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  • Archive for the 'Current Events' Category

    Consent of the Governed

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 21st May 2020 (All posts by )

    “…to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
    “The consent of the governed” – and what a concept, hey? And outlined in our very own Declaration of Independence. That the government has authority only as far as those it governs permits, allows or tolerates; a notion which seems to have escaped the more stubbornly authoritarian among us, such as the governors of certain states: among them Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom, of California, the Unspeakable Kate Brown of Oregon, Gretchen Witmer, the Grand Karenator of Michigan, J.B. “Jabba the Hutt” Pritzker of Illinois, Ralph Northam, the Baby-Killer of Virginia and the weaselly and nipple-pierced autocrat of New York, Andrew “Missed It By That Much!” Cuomo. All the above-listed, and a good few others of lesser notoriety and office went on an authoritarian kick: “Close all the things!” seemed to be their rallying cry, after first ignoring the first warning signs of the Wuhan Coronavirus, aka the Chinese Commie Crud, and then losing their damned minds when the National Establishment Media lost theirs. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Civil Society, COVID-19, Current Events, Deep Thoughts, Human Behavior | 13 Comments »

    Rush Limbaugh Went There.

    Posted by Stephen Karlson on 10th May 2020 (All posts by )

    He was being funny, late on last Thursday’s show, and he came up with this.  “My favorite conspiracy theory is that this virus is the work of a bunch of lunatic billionaires who really believe that we are destroying the planet and they have discovered that we can’t get to Mars in time and we can’t colonize the moon so they have come up with a way to get rid of billions of people to make the world have a longer survivability potential.”  I’ve been referring, recently, to Tom Clancy novels, but I had no plans to go anywhere near Rainbow Six.

    As the novel involves precisely that kind of lunatic billionaire, as well as some clandestine work to shut down the plan and disappear the plotters, because of the risk of “a global panic when people realize what a biotech company can do if it wants,” though, well, perhaps there’s another story in it.

    Regular readers of Tom Clancy know that the likelihood of a secret being blown is proportional to the square of the number of people in on it.  The novel left a number of possible dots to connect to put together yet another story, one with the potential to topple governments.  If I had any sort of novel-writing skills, I might essay such a thing, although it might be more productive to offer some of the dots, as if a mental exercise in quarantine, should anyone wish to essay such an effort.

    There are almost enough dots to make a post as long as a Tom Clancy novel.  They’re below the jump.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Bioethics, Book Notes, COVID-19, Current Events, Diversions, Environment | 20 Comments »

    The Flynn Case Collapses.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 7th May 2020 (All posts by )

    Today, the Department of Justice (so- called) dropped its prosecution of General Michael Flynn. This followed a ferocious defense by Sidney Powell, an attorney and author of the excellent book, “Licensed to Lie” which explained the federal misbehavior in the Enron cases, one of which resulted in a unanimous decision by the US Supreme Court that reversed the conviction of Arthur Anderson Accounting Corporation in a miscarriage of justice by Andrew Weissmann who should be disbarred for the Mueller investigation which he ran with Mueller as a senile figurehead.

    Why was Flynn prosecuted ?

    Here is an explanation.

    The only other Republican candidate to repudiate the “Bush Freedom Agenda” was Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. That is why the 2016 Republican primary became a two-man race between Trump and Cruz. The whole of the American Establishment had signed on to a utopian crusade to impose the liberal world order on the Muslim world. After nine years of frustration in Iraq, it saw in the so-called “Arab Spring” demonstrations of 2011 a second chance to bring its agenda to fruition. The result of this was the near-collapse of Egypt and an eight-year civil war in Syria that killed half a million people and displaced 10 million refugees.

    Flynn called attention to this massive intelligence failure and had to be destroyed. It’s a shame that Cruz did not endorse Trump at the end on become part of a unity campaign.

    I have previously posted my opinion on the Flynn matter, which does not differ from David Goldman except in detail.

    After Flynn was driven out of his post at DIA, things got even more threatening to the intelligence officials, as he became a prime advisor to candidate Trump and, early in the campaign, other Republicans. After the 2016 elections, the IC officials went all-out to keep him out of the White House, sometimes resorting to spreading ridiculous stories. President Obama warned Trump not to appoint Flynn as national security advisor, and Susan Rice actually warned the president-elect that Flynn might be in violation of the Logan Act, for which nobody has ever been prosecuted, and hence blackmailable by the Russians. Meanwhile, the Bureau had opened a counterintelligence investigation of Flynn’s activities. His digital communications were monitored, “unmasked” at the request of Obama officials, and leaked to friendly journalists.

    Goldman’s version is a little different.

    As chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2012, Flynn had warned that American support for Sunni jihadists in Syria had the unintended effect of supporting the new caliphate movement, that is, ISIS. Among all the heads and former heads of the 17 agencies that make up the US intelligence community, Flynn was the only one who had objected to the disastrous covert intervention in Syria and foreseen its baleful consequences. Obama fired him, but Donald Trump hired him as a top campaign aide and then appointed him national security adviser.

