare workers. Vaccines are good at preventing symptoms. They don't necessarily stop people from getting infected or shedding the virus.

NB: With luck, vaccines do slow infections and virus shedding enough that overall the transmission goes down and this can help stop an epidemic. But things are not so clear-cut at an individual level.

There’s even a phenomenon called silent spread, where a group of vaccinated animals gets infected but you never notice it. The vaccine protects them from getting sick but the virus still goes on its merry way from animal to animal. It’s the reason livestock authorities insist on testing animals every now and then when they let people vaccinate their herds against certain important diseases. And/ or they put unvaccinated ‘sentinel’ animals in the group – if those animals get sick, you know you’ve got a problem.

Anyway, the idea that “We have enough vaccine doses for 20% of the population and we know that the vast majority of serious disease and deaths happen in the elderly.....Oh, but there’s some evidence that older people, on the whole, might not respond entirely as well to vaccines, though they usually work well enough.... So, hey, let’s vaccinate younger people to stop the virus and protect the elderly from dying!” is a dumb idea that should never have made it beyond late night pizza musings with friends.

Why Science/ AAAS’s editors let this sort of crap slip into some of its news articles lately is beyond me. It's harmless enough to people who know how things work, but it might sound reasonable to a physicist. And this sort of information gets out and convinces the general public - hey, after all, it's in Science so it must be true! I've actually been treating their news-type and general audience articles with a jaded eye lately. If I sometimes roll my eyes when I do know about the topic, what am I missing in stories about other fields? That, and I question their blind acceptance of statistics/ statements on social justice issues. They've really jumped on certain political bandwagons these days - sometimes AAAS seems to be as much or more about politics as science now.

Speaking of which, Science recently published an essay from a Millennial (or maybe it's Gen Z now?) on the last page,* where he was unhappy when he felt he should use "standard" English while teaching his classes as a grad student, rather than talking the way he usually speaks with people of his own race and social group. The gist of it was that he's now given up on that and is happier, and at least his minority students seem to like it. ... n-teaching
(I'm not so sure how many of his experiences are just because he's black, though, vs. being young - like dressing more formally to get respect. He's not the first to do that when you're close to your students' age. And maybe not explaining things clearly enough in class: one example where he thinks he isn't getting respect as a black person is that some of his students asked another TA to explain what he'd talked about earlier. Students do that with white professors too - ask another prof in the same department if they didn't understand.)

*This is a running series called Working Life. Occasionally interesting but mostly I read it out of amusement to see who's playing biggest victim now, and/ or doing brilliant things like saying "I don't want to say this in my department because people might think I'm a whiner and I'm looking for a PhD adviser in the next year" in an essay put out for all and sundry to read.

Anyway, his essay reminded me of something that might be making the rounds - somewhere I read there's now a movement to accept nonstandard English in formal writing, in the name of not putting minority students at a disadvantage (which strikes me as pretty patronizing to minority students). No idea if it will catch on, though I hope not. The bad grammar and spelling everywhere is already bad enough. I don't want to start reading several different forms of English in books and professional journals.

Most of this seems to be only reported on far right sites I'm not going to read or link to, but here's the idea as presented by an undergrad at an undergrad research seminar (a multimedia presentation linked to in their student paper). It seems to be a movement she wants to start. : ... _gallagher

Harmless enough as undergrad research (most of it is just some nice student project for them to do) and hopefully it's just something the far right has gotten hold of and is exaggerating.

Though it would not exactly surprise me. Many years ago, some university English departments were already putting out this idea that people in other departments shouldn't be correcting students' grammar and spelling, for instance on science projects - either ignore the errors or, if it's so terrible you can't even understand it, hand it back and ask them to make it more comprehensible. (There was much rolling of eyes at the seminar I was in, though a couple of young faculty seemed enthusiastic ).

And it's not a new debate, at least as far as oral language. See this old letter (1997) in The Chronicle of Higher Education: ... erebonics/
To the Editor:

Those who support the use of"ebonics” in the classroom are operating from the assumption that"black English” is one single, consistent phenomenon (“Linguists Find the Debate Over ‘Ebonics’ Uninformed,” January 17). From a historical perspective, that doesn’t make sense. I was born in North Carolina in 1941. The black English I learned couldn’t possibly be the same as that of someone born in Oakland, Cal., in 1981.

My black English was influenced by the Cherokee and Tuscarora cultures of my region, and by the Irish, Scottish, English, and German cultures that colonized the area. Many of the African Americans in the San Francisco Bay area have roots in Louisiana and Texas, where their linguistic cultures would have been influenced by the French, Spanish, Mexican, and Native American cultures of the Gulf Coast. ....

Over the years, I have studied Spanish, German, French, and Portuguese. None of my instructors used my native language as the basis for my acquisition of the new language. Perhaps the best way to teach standard English is to teach in standard English....

Last edited by aninkling on Sat 01 Aug , 2020 11:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.


Society can and does execute its own mandates, and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. ― John Stuart Mill

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Post subject: Re: Escaping the Echo Chamber
Posted: Sat 01 Aug , 2020 7:51 pm
Posts: 2044
Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
At least this harms no one: ... ke-racism/
Seattle's Office of Civil Rights has developed a "race and social justice" curriculum for all 10,000 city employees....I've obtained new documents from the city's segregated "whites-only" trainings...

Staff are expected to go through various humiliating exercises, including ‘processing white feelings’ of ‘sadness’, ‘shame’ and ‘confusion’ (don’t black people ever feel those emotions?), considering their ‘relationships with white supremacy’, describing their own ‘white silence’ and ‘white fragility’, and noting the supposedly internalised white values of racism, among them ‘objectivity’, ‘perfectionism’ and ‘comfort’ (also unique to whites according to woke types – and therefore bad).

Employees will also be called on to share an incident in the recent past when they have ‘caused harm’ to a person of colour – because they must have done it at some point, surely?...
I imagine there may be some interesting "confessions," if some of the employees are good at making up bs with a straight face.

And "objectivity" is supposed to be a characteristic exclusive to whites? Talk about racist and insulting...

Who comes up with these things?
And how much money are our cash-strapped governments and businesses spending on these programs, while cutting actual needs and laying people off? The programs are usually bought from an outside vendor. ... risis-end/
Surges, quarantines, record global cases, new lockdowns and compulsory face masks. If you have been scared witless by all this in recent weeks you may be interested in one small fact. The number of excess deaths in England and Wales in July so far is less than the same period last year.

You read that right. For the past five consecutive weeks, deaths have been below the five-year average. In fact, from around mid-May 2020, the number of weekly death registrations has been pretty much the same as last year. That includes the weeks when thousands were protesting and beaches were packed and, of course, no one was wearing face masks.

This matters. Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical officer, has acknowledged that excess deaths are the key figure in assessing the toll of the pandemic – and for good reason. While there is considerable controversy over the counting of Covid-associated deaths due to testing, diagnosis, verification and certification of death, the total-death data doesn’t lie....

Many of the excess deaths will have been caused by the lockdown, rather than Covid itself. At the Science and Technology Select Committee in early July, chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance confirmed that the government knew about the potential damage that lockdown would cause. He explained that in April, government officials estimated that up to 25,000 could die from delays to treatments in the first six months, and another 185,000 following that.

In fact, the government estimated that the lockdown itself could claim up to 200,000 lives because of the disruption to healthcare and the recession...

...It is inexplicable how the basic maths of the situation eludes those who rule us. Nor do they have the excuse that there was no alternative – Sweden made that clear from the start.

But the government is in too deep now. How can our leaders admit they may have made the biggest mistake of any government in peacetime? ...
Simon Marcus is a writer, political consultant and former government adviser.
It will be interesting to see a breakdown of deaths from other causes during the lockdowns, if one is ever published. You'd expect deaths from accidents to go down, of course. Infectious diseases would probably be down overall, but at a finer level, it would depend on how you get a disease and how long it takes until death. You wouldn't expect TB deaths to be down, for instance. Cancer deaths should be up because people aren't getting treated as aggressively and some people in the late stages will die faster. And, in many areas, people don't get to see a doctor unless it's an emergency, except through telemedicine (and good luck getting those, apparently), so maybe overall deaths up from some causes. Close examination and palpation don't happen in a video.
I'd expect strokes to be either level or up. Even healthy people have died of strokes when they are immobilized from something like a broken ankle. (One reason I'm skeptical of the media's "COVID-19 is causing strokes in young people" narrative. The first question I'd be asking is whether that person was very overweight and did the lockdown make them completely sedentary. Though that question doesn't seem to be asked right now, for obvious reasons. A controlled study, where you look at obese people who continued working in an essential profession vs. those who were stuck at home might provide some answers.)

If you were to analyze all this, the actual deaths from COVID-19 (as opposed to "with SARS-CoV-2 infection") should become clearer. Unfortunately, the fairly nasty influenza B virus predominating during the past flu season might make it harder to tease out pre-lockdown COVID-19 deaths from flu. ... epartment/
‘The protests were whiter than the police department’
Peter Moskos – sociologist and former Baltimore cop – talks to spiked about race, policing and mass incarceration.
...In the increasingly polarised debate around policing in America, Moskos offers a unique perspective. He calls himself a pro-cop liberal – ‘it’s a very small Venn diagram’, he jokes.

A Harvard-trained sociologist, Moskos spent 14 months working as a policeman in the ghettos of Baltimore’s Eastern District. He published a book about it in 2008, Cop in the Hood....

There are thousands of police departments in the US, all with varying records, practises and problems. But the protests, Moskos says, take no account of this, leading politicians in cities where police are actually getting a lot of things right to cave in to demands to defund police.

It is ultimately black and Hispanic communities, Moskos says, who will pay the price for all this.... ... maskholes/
Every day, new videos are posted of ‘maskholes’ – people who refuse to wear masks in public. The ones I’ve watched are always recorded on smartphones and usually take place in big-box stores in the United States. You don’t need that much footage to publicly shame someone – especially if they’re having a meltdown on camera. And in these times of Covid, even just a few seconds of a bare face will do.

As much as I get a kick out of my fellow Americans who believe it’s their constitutional right to enter a private establishment without a face-covering – even if store policy demands they wear one – I have yet to meet such a patriot in real life.

After all, I live in a bougie Brooklyn neighbourhood. Even the kids wear surgical masks. So, all the maskholes I’ve encountered have been wearing masks. ...

I wasn’t wearing a mask the night I heard a fight happening outside our apartment building and ran downstairs to make sure our doorman was okay. I hardly had time to put on my shorts, let alone a mask, before I got down there to find out that a maskhole who lived in the building had attacked another resident for the crime of… not wearing a mask… outside the building, in the street, in the bike lane, while on a bicycle.

That maskhole has gone on to deputise himself, patrolling our building and the neighborhood for other violators....

Over the weekend, a masked individual attempted to shame me for walking around with my wife and our baby, mouths and noses exposed. To be fair: it can be a struggle to remain courteous in an increasingly uncourteous world… So, what should have been, at worse, ‘fleeting contact’, turned into one of those scenes that could have gone viral – had either one of us been quick enough to record it on our phone.

I’m happy that didn’t happen. The mask is a tool that has unfortunately become a symbol. What that symbol means depends on the maskhole. I’m either ‘Brad the Patriot’ or ‘Brad the Murderer’. ‘Brad, Whose Real Name is Actually Luis, Wears His Mask When It’s Reasonable to Do So’ – that’s just too much work....
I imagine it's at its worst in the big cities. I've seen people with masks hanging around their necks in stores but people seem to remain pretty civil in my area and mind their own business. And most openly admit how much they hate the masks and/or realize they're pretty useless. Many of us seem to be just playing along. If this is the case, it might be like the lockdowns in some areas - astute politicians will realize when disobedience and anger are rising too high to continue the mandates.

btw, I blame the mask/no mask conflicts squarely on the governments, the media, and social media. If they had simply told the truth and said "We have no idea whether masks will help stop transmission or not, outside an N95 mask. Studies conflict and there are pros and cons to mask wearing. But we'd like people to give it a try and see if it helps." then I expect enough people would have complied to see whether it makes a difference and we wouldn't have all this animosity. And they wouldn't have made even reasonable people distrust health experts either, or increased distrust in some mainstream media . Even people with no scientific background realize that influenza and cold seasons still happen in countries where mask-wearing is common. (though an awful lot of people in certain echo chambers have been successfully indoctrinated into believing SARS-CoV2 is so different from other viruses that we have to throw out everything we know from other respiratory viruses, or even viruses in general.)

And now the media/certain governments have put their weight so strongly behind "Masks WORK!!!" that they will find it difficult or impossible to back away from this recommendation under any circumstances until new infections are down enough they can declare victory. And undoubtedly they will claim masks were part of that, regardless of the scientific debate and analyses , which the media will pay no attention to after the pandemic is over.

Though anyone now pushing goggles and face shields on top of masks has pretty much admitted that face masks are not doing much, if anything, to slow the virus. I don't think anyone has ever quantified the contribution of the eyes to any infection with any respiratory disease (would be very difficult to do) but there's no way it's going to be the major route.

Oh, and here's one reason some journalists/ news media might not be terribly upset about Pennsylvania's remesdivir distribution lottery - they're probably considered essential workers and get a better chance at the drug. ... -pandemic/
Many states are relying ton the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) memorandum for determining which businesses are “essential” during stay-at-home or shelter-in-place situations..... a new CISA memo was issued that more clearly defines news media as an essential business. This will make it clearer that the delivery operations of newspapers are included as critical infrastructure.

The new CISA language states: “Workers who support radio, television, and media service, including, but not limited to front-line news reporters, studio, and technicians for newsgathering, and reporting, and publishing news.”

You can read the full updated CISA memo here...


Society can and does execute its own mandates, and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. ― John Stuart Mill

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Post subject: Re: Escaping the Echo Chamber
Posted: Wed 05 Aug , 2020 2:59 pm
Posts: 2044
Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
At this point, I'm so completely fed up with the media and their selective reporting, both left and right. And their elevated opinion of themselves. ... index.html
Jonathan Swan reveals the simple secret to exposing Trump's lies: basic follow-up questions ... rview-hbo/
The national political reporter’s interview earned him praise from across the political aisle, and from beyond the usual media commentators. “Jonathan Swan is one of the best live interviewers on the planet,” wrote longtime GOP pollster Frank Luntz on Twitter. “Journalism schools should be required to show the @jonathanvswan @axios interview to every incoming class in perpetuity,” tweeted sports radio host Rich Eisen....

As for his 35-minute interview with the president, VandeHei said: “Swan is a true student of the craft and studies tapes, history and previous interviews more than any reporter I have met in two decades. It’s rare for reporters these days to be fearless, fact-based, devoid of bias … and maniacal about their sourcing, reporting and preparation. Swan is all of that, and a natural for the depth and cinematic nature of the HBO show.”

Interviewing Trump on TV is seen as more of an art form than a science, and those who have experienced it were quick to recognize Swan’s success in pressing the president on topics that included the spread of the novel coronavirus, mail-in voting, and the use of federal officers against protests in Portland, Ore.

Here's the full transcript where Jonathan Swan interviews Trump, for anyone who wants to actually read it: ... ios-on-hbo
(There are full videos out there too. Trump's style grates on me too much so I prefer a transcript.)

There's plenty to criticize Trump over and to disagree with him about but let's not pretend this was hard-hitting journalism meant to elicit facts and information about policy. Nor is Jonathan Swan the brilliant person he thinks he is. His understanding of pandemics, for instance, is clearly limited to the talking points he's absorbed. For instance, this exchange:

Jonathan Swan: (15:43) [talking about the pandemic]
It was two and a half thousand. It went down to 500. Now, it’s going up again.

President Donald J. Trump: (15:46)
Death… excuse me. Where it was is much higher than where it is right now.

Jonathan Swan: (15:50)
It went down and then it went up again.

President Donald J. Trump: (15:52)
It spiked, but now it’s going down again.

Jonathan Swan: (15:53)
It’s going up.

President Donald J. Trump: (15:53)
It’s gone down in Arizona. It’s going down in Florida.

Jonathan Swan: (15:55)
nationally it’s going up.

President Donald J. Trump: (15:56)
It’s going down in Texas. Take a look at this. These are the tests.

Jonathan Swan: (15:59)
It’s going down in Florida?

President Donald J. Trump: (16:01)
Yeah. It leveled out and it’s going down. That’s my report, as of yesterday.

Jonathan Swan: (16:05)
Anyway, Mr. President, if I could change subjects.

President Donald J. Trump: (16:06)
It is going down in Arizona. It is gong down in Texas.*

Jonathan Swan: (16:09)
Arizona it is. Arizona it is. Texas has big problems.

President Donald J. Trump: (16:10)
And it is spiked. It spiked and is now going down in Florida. It’s evened out and going down in Florida*.

Jonathan Swan: (16:15)
I’ll have to see those figures.

President Donald J. Trump: (16:16)
But you have to look at this. This is the number of tests compared to the rest of the world.

Jonathan Swan: (16:19)
I don’t deny your figures. You’ve done more tests by far than the rest of the world. I don’t deny that.

President Donald J. Trump: (16:22)
Right. And, because we’ve done more tests, we have more cases.

Jonathan Swan: (16:24)
You have more infections.

President Donald J. Trump: (16:25)
Now, you can take them back. Check it out in your office.

Jonathan Swan: (16:28)
Mr. President, different subject, it’s been widely reported that the U.S. has intelligence indicating that Russia paid bounties or offered to pay bounties to Taliban fighters to kill American soldiers....
It irritates me that Swan didn't even look at what Trump offered, or present actual facts and figures (current) to refute him. That's not journalism, that's partisan hackery.

And what else does either of them expect after lockdowns? The pandemic curve was flattened, not magically eliminated. The other thing no one in the media ever talks about is that it makes a difference whether most of the hospitalizations are happening in a small area, like New York City, or it's spread more broadly. That makes a big difference as far as whether hospitals can keep up and provide good treatment.

To me, this is one of the problems with the media these days. They're more interested in gotcha moments than in an honest discussion. For example, Swan could have followed up by saying "OK, so deaths have been rising for a few weeks and they're now about 40% of the peak during the spring - do you think that's a concern and why or why not?" and given Trump a chance to answer. It's quite possible Trump might have had nothing reasonable to say but now we'll never know.

Yet this is the sort of "interview" some of the media say we should praise.

And then some media outlets take carefully selected snippets and mock Trump. That's going to backfire. IMO it's fair to criticize him but only as long as you address the whole of what he said.
Seriously, the media is going to get Trump re-elected if they're not careful.

So are some of the Democrats. Nancy Pelosi's comments the other day about Dr. Birx were totally out of line and absolutely wrong. This could have been their election to lose but they're forgetting the majority of the country isn't a far left partisan. I'm already thinking I might vote third party as a protest vote/message since my state always goes to the Democratic candidate and there isn't a chance in hell it would go to Trump. And I've heard other independents say the same thing.

*EDIT: And it turns out that Trump was right, Jonathan Swan was wrong: ... is-summer/
The summer surge in COVID-19 infections reported by several Sunbelt states, which has driven a nationwide rise in cases and deaths, seems to be subsiding. Recent data indicate that daily new cases, after rising dramatically in June and July, are either declining or leveling off in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, and Texas...
The article talks about possible reasons. It amazes me how careful everyone is to not suggest the protests and riots had anything to do with the spike. I know at least one person at a hospitals in the Northern US who said the spikes definitely followed protests/riots in their area, with the right timeframe, after a time when things were opening up but cases continued pretty level and under control.

Also a note on "the science" on COVID-19 being reported by the media. You should be aware that the vast majority of these studies rely on PCR, not virus isolation. Scientists love PCR because 1) it's very sensitive, 2) It's relatively cheap if you have access to the equipment (which is widely available) and easy for practically anyone to get results, and 3) It's quick. You can even turn an undergrad loose on it in the basement. On the other hand, virus isolation takes expertise and facilities - you're growing virus in cells and that takes an incubator, supplies, and someone who knows what they're doing - and time. It's not an instant thing. No one ever does virus isolation routinely for common diseases. It wouldn't be practical.

But PCR has drawbacks too:
1) It's very sensitive. This means that it may only take a little contamination to get a false positive.
2) Unless you do something called quantitative PCR, you don't know whether there's a little viral nucleic acid (DNA/RNA) there or a lot.
3) It doesn't mean there's live virus. This is very very important. Fragments of nucleic acids can hang around after the virus is dead.

For this reason I treat most "wow, this is new and different and important" research based on PCR as preliminary (there are a few exceptions, like if you've got PCR plus signs of disease in that tissue). It might turn out to be real. But first you're going to have to follow up and show me some evidence there's real live virus there and it's in high enough concentrations to matter.

And right now everyone's trying to grab some attention with coronavirus studies. It's like the new bioterrorism or influenza - plenty of money being handed out for research plus a good chance of getting published.

For instance, there was some media-trumpeted research about finding the coronavirus on pollution particles. Show me that 1) there's live virus there and 2) there's enough virus for a reasonable probability it could infect someone. Until then, it's "That's nice, so what."

This isn't just a problem for COVID-19, btw.

It's not that I expect most people (including the "Facebook virologists" and folks who once took an undergrad class in immunology) to be capable of reading the original study and assessing the research. This is just a general warning to retain a healthy skepticism when you read things in the media like "Tall people are more likely to get sick with COVID-19 and this proves aerosols are the most important thing in transmission" (that one's not a PCR issue, but I strongly suspect there's some correlation-is-not-causation or statistics issue).

btw, there's an interesting interview with John Cleese here. Never mind the clickbait title - he says it, yes, but the interview is more than that: ... ing-comedy

And Cleese is a little late to the party. ;) From 2015: ... -of-humor/
Comedians Dump Campus Gigs: When Did Colleges Lose Their Sense of Humor?

A new era of political correctness combined with social media is causing comedians to steer clear of edgy jokes — and university bookings
Jerry Seinfeld and Trevor Noah are among those critical of the new culture.
(The Wrap is a magazine/ site focused on Hollywood.)

Last edited by aninkling on Thu 06 Aug , 2020 7:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.


Society can and does execute its own mandates, and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. ― John Stuart Mill

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Post subject: Re: Escaping the Echo Chamber
Posted: Thu 06 Aug , 2020 3:03 pm
Posts: 2044
Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Finally. One of the first signs some of the media is starting to join Team Reality. ... ay/614860/
The Coronavirus Is Never Going Away

No matter what happens now, the virus will continue to circulate around the world
No kidding. What amazes me is that some people seem surprised or even shocked and denying it.

The article still says a few things I find fault with - eradication has not been a possibility for a very long time, unless by "winter" what the writer means is around January, before the virus started circulating significantly outside Wuhan. And the truth is that no one knows what will ultimately happen with this particular coronavirus. The modelers might as well look in a crystal ball as play with their models to predict the future. Disease models are way too crude for such predictions. My personal educated guess, based on how it's acted, who it affects most, what similar viruses do, etc., is that once this pandemic subsides, there might be the occasional local outbreak for a few years (which should be helped by the availability of a vaccine), and after that, this virus might join the many other mild respiratory viruses that run around in the winter and are lumped together as influenza-like illnesses. One of the possibilities The Atlantic's article also discusses. It's a very common prediction.

Or it could even eventually fade out after some number of years. Sometimes viruses do. It's unpredictable when they come and go. Anyone who tries to tell you that we could have foreseen this coronavirus "if only we did more research" and stopped it immediately is telling you a story. Yes, scientists can identify some viruses that seem more likely to transfer to humans than others. But there are so many of them, you can't keep tabs on them all. Do people really think there were no SARS-like coronaviruses in animals before SARS and MERS? About all you can do is keep a close eye out for new and odd outbreaks in people (or human cases associated with animal disease outbreaks) and hope to nip things in the bud before the microorganism spreads much. And that becomes a lot tougher when the symptoms resemble common diseases.

btw, the reason we have influenza outbreaks every year is that influenza viruses are pretty much built to change, and change fast. They don't just mutate; their genes are on separate pieces of RNA and they exchange those with other flu viruses. And there are a lot of flu viruses. It's not just human flu viruses either. There were a few projects where doctors were invited to submit influenza viruses from their sick patients and some of those viruses turned out to be swine flu viruses in farmers, etc. (no big deal, the symptoms were pretty much the same as human influenza and this has probably been happening forever - it's just that, until these projects, it was "OK, you have an influenza A virus" (or B) and that was as far as it usually went. If they even did diagnostic tests at all. Often, the only reason to even bother is if it's early enough that flu drugs might help.) Coronaviruses can change (like most viruses) but they don't have the mechanisms that make influenza viruses so variable, so changes are usually slower and less drastic. btw, immunity, either natural or from a vaccine, is often what helps gives the advantage to a variant virus so it becomes more common. So it's a bit of a double-edged sword. A little bit of virus circulation in a group that doesn't get very sick is not necessarily a bad thing.

My other prediction - and this one is really guesswork - is that the level of deaths/ population where the initial epidemics "stop" (slow way down) will be somewhere around what they reached in Sweden. Though how you count COVID deaths is going to affect that - the US has a more liberal definition than some countries. It might be that the deaths in New York City before the outbreak subsided are around that of Sweden but authorities just counted differently. I don't believe the unusually low death rates in certain countries - you have to be looking before you find something - and I think others, like Australia,* may have a ways to go if their draconian measures don't succeed in damping in down the latest outbreaks or they don't find good ways to protect the people who are really vulnerable to getting sick from it until there's a vaccine.

*I am very glad not to be living in Melbourne right now. They're throwing all sorts of restrictions on people, right down to curfews and limits (3 km?) on how far you can go from your house, in hopes it will help.

I also think the article is fear-mongering with the "animals might act as reservoirs" business. This particular virus seems to have become adapted to us (which also means it might not easily re-enter bat populations or pangolins or wherever else it came from along the way). A lot of pathogens get passed back and forth between humans and animals, once in a while, but it seems more likely that we're going to be the source of infection for them, than that the virus is going to get established in an animal species and become a significant issue for us. As I've said before, humans have infected the occasional dog or cat with flu viruses during epidemics and nothing much happened except that sometimes the animal got sick.

Speaking of Team Reality this is how professionals talk about masks to other professionals (though, of course, there's the obligatory disclaimer from the editor that despite what the authors say, we support universal mask mandates for the public. I expect no less - the pandemic playbook says we have to have the same messaging from everyone so people will obey. And everyone has to do contortions to explain why they said something very different about masks for respiratory viruses, earlier in the pandemic. ):
As the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic continues to explode, hospital systems are scrambling to intensify their measures for protecting patients and health care workers from the virus. An increasing number of frontline providers are wondering whether this effort should include universal use of masks by all health care workers. Universal masking is already standard practice in Hong Kong, Singapore, and other parts of Asia and has recently been adopted by a handful of U.S. hospitals.

We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection. Public health authorities define a significant exposure to Covid-19 as face-to-face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic Covid-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 30 minutes). The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.

The calculus may be different, however, in health care settings....
One interesting point:
It is also clear that masks serve symbolic roles. Masks are not only tools, they are also talismans that may help increase health care workers’ perceived sense of safety, well-being, and trust in their hospitals. Although such reactions may not be strictly logical, we are all subject to fear and anxiety, especially during times of crisis. One might argue that fear and anxiety are better countered with data and education than with a marginally beneficial mask, particularly in light of the worldwide mask shortage, but it is difficult to get clinicians to hear this message in the heat of the current crisis. Expanded masking protocols’ greatest contribution may be to reduce the transmission of anxiety, over and above whatever role they may play in reducing transmission of Covid-19. The potential value of universal masking in giving health care workers the confidence to absorb and implement the more foundational infection-prevention practices described above may be its greatest contribution.

btw, I do think their arguments for masks in healthcare settings during a pandemic where people are experienced professionals (and also don't wear fabric masks) are reasonable. Though they're now seeing some adverse effects, especially with respect to skin irritation from the mask (but that might be in COVID wards where the PPE has to be better).

And I don't actually don't mind the places where they decided to try masks just on metro area public transportation, where it's for a short time, there are a lot of strangers crowded together, and it's more than fleeting contact but less than breathing the same air for hours on end. I still suspect it will be a toss-up but it's not an unreasonable thing to try. On the other hand, "everyone must always wear masks outdoors" is just a cruel joke from politicians who don't have the first clue about disease transmission. Probably because the herd in panic, driven by the media, is demanding they "do something."

And it's interesting that people are voting with their feet and, in some places, this is increasingly becoming a battle between top down authorities and the people and businesses (and sometimes the sheriffs) they govern. This pretty much means those mayors and governors have lost. IMO the ones who decided increasing authoritarianism was the way to go are fools. Not that I care. They lost me completely back when they decided snitching on your neighbors for rules violations, Soviet style, was something to encourage and drones should be used to spy on people. My parents fled a Soviet-controlled country to escape that sort of crap. ... ity-bills/


Society can and does execute its own mandates, and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. ― John Stuart Mill

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Post subject: Re: Escaping the Echo Chamber
Posted: Tue 11 Aug , 2020 4:25 pm
Posts: 2044
Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
And from Team NOT Reality, we have this nonsense: ... kdown.html

Countered by some sensible information from another news source: ... americans/
Without "much more aggressive shutdowns," a New York Times editorial warns, "well over a million" Americans "may ultimately die" from COVID-19. The paper does not cite a source for that estimate, which seems highly implausible based on the death toll so far, projections for the next few months, the gap between total infections and confirmed cases, and a crude case fatality rate that continues to fall....
The worst part is that this wasn't just an editorial the NYT published, it's from their editorial board.

Watching most the American news media and much of the foreign news media regularly spew BS and oversimplified talking points has been a painful experience. Experienced colleagues have also admitted that they've stopped paying attention to news stories on COVID-19 because they're so filled with hype and misinformation.

btw, I recently had to look up some information on MERS, the camel-associated coronavirus in the Middle East that looked so deadly earlier. I was interested to see some newly published information that suggests it too might be a lot less nasty than originally feared.

Somewhat interesting info on masks, btw. ... dv.abd3083
We noticed that speaking through some masks (particularly the neck fleece) seemed to disperse the largest droplets into a multitude of smaller droplets (see Supplementary Fig. S5), which explains the apparent increase in droplet count relative to no mask in that case. Considering that smaller particles are airborne longer than large droplets (larger droplets sink faster), the use of such a mask might be counterproductive.
Though, of course, this is just another mechanical study and I'm not sure how much attention any of them deserves. Short-term mechanical studies sometimes suggest that masks might have some benefit against various respiratory viruses. But they can't measure real world issues and detrimental effects that can compromise or eliminate any benefits. Few of them look at what happens when a mask becomes moist with breath or humidity from the air, either, or when respiratory pathogens dry on the mask and the mask is put back on.
Quick and easy to do, though, (and get published right now if you mention COVID-19) and something to put on your CV.

And I was disgusted, the other day, to see that the MediaBiasFactCheck site has decided it's going to label some news organizations as having "failed" factchecks solely because they have published a few articles that disagree with "the consensus" on COVID-19, even when the articles themselves are reasonable and based on science.
About as reasonable as Twitter linking to CNN, of all possible sources, as an authoritative source of truth when "fact checking" someone. (another example of how social media is promoting tribalism - should a right-leaning source now cite Fox or Breitbart?)

Guess I'll put MediaBiasFactCheck itself into their own "check but verify" category now.

A pity about the New York Times, though - way back when, they were a great paper. So it goes with the clickbait race for readers, I suppose, and all the confirmation bias. It's just a pity they and some of the politicians won't be held responsible for all the damage they've caused to people's lives while pretending everything in the natural world is controllable and the cost/ consequences of control measures doesn't matter.

Brave person. This is a view that is currently dangerous for an academic to openly express: ... c-freedom/
How to Fight the Enemies of Academic Freedom
...I escaped communist Romania in 1975 and came to the US to pursue my dream—attracted to the United States, as millions of other immigrants have been, by its reputation as a country that values freedom and rewards hard work and talent. I came with nothing but a strong desire to become a research mathematician, yet have been able to succeed far beyond my expectations. This is the result partly of my own efforts and whatever talent I may have, but a larger part of the credit is due to the sheer good fortune of being able to pursue my career in the US within an academic system which has been, at least until today, the freest, most competitive, and fairest in the world. By “fair” I mean the remarkable ability of this system to reward talent and hard work, with absolutely no regard for ethnicity, religion, race, sex, age, or any other considerations.

All this, however, is now in question. American colleges and universities, as well as many other institutions, are under attack by an ideology that I cannot but describe as insidious. This ideology is built on a combination of “critical theory” (an offspring of Marxism); a weird type of moral-cultural relativism that generates its own opposite, namely, fierce moralistic dogmatism; deconstructionism; and intersectionality. The net result of this stew is to view people as irredeemably divided by race, sex, sexual preferences, etc. into grievance groups, all suffering under various forms of oppression. Having evolved from this noxious mixture of implausible but influential academic theories, the ideology has succeeded in taking over many departments in the humanities and social sciences and is now making inroads into the sciences. By an extraordinary stealth quality, it has continued to move, largely undetected until now, into society at large, producing the “Woke” phenomenon....

I see this confusion at work in my own university, Princeton. Although there are faculty members and students who resolutely resist Woke ideology, the leaders of our university have been confronted with “demands” for quotas, a core distribution requirement focused on the history and legacy of racism in the country and on the campus, and even a faculty committee to “investigat[e] and discipline racist behaviors, incidents, research, and publication on the part of faculty.” All this, despite the absence of any visible institutional form of racial discrimination on campus (though there are persistent claims of barely concealed discrimination against “overrepresented minorities,” especially Asian Americans) and with no regard for the potentially destructive effect of such measures. Princeton, as well as most similar US academic institutions, are constantly on the defensive, ...

The crux of the matter IMO:
Above all, though, we have to stop being frightened, intimidated, and afraid to fight back. No matter how dangerous the present cancel culture is, it offers no match to the reign of terror of Nazism or of Soviet and Chinese Communism. If truly courageous dissidents like Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov could oppose the Soviet system, it behooves every one of us to take on this weaker but insidious form of oppression—before it becomes still worse. As a first step we can start by defending each other based on the principle that a woke attack on one is an attack on all.
Having lost an extended family member to torture by the Soviets and others punished by forced labor camps, the loss of careers,* etc., I have to say he has a point about the current fear of standing up and saying what you truly think.

*......... oh, wait... But Soviet authorities had power the woke can only dream of. If you didn't do or say the right things, they could limit you to the worst sorts of mechanical labor.

What I imagine he's partly talking about is that there is a new movement to define the STEM fields as all riddled with "systemic bias" and in need of reform and purging. I believe there's some hashtag for it among the Twitterati. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has clearly signed on to this movement, based on what I've read from them in Science.