    The Syrian debacle brought Russia into Syria in 2015; the American-backed jihad had turned into a Petri dish for Russian Muslims from the Caucasus, as well as Chinese Uighurs and a motley assortment of foreign militants. Russia had interests of opportunity, for example, a warm-water refueling station for its Mediterranean fleet, but the risk of blowback from the Syrian civil war was the most urgent motive for President Vladimir Putin’s intervention.

    That is the background to the mutiny in the US Intelligence Community against the elected commander-in-chief. America’s noble – or perhaps narcissistic – intentions did more damage than Trump’s indifference.

    In retrospect, I think I agree even more with Goldman on this. I supported the Iraq War at first but it was botched beyond redemption.

    This is another post I made on the same topic last February.

    CIA must be disestablished. Its functions should be returned to the Departments of State, Defense, and Treasury. FBI must be restricted to law enforcement. At home, the Agencies are partisan institutions illegitimately focused on setting national policy. Abroad, Agencies untied to specific operational concerns are inherently dangerous and low-value.
    Intelligence must return to its natural place as servant, not master, of government. Congress should amend the 1947 National Security Act. The President should broaden intelligence perspectives, including briefs from State, Defense, and Treasury, and abolish CIA’s “covert action.” State should be made responsible for political influence and the armed services for military and paramilitary affairs.

    This is an obvious fact. Our intelligence capability has been destroyed in China and Iran by CIA incompetence in its secure communication systems.

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Current Events, Iraq, Law, National Security, Trump | 17 Comments »

    Lament for a Mall

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 28th April 2020 (All posts by )

    Malls were the latest, trendiest, most oh-there thing in retail development about the time that I was in high school and college. There were a couple of them that I went to, early on, and they were … OK. A nice diversion if one was in the mood or purse for retail therapy. Most of them were enclosed, two or three levels, almost always expensively decorated, adorned with plantings, sometimes with dabs of architectural creativity here and there. All of that made sense in places where the weather was bitterly cold for at least half the year or boiling-hot for three-quarters of it – still does, in the upper mid-west and mountain west, especially in snowy winters. It was, however, a serious and time-burning excursion to go to the mall; finding a place to park nearest an entrance, walking … and walking, and walking, and carrying whatever you had purchased. If there was a nice and varied selection of shops, not wall to wall big chain outlets, exactly the same as every other mall – so much the better.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Current Events, Personal Narrative, Society, Style, Urban Issues | 40 Comments »

    Dark Sarcasm In the Classroom

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 23rd April 2020 (All posts by )

    And in other places, like New York. I must confess to snickering nastily at New Yorker’s response to Mayor OBlah-blah’s unveiling of a system to nark out your neighbors for not obeying every jot and tittle of the Wuhan Corona-crud restrictions. Said system was immediately swamped in an unstoppable rising tide of rude pictures, pictures of rude gestures, and sarcastic references to Hitler, as well as crude personal jibes regarding the Mayor himself – to the point where the system was taken down entirely. Well, good for New Yorkers, I say – and a very good thing that such a thing wasn’t tried in a Texas city; seriously, the receiving server would have melted down into a radioactive puddle of goo. And California skateboarders industriously clearing out their skate-park of the sand dumped into it by officious authorities and making a dirt-bike track out of the excess sand? That’s just freaking awesome. We have not forgotten how to cock a snook at overweening authority; a tradition has been passed on to a new generation…
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Conservatism, Current Events, Leftism | 34 Comments »

    Risk Register

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 18th April 2020 (All posts by )

    There are, of course, many items that could be placed in a risk register for our ongoing management of COVID-19. I find myself drawn to those categorizable as, or perhaps triggered by, human perception and behavior. By way of limiting the scope of this post to reasonable attention spans, here are my current top 3: Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Capitalism, China, Civil Society, COVID-19, Current Events, Health Care, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Law Enforcement, Markets and Trading, Predictions, Religion, Society, Statistics, USA | 21 Comments »

    “A Fresh Perspective on the Covid-19 Numbers” – Part 2

    Posted by Jonathan on 17th April 2020 (All posts by )

    Robert Prost follows up his previous email (posted here):

    Plotted below are the covid-19 confirmed cases for Wisconsin. The data is graphed so that the first derivative plot is scaled up for better visibility. The fact that the graph has been jumping so erratically means that somebody is manipulating the data. This first derivative is the rate of change of the accumulation of new cases. That fact that it jumps around means that either someone is pushing the hospitals to change their definition of ‘confirmation’ or the virus has a mind of its own. If the changes were due to the sudden availability of additional testing, the increase should be all in one direction if additional cases were being detected. Someone is playing games in pursuit of a political agenda. Were I to hazard a guess, I’d say it is due to our addled governor, aka Tony Baloney.

    Wisconsin COVID-19 Confirmed Cases

    Robert concludes: “This data certainly does not give a good reason to extend the lockdown.”