My own experience is quite the opposite, in spite of all the current fussing about how female academics are supposedly disadvantaged - as a woman, I was offered a surprising number of the academic positions I interviewed for one year, in spite of not having extensive experience at the time. Admittedly my credentials/ institutions were quite good, but I was under no illusions that my sex* didn't give me an advantage too. I also know that search committees absolutely rejoice when they can find a decently qualified candidate who hits both the female and the minority buttons, and it's been that way for several decades. And I had the experience of living in one place where some of the locals viewed certain minority faculty as rather suspicious, meanwhile those same people were accepted in the university community without anyone paying the least attention to their skin color.

*yeah, I know - saying sex instead of gender, which I did without thinking, outs me as a dinosaur in need of reeducation. I still have absolutely no idea why certain transgender women and transgender men have such objections to being called such, and we end up with silly stuff in medical advice like "individuals with a cervix" instead of "women and transgender men...." And I imagine the transgender folks in the past were smart enough to figure out whether they needed a pap test or not, when things just said women.

There's a lot of running around worrying about building names too at colleges, and movements to examine whether any of the people they were named after was not a perfect person. I don't know about anyone else, but the only attention I've ever paid to building names is as a label to say "you're supposed to go here." Also universities now worry about whether any long-dead person who was honored with something for their accomplishments might have had lead feet in some way, and some are hurrying to strip that recognition.

Some perceptive comments on the article as well:
A tiny, loud minority can intimidate a majority, since the repeated minority ‘message’ (through media, entertainment, social media) promotes the minority message as held more widely than it actually is. This alone can produce self-censorship by majority members (as can the more overt mobbing/cancellations). In other words, majority members self-censor because they mistakenly perceive the minority view/message to be more widely held by others than is true. This is how pluralistic ignorance contributes to the problem by silencing voices that would counter the minority view/message. As more members of the majority voice views that counter the minority view, gradually the pluralistic ignorance is reduced.

So again—great article, and yes, a woke attack on one is an attack on all, so defending those under attack helps clarify for the wider public that the minority woke view is just that—a minority view.
Academics are divided into three groups at the moment: those who see Woke ideology as a threat, but are neutralized by work-floor politics; those who are full-time social justice warriors ready to ferret out any heretic they come across; and finally the majority, who are either oblivious to it all or just want to work, collect a salary and go home at the end of the day.
Until all this stuff became too loud to ignore, I definitely fell into group 3.

EDIT: An example of what's going on: ... quisition/
I’m an attorney representing a professor at the University of Central Florida who is being subjected by the university to what can only be called an inquisition after expressing opinions on Twitter that led to widespread calls for his firing. UCF is a public institution—an instrument of the state—and is now bringing its full power to bear against a man who dared to question the prevailing orthodoxy that has quickly descended over so many of this country’s institutions. I cannot bear witness to what the university is doing to this man without speaking out against it. If we do not challenge this egregious abuse of power, things will only get worse.

Professor Charles Negy is a wonderfully eccentric man, someone who teaches extraordinarily controversial subjects—Cross-Cultural Psychology and Sexual Behavior—with bluntness and humor. He is exactly the kind of professor you want in college: someone who is passionate about his subject, who will challenge your deeply-held assumptions, and who encourages free and open discussion in the classroom. Negy’s bluntness has occasionally ruffled feathers over the years, but throughout his 22-year career at UCF he has received consistently superior performance reviews. For the past four years, for example, he has received an evaluation rating of “Outstanding” for his instruction and advising.

In June, however, things changed overnight for Negy after he posted a characteristically blunt tweet to his personal Twitter account:

Immediately, #UCFfirehim began trending on Twitter and people began to protest both on UCF’s campus and outside Negy’s home....
Students are going to lose some of the better professors as this spreads. The ones I remember as having the best, most lively, most interesting lectures were also some of the most colorful. In the STEM field, you can usually make much better money in industry than academia. This was traditionally compensated for by the independence of working at a university and pursuing your interests. But if the work becomes miserable because you're constantly looking over your shoulder in case you might accidentally insult a student with what they consider a microaggression, or your "unconscious bias" might end up getting you hauled in front of an inquiry, why should bright people become profs? Part of the trouble is that you're in close contact with a bunch of people who are still growing up and prone to overreact. And they've been given a lot of power, even when those upset are not in the majority.

Especially when many colleges are cutting faculty numbers right now (and reducing benefits and salaries for those who stay) due to COVID-19 economic fallout - universities spent a lot of money on remote learning (buying access and equipment for Zoom, etc), and even more for all the new "safety" measures and hybrid classrooms* on campuses this fall.

*Some students in class, some learning remotely each day. If you're going to insist on 6 feet of space between every student, there is no way you can fit all the students into the existing space. Maybe half to a third of the usual numbers.

And at the same time universities are spending money on things like unconscious bias training and expanding their administrative staff related to diversity efforts, title IX complaints, etc. I read of one place where they recently hired a new vice president for diversity. His salary alone could have paid for 2-3 new professors. The same institution, I know, is looking at the possibility of getting rid of some professors across all fields including STEM because they can't afford to keep them. I sometimes wonder if that's what the majority of the student body would choose if they knew the consequences of their demands.

btw, all it takes sometimes to get in trouble is not giving in to student demands. ... s/2378471/
An advocacy group for free speech on campus is calling for UCLA to reinstate a longtime professor who was suspended after refusing to alter his final exam schedule or grading policies for black students during the protests surrounding the killing of George Floyd.

Gordon Klein has been teaching at UCLA's Anderson School of Management since 1981. He received an email from a student on June 2, requesting that he adjust his final exam requirements for black students due to the ongoing protests.

Klein wrote back and explained his reasons for rejecting the requests, including the difficulty in identifying who would receive the benefits of such a change, and the conflicts with UCLA's faculty code of conduct, which prohibits the failure to hold exams as scheduled, evaluation of students based on criteria other than their performance in the course, and discrimination based on race....

But many students objected to the tone of his email, and a petition calling for him to be fired was quickly started on

Klein was placed on leave the following day, effective until June 24, while school officials decide what to do next....
Worth noting that these offended students were learning remotely. Were they unable to reschedule their protest activities to make time to learn the material and take the exam?

And one more because it illustrates the whole investigative process:
...Yanked from classes, barred from campus, and disallowed from contacting anyone at my university except the dean—who would not talk to me either. At some point I would be contacted by an outside law firm that had been retained to investigate me. Until then, silence. I was told that the investigation would take some 40 days. Instead, I was propelled upon a 14-month odyssey. In the end, I—a tenured full professor, a former departmental chair of philosophy, and the founding director of a million-dollar university center on campus, was forced to resign under threat of termination—even though I was cleared of the Title IX charges.

The following offers a narrative of my Title IX experience. The process was shambolic, dishonest, and lacked accountability. Rules were applied without explanation and then changed without warning. Every step of the proceedings—including that first letter of September 17th—was filled with distortions. The allegations changed over time to fit a predetermined end. I was kept in the dark about the charges and the investigation for months. And the safeguards I thought would offer protection, of due process and unbiased inquiry (not to mention tenure), were swept away...
Based on some of his questions at a faculty meeting, I assume this person was, among other things, at least a gadfly and possibly annoying. And his case seems less clear to me than the others - his narrative might be one-sided to some extent. But one important point to this very, very long narrative is that he didn't really break any university rules by dating a former student after she left the university and that person herself did not complain about it. The other is that this process is, at a minimum, drawn out to an insane degree, carried on outside the protections given to defendants by the courts, and very expensive for anyone who chooses to fight it.
The destructive consequences of Title IX go well beyond my personal story. As originally fashioned in the 1970s, Title IX has been a striking success: Almost 60 percent of undergraduates and more than half of graduate students are now women. It has helped women achieve leadership positions across society. The 2011 changes, however, have undermined much of this progress. Title IX has bred a culture of suspicion that affects everyone but is especially damaging to the women that it sought to support.

Not only are male professors less likely to collaborate with or mentor female students and colleagues; female professors run risks as well. The Kipnis story is well known, not least because her ordeal inspired a book. Less so is the story of Pam Smock, Professor of Sociology at the University of Michigan, who was charged with a Title IX violation after raising questions about the integrity of a student’s work. Smock was eventually cleared, but was still penalized by her dean—her salary was frozen for three years, she was denied a sabbatical and forbidden to serve as primary adviser for doctoral students. After $95,000 in legal fees she eventually won back her rights....

One note on this person's story:
One of these complaints involved one of the new faculty members. She claimed that I had made her feel “potentially unsafe,” even though we had only met a couple of times, and then at faculty meetings. Her reason? A year and a half earlier, at the faculty dinner for her on-campus job interview, I had asked what her husband did for a living and how her parents were employed. The third complaint had been filed by a male colleague after another faculty member informed him of inappropriate conduct that was supposed to have occurred back in March of 2006. He told me later that he felt compelled to turn in a report lest he be fired for overlooking an allegation of sexual harassment.
That last person illustrates one of the new Title IX rules put in place by the Obama administration. As a consequence of their changes, everyone was told that you must inform anyone - student, etc. - who wants to talk to you about a personal matter that, before they say anything, they should know that if it involves sexual harassment, you are required to report this event to the university's Title IX investigator, whether or not the person harassed wants you to. And this would lead to an investigation.

There were no longer to be any informal solutions to such complaints/ issues, like someone in the lab sitting down with the offender and explaining perhaps that a behavior common among men in their culture is not considered acceptable to women in the US.

This change can also give rise to things like a student seeing a couple going off and reporting it to the Title IX office because she thinks the woman was too drunk to give consent. Even if the woman herself later says "no, I wanted to; he didn't force me," the investigation is not automatically halted by that; the supposed victim has no veto power over it.

Edit to clarify the new Title IX reporting rule.

Last edited by aninkling on Mon 24 Aug , 2020 1:00 pm, edited 7 times in total.


Society can and does execute its own mandates, and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. ― John Stuart Mill

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Post subject: Re: Escaping the Echo Chamber
Posted: Thu 13 Aug , 2020 2:01 pm
Posts: 2044
Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm ... -a-living/
Americans Are Growing Less Willing To Beg for Permission To Make a Living
Officials claim doing business is a revocable “privilege,” but many Americans see it as a right that they’ll exercise with or without licenses and permits.
It appears that government-imposed restrictions on travel, business, and social contact don't become more palatable with age. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to simmer, the one competency that officials have consistently displayed is in tightening the screws, using the licenses and permissions they require as enforcement tools. For people tired of being bossed around, the obvious response is to carry on without the government's imprimatur—and they're doing so in droves. It's an attitude likely to live on long after the crisis has passed.

"Our businesses are doomed," Chris Polone, co-owner of a Fort Worth bar that was one of more than 800 such establishments to open in defiance of Texas closure orders, said at the end of July. "We have nothing to lose. We can either fight this thing, Or we can starve ourselves out."

As apocalyptic as that sounds, it's a reasonable statement when the review site Yelp reports that 55 percent of all businesses shut during the pandemic are believed to have closed their doors forever. For many entrepreneurs, breaking the rules may be the only way to survive.

That the rebellion among Texas taverns is alive and well is obvious from a desperate-sounding open letter issued last week by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC). "Recently we have spoken with business owners who tell us they don't intend to follow the orders,"...
I really think these increasingly draconian crackdowns, pushed by some politicians, are counterproductive. Based on my observations at two rival grocery stores in our area, a "less is more" philosophy with only a few brief, factual announcements* and minimal rules seems to be proving its worth. Most people behave well at these places on their own. The ones with dozens of rules and constant public health announcements about how "we're keeping you safe", which are the more upscale of the two, have lots of defiant and irritated people breaking the rules and not physical distancing besides. I always escape with relief and a strong desire to throw a party or go shake someone's hand, and I suspect I'm not the only one.

*All these announcements say, maybe every 15 minutes or so, is that new state rules require everyone to wear a mask indoors, and also, please remember to be courteous and give other people plenty of space. Otherwise, they just play music and leave people to shop in peace.

It seems that NYC's extremely high COVID-19 numbers might be because Cuomo screwed up big time. Instead of targeting prevention at the most vulnerable, it looks like he did precisely the opposite.

To their lasting credit, the AP actually pursued the story. Seems Cuomo has a good reason to be resisting independent investigation - many more of the deaths were linked to nursing homes than the official counts suggest:
Riverdale Nursing Home in the Bronx appears, on paper, to have escaped the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, with an official state count of just four deaths in its 146-bed facility.

The truth, according to the home, is far worse: 21 dead, most transported to hospitals before they succumbed.

“It was a cascading effect,” administrator Emil Fuzayov recalled. “One after the other.”

New York’s coronavirus death toll in nursing homes, already among the highest in the nation, could actually be a significant undercount. Unlike every other state with major outbreaks, New York only counts residents who died on nursing home property and not those who were transported to hospitals and died there....

Nearly every time Cuomo is questioned about New York’s nursing home death toll, he brushes off criticism as politically motivated and notes that his state’s percentage of nursing home deaths out of its overall COVID-19 death toll is around 20%, far less than Pennsylvania’s 68%, Massachusetts’ 64% and New Jersey’s 44%. ...

A controversial March 25 order to send recovering COVID-19 patients from hospitals into nursing homes that was designed to free up hospital bed space at the height of the pandemic has drawn withering criticism from relatives and patient advocates who contend it accelerated nursing home outbreaks.

Cuomo reversed the order under pressure in early May. And his health department later released an internal report that concluded asymptomatic nursing home staffers were the real spreaders of the virus, not the 6,300 recovering patients released from hospitals into nursing homes.

But epidemiologists and academics derided the study for a flawed methodology that sidestepped key questions and relied on selective stats, including the state’s official death toll figures....
Kind of like the "BLM protests don't spread the coronavirus" studies, I imagine. ;)

Speaking of which: ... rotesters/
A small group of residents from Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood ejected Black Lives Matter protesters who arrived for a demonstration at a local police precinct.

Several activist groups had organized a march leading to the 7th police precinct in Englewood. However, an organizer later told Fox 32 that groups decided to leave after confrontations with nearby residents left them feeling “unsafe.”

“If you ain’t from Englewood, get the f*** out of here!” resident Darryl Smith shouted at the protesters. Residents engaged in pushing matches with some of the protesters.

“They were…gonna come to Englewood, antagonizing our police, and then when they go back home to the North Side in Indiana, our police are bitter and they’re beating up our little black boys,” Smith told Fox. Charles McKenzie, of a community violence-prevention group called God’s Gorillas, concurred, saying “We refuse to let anyone come to Englewood and tear it up.”...
I wouldn't be surprised if these protesters were some of the young, relatively affluent, activists who've decided they know what black residents need and want, then go home to their safe little lives, feeling righteous, while the minority communities deal with the aftermath and mess.

All politicians lie and inflate things, so I'm not going to put too much emphasis on this, but it's interesting to see how "the other side" fact checks the Democratic politicians. (The National Review doesn't seem to be big fans of Trump either) ... ning-mate/
Kamala Harris Lies Repeatedly in First Speech as Biden’s Running Mate
In her first speech since Joe Biden selected her as his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris told multiple lies. To wit:

“The president’s mismanagement of the pandemic has plunged us into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression,” Harris said.

False. The pandemic and its associated lockdowns, not the president, are responsible for the economic contraction. Donald Trump is not the president of the euro zone, which suffered through an even more dire economic contraction in the second quarter: minus 40.3 percent, on an annualized basis, as against minus 32.9 percent in the US. The U.K. suffered a contraction of 59.8 percent, also on an annualized basis....
Kamala Harris's bs comparison of COVID-19 to ebola irritated me tremendously. It's pretty close to saying the flu is the same as ebola - the case fatality rates and transmission of this coronavirus and flu viruses are much closer to each other than either is to any of the ebola viruses.
Much as I can't stand Trump, the Democrats attempts to blame COVID-19 on him are stupid. Trump has been his usual bumbling and self-promoting self on messaging but, in practical terms, the pandemic's course would likely have been pretty similar under Hillary Clinton. The real responses happen at the state and local levels, and their chances of actually stopping a virus like this were always slim or nonexistent anyway.

And I think the Democrats messaging about school opening will fall flat. From what I've observed, the main reasons kids in the U.S. can't go back to school, when schools in other countries are managing, are that 1) teachers unions are scared by the media and strongly resist reopening, even in districts where parents overwhelmingly want their kids back in school (remote "learning" seems to have been a disaster, not to mention that no one wants to give up their job or spend all their money on daycare facilities now) , and 2) the "abundance of caution" policy that sends hundreds of people home when one asymptomatic person tests positive for the virus during routine testing is unworkable if you actually want to have schools open. Authorities already know this from the 2009 flu pandemic.

An article, with actual citations of scientific studies, of the sort that usually doesn't get any attention in the news media. ... -medicine/
The Problems with Discrimination Research in Medicine
written by Zachary Robert Caverley

Like many professions in Western society, medicine is examining itself for the presence of racial inequities and strategies that can ameliorate these differences. Many publications have focused on the disproportionately poor outcomes of minorities in our healthcare system with an emphasis on systemic and structural forces that shape such inequities. As I concluded in my last article for Quillette, these discussions should proceed with the utmost scientific caution, as the answers and implications stand to affect the most vulnerable populations.

With this in mind, there are limitations in the current literature on alleged medical discrimination and the associated health outcomes. In addition, much of the literature on this topic relies heavily on surveys and patient self-reports to assess bias and discrimination while downplaying or ignoring alternative hypotheses. The narrative that has emerged from the conclusions of these limited studies could inadvertently cause some populations to avoid medical follow-up and form an inaccurate view of healthcare practices....

The first thing to be aware of when evaluating these studies is that, although the affront caused by perceiving discrimination or racism may be real, the perception itself might still be false. ...
A similar publication by Moody et al studied whether or not a marker of cell aging and overall lifespan was negatively influenced by perceived discrimination in subjects. The study concluded there was a significant correlation, but only for African American women and white women at higher socioeconomic status.7 The research team asserts this is explained by African American women with higher incomes being exposed to more white communities and therefore more “chronic, interpersonal discrimination.” When faced with the same finding in white women, the following rationale is offered: “perceptions of progress among racial minorities have been found to stoke concerns of destabilization of the traditional social hierarchy among non-racial minorities.”

This is a dubious conclusion given the same finding was not seen for the white male cohort...
The clue to this is probably that the groups were broken down by race, sex, economic status (and who knows what else). With certain statistical methods, you can get individual comparisons that look significant, simply by chance, when you do enough of them.
Zachary Robert Caverley is a physician assistant specializing in cardiology and working in rural health clinics throughout the north-west coast.

Hmph, here's one side effect I wouldn't have predicted. But it makes sense. ... requently/
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Just about everywhere you go, there is a sign that reads “masks required.” It is the new normal since the coronavirus pandemic began in the spring. Now dentists are warning people to clean their masks frequently to kill any potential bacteria.

They say face coverings can cause another problem — one they call “mask mouth.”

Dr. Blake Billups, a dentist who has practiced in Memphis for 16 years, says prolonged masks wearing can cause the mouth to become dry. He says if that happens, it can have damaging effects on a person’s dental health....

“There’s not enough data to know the consequences of what it’ll do,” Billups said. “Anytime we have a dryer mouth, we have a higher chance of getting tooth decay or periodontal (gum) disease because the mouth is dryer.”...
Similar story here, though they rely on a story published in the New York Post and it's more sensationalist. ... 003954142/
Or various local news outlets other than the one I linked which also seem more sober than the New York Post.

The annoying thing, for me, is that the fabric masks often make me cough from a tickle in my throat, which is pretty counterproductive if you're looking to reduce respiratory droplets in the air. At first I thought this urge to cough is just an idiosyncratic reaction but it seems it isn't just me. DH said he has the same issue. Could be dry mouth related, I suppose, though once I was pretty sure it was a bit of lint I inhaled.

Well, that and it's definitely increased the number of times I touch my face. I'm pretty good about not touching my face otherwise, but when you're wearing a mask and being fairly active, reaching up and down for things, turning your head, bending over, etc., the mask seems to need a lot more adjusting compared to being relatively stationary with a surgical mask on.


Society can and does execute its own mandates, and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. ― John Stuart Mill

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Post subject: Re: Escaping the Echo Chamber
Posted: Fri 14 Aug , 2020 5:41 pm
Posts: 2044
Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
I've been interested in Portland's protests and riots because I know people in the area (and despite being liberal, they're pretty outraged that Portland's mayor wasn't doing anything about the destruction. The elk statue, among other things, seemed to be loved by Portlanders.). Now, from a paper in Oregon: ... g-charges/
In an email exchange Aug. 10, Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese expressed concern about District Attorney Mike Schmidt's new protest policy, which he announced Aug. 11.

He was particularly alarmed by Schmidt's plan to preemptively dismiss felony charges for rioting, a decision Reese feared would embolden anarchists and anti-fascists....

"Mike, I have a concern and a question," Reese wrote to Schmidt on Monday. "I didn't realize riot was one of the charges you were presumptively dismissing.…I have witnessed situations where it's been used and the criminal behavior has been significant."

Yesterday, Schmidt announced his new policy for prosecuting protesters. Per the new policy, the district attorney's office will "presumptively decline" to prosecute cases in which the most serious violation is a city ordinance, or where the crime did not involve deliberate property damage, theft or threat or use of force against another person....

In the email, Reese recommended Schmidt subject rioters to prosecution.

"The situation is incredibly volatile with a really committed group of Antifa/anarchists starting fires, damaging property and assaulting police/community members," Reese wrote. "They may feel even more emboldened if there is a public statement that appears to minimize their activities."

Schmidt replied by asking Reese to call him...

You might or might not be able to read this page from the Washington Post but I quoted almost the entire update on this particular story: ... d-crimes/#
Oregon State Police announced they will pull out of downtown Portland where nightly protests have continued for weeks, sometimes devolving into late-night clashes with law enforcement. The decision came after the county district attorney said Tuesday that he will not prosecute most cases against protesters who are arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct, interfering with a peace officer or other low-level offenses....

State police spokesman Timothy R. Fox told The Washington Post that the agency had committed to serving the area for two weeks, a timeline that ended earlier this week.

“The Oregon State Police is continually reassessing our resources and the needs of our partner agencies and at this time we are inclined to move those resources back to counties where prosecution of criminal conduct is still a priority,” Fox said. “Troopers are returning to the communities that they are assigned to serve and protect.” ...

btw, I'm not sure if the big papers like the Washington Post explained why things were so peaceful for a couple of nights after federal authorities guarding the federal courthouse agreed to leave. It wasn't just because the feds agreed to leave... ;) : ... 38df22d7a9
Portland police cleared Lownsdale and Chapman Squares in downtown Portland on Thursday morning, removing occupants and breaking up the encampments that had formed in the two park spaces. The move was requested by Oregon State Police as part of the plan for federal officers to leave downtown Portland, according to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.

According to a Portland Parks and Recreation spokesperson, Chapman and Lownsdale Squares have been closed since July 16 due to health and safety concerns. Since the parks are by the two main federal buildings in Portland that have been the focus of recent protests, they have been the staging area for much of the protest infrastructure, including a pop-up food services area and other facilities.

Portland Parks and Recreation has begun and will continue extensive repairs to park restrooms, irrigation systems, benches and other amenities....
It's interesting to also read this same story from another Oregon source with a decidedly liberal slant (among other things, they just mention trash is being picked up, not that the facilities will need extensive repairs before they can be used by ordinary people again. Also don't say anything about a couple of people being arrested): ... sweep.html

Of course, the riots have started up again (more than 70 nights of it now). Now they're attacking and trying to burn down police stations outside downtown Portland, though I think they might recently have moved back downtown again.

While there are plenty of stories on the women ("mothers") who showed up to defend the rioters, naked yoga woman, whether the federal agents should be there or not, Portland mayor's demand that the federal agents remove the fence put up to protect the courthouse from the rioters, and so forth, this is what it was like on the other side: ... -protests/
On the first night of large-scale protests in Portland, Oregon, over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Jennifer Styles (who we granted anonymity so that she could speak freely about the situation at her workplace) was working the graveyard shift at the Multnomah County Justice Center, which houses the headquarters of the Portland Police Bureau and one of the city's two county jails. It was May 29 and the 28-year veteran of law enforcement was alone in the basement's booking and reception area when the fire alarms started going off.

Not being able to see outside, Styles switched on the news. The front of the Justice Center was on fire, a fact confirmed when friends immediately started to text, asking about her safety. By then smoke was pumping through the building's ventilation system.

"I was in a secure part of the jail but I had civilian co-workers I was talking to in another area that was not secure," she says, including people who worked as nurses and counselors and support staff for the jail. "Those people are not trained on confrontation. They're not trained on how to deescalate. They're not trained on how to fight people and protect themselves."

Styles stayed on the phone with civilian staff, working out what to tell them if they needed to escape, weighing the possibility that running into a mass of the people attacking the jail would put them in additional danger. Then Styles heard the sound of breaking glass: the Justice Center's big first floor windows were coming down.

"You could hear the glass cracking and shattering," she says. "At that point, the rioters were in." ...

Nice. More Team Reality: ... d-immunity
... It’s curious that cases dropped so fast, and have stayed pretty low, in the spring hot zones — New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. And why did cases remain so low in Idaho and Hawaii until recently?

The mainstream narrative is that it’s all about good behavior when cases go down — mask wearing and giving up our social lives for the greater good. And conversely, bad behavior must be what makes them go up. We talk about certain regions having the virus “under control,” as if falling cases are purely a matter of will-power. A sort of moral reasoning is filling in for evidence.

But why, then, have cases plummeted in Sweden, where mask wearing is a rarity?

This is the time to use scientific methods to understand what’s happening....
Gu is getting some attention for the fact that models he’s been creating since April actually forecast what’s happened with the spread of the disease in the U.S.

.... He pointed to data on Louisiana, where cases were rising earlier in the summer and seemed to level off after various counties issued mask mandates.

But breaking the data down by county, he says, revealed a different story. ...

That’s not to say that individual behavior doesn’t matter a lot — and the cancellation of big gatherings and other potential super-spreading events is more important than ever — but there may be more factors than we know driving the bigger picture.
A few scientists are examining the possibility that previously hard-hit areas are now being affected by a buildup of immunity....

The term herd immunity... was created to characterize the impact of immunization. It refers to the percentage of the population that must get immunized in order for a pathogen to die out — a quantity that depends on the nature of the virus, the efficacy of the vaccine and the behavior of the hosts. ...

But scientists have little experience applying herd immunity to a natural infection, and what understanding they have is changing....
About time the last sentence finally hit the media.

And no, immunity from vaccines is not just like immunity after you've been infected. The latter would be the ideal but not necessarily achieved. See the post sometime earlier about types of vaccines.


Society can and does execute its own mandates, and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. ― John Stuart Mill

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Post subject: Re: Escaping the Echo Chamber
Posted: Mon 17 Aug , 2020 1:06 pm
Posts: 2044
Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Seattle may not have been unique: ... istrators/
The antiracism consultant Robin DiAngelo is having quite the summer. Her 2018 book, White Fragility, shot to the top of the New York Times bestseller list after the death of George Floyd brought renewed public attention to racial issues.

She has also come under considerable and well-deserved criticism for her suffocatingly racialized worldview, which reduces every person to a color and posits that their interactions with people outside their race will necessarily be fraught and painful. John McWhorter, a professor of linguistics at Columbia University, called White Fragility a "racist tract" that "diminishes black people in the name of dignifying us." His was one of many negative reviews to come DiAngelo's way this year. A New York Times article pointed out the absurdity of one of the central tenets of white fragility training: that positive traits like hard work, individualism, and valuing the written word are characteristics of white culture.

You might think such strongly expressed concerns about her underlying outlook and method would prompt a university to think twice about hiring DiAngelo to train its staff.... ... -training/
The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. found itself in a small scandal last month after visitors to its website discovered an infographic that listed "hard work" and "rational thought" as traits of white culture. The crude stereotypes drew well-deserved derision.

It's not just the museum. Last year, Sandia National Laboratories, a federal contractor responsible for building the U.S.'s nuclear weapons, sent its executives to mandatory diversity training with the White Men's Caucus on Eliminating Racism, Sexism, and Homophobia in Organizations. This group's educational materials—which were obtained by Christopher Rufo, a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation—include many of the same racial stereotypes.... ... -canceled/
"The Insect Apocalypse Is Here," declared the stark New York Times headline in November 2018. The article focused on a 2017 German study that said the mid-summer levels of "flying insect biomass" in 63 nature preserves had declined by 76 percent over 27 years. In a 2019 study in Biological Conservation, researchers warned that we might see "the extinction of 40% of the world's insect species over the next few decades."

Big if true.

Now a new study in Nature Ecology & Evolution offers some happier news: In the United States at least, the abundance and insect biodiversity trends are "generally indistinguishable from zero." In other words, there is no detectable insect armageddon here....
In an April 2020 commentary in Science, two British researchers urged their colleagues against crisis-mongering through overinterpreting tentative results from very preliminary insect abundance studies.

"The temptation to draw overly simple and sensational conclusions is understandable, because it captures the attention of the public and can potentially catalyze much needed action in policy development and research arenas," they warned. "However, fear-based messages often backfire. This strategy has the grave risk of undermining trust in science and can lead to denialism, fatigue, and apathy....
I'm sure there will be much back and forth argument about this for years. But that's what science is. Not instant answers; very, very rarely "this single study proves X" ; sometimes arguments about data and interpretation. Single scientists can be deeply invested in their hypotheses but science, as a whole, should be testing hypotheses and seeing how robust they are by trying to disprove them. ... ial-power/
Democrats, who routinely complain about Donald Trump's power grabs when they do not like the results, quickly change their tune when they see presidential orders as the easiest way to impose a nationwide policy they favor. Trump, meanwhile, never hesitates to assert authority he does not have, except when it comes to policies he opposes.

That utterly unprincipled approach to executive power is vividly illustrated by the debate between Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden about face mask mandates...

Trump's sudden respect for constitutional limits was inspired by Biden's suggestion that as president he would require Americans to wear masks in public...
Biden—like Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat who last month urged Trump to impose a nationwide mask mandate—surely would agree with that assessment in this context. Biden does not want the president to override state restrictions on social and economic activity aimed at curtailing the spread of COVID-19. By contrast, he does want the president to override state decisions about whether to require face masks, on the assumption that it will lead to the outcome he wants. Yet if the president has broad authority to dictate public health policies throughout the country, he could just as easily use it to negate mask mandates. He also could use that authority to loosen or eliminate other disease control measures that Biden and his fellow Democrats support.

That's the thing about constitutional limits: They do not guarantee any particular outcome, but they do say who gets to make the decisions. The president can do some things on his own, but others require congressional action. Congress can legislate in certain areas, based on its enumerated powers, but everything else is "reserved to the states respectively, or to the people," as the 10th Amendment makes clear. States have a broad police power, but it is constrained by the constitutional rights they are bound to respect.

Politicians who feel free to disregard these rules whenever they prove inconvenient not only undermine a system that is designed to restrict government power and protect individual freedom; they set a precedent their opponents can use in ways they will not like...
It's not just Biden's campaign ads on COVID-19 (universal mask mandates, the vague promise of controlling the virus somehow by "we need more testing," and "It's all Trump's fault") , but it looks to me like we might have have a repeat of 2016's lesser-of-2-evils race. Normally, the party's candidate swings toward the middle in the general election, even if they appealed to the extremes of their party in the primaries. Seems the Democrats have become a wee bit arrogant with their wins in 2018, which they assume give them a mandate for all their policies instead of just being a reflection of distaste for Trump.

Obama recent campaigning to end the filibuster, during his speech at a politician's funeral (John Lewis??), and some Democrats' proposals to expand the Supreme Court (because the left doesn't like its current lean), combined with the Republicans scraping the bottom of the barrel for their appointments of federal judges (including some labeled unqualified by objective criteria), as long as they have the right politics, have been the last straw for me. Both parties have reached new lows.

An interesting perspective. : ... pirations/
Somewhat overdone on the comparisons of Kamala Harris to the Stuarts in 17th century England (one analogy is enough, thanks - we got it the first time) and it ignores some of the other reasons for the gridlock, like the idiotic tribalism by both sides and the media and social media feeding that. But it has some ideas that I've not considered, like the law of unintended consequences when we insist on more transparency in government.
... According to all the great traditions of Anglophone liberty, Americans should go to the polls knowing that the most important choice they have to make is who will represent them in the House, followed by who will represent them in the Senate, and, last of all, who will preside over the federal government and execute the laws that Congress passes. At the moment, these priorities are completely inverted. Who gets your vote for president this year matters a lot less than anything and everything you can do to restore the proper Tocquevillian order of American liberty, in which local allegiances matter most.

There are many reasons that this order has been upended, and the biggest among them is Congress’s collective-action problem. Conservatives can often be quite difficult to engage on the subject of congressional gridlock. Whenever one mentions it to folks on the right, the response is often “gridlock is what the Founders intended,” or “building consensus is supposed to be difficult.” There is an element of truth to this, of course. ... But the fact remains that we have made legislating far more difficult than even Madison intended. He was the first to keep a roll of representatives, making it easier for him to cut deals with them as needed. Alexander Hamilton believed pork-barrel spending to be indispensable to effective statecraft. The bottom line is that there is too much transparency in Congress now for deals to be done. Faced with this level of sclerosis in the body politic, impatient voters turn to the branches of government that can provide outcomes efficiently when they act on their own: the executive and the judiciary. ...

I’m aware that such proposals are unlikely to inspire many. No politician will ever be greeted at a rally by a stadium full of voters chanting, “SMOKE FILLED ROOMS! SMOKE FILLED ROOMS!” ...

So whatever your political persuasion, the best thing you can possibly do this year is to phone up your senators and your representative, preferably at least once a week, and instruct them that no matter which party holds the White House, they must grow a backbone and stop acting like a craven lickspittle of the executive branch. This country is only going to function properly if we start to care a little bit less about the parties and a lot more about the branches of government....
There are some things I didn't know about Kamala Harris in there.
Last year, Harris announced a $100 billion housing plan... It aims to close the gap in household wealth between white and nonwhite Americans by providing up to 4 million households with $25,000 toward the down payment on a home. By design, it would unilaterally alter the racial composition of various areas of the country using the public purse. Needless to say, more minority homeowners would be an unqualified boon to the country, but this is just about the most authoritarian and economically disastrous means of pursuing that goal: a return to the sort of policy scheme that helped cause the great recession of 2007–09.