    Posted in COVID-19, Current Events, Medicine, Politics, Science | 10 Comments »

    The Dark Night of Fascism…

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 17th April 2020 (All posts by )

    …is said to always be descending on America but landing in Europe … but in the instance of this Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic, a peculiar variant of it looks to be landing in Michigan, New Jersey and Virginia, seeing as those states have been blessed with governors breaking all land speed records in getting in touch with their inner authoritarian. One might be forgiven for suspecting that their motivation is not so much for keeping those vulnerable to the newly-improved Chinese respiratory crud in quarantine, but one might also be forgiven for a healthy sense of suspicion; that governors like … Gretchen “Karen the Governator” Whitmer are actually making a frantic display of authority, in a pathetic attempt to demonstrate that they can, actually, make wise use of such authority. Karen the Governator is additionally challenged by the prospect of being theoretically in the running to be nommed to the VP slot in Joe Biden’s hapless campaign for the office of president of these United and temporarily locked-down States. Sigh – the thing about authority, class, good taste, or being a lady – is that if you must make an overt demonstration of those qualities to the masses – then you don’t possess them at all. While it’s absolutely fine that a real-life Natasha Fatale has lost the Russian accent and taken on the onerous duties of being the elected governor of Michigan, going all overboard like the bossiest boss of the most nightmare HOA imaginable (I’m all about building a second career!) … is not a good look. Demanding that retail outlets which are already open and have customers withing – not sell garden seeds, flooring, and baby car seats on the grounds that such are non-essential is bloody insane. And illogical. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Blogging, Current Events, Just Unbelievable, Media | 18 Comments »

    SARS-CoV2/COVID-19 Update, Easter 2020 edition

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 12th April 2020 (All posts by )

    There are lots of hopeful reports — despite the USA COVID-19 infections being over 1/2 million and the total deaths of over 20,000 people — that the pandemic will soon be “Over.”

    This is fantasy thinking at best.  SARS-CoV2/COVID-19 won’t be over, until it is over, for YEARS.

    “Over” being defined as world wide mass vaccinations to the tune of 70% of humanity or human herd immunity.  Assuming such a thing is possible, which it may not be, given this recent report from the UK Daily Mail on post SARS-CoV2/COVID-19 infection immunity —

    Blow to Britain’s hopes for coronavirus antibody testing as study finds a THIRD of recovered patients have barely-detectable evidence they have had the virus already

    .

    – Nearly third of patients have very low levels of antibodies, Chinese study found
    – Antibodies not detected at all in 10 people, raising fears they could be reinfected
    – Explains why UK Government repeatedly delayed rolling them out to the public

    .

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8203725/Antibodies-prove-difficult-detect-Chinese-coronavirus-survivors.html

    .

    Related studies:
    Wu F et al. Neutralizing antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 in a COVID-19 recovered patient cohort and their implications. medRxiv 2020.03.30.20047365; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.03.30.20047365

    .

    and

    .

    Zhao J et al. Antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 in patients of novel coronavirus disease 2019, Clinical Infectious Diseases, , ciaa344, https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa344
    total by July 1st 51,197

    Or this South Korean story on coronavirus “reactivation” —

    South Korea reports recovered coronavirus patients testing positive again
    APRIL 10, 2020
    Josh Smith, Sangmi Cha

    .

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-southkorea-idUSKCN21S15X?utm_campaign=trueAnthem%3A+Trending+Content&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=facebook

    The issue with most COVID-19 tests, like the ones mentioned in South Korea, is they detect SARS-CoV2 RNA. They do not detect whether the viral particles are active or not. The issue here is whether these people are shedding active viral particles that can re-infect people.  We don’t know if that is the case here from the story text.  Given how infectious it is.  This coronavirus will tell us in due course.

    There are some viral diseases like Herpes that hide inside your body and reactivate to make you infectious. We do not know enough about the SARs-CoV2 virus to say whether that is the case here.

    If the SARS-CoV2 virus is like Herpes in that once contracted, it never goes away and flares infectious several times a year.

    And there is no herd immunity for some people no matter how often they are infected.

    Then we will need multiple, cheap,  out-patient style “cure-treatments” as well as multiple vaccines, based on co-morbidities, and possibly to account for racial differences like sickle cell blood mutations, as SARS-CoV2 may well be more a blood disease than a respiratory infection in terms of it’s killing mechanism.

    See:

    COVID-19: Attacks the 1-Beta Chain of Hemoglobin and Captures the Porphyrin to Inhibit Human Heme Metabolism

    https://chemrxiv.org/articles/COVID-19_Disease_ORF8_and_Surface_Glycoprotein_Inhibit_Heme_Metabolism_by_Binding_to_Porphyrin/11938173

    There is not enough reliable data, d*mn it!

    Until we get to “Over,” our old economic world of Just-In-Time, Sole Source anywhere, but especially in China, is dead without replacement.

    The world is in the same position as Germany was from August 1944 – April 1945 or  Japan from August 1944 until August 1945 versus the Allied strategic bombing campaign.  We have entered the world of  End Run Production as world wide supply chains grind to a halt from various fiddly bits of intermediate parts running out without replacement.  The on-and-off hotspots world wide of COVID-19 at different times and places in the world economy is no different than WW2 strategic bombing in terms of causing random damage to the economic life support.

    See also  “End Run Production” here from this one volume WW2 history book The Great Crusade:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=5L-bwPZK7PQC&pg=PA420&lpg=PA420&dq=%22End+Run+Production%22&source=bl&ots=kc30FQflCj&sig=ACfU3U2kmF-kTPo0Tgr2A9_ESPKpEQAEOg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjfpurOnOPoAhUKA6wKHemwBMcQ6AEwAHoECC4QKQ#v=onepage&q=%22End%20Run%20Production%22&f=false

    Be it automobiles, self propelled construction equipment, jets, power plants or the latest electronic gadget, anything that has thousands of parts sourced world wide with lots of Chinese cheap/disposable sub-component content anywhere in the supply chain simply won’t be produced for the next 18 months to three years.

    This “random damage to the economic life support” effect is amplified by the unwillingness of Western private industry to invest in building the capitol equipment to produced those intermediate parts.  Because of the threat of China coming back with predatory pricing — using bought politicians to cover for them — means those parts won’t be built without massive cost plus contract government buy out of the investment risk like happened in the USA in the 1942 WW2 mobilization.

    The story of  one American n95 mask manufacturer’s experience with the Obama Administration in 2009 with the Swine flu is a case in point.  The n95 mask is a 50 cent item where China pays 2 cents a mask for labor versus 10 cents a mask for American labor.  When the American manufacturer geared up to replace Chinese mask production.  China came back on-line and the Obama Administration refused to keep buying the American mask producer’s 8 cents more expensive mask when the Chinese masks were available.

    Unlike almost 80 years ago, current Western and particularly American politicians are too corrupt to go too massive cost plus contract government buy out this private investment risk.  Mainly because these political elites  can’t be bothered to figure out their 10% cut.  Instead we are getting more “fiscal stimulus” AKA boondoggles that the elites will saddle the rest of us with high interest payments on huge public debts.

    It will take local small to mid-sized business to get the American economy going during the COVID-19 pandemic via making products and services that don’t use the intermediate products China threatens with when the pandemic ends.

    My read on what comes next economically is local/distributed production with limited capitol investment that is multi-product capable.  The name for that is additive manufacturing, AKA 3D Printing. Here are a couple of examples:

    1. The idea of 3D Printed Sand Casting Molds For Automobile Production

    voxeljet enters alliance to industrialize core tooling production using 3D printing

    2. And the replacement of physical inventory with 3D printers, print media and electronic drawings:
    Such “Make or buy” decisions have always been the key decision of any business.  The issue here is that middle men wholesalers and in-house warehousing holding cheap Chinese-sourced  intermediate parts are both set to go the way of the Doe-Doe Bird in a 3D/AM manufacturing dominated world.
    .
    Distributed production in multiple localities with 3D/AM vendors for limited runs of existing intermediate products to keep production lines going.  Or the re-engineering intermediate products so one 3D/AM print replaces multiple intermediate products for the same reason, will be the stuff of future Masters of Business Administration (MBA) papers describing this imminent change over.

    .

    But, like developing SARS-CoV2/COVID-19 vaccines, this new locally distributed manufacturing economy will take time.  The possible opening of the American economy in May 2020 will not bring the old economy of December 2019 back.

    .

    That economy is dead.  It cannot, will not, come back.

    .

    We will have to dance with both the sickness from SARS-CoV2/COVID-19 and the widening End Run Production product shortages that the death of the globalist  just-in-time, sole source in China economic model causes for years.

    .

    And this is a hard reality, not a fantasy, we must all face.

    Posted in America 3.0, Business, Capitalism, China, Civil Society, COVID-19, Culture, Current Events, Deep Thoughts, Entrepreneurship, Germany, Health Care, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Medicine, Miscellaneous, Politics, Public Finance, Science, Systems Analysis, Taxes, Tradeoffs, Uncategorized, USA | 64 Comments »

    At What Point…

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 7th April 2020 (All posts by )

    I have small businesses in two counties here in flyover country. In one county the death rate from covid is .0000035 – thirty five ten thousandths of one percent. In the other, *much harder hit*, .000020 – twenty thousandths of one percent. And this is taking the death tallies at face value, as if the people died FROM covid, vs. they died WITH covid.

    In Illinois, Gov. Pritzker is talking about curfew, temp taking, and a number of other ridiculous lock-downy things.

    Eventually, they have to let everyone get back to work, or there won’t be any “work” left.

    I’m wondering at what point will the citizenry call “bs” on this and just do whatever they want.

    Sure, there are hot spots and sure, there are problems, but if we didn’t know about covid in these places mentioned above there would be no panic whatsoever as these aren’t even rounding errors. And the economy is trashed? It’s far more dangerous to drive your car to the store than, well, going inside the store.

    To make it all worse, I can’t have a birthday party for my daughter, but it’s ok for the State of Wisconsin to have an election, and for the mayor of Chicago to go get her hair done.