Not that he's flattering to Trump, either. ;)
Donald Trump, I’m afraid, is the last person on earth who would be enthusiastic about that project. He himself has been guilty during his term of many of the imperial abuses outlined above, including an irresponsible affection for eminent domain. The Republican Party’s transformation into a cult of personality over the last four years is evidence enough that it cannot save us from kings and queens, and doesn’t really want to.

Though this is, of course, never going to happen, someone should still point out that it would be best for the country, both because it would and because neither of the party nominees is fit to run a village post office,
I'm not sure I'd go that far but I do feel like I've been given a bad choice between an incompetent, aggressive know-it-all who's now controlling all the people in his party who should know better vs. a basically nice and reasonably sensible guy who used to reach across party lines but has now rolled over for a platform and VP choice controlled by the DNC and/or his party's far left. I find it difficult to believe that Harris was really Biden's top choice after her shenanigans against him during the campaign, especially when some of them were dishonest (I'm sure Tulsi Gabbard skewering Harris will be making the conservative rounds during this campaign).

If Biden had gone with either Amy Klobuchar or Pete Buttigieg for his VP, instead of one of the least popular candidates in the presidential elections, I probably would have voted for him. (but hey, he had eliminated anyone not female early on, then later anyone who didn't have the right skin color, greatly narrowing his choices). But Kamala Harris plus this spend-lots-of-money-we-don't-have-on-a-far-left-wishlist campaign plus a campaign that seems to be relying strongly on lies*? Forget it. I didn't listen to 4 years of lies and nonsense from Trump just to vote for something similar from the other side.

*They claim Trump is responsible for the number of deaths from COVID-19 and the economic mess - the latter is especially mind-boggling since the Democrats were the ones who really pushed lockdowns and now refuse to own the results of their own policies. They also suggest Trump is responsible for George Floyd's death, which happened in a city and state where the police policies are controlled by Democratic politicians.

So I expect I'll do the sensible thing in my state, where Trump doesn't stand a chance. and help out a third party candidate (probably Jo Jorgensen - she's the Libertarian party candidate and they seem to have the best chance at breaking the 2-party monopoly) This will send a message to both parties and also give a third party a better shot at campaign money by reaching the necessary percentage levels of support. Probably not the choice I'd make in a swing state (Trump's administration is too much of a shambles, for the reason succinctly put by Rex Tillerson ;) ) and I'm glad I have the luxury of voting my conscience.

And I'll be quite curious how this election turns out. It looks to me like the Democrats are, once again, screwing up by ignoring the concerns of middle-of-the-road voters, especially in swing states (though they might have realized that to some extent by the choice of Harris as more of a law-and-order candidate), but they might still win based on people being sick to death of Trump's antics. The least awful outcome to me, I suppose, would be Biden as the lesser of 2 evils, combined with a divided House and Senate where neither party has a strong advantage and some of the extremists on both sides neutralized. It's sad to say that I now find the prospects of a Democratic party controlled executive, House and Senate as ghastly as one controlled entirely by Republicans. 20-30 years ago, I wouldn't have.

EDIT: Here's one you might not hear about if you only read left-leaning news: ... ate-ballot
State Democrats succeeded in kicking the Green Party off the ballot in Montana this week, with the Montana Supreme Court ruling that they must be dropped....

“The Green Party denounces any effort to harass, intimidate or shame private citizens who signed a ballot access petition for any party or candidate,” National Green Party communications manager Michael O'Neil said in a statement to Fox News. “Our candidates have faced that kind of political bigotry for decades but employing it against regular citizens on this scale marks a new, shameful low.”

The Democrats succeeded in getting some 500 petition signatories to recant their signatures after alleging the petition was backed by Republicans (the party reportedly helped finance the effort), although no law specifies a process for such removal. The withdrawals left the Green Party short of the signatures needed....

"There was a great deal of pressure applied to [petition signers] to get them to withdraw their signatures. Multiple phone calls with strong language, and repeated letters," local Montana Green Party candidate Gary Marbut, who is running for state Senate but is not competing in the U.S. Senate race, told Fox News. (The U.S. Senate candidate for the party is Wendie Fredrickson.)

Marbut and other Greens will now take their case to federal court, and filed Thursday for an emergency injunction... The Montana Secretary of State is separately appealing directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the Greens should be allowed on the ballot.

The parties are fighting over the Green Party's ballot access because the Montana Senate race this November may determine control of the Senate – and politicos think that the Green Party could be a “spoiler” that draws votes away from Democrats...
IMO, if the Republicans helped the Greens for political purposes, yeah it was undoubtedly strategic but so what. The people signing the petition knew exactly what they were signing and did it freely. I'm just sorry some of them were this spineless. As far as I'm concerned, the Democrats' argument that anyone who votes 3d party will help Trump and the GOP will fall on deaf ears after this.

btw, someone said the Democrats did the same thing as the Republicans in 2012, but helped a Libertarian candidate act as a spoiler. ... r-abortion
An Iowa State University professor is coming under fire after she issued a syllabus threatening discipline against students who undertook projects that opposed Black Lives Matter and abortion.

Labeled a "GIANT WARNING," the portion of the syllabus banned "instances of othering," which it defined as "sexism, ableism, homophobia," and a variety of other things. "The same goes for any papers/projects: you cannot choose any topic that takes at its base that one side doesn’t deserve the same basic human rights as you do (ie: no arguments against gay marriage, abortion, Black Lives Matter, etc). I take this seriously," it added....
According to Iowa State's website, the course, English 250, is for "written, oral, visual, and electronic composition." The course is required as part of students' "Communication Proficiency" requirement for graduation.

In a statement to Fox News, the university described the syllabus as "inconsistent" with its commitment to the First Amendment...
Iowa State University rightly put an end to this crap. But it's appalling any professor would think this was acceptable in the first place. Not the "no homophobia, etc" aspect,* obviously (but does that even need to be said? You probably would never even see it in the classroom), but her restrictions on what point of view you are allowed to argue on controversial topics. I certainly don't want her 'cancelled' or persecuted by the mob but I will roundly condemn this sort of thing. And I would bet the current political/ social atmosphere the reason she thought it was OK.

*Though her supposed laundry list of isms and phobias (racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, sorophobia, transphobia, classism, mocking of mental health issues, body shaming, etc. - Fox didn't quote this part, so I assume it came from the original screenshot of her syllabus) contained one I'd have to look up - sorophobia? And "body shaming" has now spread to the point where some are upset if someone says "being overweight is not healthy." or "given the ever-narrowing seats these days, it would be nice if airlines didn't make people sit next to those who are so large that they spill halfway into their neighbor's seat."

I hope the students in her class are given an opportunity to change to a different professor, even though that will probably make a mess with the schedule at this late date. After this, even moderate students may feel uncomfortable in her class. Though I suppose you can always write about puppies and kittens if you have enough of a backbone that you don't want your professor's views dictating your point of view.

Last edited by aninkling on Fri 21 Aug , 2020 10:25 pm, edited 3 times in total.


Society can and does execute its own mandates, and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. ― John Stuart Mill

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Post subject: Re: Escaping the Echo Chamber
Posted: Fri 21 Aug , 2020 2:30 pm
Posts: 2044
Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Lastly, it seems that others, including international scientists, have noticed what's happening in science too and are disturbed. ... o-science/
...The racialization of discourses, a phenomenon that has spread rapidly to other Western countries from the United States, is increasingly metastasizing into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The process is on display at numerous scientific institutions and journals, including the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Medicine. In Science, chemist Holden Thorp declared that “the evidence of systemic racism in science permeates this nation [i.e., the United States].” In an unsigned editorial, Nature editors pledged to end (unspecified) “anti-Black practices in research.” They also declared that they lead “one of the white institutions that is responsible for bias in research and scholarship,” and that “the enterprise of science has been—and remains—complicit in systemic racism, and it must strive harder to correct those injustices and amplify marginalized voices.”

This is the language of religious confession, not scientific analysis. As scientists ourselves, we feel insulted by such blanket self-denunciations—since we are not racists, have never been racists, and have never met colleagues who, to our knowledge, acted in a racist manner.

This obviously does not mean that there are no racists working in scientific fields. But our experience suggests they are not common or prominent in modern professional communities. We also reject the use of the term “systemic racism,” a term injected by critical race theorists into the discourse, which presupposes the idea that racism is built into the structures of our working environments....

The mission of science is to describe the world as accurately as possible, including in regard to racial discrimination and social issues more generally. But the racialization of discourses is detracting from our ability to perform accurate investigations, as it threatens to turn science into a subset of activism...
What's sad is that the international media seems to have bought into the systemic racism stuff being promoted by activists to US news publications.
If the situation is different in the United States, and there truly are scientific sectors in which racists openly exert control (though no evidence has yet been presented to indicate this), then American scientists should correct such situations accordingly. But please do not include the rest of the scientific community through broad, unproven, ideologically motivated accusations.

Not that this surprises me - relatively few news organizations have reporters on the ground in the US (Al-Jazeera is a notable exception, and I think the BBC) and they don't cover much, so the international media often relies on repeating stories from US news organizations, with all their bias and clickbait hype.

So the picture international readers see can be quite distorted. I remember a group of us pleading with an international colleague to please not walk into a dangerous inner city area at night - she was curious about "over there" and thought we were all nuts to be so fearful. It was clear she thought we were simply prejudiced. In her home country, the poor areas were not considered actually dangerous at the time and she could walk wherever she fancied without fear. (btw, I've actually accidentally ended up in dangerous inner city areas, once or twice, at night and it can indeed be scary, regardless of what some idealistic liberal activists try to tell you. I was very fortunate to escape without incident, probably because I acted as if I was much more confident and much less scared than I was, and the street predators eying me (us) weren't entirely sure we were good victim(s) and unarmed before I (we) got out of there ASAP.)

One of the article comments describes my own experiences lately and no doubt everyone else's too:
This stuff has definitely ramped up a lot lately in the US. During the recent riots (strikethrough font*) mostly peaceful protests I was regularly getting woke emailings from various scientific societies, department heads, and university administrators about how we must work to eradicate racism and white supremacy from STEM. It was rather disturbing to see the major US scientific organizations advocating to #shutdownstem. Even my own boss sent out one of these emails about how our department stands in solidarity with BLM, but he’s a department chair so I am thinking it was just expected of him to do so and he was getting it out of the way since I had never seen him express any wokeness prior to that. My hope is that all those emails, at least the ones from actual scientists rather than university bureaucrats, can basically be boiled down to that same thing. Even if that’s the case it’s still unsettling that even the hard scientific community can be pushed around like that and I don’t like to think about where things might eventually be headed. Hopefully countries with less racial tension than the US can push back against this trend so that even if STEM in the US becomes corrupted good science can still flourish elsewhere.
One of the emails I received pretty much told us what the accepted line was on several recent news events (it mirrored exactly what CNN, Washington Post, etc were saying) and apologized deeply for his own white privilege. I was a bit outraged -it's not our department's business to tell us what to think about news events that have nothing to do with the university (or even ones that do) - but then realized this was probably for the benefit of the media and the woke members of the student body, to try to keep the mobs and news media from attacking the university.

*Can't copy the strikethrough font here. I've seen a lot of this lately from people cynical about the media's party line. Like "that was a very nice running kick to the head of an innocent man by the mostly peaceful protesters who dragged him out of his truck and made him sit in the street in Portland." ... imself-in/
I'd say the cynicism is warranted - for instance, the Washington Post reported the gist of that terrible story accurately enough but immediately accepted the rioters claims that he was attacking them with his truck - which was proven to be false by videos of the prior events, where this same group also dragged his wife out of the truck and previously attacked a trans person - then spent half its article talking about other supposed attacks on various groups of protesters by people in vehicles. No doubt this was to influence people into thinking they were at least partly justified in beating him up, though maybe not to that level of viciousness. I'm not sure the Post even mentioned that, on top of it all, the mob stopped first responders from getting to the unconscious, bleeding man to help until they brought in a riot team.
btw, the accepted story at some left-leaning media outlets seems to be that this was a lone attacker, perhaps not even affiliated with the late night protesters/rioters. But it's not the first time a pro-BLM/Antifa mob done something like this in other cities, for instance after setting a building on fire with people in it. Though you have to read a variety of legitimate conservative as well as liberal news sites to know it, these days.

Another commenter, obviously a US scientist, criticized the article's writers for throwing US scientists under the bus by assuming that the views of AAAS, Nature, scientific bodies, etc. are necessarily those of scientists in genera.l I can't say I blame him/her for being a little upset, given this from the article:
We are sorry if our heterodox views serve to disappoint friends and colleagues in the United States and elsewhere. But we retain the belief that, in supposedly pluralistic societies, everyone is entitled to their own opinions. We urge other scientists not to follow the American example, and to resist the campaign to racialize science. While we admire many aspects of American culture, we reject its cultural imperialism—including the new form of ostensibly progressive cultural imperialism that serves to impose America’s own obsessive race tribalism on the rest of the world.
But it's a bit hard to blame the French scientists for assuming we all support the party line. There's little open dissent reaching the public. IMO many US scientists have been cowed into not saying what they really think by implicit threats to their research funding and jobs, not to mention the way practically every funding body and professional organization in the US has jumped on this latest "science is systemically* racist and must be changed" bandwagon.

* "systemic" is one of my pet peeves. At first I assumed it was someone screwing up when they meant to say "systematic racism" and others blindly following. But now I see it more cynically. You can argue against systematic racism by demonstrating that racism isn't actually pervasive. There's essentially no way to argue against "systemic" racism, as defined by certain social sciences academics and activists.

On AAAS/ Science magazine and politics, which the two biologists mention in their article:
This is not the first time AAAS/ Science had had a controversy over a biased political position. They had an exodus of scientists maybe a year or two ago, when they published a news/ analysis piece that many condemned as political and deeply flawed as far the science. It was out of my field, maybe in climate change - I remember looking at it and thinking "that doesn't seem quite right" but not knowing for certain until the fuss erupted. I believe they ended up retracting it. I gave them the benefit of the doubt that time, but I think I've had it too with this pattern of behavior continuing. I suspect they might have a new exodus of outraged scientists with their recent promotion of the idea that science is full of systemic racism.

The last issue I read, the two letters to the editor they chose to publish were people getting upset with those who question the views promoted by AAAS/ Science.

One, labeled "Controlling the coronavirus narrative" was complaining that there isn't enough censorship of people who disagree with the views they espouse - on vaccines, climate change, BLM protests' effects on coronavirus spread, etc. I assume this biologist is very happy with Google, Facebook, YouTube etc. already censoring scientists, physicians, politicians and others (including crackpots, who are entitled to free speech too) who disagree with the favored views right now, or trying to pressure good groups like CIDRAP to retract perfectly valid scientific reviews.

The other, titled "Dismantling systemic racism in science" supported Thorp's editorial and suggested that scientific institutions try to attract and hire minority candidates - as if scientific institutions haven't already been trying to attract (and compete for) the limited number of qualified minority applicants for decades. What rock has this person been living under?

If you want to promote minorities in science, you need to get them much, much earlier, like the ongoing programs that target kids in poor communities and try to get them interested in school in general, and science in particular, then support them along the way in meeting the standards needed to succeed (and not by dumbing things down, either - that helps no one). There's one I read about where the organization also promises to fund college for kids living in poverty who apply themselves and learn and get admitted into college, so they have motivation to work hard at their schooling. Now there's a good program I'd like to see get funding from taxpayers, instead of all these DNC promises to give free college to everyone and forgive everyone's student loans.

This letter also included a lot of things not related to science, from society at large, like racial disparities in socioeconomic status, shoehorning them into their thesis with bullshit like "Racial categories historically developed and endorsed by scientists led to a hierarchy of groups seen as superior or inferior" then went on to talk about things like eugenics, colonialism, slavery and genocide and claim that this view is still influencing everything today. This was the same approach taken in a recent editorial published in Science by a minority woman (professor in sociology, maybe?) that claimed medicine/science is currently based on systemic bias - I read it to see what arguments she had and kept thinking either a) But this has nothing to do with science, or b) Where is your evidence for this? You state your view as if it's completely obvious and accepted by all, but don't support your statement.

But the worst part of the second letter was "All scientists should recognize the achievements of diverse individuals. Recognition includes citing their work, referring them for opportunities, nominating them for awards, and teaching their work in classes."
Absolute crap. I am not going to look up someone's skin color or gender preference before I decide whether or not to cite their paper, etc. If their research can't stand on its own, without a special boost by their minority status, then it should not be promoted. Period. This is dangerous stuff. Promoting someone's "research" in history because it conforms to a preferred narrative is not likely to affect much; pushing someone's weak research in science because of their minority status is quite another thing.

The dangerousness of this view is underlined by the fact that its author works at a drug company, GlaxoSmithKline. I certainly don't want drug companies judging research by its author's "diversity" status.

And yet, out of all the letters they no doubt receive, Science thought these two poorly reasoned ones were the best ones to publish. ... to-public/
State Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver told 8News on Friday that he plans to mandate coronavirus vaccinations for Virginians once one is made available to the public.

Virginia state law gives the Commissioner of Health the authority to mandate immediate immunizations during a public health crisis if a vaccine is available. Health officials say an immunization could be released as early as 2021....
If you work for a corporation or go to school, it's likely they'll be making this health decision for you too.
Massachusetts also mandated flu vaccines for all K-12 and college students this year.Don't ask me what their legal justification is when so few of them will be in class.

It's just another step along a road we've been traveling for a while in the US. But hey, it's all for "the greater good" according to the authoritarians.
And freedom/ autonomy continues to fade, to thunderous applause from the timid, meek and fearful.

btw, vaccine companies in the US are pretty much exempt from lawsuits if their vaccine harms you.
(a) General rule

Except as provided in subsections (b), (c), and (e) State law shall apply to a civil action brought for damages for a vaccine-related injury or death.
(b) Unavoidable adverse side effects; warnings
(1) No vaccine manufacturer shall be liable in a civil action for damages arising from a vaccine-related injury or death associated with the administration of a vaccine after October 1, 1988, if the injury or death resulted from side effects that were unavoidable even though the vaccine was properly prepared and was accompanied by proper directions and warnings.
(2) For purposes of paragraph (1), a vaccine shall be presumed to be accompanied by proper directions and warnings if the vaccine manufacturer shows that it complied in all material respects with all requirements under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act [21 U.S.C. 301 et seq.] and section 262 of this title (including regulations issued under such provisions) applicable to the vaccine and related to vaccine-related injury or death for which the civil action was brought unless the plaintiff shows—
(A) that the manufacturer engaged in the conduct set forth in subparagraph (A) or (B) of section 300aa–23(d)(2) of this title, or
(B) by clear and convincing evidence that the manufacturer failed to exercise due care notwithstanding its compliance with such Act and section (and regulations issued under such provisions).
(c) Direct warnings

No vaccine manufacturer shall be liable in a civil action for damages arising from a vaccine-related injury or death associated with the administration of a vaccine after October 1, 1988, solely due to the manufacturer’s failure to provide direct warnings to the injured party (or the injured party’s legal representative) of the potential dangers resulting from the administration of the vaccine manufactured by the manufacturer.
(d) Construction

The standards of responsibility prescribed by this section are not to be construed as authorizing a person who brought a civil action for damages against a vaccine manufacturer for a vaccine-related injury or death in which damages were denied or which was dismissed with prejudice to bring a new civil action against such manufacturer for such injury or death.
(e) Preemption

No State may establish or enforce a law which prohibits an individual from bringing a civil action against a vaccine manufacturer for damages for a vaccine-related injury or death if such civil action is not barred by this part.
(July 1, 1944, ch. 373, title XXI, § 2122, as added Pub. L. 99–660, title III, § 311(a), Nov. 14, 1986, 100 Stat. 3773; amended Pub. L. 100–203, title IV, § 4302(b)(1), Dec. 22, 1987, 101 Stat. 1330–221.)

A sense of perspective, as some businesses stay closed for months due to COVID-19 and others fail entirely; hospitals prohibit visitors even from the dying (though this policy varies between hospitals, even in outbreak areas); funerals are broken up by the authorities (except, of course, for '"acceptable" large funerals like George Floyd or John Lewis); kids miss their schooling; college campuses make heroic efforts to stop a virus that spreads much like the flu and is less dangerous to that age group; governments mandate masks for healthy people and Biden makes a national mask mandate a key part of his platform; some states do everything in their power to keep visitors from other states out; and the government puts trillions of dollars on the national debt for measures that will mitigate some but not all (and maybe not even much) of the economic fallout...

Plus sad little stuff like watching people huddled in their cars on a hot day, too scared to eat their ice cream with everyone else - including some cheerful elderly folks - in an uncrowded outdoor setting. ... woodstock/
This week, 51 years ago in 1969, over 400,000 young people turned a muddy, manure-filled cow pasture in Bethel, New York into a small nation of love, peace and rock’n’roll. This was, of course, the legendary Woodstock. Two months later, half a million people took over Washington, DC for the Moratorium March – the largest anti-war protest in the history of the USA. But what is always unmentioned is that these watershed moments happened during a global pandemic – the Hong Kong Flu pandemic (or the ‘Mao Flu’ virus, as some Western tabloids dubbed it at the time) which raged from 1968 to 1971.

Everyone remembers Woodstock, the Vietnam War, the civil-rights and anti-war protests, the Stonewall Riots, and, of course, Apollo 11 and the moon landing. But no one remembers Hong Kong Flu, the pandemic that killed 100,000 Americans* – more than the total number of US soldiers killed in the Korean and Vietnam wars combined. Half the deaths were among people younger than 65 – the reverse of the Covid-19 pandemic, where the vast majority of those affected are elderly. Hong Kong Flu also killed around 30,000 in the UK and between one and four million people, globally.

Looking back from our Covid era to that time, the most remarkable thing about the Hong Kong Flu pandemic is that it hardly features in the memories of those who experienced it. In December 1968, the New York Times described the pandemic as ‘one of the worst in the nation’s history’. Yet it’s as if it never happened.

Few would recall that this virulent virus claimed the lives of the CIA’s first director, Allen Dulles, and silver-screen legend, Tallulah Bankhead. Even the most fervent animal-rights activist is unlikely to know that three orcas at SeaWorld in San Diego came down with a bad case of Hong Kong Flu. ...
*Also important to remember that these numbers are out of a population that was much smaller back then.
What this contrast highlights is that the experience of such health threats is always a social phenomenon which is mediated through the public’s cultural imagination.

Back in the Sixties, the precautionary culture that exists in the 21 century had not yet taken hold. ...
Politicians will cater to public fears and do what they demand, while hoping the price to be paid will not become obvious until after they're reelected.

And the level of fear is not entirely rational. ... -pandemic/
Late last month, a new Franklin Templeton-Gallup research project on behavioral response to COVID-19 revealed that . . .

Americans believe that people aged 55 and older account for just over half of total COVID-19 deaths; the actual figure is 92 percent.
Americans believe that people aged 44 and younger account for about 30 percent of total deaths; the actual figure is 2.7 percent.
Americans overestimate the risk of death from COVID-19 for people aged 24 and younger by a factor of 50; and they think the risk for people aged 65 and older is half of what it actually is (40 percent vs 80 percent).

I would agree with the argument that many Americans overestimate the likelihood that COVID-19 will kill them if they catch the coronavirus. They’re probably even overestimating the likelihood that COVID-19 will kill the elderly who catch it. The death rate for those who test positive for the coronavirus over age 80 on Worldometers is 21.9 percent. That’s awful, but it also means that almost eight out of every ten octogenarians who catch the virus will survive....
Though one of the things the author doesn't seem to realize (or doesn't make plain) is that serious persistent effects are most often associated with a serious case of COVID-19. And this sort of thing isn't limited to COVID-19. End up in the hospital with a serious case of influenza or various other diseases and you could see the same.

The person who had a mild case of COVID-19 and recovered doesn't need to sit around worrying about the possibility that some serious side effect will show up later, regardless of the news media's hype.

And the author revealed their ignorance here:
[Pause for the comments section to turn into an all-out food fight over the issue of wearing masks, as if surgeons wear them because they think every day is Halloween.]

Years back, a surgeon chose not to wear a face mask when he performed a surgery shown to the public. Controversy erupted and there was a pretty decent article that explained why his choice was a valid one. I can't find the article (buried by search engines in all the current stuff promoting face masks and calling you an idiot if you don't). But here are a couple of examples of fairly recent scientific reviews on masks in surgery:
Ugeskr Laeger. 2014 Jun 30;176(27):V09130564.
[Dubious effect of surgical masks during surgery].
[Article in Danish]
Carøe T1.
Author information

This article clarifies the use of surgical masks during surgery and the evidence for this. A search performed in PubMed found four studies based on 6.006 patients. The studies described the use of surgical masks in surgery with post-operative infections as endpoint, and the studies had to include a control group. None of the four studies found a difference in the number of post-operative infections whether you used a surgical mask or not. However, the limited numbers of studies make it unsafe to conclude whether or not surgical face masks reduce post-operative infections.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Apr 26;4:CD002929. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD002929.pub3.
Disposable surgical face masks for preventing surgical wound infection in clean surgery.
Vincent M1, Edwards P.
Author information

Surgical face masks were originally developed to contain and filter droplets containing microorganisms expelled from the mouth and nasopharynx of healthcare workers during surgery, thereby providing protection for the patient. However, there are several ways in which surgical face masks could potentially contribute to contamination of the surgical wound, e.g. by incorrect wear or by leaking air from the side of the mask due to poor string tension.

To determine whether the wearing of disposable surgical face masks by the surgical team during clean surgery reduces postoperative surgical wound infection.

In December 2015, for this seventh update, we searched: The Cochrane Wounds Specialised Register; The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials; Ovid MEDLINE; Ovid MEDLINE (In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations); Ovid EMBASE and EBSCO CINAHL. We also searched the bibliographies of all retrieved and relevant publications. There were no restrictions with respect to language, date of publication or study setting.

Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-randomised controlled trials comparing the use of disposable surgical masks with the use of no mask.

Two review authors extracted data independently.

We included three trials, involving a total of 2106 participants. There was no statistically significant difference in infection rates between the masked and unmasked group in any of the trials. We identified no new trials for this latest update.

From the limited results it is unclear whether the wearing of surgical face masks by members of the surgical team has any impact on surgical wound infection rates for patients undergoing clean surgery.
Update of

Disposable surgical face masks for preventing surgical wound infection in clean surgery. [Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014]
And that's for infections with bacteria, which are far bigger than viruses. [NB: Splash protection obviously remains a necessity during a surgery, so I think it unlikely that face masks will become obsolete anytime soon. But if you're at risk of been splashed with bodily fluids or blood while going about your ordinary life, you're doing something wrong. ;)]

But that's par for the course with media articles about viruses. Journalists know less than they think they do, but say it all very confidently.

btw, I'd love to see the following broken down by attitude/ fear of the disease or tested for psychological effects with a placebo. I've seen a few people of this age chronicle their experiences and they seemed scared and worried out of proportion to their real risk and obsessive about every possible symptom.
The CDC says one in five previously healthy adults from age 18 to 34 weren’t back to their usual health after 14 to 21 days.

Last edited by aninkling on Wed 26 Aug , 2020 12:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.


Society can and does execute its own mandates, and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. ― John Stuart Mill

Profile Quote
Post subject: Re: Escaping the Echo Chamber
Posted: Tue 25 Aug , 2020 11:48 am
Posts: 2044
Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
The AP seems to be the most unbiased and complete account of the events in Wisconsin so far:
National Guard called out after police shoot black man
Far better than watching a short video clip and immediately deciding what the truth must be. They provide all the bits and pieces and other media outlets can spin it as they want.

I'm not going to judge this one at all until we know more, given the earlier bar fight where he pointed a gun at an officer and the events as described by the AP. Putting everything together, it won't surprise me if it was a continuation of his domestic violence of a few weeks ago and the police were called because he was taking his kids. I guess we sane people will have to wait and see.

Of course, being the US right now, the first thing a bunch of people decided to do was form a mob, destroy stuff, and try to hurt or kill people.

And another bunch of people are using it all for clicks and to feed their preferred narrative, without even the patience to wait until the full story comes out. And of course the Twitterati are working each other into a frenzy of outrage over something in a distant town that has nothing to do with them.

Life in the U.S. these days. I will be so glad when this damn election is over. I'm pretty sure that, together with power struggles, social media, plus the boredom, idleness, frustration and economic pain from the consequences of the lockdowns, is feeding much of the immediate over-the-top reaction to everything.

Not surprisingly, gun sales to first time buyers are way up too.

Candid interview with a scientist on the UK's government advisory committee on COVID. Nothing he says is surprising. I've said the same things all along and I'm sure there are plenty of others, possibly even some on the US COVID response team. ... is-Johnson
LOCKDOWN will come to be seen as a "monumental mistake on a global scale" and must never happen again, a scientist who advises the Government on infectious diseases says.
... it is a crude measure that takes no accounts of the risk levels to different individuals...
It was always a temporary measure that simply delayed the stage of the epidemic we see now. It was never going to change anything fundamentally, however low we drove down the number of cases, and now we know more about the virus and how to track it we should not be in this position again.

“We absolutely should never return to a position where children cannot play or go to school.

“I believe the harm lockdown is doing to our education, health care access, and broader aspects of our economy and society will turn out to be at least as great as the harm done by Covid-19.”
I don't see tracking as the panacea he does, though, with a virus like this and epidemiological situation where the great majority of the infections are mild and the virus is already widespread in society. Sure, you can watch the virus spread and count numbers, but are you actually going to reduce the ultimate numbers of infected and dead significantly with tracking? I have my doubts. I'm quite sure they knew about tracking and tracing during the 3 most recent flu pandemics and, as far as I know, it wasn't used outside perhaps something like a hospital or company.

As far as I can tell, most of the control measures in past flu pandemics simply encouraged sick people to stay home (and yes, flu viruses can also be transmitted before a person develops symptoms). Though restrictions on large gatherings, especially those that attract people from all over, also seem sensible for a while until things start to burn out. And, of course, encouraging people to limit their interactions and work from home if possible, which was not even an option in the 50s and 60s. Basically, Sweden got it right.

They also knew about masks before now. :) The CDC tried recommending masks in households caring for a sick person in 2009 (H1N1 "swine" flu) but dropped that after a while because they found it made no difference. Pretty sure it was surgical rather than makeshift cloth ones, though people were advised to use whatever they could find if they had to visit a doctor and were actually sick, i.e. coughing and sneezing (masks were not recommended for anyone without signs of a respiratory disease).

“I suspect right now more people are being harmed by the collateral effects of lockdown than by Covid-19....

He said: “At the time I agreed with lockdown as a short term emergency response because we couldn’t think of anything better to do, but it was always clear that the moment we started to relax enough measures we were likely to see infection rates rise again either nationally or locally.
“But we haven’t made much progress in finding a viable alternative to lockdown. My concern is that far too many people involved in managing this pandemic have in mind that it will somehow burn itself out. I don’t expect it to.

“I would not dignify waiting for a vaccine with the term ‘strategy’. That’s a hope not a strategy. But we do need to get on with providing an alternative to lockdown.”
We probably haven't made much progress in a viable alternative to lockdown because there may not be one, other than to protect the elderly and vulnerable as much as possible until the virus stops spreading quite so much and their risk of infection is lower. People these days have this idea that we can control everything and that's not necessarily true.

I don't really expect a game-changing treatment either, to be honest. Drugs that can help to some extent and probably improve survival, sure maybe. Possibly refinements in treatment that can help, yes. (In fact, I wonder if people will now be looking at whether minimizing ventilator use with other respiratory illnesses might be helpful, and if more people might prescribe steroids to minimize inflammation in severe illnesses - which has been controversial because it simultaneously risks giving a boost to the microorganism.) But a take-this-and-you'll-be-fine antiviral drug? I doubt it. Antibiotics for bacterial infections interfere with steps that are unique to bacteria. The trouble with viruses is that they use our own cells' mechanisms to replicate themselves, so it's much harder to find ways of stopping them without damaging us, too.
He said a better understanding of who was actually at risk from the virus would allow better solutions to be presented. Any restrictions imposed should be “considered measures” and should protect those who needed it while letting everyone live more freely.

As an example he explained: “Closing schools was not an epidemiologically sensible thing to do.
I also disagree with the bolded part here. I don't think governments should be imposing restrictions on specific groups to protect them. Advising them, yes. Playing parent to them, no. Even if you're in your 70s, 80s or 90s and at high risk from this virus, you should still be allowed to make your own choices. Anything else is just a dictatorship, as we're seeing in Melbourne (where, incidentally, he wants to extent the declaration of emergency powers for another year).

btw, who's at risk was indicated/ strongly suspected well before the lockdowns and overall reinforced by the few instances where detailed numbers are published. One thing the Australian papers do decently is tell you the ages of the people who have died. From what I've seen, inevitably it's been mostly people in their 70s or older, with some in their 60s, the occasional person in their 50s, and uncommonly someone younger. The obituaries in our local paper show the same pattern - they don't list the cause of death of course, but there's been an obvious uptick in deaths (now declining) with that same distribution. But they already knew that early on in Italy, on cruise ships and military vessels, in China.... Though I'm sure the politicians and government advisors would like us all to forget that.

To me, the lockdowns are strongly reminiscent of the stop movement measures the authorities use in controlling livestock disease outbreaks. The trouble is that stopping animal movements alone isn't enough to eradicate or control the disease - you have to follow it up by culling all the infected and exposed animals and/or vaccinating, or possibly treating the infected animals if treatment is possible. Otherwise, it's just a pointless pause in commerce. And though tracking and tracing is an important part of some types of outbreaks, it's not generally used for common, widespread, easily transmitted infectious diseases even with animals, which don't move about independently.

And in amateur "tracking" exercises, there's been an awful lot of nonsense in the media about "Herman Cain got infected at the Trump rally" or so-and-so got infected at a wedding or I-blame-my-father's-death-on-someone-not-wearing-a-mask stories (the latter has an obvious propaganda goal, of course). It's very hard to be sure where anyone got infected unless the person only went to that one place and nowhere else and was never in household contact with anyone else who moved about. Cain, for one, was traveling all over before he attended the Trump rally. Not that I think this was a bright thing for him to do at his age and with cancer in his history but, hey, he chose to do what he wanted and take his risks. Fine by me. Though I have yet to figure out why states are even allowing large political rallies and protests yet, no matter what level their own infections. ... -19-cases/
Three weeks after newly identified COVID-19 cases began falling in the United States, The New York Times is acknowledging the downward trend, which it attributes to "effective restrictions." That explanation fits neatly with the paper's reflexive enthusiasm for lockdowns, but it does not fit the data very well.