    Posted in COVID-19, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Elections, Illinois Politics | 29 Comments »

    In Medias Res

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 4th April 2020 (All posts by )

    What I’ve got so far:

    1. Everything’s on the table. The likelihood that your preexisting ideology or priorities are an entirely adequate match to what this situation truly requires of us is close to nil. “In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” ― Eric Hoffer
    2. That said, your life experience will give you insights. Privilege your experience over your ideology and nominal priorities.
    3. All disasters are local. Concentrate on your meaningfully immediate environment, which in this case will be the local market for medical resources. For most of the US, that will be our MSA. For those outside an MSA (metropolitan or micropolitan) that will be their county; and for some it will be the group of counties that feed into the one hospital in the region.
    4. Deprioritize pandemic news from outside your local area. There are people in the massive NY/NJ/MA outbreak that I worry about, but what happens there will only modestly resemble what happens in the KC MSA, not least because of the difference in population density, which can approach 20x.
    5. Mitigate or avoid your own risk (including the risk you pose to others) by both following the hygiene advice we’ve all heard and minimizing your physical interaction with anyone outside your immediate household. Internalize R₀ = b × k × d, where R₀ is the reproduction number of the virus, b is the probability of infection given contact with an infectious person, k is the contact rate, and d is the infectious duration. While the nominal R₀ of COVID-19 is ~3, your personal R₀ can be driven to < 1 by your own behavior.
    6. The general form of the challenge confronting us is abrupt wide variation in formerly relatively constant phenomena. In Talebian terms, we have migrated from “mediocristan” to “extremistan.” The multiplicative nature of a novel viral pandemic, especially by comparison to the relatively predictable seasonality of influenza viruses, has a thick-tailed (power law) probability structure and complex payoffs (notoriously ranging from large numbers of nearly asymptomatic cases to abruptly life-threatening “cytokine storm” reactions). For detail, see The Fourth Quadrant: A Map of the Limits of Statistics.
    7. So we find ourselves at serious risk of running out of ventilators, ICU beds, and even hospital beds generally, to say nothing of supplies (but see “all disasters are local,” above), raising the prospect of significant second-order mortality among those unable to obtain adequate care for entirely unrelated illnesses and injuries.
    8. In this connection, many prior customs, techniques, tools, and materials are being revealed as highly dysfunctional and, if all goes sufficiently well, will be swept into the dustbin of history. The bad news for me is that my earlier fears about easily-bottlenecked processes have been realized. But we may look forward to significant adaptation, including deregulation of medical services.
    9. Similarly, a large number of purported fixes and remedies will fail. Folk remedies, in particular, seem likely to be disastrous, and this blog’s audience needs no persuasion that attempts at central planning will fail thanks to the Hayekian local knowledge problem. In that connection, and to quote something I wrote a few years back: “John Gilmore famously said that ‘the Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.’ The future adaptation of representative democracies will depend on our capability, as individuals, to interpret endemic institutional dysfunctionality as damage and route around it.”
    10. The relatively vulnerable are closer to the center of the network: affluent, living in high-density major cities, well-traveled, extroverted, socially active, with large numbers of regular contacts (even if mostly in a “bubble” as per Murray’s notorious quiz). But some are the alienated and defiant who reject risk avoidance or even risk mitigation tactics (or attempt folk remedies instead), ordinarily associated with …
    11. The relatively invulnerable, who are at or near the edge of the network: impoverished, living in rural or low-density metro areas, untraveled, introverted, socially isolated, rarely in face-to-face contact with others. Many of these people have mental health issues and associated substance abuse problems. But the relatively invulnerable are also the intelligent and conscientious who promptly adopt appropriate risk management strategies.
    12. The post-pandemic preferences of the relatively invulnerable will have massive economic and cultural effects. I expect a reasonably quick partial recovery from the economic shutdown, but full recovery may take several years. Many of the “third places” which have done well over the last few decades will not regain their patronage, and as of early April 2020, we can only guess which ones. Fond hopes of some of my co-religionists aside for a sudden revival, I believe church attendance and involvement will be well down in the aftermath, and will not significantly grow until the next “Awakening,” which per Strauss and Howe should occur at mid-century. Until then, believers will be culturally marginalized and congregations will be smaller—but comprised of relatively fervent, active members.
    13. Geopolitical risks are heightened, especially US-China tensions, and if Xenakis’ “58-year hypothesis” holds, this very year will see an echo of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
    14. The most important output of this process—and it is a process, with inputs, providers, outputs, recipients, etc—will be a collective lessons-learned database, comprised of both tacit and explicit knowledge, and somehow transmitted to future generations.

    Posted in America 3.0, Big Government, Business, China, Christianity, Civil Society, COVID-19, Culture, Current Events, Economics & Finance, Health Care, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Libertarianism, Military Affairs, Organizational Analysis, Predictions, Religion, Society, Systems Analysis, USA | 34 Comments »

    Supply Chain Management in a Time of Crisis

    Posted by David Foster on 3rd April 2020 (All posts by )

    GE Healthcare, which is ramping up ventilator production, is using 3-D printing both to make parts directly and to make molds for injection molding.  However, the chief engineer for advanced manufacturing at Healthcare says that some of the 3D-printing companies he has been talking to are shut down due to government edicts that deemed their work nonessential.

    It sounds like they will get around this barrier…“We have a map of all the companies that have excess capacity, and so we’ll divert whatever print work we need to whatever company has got the ability right now, on top of the equipment we have at GE”…but I expect that there is going to be a lot of this sort of thing. There is no way that local or state officials can understand the supply chain dependencies that exist between a seemingly-minor local business and a major national priority somewhere up a level or two (or more) in the product structure. In some cases, all it might take is a letter from the top-tier manufacturer certifying the importance of the work the supplier is doing, but in many cases I suspect that the only rapid solutions will require Federal involvement.

    Posted in Big Government, Business, COVID-19, Current Events, Management, Tech, USA | 5 Comments »

    A Corona Virus Timeline.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 1st April 2020 (All posts by )

    It is now becoming a theme on the left that Trump was not quick enough to recognize the coming epidemic.

    For that reason, I think it valuable to keep a record of the time line.

    Here is the January 12, 2020 WHO report on the virus epidemic in China.

    The evidence is highly suggestive that the outbreak is associated with exposures in one seafood market in Wuhan. The market was closed on 1 January 2020. At this stage, there is no infection among healthcare workers, and no clear evidence of human to human transmission. The Chinese authorities continue their work of intensive surveillance and follow up measures, as well as further epidemiological investigations.

    Here is the January 30, 2020 report by WHO on the epidemic in China.

    The Committee believes that it is still possible to interrupt virus spread, provided that countries put in place strong measures to detect disease early, isolate and treat cases, trace contacts, and promote social distancing measures commensurate with the risk. It is important to note that as the situation continues to evolve, so will the strategic goals and measures to prevent and reduce spread of the infection. The Committee agreed that the outbreak now meets the criteria for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and proposed the following advice to be issued as Temporary Recommendations.

    The Committee emphasized that the declaration of a PHEIC should be seen in the spirit of support and appreciation for China, its people, and the actions China has taken on the frontlines of this outbreak, with transparency, and, it is to be hoped, with success.

    Trump stopped incoming flights from China on January 31, 2020.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Bioethics, China, Civil Liberties, Current Events, Health Care | 36 Comments »

    American Has an Autoimmune Disease

    Posted by David Foster on 31st March 2020 (All posts by )

    An autoimmune disease is an illness that occurs when the body tissues are attacked by its own immune system.  The US today has this condition big-time.  Historically, the condition has arisen and reached toxic levels in other countries; as an example, France, during the run-up to the Second World War and even during the campaign of 1940.

    General Edward Spears, who was Churchill’s military liaison with France, was told by Georges Mandel, the combative interior minister, about the mayor of a district in Paris which had been bombed who went about the lobbies, screaming:  I will interpellate the Government on this outrage as soon as the chamber meets!  Mandel expressed his contempt for this kind of behavior, saying sarcastically “Paris is bombed by the German?  Let’s shake our fists at or own government.”  Spears notes that “The other way, that of silently going off to collect a gun and have a shot at the enemy, was a solution that occurred only to a few…How Hitler must have laughed, I told myself.”

    A few months earlier, an interviewer asked Paul Reynaud, who had just become Prime Minister of France, about his long-standing and bitter rivalry with Edouard Daladier.

    Nevertheless, ”the interviewer  said, “Daladier is certainly a man who loves his country.”

    “Yes,” Reynaud replied, “I believe he desires the victory of France, but he desires my defeat even more.”

    This may have been a bit unfair to Daladier, who was far from the worst of the leading French politicians of the day. But it gives an accurate impression of the state of things in the late Third Republic.  And it may actually understate the state of things in America today, where for many politicians and journalists, the well-being of America and of Americans doesn’t seem to enter into the equation at all compared with the search for political advantage.

    The obsession with political power, and with the denunciation of opponents, is not today limited to politicians, journalists, and ‘activists’…it has spread to a large proportion of the population.  Millions of Americans, it seems, are in a state of visceral rage against not only Trump, but against any and all of his supporters.  There is no activity, of any sort, that is safe from volcanic overflowings of political rage…not even knitting, as strange as that may seem.

    It often seems impossible to find any point of entry for an attempt to get Progs to reconsider their beliefs, in however small a way.  I’m reminded of something written by Arthur Koestler, himself a former Communist, on the subject of intellectually closed systems:

    A closed system has three peculiarities. Firstly, it claims to represent a truth of universal validity, capable of explaining all phenomena, and to have a cure for all that ails man. In the second place, it is a system which cannot be refuted by evidence, because all potentially damaging data are automatically processed and reinterpreted to make them fit the expected pattern. The processing is done by sophisticated methods of casuistry, centered on axioms of great emotive power, and indifferent to the rules of common logic; it is a kind of Wonderland croquet, played with mobile hoops. In the third place, it is a system which invalidates criticism by shifting the argument to the subjective motivation of the critic, and deducing his motivation from the axioms of the system itself. The orthodox Freudian school in its early stages approximated a closed system; if you argued that for such and such reasons you doubted the existence of the so-called castration complex, the Freudian’s prompt answer was that your argument betrayed an unconscious resistance indicating that you yourself have a castration complex; you were caught in a vicious circle. Similarly, if you argued with a Stalinist that to make a pact with Hitler was not a nice thing to do he would explain that your bourgeois class-consciousness made you unable to understand the dialectics of history…In short, the closed system excludes the possibility of objective argument by two related proceedings: (a) facts are deprived of their value as evidence by scholastic processing; (b) objections are invalidated by shifting the argument to the personal motive behind the objection. This procedure is legitimate according to the closed system’s rules of the game which, however absurd they seem to the outsider, have a great coherence and inner consistency.