Consider Arizona, where the seven-day average of daily new cases... rose more than tenfold between Memorial Day and July 7.... Gov. Doug Ducey ordered gyms, bars, movie theaters, and water parks to close on July 23, while indoor dining in restaurants... But the downward trend in new cases, which had fallen by 82 percent from the July 7 peak as of yesterday, began well before the new restrictions could have had a measurable impact...

Newly confirmed cases are also falling in Georgia, which did not respond to this summer's spike with new business restrictions....

In Texas, ... Gov. Greg Abbott closed bars and reduced the cap on indoor dining from 75 percent to 50 percent of capacity on June 26. Yet cases continued rising for nearly three weeks... The story is similar in Florida...

California Gov. Gavin Newsom closed bars, zoos, and museums on July 13, when he also banned indoor dining in restaurants. The seven-day average of daily new cases peaked 12 days later, when it was nearly five times the number on May 25, then fell for two weeks before rising again. The decline resumed in mid-August, and as of yesterday the average was down 42 percent from the July 25 peak. That pattern likewise does not easily fit the hypothesis that new legal restrictions account for most or all of the decline...

Newsom mandated masks in California on June 18, more than a month before new cases peaked in that state, while Abbott followed suit in Texas on July 2, nearly two weeks before that state's peak. Neither Arizona, Florida, nor Georgia has a statewide mask requirement, although some local governments in those states have imposed their own mandates....
Not a surprise. ... lionaires/
The lockdown has been a bonanza for billionaires

While ordinary people have been plunged into economic turmoil, the world’s richest are cleaning up.
Not everyone is having a bad lockdown. Yes, economies around the world have contracted at rates not seen since the Great Depression, or beyond. Yes, millions of ordinary people are being hit hard by pay freezes, pay cuts and job losses, while facing a growing tsunami of debt. But billionaires, the richest of the super-rich, have done rather well.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Microsoft founder Bill Gates has increased his fortune by $8 billion to $122 billion this year to date. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is now worth around $102 billion, earning an extra $23 billion since the start of the year. While we were all trapped at home, Amazon supremo Jeff Bezos – the world’s richest man – increased his fortune by a whopping $76 billion to $189 billion. Bezos is accumulating wealth so quickly that by the time you read this article that figure is likely out of date...
So are the companies that have only internet "shops," accelerating the decline of brick-and-mortar companies and shops. (Some with both internet and real world store commitments have suffered or closed because they have to keep paying rent, insurance and so forth) I imagine internet entertainment providers like Netflix are also doing nicely.
But it’s not that simple. The wealthy have done well across the board. Swiss bank UBS found that the investment portfolios of 77 per cent of the world’s richest families – who had average fortunes of $1.6 billion – performed ‘in line with, or above, targets during one of the most volatile moments in the history of financial markets’...

One of the main reasons for this is the unprecedented interventions by governments and central banks. The Federal Reserve has pledged an astonishing $3 trillion in asset purchases, including the purchasing of junk bonds, to bolster the corporate bond market. ...
This might be necessary to prevent everything from collapsing but it's still worth noticing. There are certainly people who have little to lose if lockdowns and other movement restrictions continue.

EDIT: More fear-mongering. ... en-1527587
Alas for the news, they were unable to say that any of them have died. They didn't even mention how many of them have symptoms. Judging by the fact that at least some, probably many, were found during routine testing and contact tracing, it was probably a minority and mostly with mild symptoms. I wish they'd distinguish actual cases and asymptomatic infections but that's not likely to happen with the way the media is hyping everything in this epidemic.

I keep wondering how some are expecting these kids to develop any immunity to the virus if they're never exposed. Hiding under the bed in hopes of a vaccine, while accumulating harms from the loss of a year of school (counting since last spring, which was a dead loss for many) and forcing parents to either put them into daycare (which somehow, mysteriously, has managed to stay open for the kids of essential workers all along), work from home if they can while simultaneously supervising their kids' schooling all day, or quit their jobs? Meanwhile, US teachers unions and their media allies are doing their utmost to prevent parents from putting their kids in private schools, form learning pods or do anything other than enroll them in the online "learning" from the public school system. There are even places where surveys showed parents overwhelmingly wanted the schools to reopen, the teachers unions did not... and guess who the administrators listened to?

Stuff like this can also be used to mislead:
The report also shows an increase in the number of children hospitalized with COVID-19. According to the state's department of health, there were 436 hospitalizations of children on August 9, compared with 602 in the most recent report, marking an increase of 166 hospitalizations.
Most places, they test you for the coronavirus if you are hospitalized for anything, so they can isolate positive people and not have the virus spreading from patients to their roommates and so forth. So hospitalized "with" does not necessarily mean hospitalized "from." And even if it's "from," small children can easily get dehydrated when they get a respiratory infection, especially when there are some GI signs along with it. Some end up in the hospital for a short time to get rehydrated. Doesn't necessarily mean they're critically ill from the virus itself. In fact, it's not even clear whether any of the hospitalized children were in the same group that went to school and tested positive. The writer just threw both into one article so we'd think they are.

But why mention any of this stuff, when you can simply scare the hell out of parents and get them to read your article, leaving them hungry for more information about this virus that's a terrible threat to their children? I imagine this will not end until enough people have their own children test positive and the media can no longer pull the wool over people's eyes.

And incidentally help the Democrats by suggesting Republican-led states are doing a lousy job. Florida is actually doing quite well considering the age of their residents, much better than New York did. And yet the media praise Cuomo, who screwed up big time with nursing homes and allowing protests during a pandemic, but attack Florida's governor. The politics in this pandemic disgust me.

Totally predictable, when Portland's mayor has been on the side of the protesters since day 1 and undercut any form of law enforcement. ... -portland/
C. and I arrive at Justice Center in downtown Portland on Saturday a little after 11 a.m. Unlike the night demonstrations, in which protesters pelt police headquarters with fireworks and flaming trash, the few dozen people this morning are waving American flags and shouting, "Blue lives matter!"

Which is not popular with the crew across the street, who shout back "ALL COPS ARE BASTARDS!" and that all cops must die....

So good morning from Day 87 of the protests in Portland, Oregon. This one is a little different: It's organized by Back the Blue, a group showing its support for police, support that includes a caravan of Trump-supporting motorcyclists who roar up and form a barrier between the opposing sides.

The call-and-response continues....

"God, what a mess," says what looks to be a homeless dude, just before he wings a full water bottle at the flag-wavers....

.... Last year's meet between the Proud Boys and antifa resulted in just about zero face time, in part because Portland police coordinated with various factions to keep the groups apart.

Things are different this year. Though the action is taking place directly in front of police headquarters, there is not, for the length of today's confrontation, one officer in evidence. Instead, there's a message through a bullhorn several times an hour, "This is the Portland Police Bureau. Our priority is the preservation of life and the protection of everyone's First Amendment [right] to speech… We recognize there are groups with different views gathered here today…"

The message's coda, to "Stop participating in criminal activity," does nothing to stop the anti-cop side from throwing eggs, throwing rocks, and shooting fireworks across the street. They are primed to fight, and they've been practicing every night since late May. The movement has grown from grief and outrage over the killing of George Floyd to demands for the abolition of all police and all forms of what it considers state-sponsored oppression.

The oppressors now appear to include anyone inside their homes at night.... For two months the protests—which during that time were mainly protests, with people of all stripes and ages marching in relative peace for the cause of Black Lives Matter—were in the main held at the courthouse blocks where we are today. But the dynamic has now changed. Each night, usually at 8 p.m., the black bloc—the by-any-means-necessary wing of the movement, named for their all-black clothes—meet at a park somewhere in the city and march to the closest institution they deem problematic (police stations, social services buildings), which are graffitied, set on fire, pelted with trash and sometimes feces. Last week they added a new twist, marching through residential streets late at night and shining lights into people's homes, demanding they wake up, that they get "out of the house and into the streets!" These nightly campaigns take place citywide; residents have no idea if or when it will come down their block, which does not make for a peaceful night's sleep....

... Proud Boys and black bloc screaming in each other's faces, golf balls and eggs being launched, pepper spray and smoke bombs making everyone cough, and the kid who promised to kick my ass whacking the sidewalk with a thick six-foot pole.



"This is the Portland Police Bureau….We recognize there are groups with different views gathered here today…"

..."And it's not going to stop until the mayor and the governor let us do our jobs," a Portland police officer later tells me. Which neither have been inclined to do, framing the protests as peaceful when they visibly and exponentially are not....

The violence right now is not being doled out by the absent police, nor by the Proud Boys, who a little after 2 p.m. have started to march south. The black bloc contingent, which grew considerably as the afternoon wore on, follows close behind. Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" plays as the Proud Boys are pursued through the empty streets of downtown. A dozen young people in black run up the ramps of the Unitus Plaza building, looking like cat burglars, looking to cut off the Proud Boys, to continue the fight. What else are they going to do in a COVID-closed city on a Saturday night?...
Interestingly, this reporter started off mostly sympathetic even to the nighttime protesters/ rioters, though he fairly chronicled things like the rioters demanding that no one film them and stealing his phone so he couldn't (a young skateboarder went after the thief and brought it back). Even now, he fails to mention that the daytime protests were generally followed by night-time violence and mindless destruction for months. But by the end of this piece, he sounds angry and fed up with the black bloc's hatred and demands. Incidentally, the black bloc is the group much of the media was defending when some of them were getting picked up by federal agents after their nightly activities. I didn't believe their "I'm totally innocent and was just coming home after a peaceful protest" stories back then either. This is a group that paints 'Press' on themselves for protection while throwing stuff, then puts out information that the police attacked the press.

I suppose Portland's mayor should consider himself lucky the motorcyclists stood between the two sides or it could have been worse. Maybe he's waiting until an innocent child gets shot, which seems to be what it took to get Atlanta's mayor to shut down a group of "protesters" holding a neighborhood's streets hostage? I thought them damn near killing one man the other night would do it but apparently not.

EDIT: More mostly peaceful protests last night in Portland : ... death.html
Portland protesters gathered Tuesday for the 90th consecutive day — three months after the death of George Floyd.

Demonstrators assembled downtown at Shemanski Park, at the north end of the South Park Blocks. After 9 p.m., the group of a couple hundred people marched to City Hall, where they chanted slogans and some spoke to the crowd.

Within about 15 minutes of arriving, some in the crowd had graffitied the rotunda, smashed a door switch and broken at least three glass doors. Police said several demonstrators entered City Hall and that security features, including a surveillance camera, were smashed....

For the next hour, demonstrators marched through streets in the area, gathering back at City Hall. Some in the crowd broke windows at City Hall, and police said a man ignited an aerosol can while spraying it toward the building.

Police declared the event a riot, citing “the extreme life safety concerns” of security guards working inside City Hall. ...

The officers were hit by items including eggs and bottles, according to police, and someone shined a powerful laser in an officer’s eyes three times. Protesters also shattered a bus stop shelter...

Police ultimately arrested 23 adults and detained two youths....
Who will, I assume, be promptly released and not charged by Portland officials, given their earlier statements. It's got to be depressing to be a police officer these days in some places.

More destruction, deaths and injuries elsewhere too, of course, especially in Kenosha Wisconsin, where Blake's ambulance-chaser lawyer earlier did a bunch of race-baiting, riot-promoting stuff and his family stirred things up by claiming there will never be justice as long as the incident is judged by white people. Because nothing says justice like burning down a car dealership or two. And, hey, what hard-hit businesses and cities really need right now is billions of dollars damage from rioters, to add to the economic destruction from the pandemic. If you don't have a job any more, why should anyone else have a job or business either, huh?

Or screaming at diners at a DC restaurant and trying to force them to do the BLM salute. ... te-people/
Following yet another horrific and unjust police shooting of a black man*—this time the victim is 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin—protesters have again taken to the streets.

In D.C., these protests took the form of bands of Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists roaming the streets and harassing random white people seated outdoors at restaurants. Videos of several of the encounters appeared all over social media on Tuesday. These are short clips, and it's not possible to say for certain what happened immediately before and after the recordings. Context often matters in viral videos.

But by reviewing all the videos, and eyewitness testimony, it's possible to arrive at a general understanding of what was going on, and it's not good. Chanting "silence is violence," the protesters demanded that people they encountered in the street, as well as the patrons of various restaurants, raise their hands to indicate solidarity with the goals of BLM. Many complied, but some did not. One white woman who declined to raise her hand became surrounded by protesters, most of whom were also white. These protesters hovered over her and even got in her face, as evidenced by the video...
Clearly these people would have loved being a Nazi. I guess those types will be with us always.

*Bollocks. I suppose Reason has to say it or they'll be targeted for destruction by BLM. But I'm sick of this. If you show up at a place where a restraining order has been placed by the woman you attacked, fight with the police who try to arrest you, and get up and reach into your car - not to mention you had to be taken out by a police dog during a previous incident where you tried to shoot the police (and probably the other bar patron in the fight) - you're not an innocent nice guy unjustly targeted by the police. I suppose the media would have ignored it if he managed to get a gun from the car and shoot the police instead, but if he had taken off on a high speed chase with his kids inside and crashed, this family and the media would have been all over the police for letting him get away.

Plus all the internet experts who think real life is like the movies, where you can wait until someone actually turns around with a gun from the car and shoots, before shooting him. Or BLM, internet warriors, and the Twitterati cheering on people who do not obey or cooperate with the police. That's incredibly stupid and will just lead to more incidents. You can have your say in court later if you think something is unjust. I'm sure there are lawyers just salivating to take on these cases pro bono right now.

I'm not opposed to some reforms, like specially trained police units to deal with mentally ill people under the priority of getting them help instead of law enforcement (sending psychologists or social workers alone to an uncontrolled situation seems suicidal) or changes that prevent police unions from shielding those who really should not be policing. But this has gone way too far. And all the defunding police stuff is promoting anarchy. This will result in frontier justice by people defending themselves when the police have been neutered.

And I can't really blame them. A couple of months ago, there was one town in New York where the rioters showed up to trash downtown businesses, but the residents had been learned of the plans from some of their kids on the internet and showed up themselves with makeshift weapons like crowbars. After the groups stared at each other for a while under the eyes of the police, the rioters slunk off. Had it just been the rioters and the police, it might well have ended differently. This event was covered locally but, naturally, not picked up by the national media.

btw, this is how Maryland governor handled Baltimore's mayor during the Freddie Gray protests that turned violent: ... -response/
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday that Baltimore city officials were more concerned about political fallout than responding to the destructive riots and protests that erupted in the city last spring...

“I think there was a lot of political stuff going on at the city level. They were talking to the White House, they were talking to the (Democratic National Committee), they were getting political advice about how to handle the situation. I couldn’t care less about any of that,” he said.

Since then, Hogan said that Rawlings-Blake has done nothing but criticize the governor for his actions: sending in 2,000 National Guard troops to help restore order. The state also provided businesses damaged by the looting and vandalism with grants or loans to help them recover and reopen....

“I called her and said we needed to move now. And she said ‘I need more time’,” Hogan recalled. “I said there is no more time. She said ‘Can I have 15 minutes?’ I said ‘Okay, we can give you 15 more minutes and then we are going to act’.”

The mayor later agreed to seek the state’s assistance, but she told Hogan that the governor “was holding a gun to her head,” he said....
The mayor decided not to seek reelection. Hogan got reelected in a mostly Democratic state.


Society can and does execute its own mandates, and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. ― John Stuart Mill

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Post subject: Re: Escaping the Echo Chamber
Posted: Thu 27 Aug , 2020 1:41 am
Posts: 2044
Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Some interesting ideas to me, and to others perhaps:
The Lockdown Lobotomy
Maybe there is a beast… Maybe it’s only us,” pondered Simon, in William Golding’s classic Lord of the Flies.

In the book, a group of juveniles are stranded on a tropical island. Without the constraints of grown-up civilisation, primitive terrors break free from the subconscious and drive the boys hysterical. “The sleep of reason produces monsters”, as Goya wrote. ...

It doesn’t end well.....

Whether you believe that the government’s measures worked or not is beside the point: ultimately, they will have caused far more damage than the virus ever could. The cure is worse than the disease

A report by Her Majesty’s Government predicted that 200,000 people would die from delayed healthcare and economic recession caused by the response to COVID-19. Globally, the UN has estimated that 10,000 children every month are dying from hunger due to coronavirus measures; Oxfam has warned that this could kill 12,000 people per day by 2021. Looking at current data, CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield recently explained, “We’re seeing, sadly, far greater suicides now than we are deaths from COVID. We’re seeing far greater deaths from drug overdose…”

Like Chicken Licken, irrationally fearing that the sky is falling down, we are seeking refuge in a fox’s den....
The sad reality is that the state’s response to COVID-19 is having a disastrous effect on mental health – the even sadder reality is that there is no way this could have come as a surprise.

Research stretching back decades has indicated the damaging effects of isolation and confinement. For instance, research has even shown that social isolation among laboratory animals has induced depression and aggression (Bourke & Neigh, 2011; Martin & Brown, 2010; Mathews et al., 2008; Parmigiani et al., 1999)....

Rather than quarantining specific individuals, the entire (almost global) population has been subject to a programme of so-called social distancing, which reaches far beyond staying at home....

All of this suggests a nasty, intolerant, insular culture developing – which comes as no surprise to psychologists. The public’s recent obsession with contagion has activated what is known as the behavioural immune system, where disgust produces socially conservative responses....

In the real world, coronavirus has driven ‘cancel culture’ into overdrive. ... The bizarre contrast between, say, how walking in the park was shamed while Black Lives Matter congregations were celebrated suggests there are no bases in standards or logic: this is an irrational, mindless cult, and it is unlikely to end well...
In my area, there was a sense of relief and camaraderie when lockdowns lifted - whew, we are allowed to live again - but, since the mask mandates, everyone seems angrier. We've all been essentially cut off from other people, told to fear our fellow humans, not allowed normal human contact in the real world, and, on top of it all, facing a sea of unfriendly, expressionless masks.... and, as far as anyone knows, this could drag on for many months or even a year or more. The few oases where we are allowed to see other maskless people (or where practically everyone defies the authorities because a mask makes no sense except to an idiot bureaucrat) always come as a welcome relief and have a cheering effect on me, at least. And you must always be careful because you never know who might be an informant who likes to snitch to the authorities about rule breakers and is encouraged to do so. Or when a police drone might pop up to enforce the 6-foot rule on a trail or prevent you from using a public park or playground.

And meanwhile, no one knows what new demands the authorities may place on us at any time and complicate our lives. And this is inevitably framed as "you guys didn't obey us well enough so now we need to crack down more." Like an angry parent to children, not adults to other adults with free will. The beatings will continue until morale improves...

It's all pretty nuts. Instead of a set of reasonable, sustainable infection control guidelines from the start, or what sometimes happens, excessive guidelines "out of an abundance of caution" that are later relaxed, it's like a contagion of unpredictable petty rules proliferating from country to country, from nonsensical border closures everywhere, even attempts to close state borders (yeah, like that'll make a big difference when the virus is already in all countries and states) to lockdowns (papers please, if you're out and about, to prove you're an "essential" worker for the state's needs and not merely trying to make a living) to mask indoors to masks outdoors too in the hundred-degree heat to wear one indoors in your own home in some cases, oh and make sure you get your 5-year-old to mask up properly too, and obey all the rules and not play or contact anyone. And smoking bans outdoors just in case that spreads the virus (Spain) to curfews (what the hell? Since when do viruses spread more after dark?) or only one person allowed out of the house at any time (again, why???), and let's close all the hiking trails and parks because you can't be too careful, and god knows what next. Businesses can open, but wait we're going to force you to close down again because recognized infections are increasing both as the virus spreads, as it was always going to, and as we test all and sundry, whether or not they have any symptoms. And surprise surprise, we're shutting down schools and colleges again because the rules for staying open are so difficult to meet, even though the kids are very likely to be perfectly all right and even the models suggest virus spreading in schools is unlikely to contribute much to the deaths in the population at large and is outweighed by the harms of closing. And don't you dare have a barbecue, you scofflaw, oh but never mind the BLM protesters, they're perfectly OK and justified. Oh, and be constantly prepared to be quarantined at home for 2 weeks or more at an instant's notice, so make sure you stay stocked up on everything from vegetables to pet food to toilet paper to emergency repair supplies. I swear, I felt more free in daily life under the Soviets. Throughout this pandemic, friends and I have been sharing some of the dumber rules unjustified by any real public health basis in our respective areas, but the humor in the situation is starting to fade fast and the rebelliousness is growing.

Meanwhile our esteemed leaders tell us the police are a corrupt institution and should be defunded. Unless, of course, they are enforcing an arbitrary 6-foot rule on a beach or in a park. Or collecting hundred to thousand dollar fines for the city and state from people not wearing their masks or not wearing their masks correctly ($100 fines from otherwise law-abiding citizens, sometimes newly unemployed, is bad enough. But see Melbourne if you want jaw dropping fines for simply being out of your house without permission and without a mask). Tackle them to the ground and haul them off to jail if they're defiant. You have plenty of space since you released a bunch of convicted criminals so they don't get the virus. And if that doesn't work, threaten to cut off the electricity to homes where the breakers of health rules, or just second homers, live. Don't worry about the homeless though, it's OK to let the virus spread there. Better be careful about enforcing rules in certain neighborhoods too in case there are riots.

All this indefinite New Normal for a virus that is milder than a hundred diseases I could name. Is it any wonder depression is rife, drug and alcohol abuse are up (shhh.. the authorities' "solution" is likely to be prohibition of drinking for everyone) and suicides and antisocial behavior are up?

Don't worry, though, the state is on the job to make us better. Tennessee just had to axe a plan to check up on every single parent in the state to make sure they're not abusing their children during the pandemic. Finally for something the outcry was too great and authorities had to back down.

And we did this all to ourselves, including throwing our fellow humans into financial misery and debt and sending some of our institutions and states to the brink of bankruptcy or beyond, out of fear they might increase our risk of catching a virus. Instead of the minority of the population at high risk protecting themselves, and setting up services to help them do so, as some suggested all along.

They didn't do all this in 1918, in a world where many were debilitated in health from the effects of the war, when antibiotics were unavailable for secondary infections, and when medicine in general was relatively primitive and many of those now saved in hospitals would have inevitably died. And none of it in flu pandemics in 1957 and 1968 that also killed many in high risk groups.

And now WHO's bureaucrats tell us that, if we're all good boys and girls and obey the rules, the pandemic phase of this virus could all be over in a couple of years (the virus may well then shift to an endemic pattern, like many other diseases we already live with, with or without vaccines). Which is a pretty safe bet, because, based on other viruses as well as the epidemic curves in Sweden and elsewhere, that's likely to be mostly true even if we do nothing at all. ... -of-death/
Life has become the avoidance of death
I must confess that gratitude was not always forthcoming whilst jostling for service at a crowded pre-Covid bar....

...While pubs on one level are just a convivial way to dress up our social hopes, the pandemic state of them illustrates a wider truth. For life, the way we live it now, means that the avoidance of death is more important than what we do with what we’ve got.

When Covid-19 emerged, many millions of drifting souls, finally forced to confront their own mortality, looked to their governing elite for direction, and unsurprisingly found neither courage nor perspective, just naked fear.

Politicians quickly established that success would not be measured by the moral integrity, sustainability, or wider consequences of their decisions, nor even on nuanced comparisons between affected nations, but solely on the headline number of direct deaths from Covid, screeched repeatedly by ratings-obsessed ‘journalists’.

As such, they eagerly, noisily, affected to cede control to ‘experts’, tasked not with a holistic consideration of risk and reward, but pursuit of a tunnel vision crusade to defeat a highly communicable disease by any means necessary.... ... rge-floyd/
When I first saw the mural of George Floyd with large angel wings, I assumed that it was a satire on his sanctification – effective, perhaps, but not in the best of taste. Shortly afterwards, however, I realised that the mural was in earnest: the picture of the mural in the newspaper included a man genuflecting before it and the caption said that he was making a ‘pilgrimage’. Apparently, St Peter can no longer cope alone at the Pearly Gates: he need bouncers too, Heaven having become something like a nightclub.

George Floyd was not a saint; in fact, he was a bad man, and being killed by a brutal policeman does not change a man’s life from bad to good. He was a man of many convictions – criminal convictions, that is, not political ones – and at least one of his crimes was of deep-dyed malignity....
None of this exculpates the policeman, Derek Chauvin, and no decent person would suggest that it did. But the ludicrous sanctification of George Floyd naturally conduces to an examination of his character, and is moreover a sign of our modern tendency to make martyrs or saints of victims. But victims do not have to be martyrs or saints in order to be victims, and George Floyd certainly did not die for any cause.

As is so often the case, sentimentality is but a short step away from brutality. The sanctification of George Floyd implies that the character of a victim of murder is in some way a measure of the seriousness of the murder, when what is wrong with murder is that it is murder. ...
Another example of the relation between sentimentality and brutality has been the use of very young children in demonstrations. There are videos of two girls, nine and seven, one making a speech at a demonstration and the other marching in a demonstration, her pretty little face contorted with hatred, chanting a horrible slogan, ‘No justice, no peace’ (a justification in advance of further looting, or worse), and making aggressive gestures.

Clearly they had been put up to all this by their parents. If they had been born in Nazi Germany, they would have rushed up to the Fuhrer to present him with flowers. ...

btw, someone who seems to know police officers suggested that the kids in the car may have been a significant part of why the police were less forceful with Jacob Blake at the start of the incident. Apparently, if possible they try to minimize the trauma to the kids of seeing what happens to their parent. Unfortunately, Blake then fought off the officers and a taser hit, ignored commands to stop, had a knife (he now admits having a knife, so that puts to rest the question of what was the knife-like object in his hand), and went for the car where the kids were and, for all the police knew, his gun. And for this the dumb mob burns and destroys businesses of innocent people in Kenosha and Madison in Wisconsin and other states. After knocking out one police officer with a brick to the head in their first attack.

I can understand his girlfriend/wife being upset - I'm sure she only wanted him kept away from her and not nearly killed - and Blake's family will of course take his side (hey, they raised him and I'm sure they love him despite all his flaws) but this instant blind judgement from people at large, so easily worked up by rabble rousers, is getting very, very old. I know mobs have the IQ of the lowest person in it and are dangerous. But can people stop and think for 2 seconds before joining that damn mob, for once?

btw, if I were the girlfriend, I'd be a little scared right now. Blake was apparently an abuser and violent at times. Will he blame her for the cops being called and the consequences to him? So I don't really blame her for anything she says in public or to the media.

FYI, on the previous incident (not the current outstanding warrant and restraining order): ... un-at-bar/
...According to the criminal complaint, Blake and two women were at the Brass Monkey tavern, 1436 Junction Avenue, Saturday when Blake got into an argument with another patron and pulled a black handgun. Blake pointed the gun at the other man, and the magazine fell to the floor. The bartender told Blake to leave, and he did but then pointed the gun through the window at patrons inside the bar before walking south on Junction Avenue....

... officers were advised that a silver SUV was traveling north on Junction with a male subject driving who matched the description of Blake, and they initiated a traffic stop in the 1200 block of Racine Avenue.

Believing the driver was armed, police conducted a high risk traffic stop, the complaint reads, and ordered Blake to put his hands out the window of the vehicle. Instead, Blake exited the SUV and started walking toward officers and ignored commands to get down on the ground. Officers forced Blake to the ground and ordered him to put his hands behind his back. When Blake refused to comply, K9 Dozer was deployed to force the defendant into compliance....
Sounds familiar.... I guess Blake didn't learn anything the first time. Sounds like he didn't actually point the gun at police though, unlike earlier reports, just at the guy in the bar and the other patrons.

And, as far as the recent incident, supposedly it's standard procedure to shoot several times if you're going to shoot at all. I assume that's because the first shot might not stop the suspect from shooting you back.

Lowlifes taking advantage of another opportunity: ... s-own-life
Several stores in downtown Minneapolis were looted after the police department released a video of a homicide suspect apparently taking his own life to quell suspicion that an officer was involved.

The man in the video was suspected of being involved in a fatal shooting on a parking ramp earlier in the day. Officers who responded to the shooting found the deceased victim, but two suspects, a man and a woman, had fled the area. When police finally spotted the man, he dipped into a doorway and apparently shot himself near a group of bystanders.

The man, who is black, has not been identified. The woman who was involved in the shooting was later detained by officers. One of the officers who spotted the man before he dipped into the doorway had drawn his weapon, prompting rumors that the officer had fired a weapon at the man. Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said the department released the video to end those rumors...

...According to a report from the Star Tribune, at least one activist tried to calm the group by shouting, "We have the video. The man killed himself.”....
The presence of the activist suggests to me that, once again, they responded to "black man dies" without thinking, even if they tried to damp things down later.

And it was apparently bad enough for Minneapolis to call out the National Guard this time and put on a curfew, though the paper says little about what actually happened.

I'm not sure whether the "why did you shoot him?" from a bystander was honest confusion about what happened or deliberate incitement. Police seem to face a lot of noncooperation and abuse in some neighborhoods. It doesn't just go one way, and more than one just police culture needs to change IMO.

Tons of sympathy from one and all for the adult Jacob Blake and his family; not an ounce of understanding from left-leaning politicians for the idiot self-important 17-year-old who thought he was helping defend businesses from rioters, used terrible judgement, wandered off from the adults and got into a world of trouble (it's still unclear how the first incident happened but the second and third shootings seem to be in self-defense against the mob chasing and attacking him), and now will rightly face felony charges after he shot and killed. No matter what the verdict, that kid will have to live with having killed people at close range and seen the blood and gore. Unless he's a monster, that will leave an impact. ... -evidence/
Then again, Ms. Pressley was calling for insurrection earlier, so at least she's consistent. But she's not the only one stirring things up. Really, Trump is not the only moron politician around with extreme rhetoric. And that includes Nancy Pelosi lately. Strikes me that the incivility and anger is in a lot of places among people whose jobs as leaders suggest they should be more restrained.

Meanwhile Biden and Harris are trying to please both BLM/ the far left and the people fed up with all the destruction and violence, but pleasing neither. Kamala Harris saying “The reality is the life of a black person in America has never been treated as fully human.” while simultaneously trying to get people to stop rioting. Yeah, like hyperbolic nonsense like this is not going to stir things up even more.

And it's interesting to me that what Harris said was in an approving article from a left-leaning publication where their emphasis is that Biden and Harris are speaking out against the riots, but Harris's inflammatory comment seems to have passed unnoticed by the writer. Guess that's par for the course with a lot of the slanted journalism these days. If it's your side, don't criticize anything. If it's the other side, criticize everything. ... -after-rnc
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said he was attacked by a "crazed mob" of more than 100 people after leaving the White House following President Trump's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention....

Video on social media appeared to show a crowd chasing and jeering Paul, who was escorted by D.C. police ... An officer was captured on video being shoved by a protester and was nearly knocked over. Paul appeared to help steady the officer.
Cowardly bastards. They could have seriously injured them very easily, given their age. If they want to alienate all their supporters, they're going about it exactly right. Supposedly Paul had even introduced a bill to stop "no knock" warrants.

While trying to find out, out of curiosity, if the left-leaning media even reported this (sometimes, but it's mostly quite toned down), I ran across an interesting article: ... index.html
Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said Wednesday he is holding up popular bipartisan legislation to make lynching a federal crime, a long-sought goal of supporters that is acutely relevant now against the backdrop of nationwide protests against police mistreatment of African Americans.

"We want the bill to be stronger," Paul told reporters on Capitol Hill. "We think that lynching is an awful thing that should be roundly condemned and should be universally condemned."....

"I don't think it's a good idea to conflate someone who has an altercation, where they had minor bruises, with lynching. We think that's a disservice to those who were lynched in our history, who continue to have, we continue to have these problems. And I think it's a disservice to have a new 10-year penalty for people who have minor bruising. We've tried to exclude that part from the bill, and we've been working with the authors to try to make the bill better," Paul said....
Hang on a second, this is actually smart and thoughtful instead of going off emotionally to pass a feel-good bill, intended to make politicians just look good, that could have unintended harms. And the Democrats condemn this?

If the Democrats don't want to lose this election to Trump, I think they'd better stop fanning the flames ASAP and work to calm things down. That includes the protests which sometimes morph into these mob scenes, riots, vigilantes, etc. I'm pretty sure I'm not voting for any Democrats at this point, except at the local level, unless their opponent is so far right to be bonkers. They lost my vote with their antics in the pandemic, the support of cancel culture and overblown claims of systemic racism everywhere, their outrage over needed and sensible reforms to Title IX investigations after the Obama administration changed things too far, and when sensible police reforms morphed into defund the police and support for people saying "they're all evil pigs." I can live with the stuff I disagree with the GOP about for a few years until the Dems come to their senses.

But I don't like threats, especially ones that seem to be coming true: ... nt-1513422
A leader of Black Lives Matter's New York chapter on Wednesday said the movement was prepared to "burn down this system" if the U.S. does not work with participants to enact real change.

"If this country doesn't give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it," said Hawk Newsome, chairman of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York, during an interview with Fox News. "I could be speaking figuratively, I could be speaking literally. It's a matter of interpretation."

Newsome went on to clarify that while "I don't condone nor do I condemn rioting," the measurable change that has occurred in recent weeks began in the wake of property destruction caused by rioters.

"This country is built upon violence," Newsome said, pointing to the American Revolution and modern American diplomacy as examples. "We go in and we blow up countries and we replace their leaders with leaders who we like. So for any American to accuse us of being violent, it's extremely hypocritical."...

btw, what on earth happened to the reasonable and fair BBC of old? From yesterday:
Jacob Blake, 29, was shot seven times in the back by officer Rusten Sheskey while getting into his car with his children on Sunday. His lawyer says it will be a "miracle" if he walks again.

Limited law enforcement in Kenosha has led to individuals and groups taking the law into their own hands during the unrest, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Professional Police Association told the BBC.
This is the most blatantly bonkers spin of the incident I've seen.

The BBC could have looked at everything that's been out for days and realized this was an attempted arrest of a criminal* who, for all anyone knew, could have been on the point of escalating things into a tragedy when he got shot. Instead, we get "shot while trying to get in the car with his kids" as if the guy was out shopping and was unjustifiably attacked.

And we're supposed to give a damn whether he ever walks again? Do these people want to hobble the police this much, that they can't even stop people who are a threat to others? I don't even feel upset he was handcuffed to his hospital bed until his father got the ear of the media and stoked outrage. I can't help but wonder if the nurses feel less safe now, though I assume some sensible person will make sure he's sedated enough not to be a threat once he recovers further.

* ... plaint.pdf
Who were the victims?

Mr Rosenbaum, 36, was from Kenosha, and Mr Huber, 26, was from Silver Lake. The injured man has been named as Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, from West Allis.