    The atmosphere inside the closed system is highly charged; it is an emotional hothouse…The trained, “closed-minded” theologian, psychoanalyst, or Marxist can at any time make mincemeat of his “open-minded” adversary and thus prove the superiority of his system to the world and to himself.

    In attempting to debate with “progressives,” one often encounters this kind of closed-system thinking:  there is absolutely no way you are going to change their minds, whatever the evidence or logic.  (I don’t think this is true of  all  “progressives”–otherwise the situation in America today would be even more grim than it actually is–but it’s true of a lot of them.)

    But today’s Progressivism is not a coherent intellectual system with definable axioms like Marxism or a Christian theology; it seems much more a cluster of emotional reactions.

    Certain Progs have gone so far out on the limb that there seems no hope they could ever come back; this certainly is true of most commentators on CNN and MSNBC…they will just become angrier and more extreme, and it will all be broadcast to millions as long as their owners (AT&T and Comcast, respectively) keep the money flowing.  But what about ordinary people, those whose lives do not center (or at least previously have not centered) around politics?…Is there any sign that some may be willing to reconsider some of their beliefs, specifically in the midst of the Cornavirus crisis?  I have seen comments by people saying they have friends who have recently been willing to reconsider their support for open borders, or for offshoring most American manufacturing to China, in the light of current events.  I haven’t seen much of this, personally.  What I see is more people who are so completely aligned with their ‘side’, that they view events largely through the light of how they can be interpreted to support that side.  These are often people who were not particularly interested in politics or political philosophy  prior to recent years.

    This isn’t one of my more coherent posts, but I’d like to discuss: Can the American autoimmune disease be cured?  Why did it develop and get so bad?  What, as individuals, can we do to help with the cure or at least the mitigation?

    Posted in Current Events, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Society | 15 Comments »

    One Million Health Care Workers

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 31st March 2020 (All posts by )

    As I was driving to work today I heard on Bloomberg that presidential candidate Andrew Cuomo requested a million health care workers to help with the crisis in New York. “A million!” I said to myself in my car.

    I looked at the population of New York City and it looks like there are around 8.5 million people there, where most of the problems are. Lets say ten million to make the math easy. So one health care worker per ten patients, assuming every single person in New York City gets sick. Really?

    Where would you put them all? Aren’t most of the hotels closed? That would be importing a city the size of San Jose or Austin into New York. Of course it is stupid, so my question is why does Cuomo say something like this?

    Posted in COVID-19, Current Events, Medicine | 17 Comments »

    “A Fresh Perspective on the Covid-19 Numbers”

    Posted by Jonathan on 29th March 2020 (All posts by )

    Robert Prost emails:

    I wanted to share with you, my take on the corona virus situation in the United States.
     
    But first, a brief introduction. I am professor emeritus at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.
     
    I have a PhD in Biophysics and spent my career in MRI-based research, mostly on brain tumors.
     
    I check the Johns Hopkins’ website every day for the progress of the epidemic and I had a feeling about the numbers I’ve been seeing.
     
    The website: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6 is very good.
     
    The daily case number totals can be extracted by mousing over each plotted point in the graph in the lower right hand corner of the screen.
     
    The curve at first looks daunting, it seems to be shooting straight up. But being at least in part a mathematician, I wondered about the velocity of this upward move in cases.
     
    If the velocity was going up, the epidemic would be accelerating, the epidemic would be worsening. If going down, it would be getting better (slowing).
     
    So I plotted the data and took the first derivative with respect to time. What it shows is that the velocity of the epidemic in the US is definitely slowing, and quickly.
     
    While the number of confirmed cases continues to rise, it is rising more slowly. If there were a confounding effect from increased surveillance (more testing revealing yet more cases), the apparent velocity should be going up.
     
    Instead, it is going down. So I believe the effect to be real, and thus I believe we are witnessing the beginning of the end of the epidemic. While this data says nothing about the potential for re-emergence in the fall or following spring, it does suggest that we have in fact, flattened the curve.

    US Covid-19 Cases and Rate of Change

    UPDATE: A follow-up email from Robert is posted here.

    Posted in COVID-19, Current Events, Medicine, Science | 69 Comments »

    Stuff Is Going To “Fall Off The Truck”

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 29th March 2020 (All posts by )

    In my previous post I hinted that perhaps Mr. Cuomo doesn’t really need forty thousand ventilators for the Covid-19 crisis in New York. A lively and interesting discussion ensued and I thank the commenters for that.