They were on Kenosha's streets on a tense night that saw protesters clash with police and armed vigilantes.
Ah yes, the ever-present mostly peaceful protesters. These people were on the streets at night in defiance of a curfew, during riots that attacked businesses and people (at least one elderly man was injured), in the middle of a mob doing the incredibly dumb thing of chasing someone with a gun who's running away and not trying to injure anyone else - and after he apparently stopped after the first shooting and got on his phone* and was not threatening anyone else. Then, after he trips and falls, one guy attacks him with a skateboard and another has a gun. Brilliant. No matter what happens in this scenario, someone is likely to end up injured or dead. The one small mercy is that the kid only shot the people actually attacking him and his bullets didn't end up striking an innocent bystander. I'm even glad he had some firearms training because I'll bet it would have been worse if he hadn't.

*dumb thing to do, call someone other than 911, presumably for advice, but he doesn't strike me as the brightest. And people his age do dumb things. The New York Times has what looks like a reasonably accurate rundown of the video evidence of events, though other sites have more detail ... video.html

And the armed vigilantes were there to defend the businesses and most actually behaved very well. Some even support BLM's cause; they just don't want to see their city destroyed further. If the mob of rioters didn't show up, absolutely nothing would have happened that night. And yet the BBC only blames the vigilantes....
Meanwhile a viral rumour claiming that protesters fired a Molotov cocktail at the alleged shooter has been debunked.

Some claimed the video suggested the suspect was acting in self-defence, but other footage from the scene showed that in fact the protester threw a bag.
Really? I'd like to see someone throw what's simply an empty plastic bag and have it follow that trajectory. Pretty neat trick. Kind of like "oh, he just threw his water bottle at the police, no big deal'" Yeah, one that was frozen and intended to injure someone. (And it's true there was no Molotov cocktail but the BBC is lying by omission here. The NYT says there was a gunshot in one direction and, immediately after that, the first guy who got shot lunged at Rittenhouse. Not hard to see where things went south with a bunch of young idiots on both sides.)
Or am I the only one who realizes some of these black bloc/ anarchist types are smart enough to hide their projectiles in bags? ... -arrest-9/
- An alert citizen tipping the Kenosha Police Department to three suspicious vehicles with out-of-state plates Wednesday night led to the arrest of nine people authorities suspect were plotting some sort of criminal activity related to recent violent protests....

When the vehicles headed to a gas station on Washington Road and 30th Ave., law enforcement was close behind, the statement continued. The officers reported seeing people from the black bus try to fill multiple fuel cans. ...

With all of the suspects in custody, officers searched the vehicles and discovered helmets, gas masks, protective vests, illegal fireworks, and suspected controlled substances...

In a tweet apparently posted not long after the arrest, Riot Kitchen shared what appeared to be video of the capture of the minivan, which appeared in the video to have Oregon license plates, and the arrest of those individuals.

“This is our crew and we know why they were there. To feed people. That’s it,” the organization said in tweet replying to someone asking about the video.

The organization, which was founded during the protests of George Floyd, last tweeted Wednesday that it was still trying to locate some members of its team....

Just once, I'd like to see a modern media site that tells it like it is, from both sides, without spin. The BBC doesn't seem to openly editorialize in their news yet but they sure do spin these days. Are they all trying to become as useful as the tabloids now?


Society can and does execute its own mandates, and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. ― John Stuart Mill

Profile Quote
Post subject: Re: Escaping the Echo Chamber
Posted: Tue 01 Sep , 2020 3:29 pm
Posts: 2044
Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Why the hell is the news media admiring a bunch of morons ( ... 675987002/) who think they're being some sort of glorious freedom fighters by defying curfews and joining the destructive mob "protests" in Kenosha ( ... n-kenosha/ ... 1598278903)...

... but groups like this one, who do it right, get little or no mention except through word of mouth? ... questions/
How do I pick a corner?

You want lots of visibility, but you also want it to be a safe spot for your group. Think about busy intersections with ample sidewalk space, or consider your local park or playground. Don’t forget about accessibility. Is your location accessible to people who use wheelchairs or walkers? Will there be shade available, and are there places someone could sit if needed?
How do I pick a date/time?

What works for you? When will your neighbors be free to join you? When will you have lots of visibility at your favorite corner? #StandOnEveryCorner is for everyone to find a time and way to protest that is easy and convenient. If you’re not sure what time will work best, try something one time and you can always change the day or time next time.
Do I need a permit?

Not usually, but permitting rules are extremely local and variable so check with your city or town if you have questions. These aren’t large rallies, and you shouldn’t block traffic, close streets, disrupt pedestrians or block building entrances. See the ACLU’s Know Your Rights: Demonstrations and Protests for more guidance. ... p-protest/

I have to admit the USA Today "journalist" has a great future as a writer of flowery romantic fiction. (though whatever happened to "just the facts" and "be suspicious of accepting everything people with an agenda tell you"?) But is this really the time to inspire more stupid young people to join the suspiciously well-organized mobs that are wreaking havoc? (btw, their self-selected "security" personnel leave something to be desired. ... otest.html Then again, so did the "cooks" from Oregon in Kenosha. ;) )

I'm starting to wonder if some of the liberal media trying to get that incompetent douchebag Trump re-elected, with spin that has gone past the point of halfway tolerable and into painting a false picture (e.g., the BBC's brief and misleading description of Jacob Blake's arrest, days after they knew better). Did they do so nicely with all the division, gossip, and attention during the Trump presidency that they're reluctant to give it up?

People may think Trump is dumb and in some ways he is, but IMO he also has the instincts and cleverness of a conman and manipulator and it's stupid to underestimate him. He will take full advantage of every extreme or out-of-touch thing the Democrats do.

I'm not so sure this is just the usual bounce from the conventions: ... 7-percent/
People aren't quite as gullible as the media thinks they are.

(And, besides my distaste for Trump, I wouldn't be sorry to see a comeuppance, i.e., election loss, for the type of rabid Trump supporters who insist on dragging their politics into places where most people are just trying to enjoy themselves and relax, like the beach. They're as annoying as BLM inserting themselves everywhere. Overall not as destructive or disruptive, of course, still a giant Trump flag somewhere like that is an aggressive "you want to make something of it?" act. )

btw, this amused me. ... whos-next/
The cancel culture has now reached into every nook and cranny of life. Eskimo Pie, the chocolate-covered ice-cream treat that has been around for a century, will be renamed after critics said the name was insensitive. What’s next?

We have a partial answer. Last week, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

The Sierra Club is “celebrating” the event in an unusual way. It is dumping any association with John Muir, the “father of the national parks” who founded the Sierra Club back in 1892....
I suspect the Sierra Club is shooting itself in the foot with this bit of virtue signaling. Can't say I'm sorry. I quit my membership decades ago when they stopped worrying about accuracy in their claims and they started to demonize anyone who disagreed with them. Recently, their ethics took a nosedive ( ... -melchior/ but I've seen other stories on it too), and they partnered with an aggressive and unethical telemarketing firm that won't take no for an answer if you refuse to donate. There are better environmental groups out there to give my money to. I've always admired Ansel Adam's take on environmentalism and compromise to get things done with those who don't think exactly as you do. We could use more of that, these days.

I was idly curious about some things being said in a political discussion group and went looking for a legitimate site to confirm it. There's an interesting perspective of the shootings in Wisconsin here (site is biased right but fact check rated high on MediaBiasFactCheck) that most of the media seems to be ignoring in favor of their preferred narrative: ... f-defense/
The second person shot, Anthony Huber, chased Rittenhouse after Rosenbaum had been killed. It’s not clear what his reason for doing this is, though the shouts of the mob saying “Get him! Get his gun!” seems to suggest either ominous intent, vigilantism, or perhaps some misguided attempt at a citizen’s arrest. We do not know at this point, and will likely never know, what would prompt someone to chase an armed man who just shot someone in the head.

When Rittenhouse fell to the ground, Huber appears to attempt to bash the prone and armed Rittenhouse in the head with his skateboard.
The third who was shot (& survived) is Gaige Grosskreutz, 26. He's a member of the People’s Revolution Movement. He was filmed chasing after the teen w/a pistol. He was shot at close-range in the upper arm. He has a criminal record that includes being intoxicated & armed w/a gun.

— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) August 27, 2020

This person has reportedly stated that his only regret about the incident is that he did not kill Rittenhouse.
It’s unclear why Rittenhouse was being chased or why he was in the area of this car dealership about four blocks away from the one he claimed to be protecting. We do know vehicles in this lot were damaged minutes before the first shooting.

— Christiaan Triebert (@trbrtc) August 27, 2020
And it's nuts when you can get more details from Russian media about an event in the US: ... lling-kid/
With the public divided over whether Rittenhouse acted in self-defense, a series of Facebook posts by Grosskreutz’s friend, Jacob Marshall, went viral on Thursday. In comments under a photo of Grosskreutz after surgery, Marshall described how Gaige had his gun drawn at the time of the shooting.

...“I just talked to Gaige Grosskreutz too,” Marshall wrote. “His only regret was not killing the kid and hesitating to pull the gun before emptying the entire mag into him.

“Should’ve killed him right there and then,” Marshall added.

Both Marshall and Grosskreutz’s Facebook pages have been set to private, but multiple screenshots of the comments circulated on Twitter on Thursday evening....
None of this sounds like anything a sane person would want to be around. And Anthony Huber has quite the criminal past . Doesn't sound much like a hero, no matter what his girlfriend says to USA Today. No surprise the nighttime riots attract people like this.

btw, RT says there's now a GoFundMe page for Huber's partner (girlfriend?), which has collected more than $100,000 but ...
A GoFundMe page set up for Kyle Rittenhouse to cover his legal expenses has meanwhile been deleted by the platform.
Not being a trusting soul, I did a search. GoFundMe and Antony Huber comes up with a donation page. GoFundMe and Rittenhouse? Nothing.

More details here: ... undraiser/ It also says Jacob Blake will walk away from this with at least 1.6 million in donations so far. I guess being able to get a good media narrative these days can be pretty profitable. The irony is that these same people would ordinarily be condemning someone who will be facing charges for sexual abuse of his girlfriend and mother of his children and theft. And, as far as I know, no one has yet told us why he showed up at her residence, in defiance of the restraining order, on the day he got shot by the police during the arrest. I'm still guessing it might have something to do with the kids. Or maybe it was lucky there were other people at her house at the time.

Sometimes I wonder: when did we become a nation that glorifies riots and violent people, ignores the fate of ordinary people who just want to go about their lives, and donates money to criminals?

btw, I can understand if GoFundMe has a policy that says they won't set up a fund for anyone accused of a violent crime. But if that's the case, then they should be enforcing it across the board. Jacob Blake doesn't qualify either. And if Huber hadn't been killed and things turned out differently, he might have been facing charges for assault himself. (Rittenhouse doesn't seem to have been threatening anyone at the point when the mob decided to "get him" ) No one involved in this, including Rittenhouse, used good judgement.

I also found it revealing that I wondered for a few minutes why the first victim shouted a really ugly racist epithet at the group of people guarding a business. I've clearly absorbed the media narrative that all of "that side" are white, when of course that's not true. ... narrative/
Rioting over a narrative

The carnage was sparked by an image of a racist America that is simply false.
The Democrats didn’t talk about the riots.

During the four-day Democratic National Convention, which ran from 17 to 20 August, virtually no prime-time speakers discussed the nationwide violence that followed the horrific death of George Floyd while restrained by Minneapolis police. ..

...Since the death of George Floyd, the US has been roiled by probably the most devastating series of widespread urban riots since 1968’s ‘Summer of Love / Rage’. According to the Wikipedia and online encyclopedia articles for the George Floyd Protests, at least 30 people have so far been killed during the violence, with 900 law-enforcement officers and an unknown number of rioters and protesters hospitalised, 14,000 people arrested, and billions of dollars in property damage done.

A list of the businesses so far damaged or destroyed in Minneapolis, where rioting began, runs into the hundreds – and includes all too many minority-owned and urban-chic establishments. In the same city, rioters literally burned an active police station, torching the sizable 3rd Precinct building as officers in uniform retreated in good order.

In addition to ‘sympathetic’ protests and riots in honour of Floyd in many cities, secondary waves of violence have followed the deaths of other black men at the hands of police....
There are several interesting and empirically relevant characteristics of these riots. First, while the George Floyd video – for example – is genuinely upsetting to watch, the riots are based around a narrative that is simply not empirically true. There is no ongoing race war in the United States, and black people are not being murdered in large numbers by the police. Inter-racial violent crime involving blacks and whites is around five per cent of crime in a typical year, and black people generally commit roughly 80 per cent of it. This is not necessarily even surprising, given that there are more whites and they have more money, but it does not indicate a near-genocide. Statistics like these can be confirmed simply by taking a look at the annual BJS National Crime Report. In the arena specifically of police violence, the total number of unarmed black men shot by law-enforcement officers in the most recent year on record was 14.
Not mentioned in the article but this is less than the number of unarmed white men shot by the police. Also, unarmed doesn't necessarily mean that the police knew that or that there aren't other reasons the shooting might be justified.

More here: ... with-fire/
‘In racialising everything, we are playing with fire’

Glenn Loury talks to Brendan O’Neill about racism and policing in the US.
The wave of protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd rolls on. Riots have erupted in Kenosha, Wisconsin after the shooting of a black man by police, and two protesters have been killed. The US seems as divided as at any time in its recent history. But is America really a ‘structurally racist’ country, and are its police truly oppressing black people?

Glenn Loury is an American economist, author and commentator. He was the first ever tenured black professor of economics at Harvard University, and is currently a professor of social sciences and economics at Brown University....
.... Glenn Loury: These days, I am given to saying the term ‘structural racism’ is both a bluff and a bludgeon. It is a bluff in the sense that it offers an explanation that is not really an explanation at all, and in effect dares the listener to come back with a response. For example, if someone says there are too many blacks in prison in the United States and that that is because of structural racism, they are daring you to say there are too many black criminals and that is why there are so many blacks in prison. They want you to say it is not the system’s fault, but the individual’s.

It is a bludgeon because it is a rhetorical move. It does not even pretend to be a scientific, policy-based argument. It asserts causes that never have to be demonstrated. We are all supposed to know that things are the fault of something called ‘structural racism’, which is abetted by an ideology of ‘white supremacy’. It is meant to explain everything. Confronted with any racial disparity, the answer is always that it is caused by structural racism. But history is complicated, and many of these things we are talking about have multiple interwoven causes, from culture to politics to economic incentives to historical accident. There are also systems of law and policy that may have the consequence of disadvantaging racial groups without having been so intended....
... But you have to think about the fact we have tens of thousands of encounters between police and citizens every day. Yet police killings are rare. To put it in perspective, there are about 17,000 homicides in the United States every year. Nearly half of the murderers are blacks, and the vast majority of those murderers are murdering other blacks. Far more blacks are killed by other blacks than by the police.

When we invoke race in police killings, we act as if the reason an officer acted as he or she did was because the dead person was black. We do not necessarily know that is true. ... The criminals do not stand in for their race, and nor should the victims understand themselves primarily in racial terms. People are playing with fire when they bring that sensibility to police-citizen interactions.

In Canada there was similarly a narrative of "the police killed her and are racist/abusive" from some sources after a mentally ill woman, trying to escape, slipped and fell to her death. ... os-police/
A few years ago, when I did ride-alongs with Toronto-area police officers, I saw how much of their job involves dealing with mental-health and addiction issues. Most of the incidents these officers responded to were rooted in troubled households, and the protagonists typically were well-known to the arriving officers: an autistic adult son whose outbursts overwhelmed aging parents, a wife fearful of an alcoholic husband, an agitated elderly man who’d become convinced his neighbours were spying on him through his devices. Most of these incidents required therapists as much as (or more than) police officers. But since the threat of violence hovered over all of them, at least in theory, it was the police who got the call. As I wrote at the time, the officers mostly played the role of social workers with a badge.

The stereotype of police as violent, poorly trained hotheads is sometimes borne out on YouTube, which now functions as a highlight reel for every bad apple wearing a uniform. But the reality—at least in Canada, where I live—is that new officers are typically post-secondary graduates who spend a lot of their time in training sessions. In 2016, I sat in on one such session at a police headquarters facility west of Toronto, where officers attend seminars conducted by experts from within the community, and then go through elaborate small-group role-playing scenarios led by a trained corps of actors who specialize in mimicking various crisis states....
I thought about all this following the real-life case of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, the 29-year-old black woman who fell to her death from a Toronto apartment balcony in May while seeking to evade police officers. . ...

On May 27th, the last day of Korchinski-Paquet’s life, a half-dozen Toronto Police Service officers and an EMS worker responded to a call from her family members, who’d told a 911 operator that there was a fight in their 24th-storey apartment. Because Ontario’s independent Special Investigations Unit (SIU) now has released its report on Korchinski-Paquet’s death, based on camera footage and numerous interviews, we know what happened next..... Initial reports from family—which suggested that officers had murdered the woman by deliberately pushing her off the balcony—were completely false.

To state the obvious, the death of Korchinski-Paquet is a tragedy. And it would have compounded the tragedy to learn that her death was a racist act of homicide. One might therefore imagine that it would provide Torontonians with at least some meager solace to learn that their police force had acquitted itself without fault, and in a way that reflected the progressive, non-violent methods that are taught in training programs. But in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd and the riots that followed, it has become a common claim among progressive media and politicians that Canada is every bit as racist as the United States. And in the absence of actual recent Canadian scenes of horror on par with the killing of Floyd, the case of Korchinski-Paquet has been cited as a substitute....

Surprise, surprise, Nancy Pelosi like many politicians is a hypocrite: ... ronavirus/
For almost six months, hairdressers in San Francisco have been prohibited from cutting and styling their clients’ hair inside a salon. But on Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), one of the most outspoken Democratic lawmakers on following coronavirus restrictions, became an exception to the rule in her home district.

Surveillance footage aired on Fox News on Tuesday showed Pelosi walking through a salon with a mask around her neck as a stylist wearing a mask followed behind. Republican critics pounced on Pelosi, accusing her of hypocrisy....

San Francisco Mayor London Breed (D) announced last week that salons could reopen for outdoor service only starting Tuesday.
This is the worst part though. Instead of taking responsibility, Pelosi follows the others in making excuses. She claims it was all the salon's fault and she was just complying.
...a spokesman for Pelosi insisted she was following the rules outlined by the salon before her visit.

“The speaker always wears a mask and complies with local covid requirements,” spokesman Drew Hammill said in a statement to The Washington Post, adding Pelosi briefly took down her mask while getting her hair washed. “This business offered for the speaker to come in on Monday and told her they were allowed by the city to have one customer at a time in the business. The speaker complied with the rules as presented by this establishment.”
Just admit you screwed up and apologize. It would also be nice if you offered to pay the owner's fines as well as your own. Or are members of Congress exempt from those too?
And maybe let the rest of us use our own judgement on risks and masks too. It's not as if there's any definitive evidence that using a mask is better than not using one. (as usual, excepting a properly fitted N95 mask to protect a person who also handles it properly)

Oh my, this gets even better. Pelosi is going to be very popular. :D ... down-laws/
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is demanding an apology from a San Francisco hair salon owner for what she is calling a “set up” against her. ...

“I take responsibility for trusting the word of the neighborhood salon that I’ve been to…many times…It was a set up, and I take responsibility for falling for a setup,” she said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“I think that this salon owes me an apology, for setting me up,” she added.

Despite her own behavior, Pelosi has been vocal in telling Americans to wear masks and follow local guidelines to mitigate the spread of the virus.
She really has been in the news a lot, haranguing others about wanting to be free of restrictions and wanting things like haircuts, then this?

btw, there's no way in hell this is her first time at a hairdresser. I gave myself a home perm, as well as getting creative with my hair, and managed a barely tolerable bush during lockdowns.
This time Pelosi got caught, like Lori Lightfoot before her. And, right or left, her illegal shampoo and blowout trip is a slap in the face for every woman who has played by the rules and patiently waited for the salons to reopen, just to cut our hair.


Society can and does execute its own mandates, and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. ― John Stuart Mill

Profile Quote
Post subject: Re: Escaping the Echo Chamber
Posted: Thu 03 Sep , 2020 6:54 pm
Posts: 2044
Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm ... -russians/
Talking Heads Finally Accept Reality of Riots — Only to Pin Blame on White Nationalists and Russians
After months of daily unrest and violent crime surges in major American cities, some media figures finally felt compelled to ditch the “mostly peaceful” canard and discuss the violence — only to pin the blame on nebulous actors such as Russia and white supremacists....rather than reporting on the groups and actors we know to be behind the surge in lawlessness, pundits are choosing to push their own recycled conspiracies....

The obscurantism isn’t confined to talking heads and detached national politicians, either. In May, Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey blamed “white supremacists, members of organized crime, out-of-state instigators, and possibly even foreign actors” for the violence in his city, despite arrest records indicating his claims were baseless.....

...for every Kyle Rittenhouse, there are dozens of far-left activists and provocateurs — many of whom have lengthy criminal records — who have been arrested for instigating chaos, as journalists such as Andy Ngo have meticulously catalogued. ...

The tactics the BLM enforcer discusses mirror those discussed on Telegram — an anonymous messaging app used to orchestrate protests — and anarchist websites such as CrimetheInc, which provides anonymous first-person accounts of riots, illustrating how many of the “protesters” actively seek conflict with police. Diagrams shared on far-left Telegram channels and reviewed by National Review instruct the woke how to construct “shield wall formations” and counsel them to consult “gear checklists,” which include weapons and defensive combat equipment, before heading out to the day’s “mostly peaceful” protest. The diagrams also include descriptions of various “protest roles” such as “range soldiers,” whose responsibility it is to throw projectiles at police, and “fire mages,” who set fire to objects and launch flaming projectiles.

“There is room for chanting and dancing and joyful noises and there is also room for rage. We make that space for each other,” one woman told the Times in July, before the alleged appearance of the lunatic white supremacists who have supposedly disrupted the formerly peaceful protests. “I don’t consider property destruction violence,” another added. “Violence is when you attack a person or another living, breathing creature on this planet. Windows don’t cry and they can’t die.”...
Clearly spoken by someone who has never put their life savings into a business or home or worked to produce something, only to see it smashed by some lowlife. Some business owners in these riots saw everything destroyed in front of their own eyes. And some were themselves attacked by the mob when they either tried to defend what was theirs or simply protested the destruction and pleaded for it to stop.

I'm no fan of Hotair but they got bonus points from me by starting the article by quoting the minstrel's Brave Sir Robin song from The Holy Grail. :) And they're quite right that some mayors are either tolerating the protesters and rioters until they show up on their front door, then calling in law enforcement to protect themselves, or abandoning their home and fleeing.: ... rs-strike/
We’re starting to see something of a pattern developing among the Democratic mayors in large American cities where protests and riots have gripped the streets. It generally plays out the same way. The mayors are very supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement and say or do whatever they can to appease them. But it never seems to be enough and, before you know it, the protesters wind up camping out on the mayor’s doorstep, not at City Hall, but at their personal home. So what do they do then? They either call in the goon squads to keep the riff-raff away (as was done by the Mayor of Chicago) or they pack up and move (as happened most recently in Portland).

The next to undertake the latter maneuver is the Mayor of St. Louis. Lyda Krewson found out the hard way that the BLM activists have no interest in making friends. ...

Apparently the Mayor neglected to tell the protesters about her change of address plans, as they continued to show up and disrupt her neighbors even after she had fled the scene. This apparently happened as recently as a few weeks ago.....
The point, of course, is that protesters (or anarchists/black bloc or whatever you want to call them) should never be intimidating anyone, especially in their own neighborhoods, whether that's a politician or a nobody. And allowing these anarchists and bullying thugs to chase people out is not going to end well.

I was surprised to see a fair, balanced and knowledgeable article on Hungary and Viktor Orban in National Review today. He certainly has his flaws, but I get utterly tired of the simplistic views on Fidesz/ Orban, the Roma, and Hungary in much of the western media. The hype was especially bad during the last election when Orban got reelected. I couldn't help wondering who the hell all these pundits wanted the Hungarians to choose - the left who screwed things up royally for many people when they were elected earlier, or the far right (Jobbik) that has inexplicably managed to endear itself to some liberals even though they're damned near fascists sometimes? The other thing western media fails to recognize is that Hungarians know quite well they were hung out to dry when the Soviets wanted parts of Central Europe, and the same thing could very easily happen again with Putin. I'd be willing to bet Hungarian politicians are playing a delicate balancing act between Russia and the West.

Anyway, this gets into a lot of things including the parties if anyone is interested: ... s-mandate/
Viktor Orban’s Mandate
When Hungary declared a state of emergency in March to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, commentators in the West immediately spread the news that the European Union’s first dictatorship had arrived. Parliament was suspended. There would never be elections again. Hungary’s health-care system would collapse because its prime minister, Viktor Orban, had given the nation’s money away to cronies and squandered more of it in a doomed attempt to make soccer more popular. Criticism of the government was forbidden, forevermore. Political arrests would begin. A colleague of mine at the American Enterprise Institute, Dalibor Rohac, wrote in the Washington Post that, absent a major pushback from Brussels and Washington, D.C., Hungary would emerge “a full-fledged dictatorship.” The U.S. political analyst Liz Mair — no fool, I think — confidently predicted of Orban, “He’s going to wind up putting Gypsies in permanent detention.”

Of course all of this was wrong....

EDIT: ... -election/
The Democrats’ Dangerous Delegitimization of the Election
Too many voters don’t believe November’s election will be legitimate — before it has even been conducted.
A recent deep dive in the Washington Post’s Outlook section, “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?” exploring various potential outcomes of the 2020 presidential election, found that in “every scenario except a Biden landslide, our simulation ended catastrophically.” According to the Post, any other outcome is destined to spark “violence” and a “constitutional crisis.”

Or, in other words, nice country you got there . . .

Every assumption in the article, written by Rosa Brooks, a Georgetown University law professor and co-founder of the Transition Integrity Project, is awash in the conspiratorial paranoia that’s infected the modern Democratic Party. It’s a world where Trump officials — played, quite implausibly, by Joe Biden partisans Michael Steele and Bill Kristol — are “ruthless and unconstrained right out of the gate” but the genteel statesmen of Team Biden “struggled to get out of reaction mode.” It is a place where Republicans aren’t only reflexively seditious and autocratic, but a “highly politicized” Supreme Court tries to steal the election...

If you haven’t noticed, it’s working. A recent USA Today poll found that 28 percent of Biden’s supporters say they aren’t prepared to accept a Trump victory as “fairly won,” and 19 percent of President Trump’s supporters say the same about a potential Biden victory. So a significant minority of American voters don’t believe the next election will be legitimate before it has even been conducted. What happens when every long line at the polls and every Facebook meme and every delayed mail-in ballot is turned into a nefarious plot by the enemy to snatch democracy from the rightful winner? It’s going to be ugly, indeed....
This is dangerous and the media is playing right into Putin's hands. We've heard, time and again, that sowing division and distrust is in his best interests and yet here are the Democrats helping him. This constant refrain of "Trump won't leave if he loses" (based on some really silly interpretations of Trump's words, together with the implausible assumption that government and law enforcement would support this) or "Trump is destroying the post office to ruin the election" (Have these people never heard of absentee ballot drop boxes? Or realized that the post office manages the Christmas rush just fine?) or whatever the fearmongering du jour is goes well beyond the pale. Convincing people that the army of election officials, etc. can't ensure a fair election will do far more lasting damage than Trump's idiot tweeting and ranting.

Where I disagree with the writer is that he doesn't mention this sort of thing has also come from the far right. The trouble is that it's easier for the average person to dismiss the far right websites or Trump's rants than to dismiss the Democratic party in general working in concert with the mainstream media. They're the ones giving legitimacy to a dangerous idea right now.

And another "the lunatics are running the asylum" event : ... al-health/
USC Professor Placed on Leave after Black Students Complained His Pronunciation of a Chinese Word Affected Their Mental Health
The University of Southern California has placed a communications professor on leave after a group of black MBA candidates threatened to drop his class ...

Greg Patton, a professor at the university’s Marshall School of Business, was giving a lecture about the use of “filler words” in speech during a recent online class when he used the word in question, saying, “If you have a lot of ‘ums and errs,’ this is culturally specific, so based on your native language. Like in China, the common word is ‘that, that, that.’ So in China it might be ‘nèi ge, nèi ge, nèi ge.’”...

In an August 21 email to university administration obtained by National Review, students accused the professor of pronouncing the word like the N-word “approximately five times” during the lesson in each of his three communication classes and said he “offended all of the Black members of our Class.”...

“Our mental health has been affected,” the group continued. “It is an uneasy feeling allowing him to have the power over our grades. We would rather not take his course than to endure the emotional exhaustion of carrying on with an instructor that disregards cultural diversity and sensitivities and by extension creates an unwelcome environment for us Black students.”

The students added that the incident “has impacted our ability to focus adequately on our studies.”

“No matter what way you look at this, the word was said multiple times today in three different instances and has deeply affected us. In light of the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the recent and continued collective protests and social awakening across the nation, we cannot let this stand,” the group concluded, before calling for an immediate remedy to the situation....
Naturally, this little group of students immediately chose the nuclear option in their demands. The pathetic thing is that the university went along with it. However will these poor fragile children ever cope with the real world? Oh, wait. I know. We've already seen it. They'll go and demand that their employers fire anyone who has a different opinion or who doesn't walk on eggshells to avoid offense, because someone, somewhere might feel assaulted and "unsafe" - or, what's more likely, claim to, in order to get their way.

And if it's sincere, gods help us and our society. Their parents should never have let them get away with these power games when they were small.

I just wish the saner members of their peer group would step up and shut the extremists up. Being opposed by old fogeys just gives you cachet. Being openly disapproved of by your fellow students would be a lot harder to take. I'll bet they'd moderate their tone if that happened.

On a brighter note: ... tally-ill/
California Takes a Real Step Toward Helping the Mentally Ill
...Laura’s Law was enacted in 2002 when 19-year-old Laura Wilcox was shot and killed by a man with untreated serious mental illness. It was inspired by the success of a similar law in New York...

In more specific terms, Laura’s Law and Kendra’s Law both created programs for assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) in their respective states. AOT allows judges to mandate community-based treatment for a small, highly specific population of adults with serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia or bipolar depression, who have a history of noncompliance with treatment that has led to multiple hospitalizations, violence, or arrests. While in the program, individuals are able to continue living in their communities and receive monitored treatment—and, importantly, the mental-health system is held accountable for providing it.

AOT is massively successful. Multiple studies have shown it to improve outcomes for those with serious mental illness by meaningful metrics such as reduced homelessness, arrests, incarceration, and needless hospitalization, each down by around 70 percent. ... participants have reported that it helped them gain control over their lives, get well, and stay well. It is important to note that these remarkable results are true for those with the most severe illnesses, as the program serves that specific group.

Sadly, AOT has been an underutilized tool as, broadly, mental-health funds have shifted away from programs that serve those with debilitating brain disorders to the “worried well.” Not exclusive to California, the mental-health industry often has disincentives to move the most seriously ill — with the greatest need for treatment and care — to the front of the line. For one thing, this group can be difficult to serve. About 40 percent of those with serious mental illness experience a symptom called anosognosia, which prevents insight into an individual’s illness — meaning they are so ill that they do not know they are ill. ....

In another brilliant move, Cuomo plans to divert more police from their real jobs and make sure even more people dislike them: ... ng-in-nyc/
Andrew Cuomo Says 4,000-Person NYPD Social-Distancing Taskforce Needed Before He'll Allow Indoor Dining in NYC
New York City restaurants have been excluded from the reopening of dining rooms in the rest of the state.
..."We're going to contact the Speaker today and say if New York City can say this many police, NYPD, can be put on a task force to monitor the compliance, that is something we can discuss," Cuomo said during his press call today, suggesting that 4,000 officers would be needed to police indoor dining establishments....
In case anyone hasn't heard, violent crime has been climbing in New York and some other cities since the protests/riots.

And I'll bet this will only apply to us peons and not the politicians and other "movers and shakers" like Nancy Pelosi, Lori Lightfoot, Bill De Blasio, Gretchen Whitmer's husband, Andrew Cuomo, et al.... (far too many to remember, and that's just the ones who got caught doing something they told other people not to do, on penalty of fines/ jail time in many cases)

One of the more complete stories on a pregnant Australian woman who faces up to 15 years in prison or a fine that could be upwards of $90,000, if I remember correctly, simply for a Facebook post that tried to organize a small protest against the lockdowns at a small place in Victoria with something like 4 known COVID cases. ... ice-state/ These lockdowns include draconian provisions with no real public health justification, like evening curfews, only one person allowed out of the house at any time, huge fines for people who traveled 10 km to get a pizza (you're limited to 5 km from your home) or people out of bounds without their ritual mask, etc. She's not the first to be charged with a crime for this. ... 5e4e6aef8d
A pregnant anti-lockdown protester, who live-streamed her arrest on social media, has broken her silence about the clip that seems to have divided the internet.

Zoe Buhler, 28, was yesterday charged with inciting a protest against COVID-19 restrictions in Ballarat’s CBD.....

Victoria Police commented on the arrest earlier today with Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius saying he was “satisfied” with how the situation went....
... In the case, we are alleging this individual engaged in serious criminal behaviour, inciting a public protest at a time when public protest is unlawful. And we have been very clear about that.”

Despite the footage of her arrest being slammed on social media, Ms Buhler said all the police involved were actually “quite nice” which “wasn’t on camera”.

“They took the handcuffs off and let me get dressed and they were nice down at the police station, they just have to do their job at the moment and they said they weren’t really happy about having to arrest me or anything but that’s what’s happening at the moment in our state.”

Ms Buhler said she decided to plan a protest in Ballarat to “stand up for human rights”.

“I did kind of want to protest in Melbourne but I obviously knew I wasn’t allowed to do that. I just wanted to feel like I was doing something,” she said.

“I’m a passionate person and I’m sick of the lockdown. I’m sick of hearing about suicides... I personally lost my job.”

Ms Buhler said she “wishes” she could encourage protesting but didn’t want to see people get hurt.

“I’m just emotional...I’m baffled,” she said.

When asked if she would still go to a protest, Ms Buhler said she was done with her activism.

“I’m too scared now... it’s fear mongering.”...

Australian commentators have also weighed in, with former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman describing Victoria Police as the “shame of the nation” ....
Things like this will be ours to look back on with shame in a few years, when the virus is still circulating and no one pays it much attention any more. Some of the world seems to have gone mad with fear, or maybe just the old-fashioned thrill of controlling other people. Throughout this, the message has been that ordinary people are not allowed to have any say in what happens while the politicians decide what they value, and what they will destroy or allow to survive, while controlling the narrative in the media. So much for democracy and public input on policy...

Anyway, The Rules are for the little people, who can easily be destroyed by the State. Not people like Nancy Pelosi, who can lecture people constantly about obedience in one breath and get an illegal shampoo/ blowout in the next, with no real consequences except a bit of ridicule (and there are even partisan who will defend her and attack the salon). ... -portland/
"YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED TO FILM!" is a cry you hear incessantly at protests in Portland, Oregon, always shouted at close range to your face by after-dark demonstrators. ....

I cannot say who came up with these anti-camera battle cries. But it's easy to understand why protesters use them: to shape the narrative the country sees about the protests. And that narrative, in my estimation after many weeks covering street clashes in a city where I lived for 15 years, is 90 percent bullshit.

I wondered, the first time I attended the protests at the federal building back in July, who all these young people with PRESS emblazoned on their jackets or helmets were. I asked one such guy who he worked for.

"Independent Press Corps," he told me. As it turned out, dozens of other young PRESS people happened to work for the same outfit, which I at first assumed was a fancy way of saying "I want to report stuff and stream it on my Instagram."

This turned out to be naive. The IPC is an organized group in league with the activists, and it is usually their footage you see streamed online and recycled on the news...

The IPC and other documentarians who are deemed sympathetic to the activists' cause agree on certain principles. You do not show activists' faces. You only show activists in a defensive position: responding to, rather than inciting, violence. ...

Reporters seen as not sufficiently sympathetic to the cause—which is defined by the Ten Demands for Justice, and includes most notably the abolition of the police—will be followed, be harassed, ...

If you forget any of these rules, you can just refer to the handy Google spreadsheet [link] of approved journalists and suggested behavior. The spreadsheet contains names, Twitter handles, and ways to financially support the journos who make the cut....


Society can and does execute its own mandates, and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. ― John Stuart Mill

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Post subject: Re: Escaping the Echo Chamber
Posted: Thu 10 Sep , 2020 5:54 pm
Posts: 2044
Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Kudos to Spiked. Practically no one in the media ever talks about the things they discuss here and it's important. There needs to be a cost/benefit analysis of what increased testing will do in practical terms, in the real world with a widely disseminated virus that kills < 0.3-0.5% of those it infects (skewed elderly or otherwise compromised in health), and whether all that money could be better spent elsewhere. Instead, the politicians and media just promote this faith that more testing is good, and any amount of money spent on it is OK. Meanwhile, the politicians at least know full well that "any amount of money to save one life" is not how things work. Society places a monetary value on life all the time, by choosing between harms and restrictions. And the amount of money available for public health needs is not infinite - all the money being spent on COVID-19 testing may mean other needs will be shortchanged. ... -moonshot/
The UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, has announced a ‘moonshot’ strategy for defeating Covid-19 through regular testing of the whole population. Maybe the announcement was a desperate attempt to distract from the imposition of restrictions on social gatherings to no more than six people. But the plan is less Neil Armstrong and more space cadet.

In his press conference yesterday, Johnson said that in the ‘near future’ he wanted to start using testing ‘to identify people who are negative – who don’t have coronavirus and who are not infectious – so we can allow them to behave in a more normal way, in the knowledge that they cannot infect anyone else’. ....

The aim would be to ramp up testing from about 200,000 per day to between two million and four million per day in December. By next year, 10million tests could be done every day. The estimated cost, mentioned in another document, could be as high as £100 billion – almost as high as the total annual budget for the National Health Service....

A fraction of the ‘moonshot’ budget could fund a serious turnaround in the state of healthcare or of care homes for older people, for example.

But the maddening madness gets madder still when you realise the implications of all this testing. It would mean possibly millions of people being asked to stay at home and self-isolate when they don’t have the disease or if they have had it and are no longer infectious. That’s because of the problem of false positives....
Universities are also spending massive amounts of money on testing a bunch of people who are unlikely to suffer much in the way of ill effects from this virus, and meanwhile getting farther into financial trouble. Even before this expense, COVID-19 seems likely to push some universities over the edge and force them to close, and others will have massive belt-tightening within the next few years. It's already started, in fact, with layoffs, etc. There's no way that financial stress won't be reflected in increased tuition, larger class sizes and fewer class offerings (fewer faculty hires), faculty leaving, and other things that affect students.

Though I imagine some of it is your basic "cover your butt" testing. The media is milking school openings for all the drama and fear-mongering it possibly can. If anyone among the faculty or staff dies, they'll have a field day, and shriek even louder if there wasn't constant testing.... while conveniently not noticing there are people who work at universities and died during lockdown with not a student around. I know of at least one. WalMart and grocery stores and pharmacies spread the virus too.

Much like all the hype about that silly modeling "study" that was all over the media last week, with wild speculation about all the cases that might result from the motorcycle rally in S. Dakota (while continuing to pretend any gathering they favor, like BLM protests, could never possibly contribute to cases.). I was even a bit surprised there was only a single death among the 460,000-odd participants at the motorcycle rally, considering the usual age group. Maybe most people in high risk groups were smart and stayed home. (EDIT: It seems the Wall Street Journal noticed the nonsense from much of the media and has called it out too. ... 1599694411)

EDIT: Hey, another one. :) ... valuation/
Has the U.S. incurred larger COVID losses than countries held up as role models?
The idea that America has incurred larger losses from COVID than any other nation has been widely repeated, but it’s not true. In reality, the United States has incurred smaller COVID losses than many other countries often cast as role models, once the total cost of the disease — in both lost lives and economic activity — is correctly measured and taken into account. A truly scientific approach to evaluating COVID policy relies on quantification of the tradeoffs involved, as opposed to only considering health losses....

Economic science has developed standardized measures for quantifying the economic value of health losses. These conventional valuation metrics are routinely used by governments around the globe to evaluate health-related investments and help governments decide, for example, whether a guardrail is a cost-effective way to reduce traffic fatalities. Using these metrics, we calculated (in the figure below) the total COVID losses through June 2020 for various Western democracies, as a share of their pre-COVID GDP in the fourth quarter of 2019.

These estimates include both the losses from reduced economic activity (in blue) and the loss of lives (in orange), quantified in dollars using these standard methods....

btw, it's depressing that politicians and the media are still promoting the lie about "defeating Covid-19." (Boris Johnson in the Spiked article) There is no way to "defeat" this (relatively mild) virus even if we destroy our societies by trying; we're going to have to live with it, just as we live with the flu and everything else. Which reminds me of one interesting problem the vaccine manufacturers were having (and this was being discussed well before mask mandates): finding places to test their vaccines. They pick a spot where virus circulation is high and they're more likely to see an effect, but then the outbreak runs its course and cases drop, so that place is no good.... It seems possible this virus might have done much of its damage by the time a vaccine becomes available, though I expect it will help some.

Ah, I understand Boris Johnson's testing remarks now, after reading this article today. It seems the UK government has messed up and there isn't enough capacity to do the COVID tests everyone wants. So of course a politician comes out and promises that everything will be fixed, and soon everyone will be tested all the time. In the meantime, how about prioritizing testing to those who need it most, like healthcare workers and those going in to the hospital for routine procedures, to fix things in the short term? ... equipment/
Covid testing: what’s gone wrong?

Problems with labs, staffing and equipment resulted in a desperate plea from the Health department to the biomedical sector

It has been obvious for the best part of a fortnight that all was far from well in England’s Covid testing system.

But even as reports crowded in of entire areas running out of test slots and huge delays for results, ministers and their officials refused to spell out what exactly had gone wrong, preferring instead to talk in general terms of “capacity”.

One senior source, who helped set up the flagship Lighthouse testing labs, last week described the true cause of the crisis as “the most closely guarded secret in Whitehall”... ... s-doctors/
NHS hospitals are cancelling operations and turning away patients amid a deepening crisis over coronavirus testing, health chiefs have warned.

They said shortages of coronavirus tests are now threatening the running of services, with growing staff absences, because so many doctors and nurses are stuck at home, unable to obtain tests for themselves or their families....

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the problems obtaining tests stem from a sharp rise in the number of people coming forward for tests who are not eligible, because they do not have symptoms.

Government sources say that worried parents are taking children for tests because a child in their class has symptoms, when only those with symptoms themselves are eligible.

However, many parents said they were seeking tests because the new school term had seen the surge in coughs, cold and respiratory infections which are typical of this time of year, but hard to distinguish from coronavirus....
This is one of the problems with the practicality of "let's test and trace everyone" scenarios when a virus is this common and causes mild symptoms easily confused with a cold, flu, or allergies in many people, and no symptoms at all in some.
There is a reason the authorities stopped testing and tracing people with H1N1 "swine" flu after a while, during that pandemic. ... out-covid/
It is now clearer than ever that Sweden was justified in taking a liberal approach to Covid-19.

Last week, Sweden conducted a record number of tests for coronavirus (more than 120,000) but found a record-low proportion of infected people – just 1.2 per cent, according to a report from Reuters.

This is down from 19 per cent in the spring. What’s more, Sweden’s current position contrasts sharply with the surge in infections in countries like France and Britain....
Note also Sweden's position on deaths/population, from another article. Combined with their lower infection rate, it definitely looks like their approach resulted in less economic harm and a better overall outcome in terms of mental health, jobs, quality of life, freedom, etc. for their population, without the astronomical death rate the modelers and their crystal balls predicted. Or all the financial bailouts, whose reckoning will come due at some point and will be paid by all of us in the form of higher taxes, no matter which party gets elected. : ... an-europe/
One common way to measure how countries are handling the coronavirus relative to one another is to compare their COVID-19 mortality rates per 100,000 people. In that respect, the U.S., at 57.97 per 100,000, is doing better than the Belgium, United Kingdom, Spain, Brazil, and Italy, with rates at 86.78, 62.68, 63.34, 60.85, and 58.85 respectively. On the other hand, the COVID-19 mortality rates in Sweden, France, Canada, Germany, and South Korea currently stand at 57.33, 45.93, 24.83, 11.26, and 0.67 respectively.
btw, this statistic from the article is garbage propaganda from the fear-mongerers:
Another oft-cited statistic is that the U.S., with just 4 percent of the world's population, accounts for 24 percent of the world's diagnosed COVID-19 cases and 22 percent of the deaths attributed to the disease. Based on these figures, the U.S. has not been all that great at mitigating the pandemic.
It's a damn poor comparison because countries don't have exactly the same testing regime - or even the same criteria for measuring a COVID death.

As a hypothetical: Test everyone every day, and you'll mostly pick up every infection. Test everyone once a month and you'll miss some, because some people got it and got over it in the meantime, some people are sick but they're past the point where you can easily detect the virus, some people just got infected but it's too early to pick up virus replication.... Or compare a country where people are fairly philosophical about illness and won't get tested unless they get seriously ill, vs. one where many are scared silly and think they have a better chance of survival if they actually know whether they have COVID-19 vs. the flu....

And if someone thinks impoverished countries are testing as much as developed countries, I've got a bridge to sell them. They have more important needs and not enough money even for those. I am willing to bet that a fair number of countries that report very few coronavirus deaths and cases simply weren't recording them. If you've got people dying of malaria, malnutrition and lots of other things, COVID-19 deaths can easily be missed as something else.

btw, the most useful takeaway message from the above article is this:
In the Nature article, University of California, Irvine demographer Andrew Noymer noted that people in his field will probably never know the pandemic's final toll with certainty. "We haven't even settled on how many people died in the 1918 flu," said Noymer. "And we've had 100 years to sort out the numbers."
A bit of a poor example, because record-keeping wasn't so great back then and most people with the flu never went to a doctor, but the gist of it is true. Pretty much everything about every disease, from the annual number of cases to the case fatality rate, is just an estimate, subject to change, and can be argued.

Interesting bit of research, btw. ... 599139929/
As many as one in four of the nearly 500 participants in the study were found to have less-than-optimal levels of vitamin D, the data showed.

Among those found to be lacking the key nutrient, 22% contracted COVID-19, the data showed.

Of the 60% of study subjects with adequate vitamin D levels, just 12% were infected, according to the researchers.
It's plausible that the vitamin D effect was on the immune system. Then again, it's also possible that it's just a correlation. Maybe some people had lower levels because they're chronically ill and stay indoors more, or they're elderly.... Or maybe people with higher vitamin D levels are not stressed about this virus and are spending time outdoors exercising and living life, and the lower stress levels are what's making the difference...

Hard to say yet. I was going to read the article but they were doing site maintenance last night, so I'm not sure if they controlled for any of this.

Still haven't had time to read it but there's a lot of interest in vitamin D. It seems I'm not the only person thinking lockdowns may have made things worse than they had to be (though I admit I was thinking more of the effects of stress on immunity and mild infectious diseases):
Adv Respir Med. 2020;88(4):364-365. doi: 10.5603/ARM.a2020.0101.
Vitamin D supplementation to prevent COVID-19 in patients with COPD: a research perspective.
Chaabouni M1,2, Feki W3, Chaabouni K4, Kammoun S3.
Author information

There is increased evidence that the massive release of pro-inflammatory cytokines leading to the cytokine storm syndrome shapes the evolution of COVID-19 and is responsible of the severity of COVID-19 in some patients. A recent review argued that vitamin D deficiency could have increased the COVID-19 outbreak and suggested vitamin D supplementation as a preventive action. In fact, many factors seem to be correlated both to low vitamin D levels and the importance of COVID-19 spreading and severity. It is also important to highlight that the lockdown, implemented in many countries, prevents people to go out and then increases the risk of vitamin D deficiency. COPD patients are particularly at risk to have low levels of vitamin D due to multiple risk factors. COPD may generate a systemic inflammatory process responsible of secondary extra-pulmonary impairments. Vitamin D deficiency could sustain and aggravate the systemic inflammation associated to COPD. Reports have also shown that vitamin D deficiency was associated to exacerbations and hospital admissions, as well as lung function. Recent research showed that vitamin D supplementation significantly reduced COPD exacerbations. Although vitamin D deficiency was not proved to be neither a risk factor of COVID-19, nor a determinant of its severity, vitamin D supplementation represents a preventive perspective that needs to be further studied
Also there's a study or two on supplements which seemed promising, though it still seems to be just observational studies.

Well, this should be interesting, fining a company for not preventing a natural disease in an open society. The fine isn't large but I wonder if it will open companies up to liability if one of their workers happens to have TB, or they come to work with the flu and someone who's immunocompromised dies. I can see why that COVID-19 liability shield the Senate Republicans want for employers is a necessity in our sue-happy society. It sounded like overkill to me at first but, given American juries, it's probably not. Especially since companies will go overboard with the rules and restrictions for their employees if they think they might get sued. ... r-BB18UE4s
The U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday proposed that Smithfield Foods pay a $13,494 fine for failing to protect employees at a meat processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where nearly 1,300 workers contracted COVID-19 and four died.

The penalty, the maximum allowed by law, comes after the agency's Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted an inspection of the pork processing plant after it closed for several weeks in April and May due to an outbreak of the coronavirus among employees. OSHA cited Smithfield for not providing a workplace free from recognized hazards that can cause death or serious harm. ... ttle-gain/
What the U.K.’s Target of Net Zero Emissions Would Really Entail
Vast sums of money and resources would be spent for little gain and perhaps great environmental harm.

In 2019, Britain’s Conservative government toughened existing climate-change legislation by setting the country the target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 (the previous target had been 80 percent). There are other yet more ambitious proposals, providing for full decarbonization at even earlier dates, such as Extinction Rebellion’s 2025 and the Green Party’s 2030. In addition, other policies such as banning the sale of new cars and vans with internal-combustion-engines from 2030 are under serious consideration by the government in order to decarbonize transport as part of the overall CO2 target. As discussed below, the challenges of the energy transition required are enormous enough to seem unsurmountable and don’t seem to be sufficiently appreciated by those who set the targets. The scale of the challenge is great. A schedule, a budget, and engineering targets need to be put in place, and the work needs to start immediately, if the government is serious about meeting the targets for zero carbon emissions. It won’t be easy....
One thing that caught my eye was the proposal to replace all gas furnaces with heat pumps. Well, first there would be all the resources and energy needed to manufacture all those heat pumps. Secondly, the electricity to power the heat pumps needs to come from somewhere. Then there's the fact that heat pumps are lousy and inefficient in colder climates, the cost of repairs is astronomical with all the circuit boards going into them (try replacing a fan motor sometime - it'll cost you roughly $1000 plus labor, and if your compressor goes, you might as well buy a whole new unit) and the parts are much less reliable than the heat pumps of the past, even a power surge from a storm regularly kills parts even on units that are only a few years old....

No, this isn't The Onion: ... ligibility
Today, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced new representation and inclusion standards for Oscars® eligibility in the Best Picture category, as part of its Academy Aperture 2025 initiative. The standards are designed to encourage equitable representation on and off screen in order to better reflect the diversity of the movie-going audience. Academy governors DeVon Franklin and Jim Gianopulos headed a task force to develop the standards that were created from a template inspired by the British Film Institute (BFI) Diversity Standards ...

For the 94th Oscars (2022) and 95th Oscars (2023), submitting a confidential Academy Inclusion Standards form will be required for Best Picture consideration, however meeting inclusion thresholds will not be required for eligibility in the Best Picture category until the 96th Oscars (2024).

For the 96th Oscars (2024), a film must meet TWO out of FOUR of the following standards to be deemed eligible:

To achieve Standard A, the film must meet ONE of the following criteria:

A1. Lead or significant supporting actors

At least one of the lead actors or significant supporting actors is from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group.
• Asian
• Hispanic/Latinx
• Black/African American
• Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native
• Middle Eastern/North African
• Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
• Other underrepresented race or ethnicity

A2. General ensemble cast

At least 30% of all actors in secondary and more minor roles are from at least two of the following underrepresented groups:
• Women
• Racial or ethnic group
• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

A3. Main storyline/subject matter

The main storyline(s), theme or narrative of the film is centered on an underrepresented group(s).
• Women
• Racial or ethnic group
• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

To achieve Standard B, the film must meet ONE of the criteria below:

B1. Creative leadership and department heads
At least two of the following creative leadership positions and department heads—Casting Director, Cinematographer, Composer, Costume Designer, Director, Editor, Hairstylist, Makeup Artist, Producer, Production Designer, Set Decorator, Sound, VFX Supervisor, Writer—are from the following underrepresented groups:
• Women
• Racial or ethnic group
• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

At least one of those positions must belong to the following underrepresented racial or ethnic group

Adding actors and directors with cognitive difficulties should really enhance the quality of films ;)

Paint-by-number films. Sometimes I wonder if some people realize all those sci fi novels where society dictates everything were warnings, not "how to" guides.

Then again, I actually saw some people today getting upset online about those who don't follow the "one way" COVID directions in some stores (unless this was just trolling?). Practically everyone around here quickly decided those were stupid and counterproductive. We manage to sort ourselves out like adults, instead of bunching up behind each other like obedient children, or having to pass the person in front of you, when you actually want to be in the next aisle over, which is totally empty and could be reached without getting near anyone at all.

The Rules Nazis are having a field day lately. ... r-problem/
Cancel Culture Is Not the Problem; Conformity Culture Is
Greg Patton — a business professor, for now, at the University of Southern California, who committed the outrage of repeating a Chinese expression that sounds similar to a racist slur in English — is the latest scholar to fall prey to campus cancel culture. His case also serves as a warning that, while cancel culture is a real phenomenon that presents a clear and present danger to academic freedom, a more insidious peril lurks: the soft despotism of presumed conformity....

All these episodes are problematic. They invert the purpose of learning, which inherently entails discomfort, as well as a baseline condition for scholarly inquiry, which is academic freedom. Patton’s cancellation occupies a special, and perhaps especially absurd, category in the sense that he did not even express a controversial idea of the sort academic freedom should protect.

But there is an advantage to these explicit illustrations of cancel culture: They are visible and known. The more egregious they are, the more attention they draw. A larger question looms behind them: Who never speaks in the first place? ...

The more difficult cases — largely unknown because they are, unlike discrete and reportable events, unknowable — are those in which scholars restrain their own language not out of fear but rather out of weariness. For them, the question may be less what consequences will ensue from controversy than whether they have the time and energy to engage in it. Resistance is not futile; it is simply exhausting. Purported offenses and the silencing that attends them are identifiable events that tend, at least in the circles that care about them, to make news. Self-censorship, if it is even self-conscious, is the dog that never barked and is not news precisely for that reason...

...the intent of those who seek compliance more softly is not necessarily hostile or heavy-handed. They may, on the contrary, sincerely perceive themselves as charitable. The resulting dynamic is less severe and arguably more insidious: those who police, or rather shape, speech not with an intent to suppress dissent but rather on what they view to be the benevolent assumption that everyone agrees with them....

Not an easy transcript to find. But worth reading again. Here we are, 5 months later, and Boris Johnson just said you're a criminal if you meet more than 5 people for a get-together, LA's mayor just tried to jail and fine people if they let their kids trick or treat, before having to back down, and Australia is arresting and prosecuting people for the "crime" of suggesting a socially-distanced protest against lockdowns. And quite a lot of people have happily surrendered their autonomy and their independent lives to the whims of the media and the politicians, out of an irrational level of fear. :
Here is a recording of the astonishing interview of Lord Sumption, a former member of the Supreme Court and last year’s Reith Lecturer, on BBC Radio 4’s World at One today, Monday 30th March 2020. It is by far the most high-powered criticism, made in public by a senior figure of considerable reputation and merit, of government policy on the corona virus. I shall be providing a transcript as soon as I can, but in the meanwhile I ask you to disseminate it as widely as possible, as I fear that other media may not do so in these strange times.

Lord Sumption interview begins at 17 minutes into BBC R4’s World At One 30th March 2020
Here is a transcript of the whole interview.

The real problem is that when human societies lose their freedom, it’s not usually because tyrants have taken it away. It’s usually because people willingly surrender their freedom in return for protection against some external threat. And the threat is usually a real threat but usually exaggerated. That’s what I fear we are seeing now. The pressure on politicians has come from the public. They want action. They don’t pause to ask whether the action will work. They don’t ask themselves whether the cost will be worth paying. They want action anyway. And anyone who has studied history will recognise here the classic symptoms of collective hysteria.

Hysteria is infectious. We are working ourselves up into a lather in which we exaggerate the threat and stop asking ourselves whether the cure may be worse than the disease.

Q At a time like this as you acknowledge, citizens do look to the state for protection, for assistance, we shouldn’t be surprised then if the state takes on new powers, that is what it has been asked to do, almost demanded of it.

A Yes that is absolutely true. We should not be surprised. But we have to recognise that this is how societies become despotisms. And we also have to recognise this is a process which leads naturally to exaggeration. ...

... The Press has engaged in a fair amount of scrutiny, there has been some good and challenging journalism, but mostly the Press has, I think, echoed and indeed amplified the general panic.... [NB: At least some of the press in the UK has engaged in some scrutiny. Most of the mainstream press in the US is following the "pandemic plan" and not questioning anything, even when there's plenty of scientific evidence that doesn't agree with the official narrative.]

I am not a scientist but it is the right and duty of every citizen to look and see what the scientists have said and to analyse it for themselves and to draw common sense conclusions. We are all perfectly capable of doing that and there’s no particular reason why the scientific nature of the problem should mean we have to resign our liberty into the hands of scientists. We all have critical faculties and it’s rather important, in a moment of national panic, that we should maintain them....
Well, I am a scientist, and one important thing everyone forgets is that "Science" should never be making the decisions on anything. Science's proper role is to say "this is what the evidence suggests,and here are the arguments for and against this being true." then it's society's role to choose what to do with that information.

And by society I personally prefer not ceding our right to make choices to the politicians and the media or "the scientists" (which generally means the loudest and most confident-appearing people and/or those who have the ear of the politicians) , but allowing people themselves to choose. In other words, if you tell people they shouldn't go to the beach on spring break, or they shouldn't visit a public park in Paris, or they shouldn't go to a pub in the UK, and they still do in spite of the warnings, the proper course of action is not IMO to criminalize normal behavior or lock everyone into their houses like 5-year-olds "because you didn't listen" but to accept the will of the people and/or find other ways to cope or limit crowding.*

*For instance, one touristy beach town got upset this spring because too many people were descending on it on warm spring days for a bit of pleasure. So they decided to completely close the beach and posted police to keep anyone from going for a walk, even on cold, blustery days when people stayed away and there was not the slightest danger of getting within several hundred feet of someone else. But they could have been able to control the crowd size quite easily, given the layout of the place and its relative isolation, by temporarily closing a proportion of the parking spaces. It was easier for their politicians to play authoritarian and use the police to punish wrong-thinkers than to use psychology and think outside the box...

It's sad there are so few people of Lord Sumption's caliber, but an awful lot of selfish and paranoid folks who want their government to criminalize perfectly ordinary actions of their fellow citizens to "protect" themselves against a natural event that can't actually be stopped by any means we have. Especially when they could protect and isolate themselves if they're vulnerable or just afraid.

I am honestly shocked at what has happened since February. Cancellation of large public gatherings like conventions and parades, sure, I anticipated that and thought it was sensible. Suggestions advising people on physical distancing, hand hygiene, limits on the number of people in stores to avoid overcrowding, etc. sure. Advice to stay home if you feel sick, even if it's just a scratchy throat and you're not sure, absolutely yes. (giving people extra, COVID-specific, sick leave was one of the better ideas during this pandemic) But mass border closures, mask mandates enforced by fines and jail time, hotlines for informers to report their neighbors breaking the rules, drone surveillance, people forbidden from leaving their home except for government-allowed purposes, having a barbecue with friends or a wedding or funeral criminalized (unless you're George Floyd, in which case you got several large funerals, at least some at public expense), public parks and beaches and walking trails closed or open at the whim of the authorities, police not allowing married couples to sit on the same public bench, governments prohibiting businesses from operating, states forbidding hotels from accepting people from other states, etc? In supposedly "free" western societies? Never in my wildest dreams. It's like sanity and adult independence fled when the media pumped most people full of fear, and now it seems like everyone has just accepted it. ... ndermined/
One of the cruellest tricks that a sadistic jailer can play on political prisoners is to hint that they are about to be released, to wave the keys to their cells before their eyes – and then, at the last moment, to snatch away the promise of freedom.

That is pretty much what the government has done to the entire population over the past week. The everyday deprivations of lockdown had become – like accustomed imprisonment of most kinds – almost endurable, until the experience of something like normal life was restored.

Even more important than the details of those relaxed rules was the emergence of hope...

The news ran through the public consciousness like an electric current. Not only was there to be an even more limiting prohibition on gatherings of family and friends but, on a wider front, there now seemed to be doubt cast over the entire future: the optimism that had driven the back-to-work and back-to-school movements was giving way to a renewed doom model in which no guarantees of any kind could be offered for the foreseeable future.

The government, I am quite sure, has underestimated the shock and indignation that its Rule of Six diktat produced in the country because it is, by all accounts, relying on opinion polling and focus groups to keep in touch with public attitudes....

...In fact, my (and quite possibly your) experience of talking to real people gives a very different picture of the public state of mind from the quiescent one that official figures might suggest.

Even before last week’s bombshell announcement, I was struck by how widely the true facts of the current situation had permeated the popular consciousness. Casual conversations with neighbours in the street, with people in shops and at the hairdressers’ revealed that almost all of them had taken in the important anomaly: that while numbers of “new cases” (in reality, just positive test results) were increasing, hospital admissions and deaths were not....
I've had the same experience and I was just talking with a friend about the idiocy of not being allowed to stop at a restaurant if you forgot your mask, although everyone will take their mask off for an hour or so while being seated. I've had other spontaneous conversations with people who don't believe the hype about the virus being deadly to everyone (though all seem to recognize that it can be very dangerous to people in certain groups), or all the "rules" being needed at this point. Once someone realizes you're not going to chastise them for not agreeing with the official media line, what they really think comes out. ... le-reason/
Don’t panic, Britain – Christmas isn’t cancelled. And here’s the simple reason why

The Government may have lost faith in the common sense of the people. But there’s a flaw in its draconian new plan
Not even Agatha Christie could have dreamt up a twist like this. Before he entered Downing Street, Boris Johnson was, above all else, a vigorous defender of personal liberty. A tireless opponent of the nanny state. An implacable foe of bureaucratic bossiness. If he believed in anything at all, it was freedom.

And what does he do when he gets into power? He makes Christmas dinner a criminal offence....

Or is it? Actually, I don’t think it can be – whatever the Government says. In practice, cancelling the traditional family Christmas would be impossible. It doesn’t matter what laws the Government lays down, nor how many Boris Busybodies – aka “Covid marshals” – it recruits. The fact is this. Every Christmas, around 12 million people travel across this country to visit their families. And if, this December, 12 million people – or half that, or just a quarter, or even a sixth – decide that, to hell with the new limit, they’re going to spend Christmas with their families anyway, there are no practical means by which the Government can stop them.

What are the Boris Busybodies going to do? Erect a police road block at the end of every street? Ban the sale of petrol? Spend the whole of December going from house to house, slashing the tyres of every Volvo in Britain? …” ... -lockdown/
A mask will be compulsory when ordering a takeaway kebab or burger. Unless, that is, there is a table somewhere, but make sure you sit down right away, and don’t stop to chat to someone in the queue. Likewise, masks will be mandatory in shops, unless you happen to be under 11. Or a shop worker. Or talking to someone who lip reads. Or suffer from a mental or physical disability.

Or, for that matter, if you live in Scotland, in which case there are a whole separate set of rules to follow, such as making sure you are wearing a mask on open-air train platforms, although not bus stops, except if you are buying a sausage roll from the kiosk, in which case, well, it might be best to check first. Oh, and apparently anyone ordering a vegan sandwich will be exempt from all the restrictions. OK, OK, I made that last one up. But the rest were among the blizzard of rules introduced haphazardly over the last few days.

But hold on. This is getting crazy. What is the justification for each of these diktats? We are apparently not trusted to know. Are they proportionate? There is barely an answer. Why are they being introduced now, when the virus is in retreat? Don’t ask me. Perversely, we are getting bogged down in petty rules and restrictions just as we are trying to emerge from lockdown and bring the economy back to life....

I too have reached the point where I'm angry and say "enough!" to all this control over my life and my actions. The authorities and the authoritarian rule-makers (including those in businesses who wouldn't know a valid public health measure from a pointless one if it bit them in the face*) forfeited willing cooperation long ago.

As the Telegraph's Christmas is cancelled article points out, or LA having to walk back its criminalization of Halloweeen, this is the flaw in their plans - the government is relying on people to cooperate and, if enough people say "enough is enough," that's the end of it. For example, I have reason to suspect that all Easter or Mother's Day gatherings were NOT cancelled around here and, as far as I know, everyone minded their own business and didn't snitch.

*For example, ritual employee symptom checking stations that ensure people who would ordinarily never meet during the workday now funnel through the same small airspace with everyone else over a brief period of time. "Stand here" signs that ensure you're 6 feet from the person in front of you in line.... but manage to minimize your space from other people (especially amusing when you're practically standing next to someone in the next aisle, both wearing masks that direct your breath sideways ). And, my personal favorite, a place that used to be a 5-minute in-and-out impulse purchase, which has turned it into an elaborate ritual that ensures you're exposed to at least 3-4 employees, instead of one, and stand around inside near a group of strangers waiting for another 5-10 minutes instead of just receiving your item directly from the person placing your order and leaving. All they really had to do was limit the number of people inside at one time and keep their usual system and they'd have been safer. So much of this "safety" stuff lately is kabuki theater.

btw, I always think it's interesting that schoolkids didn't have to wear masks during the 2009 flu pandemic, which was a bigger threat to them than this coronavirus. Hmmm, maybe people then were still able to evaluate the pros and cons of mask wearing rationally, especially in kids, and look at all those decades of research about masks of different types and their effects on viruses, many of which are also spread in the late incubation period before you become symptomatic?

There's a reason Sweden recently looked at masks and decided not to recommend them for the general public:
"We do not currently recommend face masks in public settings since the scientific evidence around the effectiveness of face masks in combatting the spread of infection is unclear. However, there may be situations where face masks can be useful despite the uncertain state of knowledge about the effects."


"Some countries have chosen to view face masks as a form of security and hope that universal use of face masks will reduce the risk of infection spreading from people who are in the incubation period, before the symptoms are apparent, or who have such mild or unspecific symptoms that they do not consider themselves ill.

The Public Health Agency of Sweden does not recommend the general use of face masks, as a face mask that itches or slips down below the nose may mean a person is regularly touching their mouth, eyes or nose with their hands, which can increase the risk of the infection spreading...."

Both statements are accurate and fair.

And kids are likely to do even worse things for pathogen spread, like "Your mask is really cute! Can I try it on?... "

EDIT: At least Sweden doesn't lie to people: ... -a-vaccine
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield said Wednesday that wearing a mask is more guaranteed to protect someone from the coronavirus than taking a vaccine.

Redfield, speaking at a Senate hearing, emphasized the importance of wearing masks, noting that an eventual vaccine is not expected to work in 100 percent of people, and might only work in, say, 70 percent. But a mask is guaranteed to offer at least some protection for all wearers, he added, though it is far from total protection.

"We have clear scientific evidence they work, I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine, because the immunogenicity may be 70 percent and if I don't get an immune response, the vaccine's not going to protect me, this face mask will," Redfield said....
Yeah, if he's wearing a fit-tested N95. Otherwise, bullshit.
I am slightly amused that he's forgotten the party line though. Wasn't it supposed to be that masks don't protect you, they protect others? I always figured that was fairly clever. It takes care of the doubts when a mask wearer gets infected anyway. (It wasn't your mask that was ineffective; it was that horrible other person who wasn't wearing one.) It gives the public an incentive to play enforcer, since it's the other person's mask that's supposed to protect you. And it also makes it really tough to do a conclusive study that demonstrates masks are ineffective.

[To be fair, what they say is not incorrect, in a way - they're just stretching it. The idea behind wearing a mask to the doctor is you have a symptomatic respiratory disease is that, in case of coughing/ sneezing, the mask can control droplets to some extent. It's probably more effective, of course, to block your cough/sneeze with a solid physical barrier like a tissue in hand or elbow, but the mask is an extra layer of at least theoretical protection. Where they're stretching things is to assume it works the same way if you're just breathing and asymptomatic, and that this outweighs all the real world issues and decades of studies with other infectious diseases. Plus decades of arguments on this very subject between experts. ;) ]

Redfield goes on to say:
These face masks are the most important, powerful public health tool we have, and I will continue to appeal for all Americans to embrace these face coverings, if we did it for six, eight, 10, 12 weeks we'd bring this pandemic under control," Redfield said
Yeah, like California, which has had a mask mandate for months and is still following a similar curve as states without mask wearing? What bugs me even more is that he's being utterly irresponsible, saying masks are the most important public measure. With this, he encourages all the people who are emboldened by the masks to ignore physical distancing and get close to people. Not that they weren't already doing this.

btw, they tried masks against SARS during that outbreak in Asia and, to this day, scientists debate whether they did any good. Which means if they had any effect, it was marginal at best. I expect the same thing to happen with COVID-19.

Anyway, people will believe what they want to believe. Screw it. I don't care any more. The mask push, and much of the public's enthusiastic response, reminds me of the propaganda about those elusive weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, when the US wanted to go to war. Most people swallowed that lie, then were surprised it turned out not be true. (I didn't, actually. I always thought attacking Iraq was going to be a big and expensive mistake, if you did any reading about the country, its factions, and its history. ) ... die-covid/
The text message arrived at 9.30am last Friday: “A child in the class has tested positive for Covid-19. Please come and collect your own child immediately.”

Six days into the start of term, it was the news every parent at the North London primary school had been dreading. But one of them, a mother-of-four whose son was among those sent home when his Year Four “bubble” shut down, did not foresee the emotional toll the incident would take on him.

“He had been sitting next to the infected child on Monday and Tuesday, until the school sent [the child] home coughing. My son was sobbing when he came out of school, and saying ‘you’re all going to die because I’m going to catch coronavirus and pass it to you and daddy, and it will all be my fault!’

“He’s worried about infecting everyone in our house. He’d just got back into the routine of being at school and seeing his friends, and now he’s back out again.”

Anecdotal evidence suggests the parent, who asked to remain anonymous lest her child felt more stigmatised, is one of many who have watched in dismay as their child has become newly traumatised since schools have reopened. In place is a strict new system designed to protect public health. But many fear it could be doing untold damage to school pupils as they struggle to make sense of what is going on....
And yet "mommy and daddy," in most cases, are going to be well within the range of people who suffer few or no ill effects from this virus. Even in the 50-60 year old age group, last I saw, survival was estimated around 99.7%, and the average parent is much younger than that. The risk rises a bit in 60-70 year olds (I think the survival rate is a little under 99%), then rises more drastically after 70 and especially after 80, as the number of people with other serious health issues gets higher.

It's been interesting to me that some of the people they've managed to seriously terrify and turn into government informants are among younger adults who've blown what's possibly a mild risk factor* out of proportion. : ... covidiots/
Like virtually every Briton, lockdown transformed my life overnight. I was furloughed for five months from my job in the entertainment industry, and missed a number of key birthdays and gatherings with friends for which I had been excited for months.

My asthma made it particularly important that I did not catch the virus, turning me into something of a prisoner in my own home in Berkshire, where I live with family.

But, with tens of thousands of deaths across the country, each of them bringing unbearable heartache, never once did I question the importance of following lockdown rules.

And so, as early as March and April, when the country was still in the midst of a full national lockdown, it was deeply frustrating to see some of my neighbours flouting the restrictions completely.

I looked out of my window to see guests arriving at neighbours’ houses; at weekends, my local parks were full of large crowds, with no attempt to socially distance; and on buses and trains, many of my fellow passengers refused to wear masks.

I did not hesitate to report larger gatherings to the authorities, either to the police on 101, or online....
To me, this sort of behavior seems another symptom of the mental health effects of scaring and isolating people and making them see fellow humans as terrifying sources of contagion. I fail to see how this guy's neighbors meeting friends or going to the park were threatening him unless he went out and socialized with them.

* ... vid-asthma
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is scary for all people, but for those with asthma there is great fear that they will have a worse outcome or be more likely to get SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). It is important to know that currently there is no evidence of increased infection rates in those with asthma. And although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that patients with moderate-severe asthma could be at greater risk for more severe disease, there are no published data to support this determination at this time. There has been one report suggesting that asthma may increase the risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 in 18-49 year old adults; however, this is based on a small number of patients.1 And in the opposite direction are data from New York where asthma was under-represented (so protective) in those who died from COVID-19.2...

I've seen similar analyses from other sources.

This is not in the least surprising and it's a dangerous backlash. Extremism breeds extremism. It's also not surprising it's happening among the young, who have little experience of the world and are at a susceptible age. ... errifying/
Is 'wokism' creating an army of alt-Right teens? If so, the results will be terrifying

A new generation has had enough of the politically correct dogma they are fed at school - and at home by overly liberal parents
The British Hand has one deeply ineloquent goal: “To get rid of Islam and those little BLM f---ers.”

Using Instagram and Telegram, a multi-platform messaging service where “secret chats” are protected by end-to-end encryption and self-destruct timers, the neo-Nazi group has been able to spread their message and make threats, like a recent plan, shared with its more than 1,000 followers, to “attack… the Dover coast where every Muslim and refugee has been given safety”.

Their poster boys are Anders Breivik...

There’s a growing appetite for online neo-Nazi hate, you see, and - according to a new report by anti-fascism campaigners, Hope Not Hate - many of those being groomed for the white supremacist cause are as young as 12....

We know that hate breeds hate. Or is it because many parents have secretly glimpsed a watered-down version of that hate and intolerance in their own children?

Because of the generation of “baby Breitbarts” - named after the online alt-Right news network that helped propel co-founder Steve Bannon into Donald Trump’s White House - that is rising up against a censorship they feel has been imposed upon them at school, college and university, where PC dogma now often threatens to eclipse traditional subjects; at home, with their ferociously liberal parents; and in a mainstream media that seems to want them to admit their ‘unconscious bias’ and atone for the sin of being born white and privileged by self-flagellating ad infinitum?

Clamp your hand over someone’s mouth every time they speak, and what finally emerges is a howl of rage.. ...
I think something similar is also happening with COVID-19 information or information about the people killed by police. Because US media and social media platforms have clamped down on legitimate dissent, many people who question the official party line and search will find themselves on far right sites that feed them a dose of lunacy together with the information they're looking for. For instance, instead of just acknowledging that accidental lab releases of viruses are possible and have happened in the fairly recent past, even from high security labs, a fact that also appears in the legitimate scientific literature, a story might go beyond that into conspiracy theories that claim the Chinese engineered SARS-CoV2 as a test balloon for bioterrorism.... I'm sure places like Breitbart know this and are using it to gain new readers. Feed people a bit of truth, when other sources deny it, and some will think you've got the whole truth that's been hidden from them all along.

btw, I've been a little curious about some of these people who call themselves epidemiologists and strike me more as modelers/ computer scientists. When I read an article in last week's Science, "Speaking Science to Power" (, I learned these things:
In May, epidemiologist Caitlin Rivers.. had been called for the first time in her career to testify before Congress...

Five years out of graduate school, she is already well-versed in talking to policymakers about the science of pandemics. She has developed models to predict the spread of Middle East respiratory syndrome and Ebola, briefed the Department of Defense (DOD) on outbreak response, and tracked respiratory disease among Army service members. She's now at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, a think tank that advises U.S. and international leaders on epidemics and disasters. ..
Rivers majored in anthropology, and she brings an “anthropologist's understanding of how what seem to be totally different cultures can communicate with each other—the policy world and the modeling epidemiologists,” says Stephen Eubank, an epidemiological modeler at the University of Virginia (UVA) who mentored Rivers during her graduate training in epidemiology and infectious disease at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech).
“We are in a critical moment of this fight,” she told the representatives, warning that a clear national plan for testing, contact tracing, and strengthening health care systems was essential to prevent tens of thousands more deaths.
While she was in graduate school, Rivers and colleagues proposed creating a National Infectious Disease Forecasting Center, akin to the National Weather Service, that would put a coordinated team of epidemic modeling experts inside the government.
So her PhD is in anthropology, not microbiology/virology or immunology or medicine and she certainly doesn't have the decades of experience in infectious diseases I might have expected in a policy expert advising the government.
I took a class in physical anthropology in college (what you learn from bones/ skeletons, what we know about human evolution, etc.) just for fun and loved it, so I tried a regular anthropology class as another elective. I dropped it almost immediately, when it became clear it was going to be fuzzy science, along the lines of sociology, with a good helping of social justice philosophy. (The first day's lecture told us we were not supposed to view cultures "objectively.") So I found this fairly interesting. And the truth is that, 5 years out of your PhD, you're still wet behind the ears. You don't think you are but, when you look back later, you realize you were.


Society can and does execute its own mandates, and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. ― John Stuart Mill

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Post subject: Re: Escaping the Echo Chamber
Posted: Thu 17 Sep , 2020 2:33 pm
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This was interesting/ amusing, if you know CNN and its spin on anything Trump. :) ... supporter/
Before Jeff Zucker devoted his channel full-time to attacking President Trump, he did his best to ensure candidate Trump’s rise, according to newly revealed audio recordings of the CNN chief’s pandering to the Trump campaign....

Despite his paeans to journalistic integrity, Zucker’s programming decisions are guided by the bottom line, as with any cable-news executive. Before it was financially expedient to bash Trump non-stop, it was ratings gold to turn the mic over to candidate Trump for much of the day and fill the rest of the airtime discussing his latest antics....

While it’s long been clear that the network benefitted enormously from Trump’s takeover of Republican politics, new reporting from Tucker Carlson has revealed that Zucker personally tried to board the Trump train in 2016, and only avoided becoming a personal adviser to the then-candidate for fear that his true motives, which seem curiously unrelated to Truth, would be revealed. On Tuesday night, Carlson played recordings of Zucker praising Trump in a March 2016 conversation with former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. The CNN head called Trump “the boss” and claimed he wanted to offer the fledgling politician a “weekly show.”

“I’ve just got to be careful. I just don’t want him talking about it on the campaign trail,” Zucker can be heard saying to Cohen. “But you know what? I’m going to give him a call right now and I’m going wish him luck in the debate tonight. . . . I have all these proposals for him. Like, I want to do a weekly show with him, and all this stuff.”...

Zucker, who has publicly admitted that he respects Trump — “I like Donald,” Zucker told the New York Times in 2017. “I guess I shouldn’t call him that. I like President Trump. He’s affable. He’s funny.” — has tried to play off his early platforming of the candidate as par for the course....
The media's main goal is always profit. But at least with something like the AP or Reuters, they get profit by selling stories to other media outlets so you're more likely to get a balanced story.

I am seriously wondering if the Democrats and left-leaning media will manage to repeat 2016 and snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory again. They had so much past material to work with, on Trump's incompetence, refusal to listen to experts (talking at people most of the time instead of listening to anyone, according to Bolton's book and others who tried to work with him), diplomatic screw-ups, not being able to work with anyone for long, changing his mind on a whim, proposing things that are prohibited by US laws then having to abandon them, pulling money from useful things into vanity projects like the Wall, separating children from their parents in massive numbers (despite objections from his own officials) and not even keeping track of them, then trying to keep this secret, blunders in talking/ boasting about classified information in front of people who shouldn't hear it, sending really childish "threatening" letters to other world leaders (Erdogan, for instance) etc.

And then they chose to focus on 1) supporting the BLM political movement/ Critical Race Theory promoters (which is not necessarily the same as supporting the idea that "black lives matter" or wanting to make sure the police treat everyone fairly) and downplay people's concerns about the accompanying riots, deaths and intimidation, 2) Blame Trump for the pandemic, which is silliness. He said some dumb things, and I strongly disagree with him holding rallies right now, but in practical terms I doubt we'd be in any different spot with Hillary Clinton. It's all a juggling act between harms and mostly done at the state and local level anyway. 3) Blame Trump for the economy, which is way out there, since the governors were the ones who shut businesses down. I expect most people can see where the blame lies there. People in New York and Pennsylvania are certainly blaming their governors for doing the idiotic thing of sending elderly, recovering COVID patients from the hospital straight to nursing homes. Surely someone could have told them that, in people with weakened immune systems, there's sometimes the chance of unusually prolonged virus shedding?

And meanwhile the media gasps in horror and goes into hysterics over things that are obvious jokes (even I laughed at "negotiating a third term"), and forgets that the public loves an underdog who's fighting back against persecution. And demonizes people who might vote for Trump and openly calls them stupid and editorializes everything into an us/them situation instead of just reporting the news.

All this is IMO a mistake.

btw, this was definitely a face palm moment. What did the city council expect?! : ... the-police
The meeting was slated as a Minneapolis City Council study session on police reform.

But for much of the two-hour meeting, council members told police Chief Medaria Arradondo that their constituents are seeing and hearing street racing which sometimes results in crashes, brazen daylight carjackings, robberies, assaults and shootings. ... "Residents are asking, ‘Where are the police’?” ...

More people have been killed in the city in the first nine months of 2020 than were slain in all of last year. Property crimes, like burglaries and auto thefts, are also up. Incidents of arson have increased 55 percent over the total at this point in 2019....

Arradondo said around 100 officers have left the department or have taken leave since the beginning of 2020. That’s more than double the usual number of officers who either step down from the department or who are inactive each year....

Despite the uptick of crime in his ward, Cunningham, who supports the creation of a new community safety agency to replace the police department, said it’s particularly important now to start instituting some of those public health-based approaches to violence prevention. Recently, the council took more than $1 million from the police budget to hire “violence interrupters” to intervene and defuse potentially violent confrontations....

“What I am sort of flabbergasted by right now is colleagues, who a very short time ago were calling for abolition, are now suggesting we should be putting more resources and funding into MPD,” Cunningham said.

Article is focused on the BLM narrative but many of its principles apply to other things too. ... onformity/
Black Lives Matter and the Mechanics of Conformity
written by Matthew Blackwell
The death of George Floyd in May, circulated in a bystander’s excruciating video clip, reignited furious and sometimes violent protests demanding reforms to address police brutality against ethnic minorities. ...

The apparently inequitable use of force against ethnic minorities, meanwhile, has unleashed a torrent of emotion and allegations against police departments across the United States....

But, for all their zealous advocacy, celebrities and protestors alike are reluctant to acknowledge or discuss the nuances of the empirical literature on the racial biases they are protesting. As part of an effort to quantify racial bias in police killings, a 2016 study in the journal Injury found that black Americans are not more likely to be injured or killed by police than white Americans during traffic stops. And, despite the general finding in the Center for Police Equity report that police officers use greater force against black suspects, it also found that blacks are no more likely than whites to be subject to lethal force. In fact, it found that white people face a higher risk of being killed during an arrest...

Things get even weirder when we try to probe psychological biases in police officers. Under multiple intense psychological simulation experiments carried out at Washington State University, police were found to exhibit a propensity to fire on white suspects faster than black suspects, and were also more likely to shoot unarmed whites...

Researchers have hypothesized in an article for Criminology & Public Policy that the apparent “reverse racism” bias of police shootings reflects law enforcement fear of the consequences of a minority death... The study on police shootings published by the National Academies of Sciences includes another finding that may make sense in this light—black police officers are more likely to shoot black suspects than white police officers are...

Before proceeding further, it’s important to emphasize caution on over-interpreting the anti-white findings of recent scholarship. ... [but] While doubt prevails among those familiar with the data on policing killings, faith-based inerrancy seems to invigorate activists to the point where discussion becomes futile. When video journalist Ami Horowitz tried to engage with Black Lives Matter activists he found they had virtually no familiarity with the data on police killings and no desire to know about it. “I can’t, I’m getting angry, I don’t want to talk anymore,” said one activist in response...
... Those with the most unrealistically dire and pessimistic view of any issue are those most likely to be motivated to do something about it. As Rosling points out, this makes activists the last people we should go to for an accurate understanding of the cause for which they are campaigning....
...It might seem incredible that conformity could manifest in the absence of supporting evidence, but the phenomenon of scientifically groundless belief enjoying mass acceptance is hardly new. ... Because it is costly in time and effort to master evidence involved in a variety of issues, most people base their beliefs on what others believe rather than on primary evidence, on the assumption that others are well informed. A snowballing effect then occurs as the validity of a belief increases along with the number of believers....
In the 1960s and 1970s, the behavioural scientists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman began studying the mental shortcuts that inform our psychological judgements, and termed one of these shortcuts the “availability heuristic.” Tversky and Kahneman found that the ease with which specific instances of a thing can be recalled, the more likely we are to overestimate the importance and frequency of that thing occurring.... . What is in our memory, he argues, “is largely determined by the extent of coverage in the media.”

Research carried out by Sarah Lichtenstein, Paul Slovic and Baruch Fischoff bears out this view. For example, the media pays a disproportionate amount of attention to deaths in tornados and accidents of all kinds compared to deaths by diseases such as asthma or diabetes. Lichtenstein and her colleagues found that people believe that accidents are 300 times more likely to kill someone than diabetes when in fact diabetes kills four times as many people as accidents.... The implications of this availability heuristic and our media saturation of black deaths in police hands should be obvious. ...
...As a consensus emerges, the burden of justifying one’s beliefs falls on those who dissent from the prevailing orthodoxy, and as the prevalence of a belief grows, the costs of dissent increase causing a snowballing effect of preference falsification...
...As hysteria rises and people everywhere become alarmed or pretend to be alarmed by whatever the imagined crisis is about, Sunstein and Kuran point out that historically the media systematically suppresses reasoned commentary by experts in the relevant field and may even give more attention to “gimmicks” that further inflame panic. According to Kahneman, “Scientists and others who try to dampen out the increasing fear and revulsion attract little attention, most of it is hostile...

Just FYI, if you think you're having more headaches when wearing a mask, you're probably not imagining it. Anecdotally, quite a few people seem to be having this issue, with mandatory cloth/surgical mask wearing. I originally assumed this would be mostly in the N95s, which are more difficult to breathe in, but it seems surgical masks can do it too, for some reason. Higher humidity of the air you're breathing? Changes in breathing patterns? Pressure on your ears from the straps? :
Am J Infect Control. 2009 Jun;37(5):417-419. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2008.11.002. Epub 2009 Feb 12.
Use of surgical face masks to reduce the incidence of the common cold among health care workers in Japan: a randomized controlled trial.
Jacobs JL1, Ohde S2, Takahashi O3, Tokuda Y3, Omata F3, Fukui T3.
Author information

Health care workers outside surgical suites in Asia use surgical-type face masks commonly. Prevention of upper respiratory infection is one reason given, although evidence of effectiveness is lacking.

Health care workers in a tertiary care hospital in Japan were randomized into 2 groups: 1 that wore face masks and 1 that did not. They provided information about demographics, health habits, and quality of life. Participants recorded symptoms daily for 77 consecutive days, starting in January 2008. Presence of a cold was determined based on a previously validated measure of self-reported symptoms. The number of colds between groups was compared, as were risk factors for experiencing cold symptoms.

Thirty-two health care workers completed the study, resulting in 2464 subject days. There were 2 colds during this time period, 1 in each group. Of the 8 symptoms recorded daily, subjects in the mask group were significantly more likely to experience headache during the study period (P < .05). Subjects living with children were more likely to have high cold severity scores over the course of the study.

Face mask use in health care workers has not been demonstrated to provide benefit in terms of cold symptoms or getting colds. A larger study is needed to definitively establish noninferiority of no mask use.
People discussing possible fixes here, might be helpful especially for ear issues. Some of it is for surgical masks but keep in mind some of them are wearing N95s, which are a PITA no matter what. ... of_oxygen/

EDIT: Actually, the CDC suggests the headaches might be from CO2 build-up as well. They seem to be talking about ordinary face coverings here, not N95s:
...While breathing in excessive amounts of CO2 for large amounts of time can be dangerous, it is unlikely that the general public would suffer from these complications by wearing a mask. Most people would wear face coverings on short stints outside their home as a complementary measure to social isolation ( here ).

A representative from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told Reuters: “The CO2 will slowly build up in the mask over time. However, the level of CO2 likely to build up in the mask is mostly tolerable to people exposed to it. You might get a headache but you most likely [would] not suffer the symptoms observed at much higher levels of CO2. The mask can become uncomfortable for a variety of reasons including a sensitivity to CO2 and the person will be motivated to remove the mask. It is unlikely that wearing a mask will cause hypercapnia.”...
There's been so much denial by the media/ officialdom that surgical/ cloth masks can affect CO2, that I never even thought to look. Should have known better.

Mind you, the media doesn't seem to talk about active or outdoor workers getting heat exhaustion in masks either, though you can see people mention it on social media. Some of the fabric masks corporations are making their employees wear look very hot and restrictive. ... irologist/
Germany’s most celebrated virologist has some trenchant advice for countries contemplating a second national lockdown: hold your nerve, and don’t succumb to the pervasive mood of mass hysteria.

“It is time to stop all this alarmism. We can outsmart the virus using all our knowledge,” said Professor Hendrik Streeck, director of Germany's Institute of Virology at Bonn University.

“We have to realise that Covid-19 is going to be with us for a long time and we must learn to live with it. We can’t keep shutting down our daily lives and paralysing everything,” he said. ...
Seems I'm not the only one saying some things, though he's more of an optimist on the benefits/effectiveness of masks than I am.
...Lockdown "hawks" argue that Covid immunity fades rapidly and therefore the pursuit of herd immunity is a chimera. They rely heavily on studies suggesting that people can lose their protective antibodies within three months after the getting the disease. Prof Streeck believed these claims were vastly overblown.

“We’ve had over 30m cases worldwide and only two described cases of reinfection. That tells you there must be more lasting immunity. We know from other coronaviruses that you get one or two years of protection, and if you do get the diseases again you’ll still have partial immunity from T-cells so it won’t be as bad. I don’t think Covid-19 is going to be different,” he said.

“It will be very interesting to watch what happens in cities that have already had a lot of infections. It would not surprise me if New York has already reached effective herd immunity, and maybe even Sweden too.”...

btw, I think Bloomberg is an idiot with more money than sense. I suspect this is going to backfire on the Democrats in terms of PR among the independent and centrist vote, especially in some of the critical Midwest states where people have a strong sense of fairness, though it may play well as "clever" among some of the Democratic faithful. : ... 38111.html
Michael Bloomberg has raised $16.1m to pay off fines and court debts of 32,000 convicted felons so they're eligible to vote for Joe Biden in Florida....

Black or Latino voters who were already registered to vote, with outstanding fines of less than $1,500, were eligible for the race-based payback initiative, according to Axios and The Washington Post, which first reported Mr Bloomberg's $16.1m fundraising....

The memo says that the 31,790 targeted voters, of which 25,548 are black, is a margin close to that which elected Republican Governor Ron DeSantis and Republican Senator Rick Scott in 2018.

“We have identified a significant vote share that requires a nominal investment,” the memo read. “The data shows that in Florida, Black voters are a unique universe unlike any other voting bloc, where the Democratic support rate tends to be 90 per cent to 95 per cent.”

An advisor to Mr Bloomberg speaking to the Post on condition of anonymity said that the former Democratic presidential candidate wanted to pay off the fines "because it immediately activates tens of thousands of voters who are predisposed to vote for Joe Biden”....
All these morons had to do was make it a color-blind payment of the restitution in the interest of "fairness" to those who've served their sentence, and take their chances with the odds but, no, they had to make it crystal-clear that Bloomberg's purpose was to buy votes for Biden. It's amazing how stupid and out of touch some of the Democrats can be. "We know the felons are mostly going to vote for Biden" doesn't exactly have a good ring to it either.

Speaking of dumb, this is the sort of thing "masks are the primary prevention against the coronavirus" narratives can lead to: ... ronavirus/
...Crowded, indoor costume parties and haunted houses are certainly higher risk activities, though other factors can reduce the danger—if the COVID-19 levels in the community are low, attendees are being tested, etc. Trick-or-treating, though, takes place outdoors. Can't people just wear masks and hand out candy from their porches? Kids could approach in small groups, even incorporating mask-wearing into their own costumes wherever possible. This hardly seems more dangerous than attending a mass protest or a large public memorial for a beloved Supreme Court justice, but don't expect the CDC to inveigh against any of those things...
OK, the last sentence is true, especially since mass protests draw people from all over, loudly shouting slogans, and trick-or-treating is usually a neighborhood activity. But the part about masking up? If you think that bit of cloth across your face is going to save you while you're less than arms' length away, dropping candy into the kids' bags, think again. (Like another stupidity some people seem to think - it's OK to visit the old folks if you might have been exposed, as long as you mask up in your surgical/cloth mask.) Put a bowl of candy outside, or find some creative way to dispense candy from a distance. And watch the costumes/ kids from indoors, or at least at a good long distance away, if you're not willing to - or shouldn't - take your chances with the virus.
And how is "kids approaching in small groups" supposed to help? You're going to be exposed to them all - and they to you - sooner or later anyway. It would be smarter to say that the kids themselves should limit their groups to a few close friends if they're trick-or-treating, but that's to stop transmission within the group. Why isn't the CDC saying this stuff too instead of just doing blanket prohibitions people may ignore? It's been very clear that neither the media nor businesses understands much about infection control. (The other day, I was amused at a business that announced proudly that they've reopened after months of being shut down, and to make things safe they disinfected the entire store! Um, guys, this coronavirus is long gone after months. That was a waste of good disinfectant.)

And how you'd test attendees at a haunted house with the PCR test and get instant results? Damned if I know. There's a lot of magical thinking with the "tests are going to save us" narrative as well.

Honestly, many governments started well enough with "stay home if you feel sick," "keep your distance," "avoid large gatherings," "work at home if you can" and "wash your hands frequently," then kept complicating things more and more - including illogical crap like "this enormous political gathering is safe, but that smaller gathering of friends isn't." No wonder many of us have had enough. I really think a set of simple, sustainable, consistent practices, without constant inconveniences, unpalatable mandates enforced by fines/ jail time/ COVID enforcers and snitches, convoluted rules, measures that lost people their jobs, promotion of excessive fear to control public behavior (with its consequent feedback look of stupidity, intolerance of others' behavior, and demands for more protection), or a proliferation of excessive and pointless panicky local restrictions, would have gotten better results and compliance. Especially since this virus was always going to be with us for a long time before a vaccine even becomes available. Probably a good part of what Sweden and Germany did right. ... ing-virus/
While most large school districts throughout the U.S. are continuing with distance learning, the smaller number of schools that have reopened are reporting good news: So far, K-12 school buildings have not played host to sizable COVID-19 outbreaks.

"Everyone had a fear there would be explosive outbreaks of transmission in the schools," Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told The Washington Post. "In colleges, there have been. We have to say that, to date, we have not seen those in the younger kids, and that is a really important observation."...
Sorry but "everybody" didn't. Some of us were able to look at other countries, plus the bulk of information on kids and COVID, and realize it would probably be fine. And in any case their education outweighs the small risk they will get it at school and not from their parents or at daycare or the grocery store...

The National Review had a fair assessment of the Breonna Taylor case and the charges. There's a fair bit some media outlets have not mentioned, in favor of their preferred narrative. Not that the activists will care, or the gullible people who are easily influenced without looking deeper into the subject. The charges against the one officer, who was already fired, seem fair and appropriate to what he did. He's an idiot and doesn't belong in the police. That, with the city's settlement with the Taylor family, and the boyfriend not being charged for firing first and injuring one officer, seem like about as reasonable a resolution as you're likely to get in this mess. : ... e-charges/
I do think "no knock" warrants sound like a very bad idea except in exceptional cases, also the police showing up after midnight on a routine warrant visit (in this case, they did knock and identify themselves according to neighbors, but who expects the police at that hour, or is even alert enough to think straight?) . But the lessons from this incident will take legislators and sensible people to fix, not the half-witted mob feeling self-righteous and burning stuff down and making sure even more innocent people are hurt as a result.

Most US news organizations other than Fox seem to be avoiding this story, despite the video evidence. ... ville.html
Images showing a U-Haul truck full of ‘riot supplies’ being unloaded ahead of protests in Louisville raised questions about organizers of the protests, which turned violent after dark, with two cops shot dead and injured.

The rented cash truck was spotted at 2 p.m. Wednesday, as Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron was still speaking at a press conference about the grand jury’s findings in the Breonna Taylor case.

The grand jury’s decision not to directly indict Louisville officers in Taylor’s March 13 shooting death while executing a search warrant outraged the protesters, who from the start were equipped with shields and masks delivered in the mysterious truck.

Video from the scene shows the truck being unloaded with large signs reading “Abolish the Police,” “Abolish Now” and featuring the three-arrow logo associated with the far-left movement Antifa....
Water bottles too. No word on whether they were frozen or contained anything other than water, and probably impossible to tell in a video. But people who kgive themselves press badges or claim to be EMTs know how to make things look more innocent than they are.


Society can and does execute its own mandates, and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. ― John Stuart Mill

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Post subject: Re: Escaping the Echo Chamber
Posted: Fri 25 Sep , 2020 5:27 pm
Posts: 2044
Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Dr John Lee, former professor of pathology and NHS consultant pathologist, puts all the pieces together: ... tastrophe/
The making of Britain’s Covid catastrophe

A witches' brew of weak leadership, scientific groupthink and the precautionary principle has caused our current crisis.
The way in which the British government decided to announce the latest set of restrictions on social life was something of a back-to-the-future moment. The chief medical officer and chief scientific officer were wheeled out to make dire predictions, paving the way for the prime minister to emerge from his bunker to tell us what we must do, based on the science, for our own safety....

...The scientific talking heads again presented a one-sided, extreme version of what might be about to happen, untempered by even an acknowledgement of the many possible alternative interpretations of the data, and without deigning to take questions. Even more striking, the government’s idea of what it thinks it is trying to do, as presented by the prime minister, appears to have drastically shifted: from a short sharp shock to protect the NHS, to a one-size-fits-all, less intense but nevertheless highly damaging slowdown, intended to reduce case incidence in all ages, despite the disease severity varying over a thousand-fold (as we now know) between young and old.

The idea now seems to be to try to suppress the virus until the cavalry come galloping over the hill in the form of a vaccine, or possibly an antiviral drug.* This Covid-control strategy apparently must be pursued at all costs, without even a cursory nod to the idea of a cost-benefit analysis which might weigh the benefits accrued by the policy against the damage caused to society along all the other axes of health, economics and lives worth living...

The government can only get away with it by continuing to use emergency powers, thus necessitating maintenance of the idea that we are in an emergency. And unfortunately it is aided in this by two further underappreciated factors: the nature of scientific careers, and the infiltration of bureaucracies (including, and perhaps especially, those dominated by scientists) by what has become known as the precautionary principle....
He also talks about the PsyOps, masks, how real science is not the uncritical acceptance of a single viewpoint, and so forth.
[btw, I was amused to hear that viruses become more dangerous in the UK after 10 pm. Just wait till you get infected at 2 am, for the really nasty viruses with cudgels and fangs... ;) ]

*A vaccine will probably work, once one eventually comes out (though it's not likely to be better than natural immunity, and possibly/probably somewhat weaker, though of course without the effects of actually getting sick :) ). But any antiviral drug is unlikely to be a panacea. Even the much-touted Tamiflu (oseltamivir) is not a miracle drug against influenza. It helps to some extent, especially if you give it during the first 48 hours, and that's about as good as it gets. I won't be surprised at all if the benefit from remdesivir is about all any drug will do for SARS-CoV2.

But that might not be so bad as the media's doom and gloom scenario suggests. I haven't followed up on this but the CDC finally decided to release its information on COVID deaths by age group. Someone said something like about 15,000 of the deaths in the US were under a certain age (60 maybe? 55?) and the other 185,000 were older. Which comes as no surprise when we already knew about half the deaths were in nursing home residents in many areas. You generally don't go into a nursing home when you're still in decent health. Yet, even there, there have been elderly people who tested positive but never showed a single symptom and are still perfectly fine. As the Chinese said very early on, based on cases in Wuhan, even elderly people are more likely to have a serious case if they have comorbidities. Same thing that happens with many other diseases.

Dr. Lee also says this, which is unfortunately true.
My 30 years of working in academic environments, as both a scientist and a clinical academic, tell me this: a scientist’s career objective is to big up his subject, which increases his personal likelihood of gaining grants, influence and promotion. Scientists focus on narrow topics, often almost to the exclusion of everything else. Perspective is rarely a strong point. The more their subject is in the public eye, preferably centre stage, the better it is from a career point of view. Any crisis is, I’m afraid, a career opportunity for some.
It really depends on the person. I know people who have remained very fair, balanced, and modest as scientists, even when they get media attention. I also know of some who got swelled heads with power and attention. Even some who have worked to suppress perfectly decent work that contradicts what they want to promote*. Scientists are not saints, and there are all sorts.

[* One example: Editors of scientific journals rely on reviewers to analyze submitted papers to see if they should be published. And who gets called to review papers? Recognized experts in the field...
Now, having two reviewers for each paper helps, and the editor tries to work things out if it seems one reviewer is biased, but the system is not perfect.]

Which is why some of the adoring hype of Fauci by Science magazine's editor, Holden Thorpe, is really starting to bug me. There was some editorial where he got upset anyone would question/ disagree with Fauci and called him America's foremost scientific expert, or something along those lines. No, he's not. Many years ago Fauci was a good scientist on HIV-1, which is a specialized field on a virus that behaves very differently from respiratory coronaviruses, and then he became an administrator in the federal government. I expect he still knows his basic virology and immunology well enough, but the truth is that, even for working scientists, it becomes harder and harder to keep up with the latest when it's outside what you're working on. And the average administrator falls even farther behind. Fauci is basically a government spokesperson at this point, and what he knows about this coronavirus mostly comes from other people. ... -a-prison/
Glasgow Uni feels like a prison

Police patrol our halls of residence. We’ve been banned from pubs. Even Christmas could be cancelled.
I’ll confess, I think I almost enjoyed lockdown at first: I could cycle to work without the roar of cars all around me, and I enjoyed the novelty of being able to walk down a near-empty high street. The hard reality of our government’s decision to shut down society hit home soon enough, though....

I’m at Glasgow University, which has been the subject of considerable controversy this week. I’ll spare myself a lawsuit by not revealing every detail, but if you take a group of young people, most of whom won’t have been away from home before for longer than a school trip, it takes only a few brain cells to realise that they’re going to find creative ways of having fun – restrictions or not....

...our education itself has also been one of the major victims of the government’s ineptitude. I do enjoy watching my pre-recorded lectures, in as much as I enjoy my subject. But without wishing to denigrate the lecturers – many of whom would rather be teaching face to face and have worked hard – the experience doesn’t strike me as being all that different from watching YouTube (which would not come with a nine-grand price tag). The dynamic pedagogy of being in a lecture theatre simply cannot be replicated virtually.

My first few online seminars have not exactly endeared me to the genre. They have been plagued by connection problems and are full of awkward, frustrating interactions with strangers. It’s far removed from the experience of university education I had looked forward to while studying for my A-Levels....
Last spring, professors were already talking about how to compensate for the lost learning from online classes. At least in the sciences, most people realized that the students would come back quite deficient in what they needed to know for the next course in the series. Now this disaster is continuing for another semester. At this point, I doubt a few weeks of intensive catching up is going to do it.

It seems to me that Democratic politicians and the extremes of the left-leaning media are responsible for articles like this: ... -the-left/
Trump is now more progressive than the left

The president’s views on race, freedom and American history are putting the liberal-left to shame.
Trump is Hitler. Literally. Remember that? Leftists marched through the streets with placards showing Trump with a Hitler tache. Serious commentators said Trump’s rhetoric had ominous echoes of the 1930s. And they’re still at it. Under Trump, America is ‘spiralling towards fascism’, said a columnist for the Guardian last week.

Not only is all this Hitler-talk a cheap and cynical shot, it’s the polar opposite of the truth. Far from being a reincarnation of mid-20th-century evil, Trump is increasingly saying things that the left ought to be saying. On every issue, from race to freedom to revolutionary history, the Bad Orange Man is now more progressive than the left that loves to hate him....
Do I think Trump has suddenly become a champion of free speech and Martin Luther King's hope for a society where you'll be judged on your character, not the color of your skin? Of course not. This is the guy who loves making people sign non-disclosure agreements, even where they're illegal (federal employees) and has sent sharks of lawyers against people who say bad things about him, or even say things he doesn't want said.

But Trump is clever enough in some things, very good at propaganda/ self-promotion, and an opportunist. He's going to capitalize on every misstep the Democrats make, and IMO that includes believing the far left speaks for the silent majority, including many black people and Latinos.

Like "defund the police" for instance: ... sence.aspx
When asked whether they want the police to spend more time, the same amount of time or less time than they currently do in their area, most Black Americans -- 61% -- want the police presence to remain the same. This is similar to the 67% of all U.S. adults preferring the status quo, including 71% of White Americans.

Meanwhile, nearly equal proportions of Black Americans say they would like the police to spend more time in their area (20%) as say they'd like them to spend less time there (19%)....
btw, one thing I found interesting was to take apart an analysis from this article.
First it says this:
Fewer than one in five Black Americans feel very confident that the police in their area would treat them with courtesy and respect. While similar to the 24% of Asian Americans saying the same, it is markedly lower than the 40% of Hispanic Americans and the 56% of White Americans who feel this way. This could either stem from Black Americans' own negative experiences with the police or from their familiarity with people who have had negative encounters with law enforcement.
But when you combine it with this...
Notably, simply having an interaction with the police in the past year has no bearing on Black Americans' preference for local police presence in their area:

Seventy-nine percent of those who have had an interaction with the police in the past 12 months say they want the police to spend more or the same amount of time in their neighborhood; 21% favor less time.
Eighty-two percent of those who have not had an interaction want the same or greater police presence; 18% want less.
...then I think the Gallup writer is ignoring a very plausible third possibility, which is that the people who responded to the survey get their information from the media, like everyone else. And what the media has been doing lately is tell everyone how badly and unfairly the police treat everyone, even to the point of twisting the news on specific encounters to fit a preferred narrative.

I don't doubt there are things that shouldn't happen, and a few police who shouldn't be in that profession, but the media has been too eager to find a constant stream of stories to fit the narrative and picked some pretty weak incidents to use. We eventually find out how much they've lied to us, but they (and the criminals' lawyers) count on people being wedded to their beliefs by then. I really don't think it's healthy for a society to be led to believe the police are all corrupt and we shouldn't trust them. That just leads to a spiraling mess of distrust that makes things worse.

Another thing many political junkies don't seem to realize: ... k-of-them/
Marquette Law School released some fascinating results of a survey measuring what Americans think — and what they know — about the Supreme Court.

Most voters have limited familiarity with the justices. Prior to her death, Justice Ginsburg was the most widely recognized of the nine justices, with 63 percent saying they knew enough to have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of her. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, whose confirmation in 2018 followed a contentious debate, was almost as well known, with 60 percent able to give an opinion about him. ...

Perhaps most surprisingly, 39 percent of Americans don’t have an opinion about Brett Kavanaugh. (Among those who did, 28 percent felt favorable, 32 percent felt unfavorable.) His confirmation hearings were not exactly quiet or obscure...

And those are the well-known justices. The survey found 53 percent of respondents have no opinion about Sonia Sotomayor, 55 percent have no opinion about Clarence Thomas (!); 58 percent have no opinion about John Roberts; 66 percent have no opinion about Neil Gorsuch; 73 percent have no opinion about Elena Kagan; 74 percent have no opinion about Samuel Alito and 81 percent of respondents had no opinion about Stephen Breyer....
I'm not so sure Ginsberg's death and the fight about replacing her is going to matter all that much to most of us. Yeah, I would have preferred someone less conservative/ constitutional originalist than Trump is likely to nominate - I like a balanced court. Am I going to get in a tizzy about the way it worked out, and the fact that the Democrats and Republicans have both reversed their positions about filling a Supreme Court seat in what might be the last few months of Trump's term? No. My only strong opinion is that the people who booed Trump at her viewing were utterly classless and did their side no favors.


Society can and does execute its own mandates, and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. ― John Stuart Mill

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Post subject: Re: Escaping the Echo Chamber
Posted: Mon 05 Oct , 2020 5:22 pm
Posts: 2044
Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm ... -portland/
The Conservative Trans Woman Who Went Undercover With Antifa in Portland
Confessions of a black bloc mole
A trans woman, conservative, and former tugboat captain who says she's "a weird activist/analyst-type person right now," Smith soon became galvanized to find out more about a group that dressed as revolutionaries and took their fight to the streets. What was animating them? Trump animus? The romance of revolution? The boredom and frustration of COVID sequestration? An unfocused desire to fuck shit up?

It takes a special moral blindness to see setting fires, breaking windows, and threatening journalists as the road to justice. I've seen this moral blindness rise along with the violence in Portland. Young activists have told me frankly that they don't give a shit if someone working in the basement of the police station burns to death because, hey, she chose to work there. I've seen activists cheer the murder of a member of the conservative group Patriot Prayer. You cannot employ the violence of your perceived enemies and expect your revolution to end in peace.

What Smith has experienced has not been peaceful. She's had friends beaten up by antifa. She's been threatened herself. It made her curious. This summer, she decided to find out more by going undercover with the black bloc anarchists in Portland...
How organized are things on the inside?

There are different types of bloc organization styles. The building block of antifa is what's called an affinity group, people you live and work with and trust and know in real life. All the planning is done within that closed bloc, and they don't let everyone know [what they're going to do]. I didn't know that they were going to burn the Portland Police Association when I joined. What they did was put a call out that said, "Anyone show up in black that night at this place, and you can join the action."

That's called a semi-open bloc. .. One thing they'll do sometimes is have written agreements with other protest organizations that aren't in black bloc. I know of one from Berkeley that illustrates this: "We agree that to not take pictures of anyone in antifa." It will say that literally in writing, so everyone's working together. It's like a combined arms type thing, almost like the military. They work together and are mutually reinforcing...
...When the feds were in Portland, they were presented as overreacting, a presentation helped by innumerable people with PRESS written across their clothing flooding the internet with images that presented protesters wholly as victims of an authoritarian regime.

That's their [antifa's] objective. It's not a tactical thing. That's why all the "press" is there, the sympathetic press. They're trying to create propaganda. They know how the police are going to react, so they carefully calibrate what they do to try to provoke the police into reacting and then filming it. They want to try to push public opinion in favor of removing the police....
Antifa goes for a certain type of violence, a mid-level violence. Most people aren't practiced in violence, and what they'll do is, they'll either back down or they'll overreact. Antifa basically as a group does the equivalent of just pushing someone on the shoulder, and again, and again.....

What they're intending to do is use that level of violence that will scare people enough to back down. ... ... -violence/
...The Associated Press Stylebook was amended this week to discourage the use of the word “riot” to describe violent protests, instead expanding the definition of “protest” to include violent demonstrations.

“Use care in deciding which term best applies: A riot is a wild or violent disturbance of the peace involving a group of people. The term riot suggests uncontrolled chaos and pandemonium,” said the AP Stylebook, which sets style guidelines followed by many mainstream media publications.

“Focusing on rioting and property destruction rather than underlying grievance has been used in the past to stigmatize broad swaths of people protesting against lynching, police brutality or for racial justice, going back to the urban uprisings of the 1960s,” it added...

I don't always agree with the Libertarian party, but I'm still pleased I decided to vote for Jo Jorgensen. Some days, it seems like she's the only one speaking like a sensible adult. ... -election/
Jo Jorgensen Is 'Fine' With Filling SCOTUS Vacancy Before Election
"If it were me, I would certainly put my nominee forth," Jorgensen says. Partisan bickering over the confirmation process is just "politics as usual."

Old but worth posting. ... al-crisis/
I want to begin this piece with a word of praise for Nancy Pelosi.... Taking her words at face value, Pelosi is doing something that more politicians should do when making a momentous decision — considering the consequences not just for one’s partisan tribe but also for the health of the American body politic. Striking this balance increasingly isn’t just a matter of political positioning; it’s a national necessity.

This morning the New York Times’ Thomas Edsall published an important essay highlighting a new study that analyzed the extent of “lethal mass partisanship.” As Edsall observes, the paper contained some disturbing statistics. Among them, “42 percent of the people in each party view the opposition as ‘downright evil.’” A stunning 20 percent of Democrats and 16 percent of Republicans believe “we’d be better off as a country if large numbers of the opposing party in the public today just died.” And if the opposing party wins the 2020 election, 18 percent of Democrats and 13 percent of Republicans “feel violence would be justified.”

We hear quite a bit about “dehumanizing rhetoric” in American public life. Well, it appears that tens of millions of Americans now have dehumanizing beliefs. “One out of five Republicans and Democrats agree with the statement that their political adversaries ‘lack the traits to be considered fully human — they behave like animals.’”...

These statistics and studies confirm our personal experiences. I speak and write quite a bit about national polarization, and when I criss-cross the country, I often ask this question: “Are the people you know who are most obsessed with politics in general more or less angry — more or less gracious — than the rest of your friends?” Few people respond that their political friends are the most hopeful and tolerant members of their community....

Though it's also worth remembering that Democrats and Republicans only make up 30% or so of the population each (can't remember the exact percent and too lazy to look it up again), so those figures have to be modified for that. For instance, if 18% of Democrats and 13% of Republicans feel violence would be justified if Trump or Biden wins, and each makes up 30% of the population, that's just roughly 5% + 4% of the population. Still, it's worryingly high number. We already have too many far right and far left crazies and extremists (plus the nonpolitical nutters) without the overdone rhetoric producing any more.

And the ranting and insanity has only gotten worse lately, with the election approaching. It doesn't help that a percentage of the population is still unreasonably terrified of COVID and the Dems are using that as part of their campaign strategy. One thing I've noticed is that some of the media actually think Trump is lying on the occasions when he's got a better grasp on this virus than the media pundit/ writer. If Trump said it, the opposite must be true.
For example, the other day, he said that SARS-Cov2 is less dangerous to certain populations than flu viruses. This was labeled a lie when it's actually true. Novel H1N1 (2009) was far nastier to young people than SARS-CoV2, and killed a bigger percentage of those who got infected. Maybe the media made a mistake in thinking "populations" meant something like South Sea islanders, but I'd be willing to bet Trump was quoting experts who speak of population in a technical sense, for instance "people in their 20s and younger." I'm not even sure, any more, whether this is just an automatic knee-jerk reaction because Trump has been so willing to lie casually to "prove" he's right in the past (together with scientific ignorance among the average journalist), or if it's a cynical political ploy to help one side win. ... claration/
As much of the world gears up for a second round of lockdowns, and restrictions on everyday life grow ever tighter, a group of infectious-disease epidemiologists and public-health scientists have come together to propose an alternative. The Great Barrington Declaration was spearheaded by Martin Kulldorff from Harvard Medical School, Sunetra Gupta from Oxford University and Jay Bhattacharya from Stanford University Medical School....

The lockdowns, they argue, have not only caused an intolerable amount of collateral damage, but have also contributed to a higher number of Covid deaths. But for making this argument, the declaration has been censored.

Tech giant Google has decided that the view of these scientists should be covered up. Most users in English-speaking countries, when they google ‘Great Barrington Declaration’, will not be directed to the declaration itself but to articles that are critical of the declaration – and some that amount to little more than smears of the signatories........

When I spoke to Martin Kulldorff last week, he told me that the Great Barrington Declaration is merely a restatement of the principles of public health. Lockdown, he argued, is a ‘terrible experiment’ that throws those principles ‘out of the window’ by focusing solely on one disease at the expense of all other health problems. ‘Most countries in Europe had a pandemic-preparedness plan that did not recommend lockdowns, but instead proposed a risk-based strategy to protect those at high risk, which is actually the same as the focused protection we put forward in the Great Barrington Declaration....
Link to the declaration, which is absolutely a sane alternative to lockdowns and simply the Swedish plan, which was just the old-fashioned way the world has responded to pandemics in the past (with a few added twists, like encouraging work from home), until China convinced most countries that lockdowns are better.* And now few elected officials dare admit they were wrong, probably for fear they won't get reelected. Keep the lockdowns and all the other restrictions going long enough and maybe they can convince people the world would have been worse off if they hadn't done it.

*The interesting thing is that China itself seems to have mostly abandoned the lockdown strategy after Wuhan. Unless, of course, you're fool enough to believe that they alone, of large, non-island nations, managed to keep this virus from spreading through their country.

Oh well, give it a few years. Most Americans believed the weapons of mass destruction stuff too, for a while. The media's propaganda is powerful. The other day, I saw an elderly, frail couple planning to enter an indoor facility for pleasure, saying "but only if everyone is wearing a mask." Neither of them was wearing an N95 mask even, just surgical or fabric masks. I won't deny them their right to choose a risky activity but the fact that they were convinced they're safe in their masks made me shake my head. This is what the media and governments have done, with their insistence that masks will stop the virus. (On the other hand, the young woman shooting ugly looks at me for being maskless outdoors and > 25 feet away from her and her mostly masked toddler - or anyone else - just amused me. Silly woman left the place in a snit. Another product of media propaganda, since neither her toddler - who kept taking the mask off and isn't even required to wear a mask indoors, much less outside - nor I were breaking any rules. )

btw, I was glad to see that the courts are finally getting involved in the US and some of the biggest morons and proponents of unreasonable COVID restrictions and lockdowns, like that authoritarian idiot Gretchen Whitmer and Pennsylvania's governor, are being told they didn't have the authority for their actions. But I'm sure they knew that and just figured that the court cases would take so long, that they could get away with it in the meantime. I expect the idiotic restrictions on interstate travel will fall too.


Society can and does execute its own mandates, and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. ― John Stuart Mill

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Post subject: Re: Escaping the Echo Chamber
Posted: Fri 16 Oct , 2020 3:16 pm
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Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
The latest COVID insanity - a couple of colleges told quarantined students with COVID to stay behind for a minute to let others evacuate first in case of fire, and/or told all students to make sure they social distance while getting out of a burning building. : ... than-fire/
Is Covid more deadly than fire?

So, let me get this straight, they're supposed to increase their risk of dying in a fire to defend themselves from a very tiny risk of dying from a respiratory virus? Are college students who get the flu, in future, going to be told the same thing too?

There is no way some of this stuff is coming from the public health departments. It's bureaucrats who wouldn't know a virus from a hole in the ground, driven by fears of liability or bad publicity.

Related, the first attempt to describe the H2N2 flu pandemic in the 1950s (that I've seen), from a site I stumbled across. It's based on UK records but I'm quite sure they were not unique. Like the article I posted earlier about the 1968/69 H2N3 (Hong Kong) pandemic, H2N2 was remarkable for the lack of attention in the media and people going on about their lives. ... l-context/
The 1957-58 Asian Flu Pandemic: Why Did the UK Respond So Differently?
A useful place to start when trying to understand how societies respond to pandemics is Lowell Carr’s catchily-titled Disaster and the Sequence-pattern Concept of Social Change (1932). According to Carr, the way in which “a community reacts to disaster is… determined by its culture, its morale, its leadership, the speed, scope, complexity and violence of the catastrophe itself.” What’s so interesting about Carr’s list of determinants is that it focuses not just on the obvious natural aspects to a disaster (speed of occurrence, scale of destruction and so on) but also on some of the perhaps less obvious social aspects such as leadership structures within societies experiencing disaster, the cultural values that dominate within such societies and so on. It’s this dual aspect to his thinking that makes the book’s core message so relevant today. If we want to understand how a society responds to disaster, Carr’s suggestion is to treat it not just as a natural phenomenon but as a cultural event too....
In what follows, a brief overview of the UK’s hysterical reaction to COVID-19 in 2020 (section 2) sets up a discussion of the UK’s response to the Asian Flu of 1957 (section 3). How did 1950s Brits react to what was, arguably, an even deadlier pandemic? Were they alarmed? Did they panic? Was there hysteria? And how does that response compare to our own response to COVID-19? Do we now live in the best of all possible worlds – a world in which individual safety is adjudged as important as collective prosperity? Or might our forebears, biomedically less knowledgeable though they undoubtedly were, nevertheless have interesting things to tell us about collective resilience and stoicism in the face of biological adversity?...
It’s also important to remember that “hysteria” is not simply about actions or behaviours that are in excess of the supposed disaster provoking them: it’s about actions and behaviours that attain autonomy from the original “disaster”. As performances, they sustain themselves independently of that initial cause. ...

This is what it means to respond to a pandemic through the lens of hysteria. However bad you think things are – they’re much, much worse! That person out there in the park isn’t going for a stroll – he’s killing people! Dominic Cummings isn’t just visiting Barnard Castle – he’s costing lives! Whatever your employer does to make your workplace safe for a return to work – it won’t be enough! And so on. In the age of COVID-19 there could conceivably have been sound epidemiological reasons for complex, global societies like the UK to roll out temporary lockdown arrangements. But one suspects that popular culture would have thrust us all headfirst into the quicksand of some form of lockdown soon enough, with or without that reasoning.

3. The 1957-58 Asian Flu and Stoicism

The problem that initially appears to confront you whilst researching the UK’s response to the 1957-58 Asian Flu is a lack of data (more on this later). The real problem, however, is not so much data you don’t have as the tone and content of the data you do have. Sifting through a relatively meagre collection of newspaper articles, first-hand accounts, Hansard documents, National Archive records and letters to medical journals like the Lancet and the British Medical Journal you quickly start to doubt the methodological validity of the exercise you’ve embarked upon. It’s all so utterly, unrelentingly banal. A vicar in Chelmsford gets the sniffles and has to shorten one of his congregation’s favourite sermons by half a minute; an amateur football match is postponed (but not cancelled) in Barnsley due to a few players feeling a bit rummy; a village fete just south of Ely reports that although three less stalls were taken this year as compared to last year, nevertheless, the Church Restoration Fund still received £2 7s 5d; a pupil at Eton spends a day in bed with a slight temperature but rises from his sickbed to score a magnificent 52 not out against an MCC second XI the following week...

This of course stands in marked contrast to today. As we’ve seen, when it comes to COVID-19 every news channel, Twitter feed and newspaper page has been filled with tales of such death, destruction and damnation as to make the New Testament’s Book of Revelation look a touch underdone in places. ...
There are times lately I'm reminded of an early scene in Men in Black, where Will Smith asks why the government doesn't let everyone know aliens live among people on earth, people are smart and can handle it. And Tommy Lee Jones says "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky animals and you know it..."

Briefly spot checkng the site in general, their information seemed scientifically sound. There was one paper that mentioned aspects of immunity and, though it was simplified for scientists in general instead of immunologists, what they said was accurate.

It seems the estimated fatality rate among those infected with SARS-CoV2 has now dropped even more, with The Telegraph (UK) recently mentioning 99.98% survival, I believe.
I tried to track down where that number came from, but the literature is so packed with COVID papers, more than 80% pretty much garbage, that it's near impossible to find anything unless you fancy spending a few hours on scientific search engines. This happens with other diseases like influenza too when there's loads of money for research and anyone with a PCR setup or a social angle (titles like "Survey of Attitudes Among Left-handed Aboriginals on COVID-19" et al*) gets in on the action.

*Yeah, that's one I made up. But it's based on things I've read in the past for other diseases, and only a touch exaggerated.

But the CDC planning documents a few months ago estimated > 99.7% overall survival. As I said many months ago, the estimated fatality almost always goes down with time, regardless of what the Facebook "experts" tell you about "oooh, but you can't say that - some people haven't died yet, so it could go up too." The latest CDC estimates, broken down by age, are here, though you have to do a bit of looking. ... arios.html

Their best estimates for survival rate, currently, among those who get infected are:
0-19 years: 0.00003 = 99.997% survival
20-49 years: 0.0002 = 99.98% survival
50-69 years: 0.005 = 99.5% survival
According to Swedish results, if broken down into your 50s vs. 60s, this death rate calculation should be several times (6x? 10x?) higher among people in their 60s vs 50s, basically correlating with the increase in serious comorbidities as you get older. I can't remember for sure but I'm pretty sure the Swedes calculated 99.8% or 99.9% survival in your 50s.

70+ years: 0.054 = 94.6% survival
Swedish public health authorities have something similar, I think about a percent or so higher.

I've also seen it mentioned somewhere that the mean (or maybe it was median) age at death is several months older than the mean age of death from all causes. So, as has been obvious ever since Wuhan and Italy, cruise ship outbreak in Japan and the submarine outbreak, this virus is by far the nastiest in the elderly and/or those sick with other conditions.

Now this doesn't mean more people won't die than in your average bad flu season - more of the population is susceptible, so more are at risk of dying.

But that's something for public health officials and hospital administrators to keep an eye on, not the mask Nazis and other self-appointed would-be do-gooders. Some asshole just kicked a teenager in the face because she refused to wear a mask on public transport in the UK. The folks freaking out over walking briefly past someone without a mask at less than 6 feet distance - horrors! (a situation where you're highly unlikely to get infected, mask or no mask) - or scared to death that the person who coughed or sneezed near them has COVID and not allergies/ a tickle in the threat/ whatever really need to chill. If you're that susceptible, you need to be wearing true protection, not a fabric mask, stay the hell home, or accept the risks of living in a society with a bunch of your fellow disease-ridden mammals where not everyone thinks the same. ... or-safety/
We must not trade freedom for safety

The more we try to ‘stay safe’ the more insecure we feel.
It appears that, thanks to the pandemic, we have found plenty more things to be fearful about. Who would have imagined a year ago, for instance, that 54 per cent of Americans would be worried about touching coins or bills in case they caught a virus?

What’s more, the nature of fear today seems to be exacerbating conflict and divisions both within and between communities. The spirit of solidarity and unity that usually emerges in response to disasters or threats is now entirely absent. Instead, the response to the pandemic has been politicised and polarised. People are fighting over what we should fear the most – be it the virus itself or the economic impacts of the lockdown.

The toxic influence of identity politics has further complicated matters. Hence whether you wear a mask or not has been turned into a statement of one’s political identity, a sign of one’s virtue and superiority. Far from finding common ground in the face of a threat, we have arguably become more divided and fearful than ever....
The sacralisation of safety may have preceded the pandemic, but it has since acquired an unprecedented momentum. When New York governor Andrew Cuomo declared that ‘if everything we do saves just one life, I’ll be happy’, he highlighted the absurdity of the obsession with safety. No one is against the saving of a life. But what if the attempt to do so deprives millions of their ability to live their own lives?

In pandemic Britain, too, safety has acquired the status of a quasi religion. ...
Perversely, the quest for safety actually enhances people’s sense of insecurity. It turns every human experience into a potential safety issue. Even the exhortation to ‘stay safe’ has become ritualistic. It has become a way of saying that we can never take our security for granted, and that we are constantly at risk.

Sadly, given the obsession with safety was growing before Covid, it is unlikely it will disappear once a vaccine is developed. ...

I'm also noticing that a few media outlets, all conservative, have started realizing that the media's and politicians' confidence in non-95 masks is overblown. Not long ago, there was a paper out by people from the CDC where they decided to focus on other things, but included data on masks. Of those who got infected, 71% wore a mask always 14% often, or 11% sometimes, with corresponding values of 74%, 14%, and 7% in people who did not get infected. (The rest wore masks rarely or never). These values are not significantly different between the the two groups. In other words, the statistical analysis says 71% vs 74% is due to chance.

Now you could say sure, but masks are supposed to stop you from spreading the virus, and maybe they got sick from a non-mask-wearer - as I've said before, an idea originally based on stopping droplets from sick people, especially when they inadvertently cough or sneeze virus-laden droplets and can't block it in time, or are weak and tired and sick of coughing and sometimes don't bother. Also an idea based on people wearing masks only for a short time like at a doctor's office, and not all day, letting those viruses concentrate and dry on the mask. But unless you think the CDC somehow found a population where most people don't wear masks and deliberately picked out a group where roughly 80-90% do, that argument has obvious flaws.

The authors do step out on a limb in the paper and say that going to church is not significantly associated with getting infected but, considering that only 12 people went to church in their case group and 8 in the control group, that's too tiny a sample IMO to make any good conclusions. Their sample of bars is also too small to say much. But there does seem to be a correlation with getting infected and going to restaurants. They emphasize possible reasons like ventilation or not wearing a mask while you eat, but don't seem to consider the social aspect. Not everyone dines with family alone. And you're spending at least an hour there, while interacting with a server who goes from table to table and hands you food and drink. I don't think anyone should be going to a restaurant right now if they're high risk. Church also seems unwise to me.

This is the paper: Kiva A. Fisher, PhD; Mark W. Tenforde, MD, PhD; Leora R. Feldstein, PhD et al. Community and Close Contact Exposures Associated with COVID-19 Among Symptomatic Adults =18 Years in 11 Outpatient Health Care Facilities — United States, July 2020. MMWR / September 11, 2020 / Vol. 69 / No. 36: 1258.

And the WHO is finally noticing all the damage from lockdowns. What took them so long? They seemed pretty supportive earlier. ... lockdowns/
WHO Joins Top Epidemiologists in Emphasizing Harm Caused by Lockdowns
Months into the pandemic, we’re finally getting a real debate over the right way to fight the virus.
...While there has been disagreement among scientists since COVID-19 appeared on the scene, opponents of the most restrictive measures have largely been sidelined. But now, insisting that "science" speaks with one voice is much harder, with a World Health Organization (WHO) official and the Great Barrington Declaration objecting to the pain inflicted by lockdowns and calling for less-draconian public health policies.

"We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus," David Nabarro, WHO special envoy for Covid-19, told Britain's Spectator magazine last week. "The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganize, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we'd rather not do it."

He pointed to the devastating worldwide elevation in rates of poverty and hunger as a result of restrictions imposed to fight the pandemic, saying that "lockdowns just have one consequence that we must never, ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer."

Importantly, Nabarro made his comments immediately after endorsing concerns, raised by Oxford University epidemiologist Sunetra Gupta, about the economic disruptions caused by lockdowns. ...
And mental health (with a certain percentage of that turning to suicide or drug abuse), deaths and illness/ disability from other untreated or undertreated diseases, people who lost a tooth because the dentist wasn't allowed to see them until the pain became so excruciating they'd otherwise end up at the emergency department of the hospital (yep, that was the rule some places), kids falling behind in their education, frustrated people taking their frustrations out on each other, increases in obesity from people not moving about much, people not getting much vitamin D from sunlight (which seems to be linked to a less severe outcome), a population under chronic stress, which is also known to increase infectious disease risk and severity, a lack of separation between young people and elderly family members in some cases, and probably other things I can't think of at the moment ....

btw, all the media fuss over Trump saying he's probably immune is silly. I expect he is, at least for a while. Sure, if he runs into a really big dose of virus, or he gets seriously immunosuppressed, or something like that, he could get infected. But that's the case for every damn disease out there. COVID is not that special.

And what's with the ballot drop box hysteria in the US? I did an absentee ballot because I didn't fancy a long line while they disinfect between people. So I decided to be lazy and mail it in instead of going to a drop box, was going to put a stamp on it then noticed it's already prepaid.... If that's disenfranchising the poor or minorities, I have no idea how. I haven't noticed any mail slowdowns either in spite of the media constantly shrieking about how Trump did that to screw up the election.
They say if you don't vote you can't complain. They're wrong. Complaining is prior to voting. It is deeper and more powerful than voting. It is the original act of politics. Before there was democracy, there was sitting around the campfire complaining about the way the headman allocated the shares of mastodon meat. Bellyaching about the boss is more than a political right. It is a human right.

And so, in Reason's 2020 election issue, we are here to complain. The candidates from the major parties are subpar. They display troubling authoritarian tendencies. Their records in office—one long, one short—are underwhelming and frequently self-contradictory. Their actions consistently fail to match their rhetoric. If they agree on one thing, it is that they have the right, and perhaps even the obligation, to tell you what to do in the bedroom and in the boardroom, in the streets and in the sheets. If they agree on a second thing, it is the necessity of spending ever-larger sums of taxed and borrowed money in pursuit of ever-vaguer goals.... ... l-culture/
For a people famously disinterested in events outside their own borders, Americans offer up a lot of rent-free space in their minds to foreign political operatives. Liberals fret that Russians plot nefarious schemes to support President Donald Trump's reelection effort, while conservatives worry that Chinese and Ukrainian energy companies are funneling funds to Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden through his son.

That foreign players have fiddled with U.S. elections in recent years is no revelation, though it seems unlikely that the efforts had much impact. That so many Americans find it believable that major presidential candidates are foreign-backed puppets is less testimony to the effectiveness of overseas scheming than to the fraught nature of U.S. political culture....
The bigger and more important story than Biden's son IMO is that Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google et al are ever more blatant in telling people what they may read or see or think. ... l-writers/
Since I have been trying without success for 16 years now to appeal to my fellow journalists' avowed principles while beseeching them to follow Reason's (and Slate's) lead in disclosing which presidential candidate staffers plan to vote for, let me this year try a more mercenary tack: Y'all are leaving some choice traffic on the table.

As of Tuesday morning, our quadrennial survey of staff voting intentions was this week's most popular item on the website. Having journalists publicly live up to their commitment to transparency is apparently a man-bites-dog story.

What's strange about this stubborn transparency-for-thee stance, aside from the fact that many publications are missing those sweet clicks, is that reporters not on the politics beat have long since come around to the virtues of self-disclosure...

Slate's 2020 choices were not online yet, last I looked. Their 2016 choices are predictably idealistic, serious or pompous, depending on how you look at it, clearly written to impress their audience. All voted for Hillary Clinton, of course. Reason's are here and pretty varied or normal, sometimes amusing. ... e-in-2020/
How Will Reason Staffers Vote in 2020?
I felt a kinship with these quotes :) :
I've come to think of voting as the equivalent of those fake steering wheels on tourist boats that exist to keep children busy with the illusion that they're steering the ship.
I live in Maryland, where trying to have an impact on which candidate carries the state is the ultimate act of futility. I will cast a protest vote for Jo Jorgensen, which is also futile but doesn't feel as dirty.
In 1988, my first election, I lived in the swing state of…California? (That's how old I am.) I did not remotely like or even take seriously Michael Dukakis, but I had whipped myself up in a collegiate fever to believe that George H.W. Bush was the real CIA-fabricated Dark Lord and must be stopped at all costs. Silly in retrospect. I vowed then to never vote for candidates I actively dislike, a commitment I've mostly kept to since.
I don't think I've voted for a major candidate who has actually won since Bill Clinton's second term, so I don't really have to contend with buyer's remorse.
I voted against Reagan and both Bushes myself, and was young and silly enough to think the world was in for a terrible fate because of who won, at least one of those times.

EDIT to add:
A good (long) read on the Boogaloo movement. I've mostly assumed they were a convenient excuse for BLM activists to claim some violence wasn't done by them, but it seems it's more complicated and they're real. ... -movement/

They seem to have a lot in common with Antifa or left wing anarchists in their tactics.
The Boogaloo movement is Gen Z Second Amendment activism. Its members forgo the patriotic symbolism of traditional militia movements for flowered apparel, bright patches, and colorful memes. Their approach to organizing resembles Hong Kong's decentralized, privacy-conscious, and social media-heavy protest movement.

They are digitally native activists, raised on Instagram and TikTok, who understand that in the world of online feedback loops, actions are often less important than the way they're presented.

Their online rhetoric is infused with paranoia, and its members circulate unfounded theories of rampant, unchecked pedophilia, which they say must be stamped out extrajudicially, if necessary. They claim that societal breakdown is inevitable, but their public stances often makes it seem as if a violent Civil War is something they'd like to see happen. And the movement's organic, leaderless structure leaves it highly susceptible to being co-opted by its worst, most dangerous actors.
Sometimes they've aligned themselves with right-wing militia groups, at other moments, with Black Lives Matter. The one issue that seems to unify them is a conviction that armed resistance to government overreach is entirely justified.

Last edited by aninkling on Fri 16 Oct , 2020 5:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.


Society can and does execute its own mandates, and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. ― John Stuart Mill

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Post subject: Re: Escaping the Echo Chamber
Posted: Fri 16 Oct , 2020 5:23 pm
You are hearing me talk
Posts: 2698
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Location: Great Lakes
Lockdowns were (probably) reasonable this spring when we weren't sure what we were dealing with, but IMO from where I'm sitting, the UK is well into "destroy the village to save it" territory at this point. I think Dr. Francois Balloux had it about right when he observed that the scientific establishment selects and trains for the ability to maintain obsessive focus on one very specific thing at the expense of everything else, and that we're now suffering the unintended consequences of that arrangement. ... 3603423234
One worry I have about a side-effect of the #COVID19 pandemic is that some our societies might turn into de facto 'technocracies'. I find the current obsession with statistics, diagnostics, health metrics and comparisons between countries unhealthy.

There haven't been many real technocracies in history. The closest might have been the Soviet Union under Brejnev and the 'Reign of Terror' following the French Revolution in the late 18th century. Neither are models I believe we should aspire to emulate.

Scientists are not particularly evil or corrupt, and many are true idealists. One problem though, is that science selects those capable of intense attention to minutiae, sometimes at the cost of strategic vision and difficulties to understand those who don't share their goals.

It is a strange feeling for me to be concerned by a drift into technocracy. I am a hard core scientist and an atheist, who has always aspired to a more rational, quantitative approach to the major problems we're facing. I guess one should be careful what they wished for.

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