    Today I had on the Trump presser and I was doing other things until Trump said the following, (speaking of mask usage per day at a certain hospital) – and my ears perked up:

    “How do you go from 10 to 20, to 300,000 — 10 to 20,000 masks to 300,000, even though this is different. Something’s going on, and you ought to look into it, as reporters,” Trump said.

    As an aside, he really does speak in stream of consciousness, no? Anyways.

    I love math problems and would like to see the actual numbers of staff/masks if those numbers exist – that could be interesting. Trump could have been fluffing the numbers a bit to make a point on something he has heard. But Trump isn’t stupid and brought it up for a reason.

    Of course the Washington Post can’t have Trump doubting for a second that anyone in a democratic controlled area would…well…maybe…”borrow” some of the supplies – and they said that Trump was touting a “conspiracy theory”.

    When the books are written about this episode, I am fairly confident that waste and fraud will be two of the more interesting aspects. Some of it will be on purpose, and some of it will be just because this is a large project run by the government.

    Posted in COVID-19, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Medicine, Trump | 6 Comments »

    Ventilator Math

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 27th March 2020 (All posts by )

    So Andrew Cuomo says that they need up to 40,000 ventilators in New York City.

    But “the number of ventilators we need is so astronomical,” Cuomo warned, pegging the “apex number” of ventilators that could be required in New York at 40,000.

    So, I like math and I enjoy trying to suss out these types of problems. I’m assuming that a normal “joe” can’t just wake up and intubate someone, and that probably your run of the mill nurse who checks your blood pressure can’t either. I found this list of physicians in New York State as of 2019:

    Psychiatry 6,759
    Surgery 4,293
    Anesthesiologists 4,262
    Emergency medicine 4,560
    Radiology 3,999
    Cardiology 3,149
    Oncology (cancer) 2,213
    Endocrinology, diabetes, & metabolism 902
    All other specialities 18,771
    Total specialty 48,908

    My guess is that at least half (more?) of these doctors probably aren’t able to intubate someone. So…I’m wondering (paging Dr. K), looking at these numbers of doctors that are up and running with their practice in the state of New York that are qualified, how would they even be able to use 40k ventilators? Maybe I am missing some legislation that would allow doctors from other states to practice in New York State right away. Perhaps it is easier than I think to intubate a patient and Joe Radiologist can do it. Anyone?

    Posted in COVID-19, Current Events, Medicine | 39 Comments »

    China Virus

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 24th March 2020 (All posts by )

    Seriously, I do wonder if there isn’t a strong antipathy against all things Official-Mainland-Chinese/ Chinese Communist Party and all its works building among Americans, in the wake of the almost-universal infection by the Wuhan Corona-virus epidemic. I mean – the damn plague started there, despite what all the official CCP agencies and bodies, and their sympathizers and hired media can and will insist. Bungling containment, concealing practically everything about the epidemic (the third devastating epidemic originating in China, by the way, the swine flu and the H1N1 virus being the first two) and then having the unmitigated gall to blame it on the United states – that takes the absolute cake, as far as I am concerned. It reminds me of the books I absorbed, growing up; most by English and American authors of the mildly popular sort (some fiction, some non) and dating anywhere in the first half of the 20th century whose detestation of Germany and Germans hung in the atmosphere of those books like a particularly dank fog. It was an almost visceral dislike, for all that we generally had been inclined favorably towards Germany before the turn of the previous century. Martin Luther, Johan Sebastian Bach, the Brothers Grimm, Schumann, Beethoven, Goethe, scientific, technological and medical advances all flowed to the rest of Europe and to the Americas, making us all the richer for it – but German ‘frightfulness’ in World War I, and the horrors inflicted by Nazi Germany burned through that enormous fund of respect and favorable opinion, leaving a very bad taste in the mouths of those old enough to have been exposed to them, either directly or at first and second remove. That bad taste may only now be fading with regard to Germany, but I wonder if it isn’t now about to be replaced with burning resentment of China, or at the very least, the Chinese Communist Party. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Business, China, COVID-19, Current Events, Germany, History, Society | 33 Comments »

    Illinois Should “Un Lock Down” Most of the State

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 23rd March 2020 (All posts by )

    As of this writing, outside of Chicago and the collar counties, the county with the most covid-19 infections is McLean with seven, followed by Winnebago with five. The vast majority of counties have zero. So why shut down the whole state? Probably a stupid question to ask the readership here.

    Posted in COVID-19, Current Events, Illinois Politics | 22 Comments »

    Covid-19 Weekend Update/Random Thoughts

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 21st March 2020 (All posts by )

    This morning I went on a long hike up at Devil’s Lake State Park. It was chilly, but there was no wind, which made it absolutely wonderful. I took the “hard” way, meaning I went up and down the bluffs twice as I made my way around the lake. The photo above is from the west bluff. There was hardly anyone there, which was eerie and peaceful, as this is Wisconsin’s most popular state park and I have never seen it so devoid of people. You could hear the ice heaving and breaking on the shore, and I heard some interesting birds making calls that I don’t typically get to hear. The migration is in full swing. During this time I prayed, meditated and got my workout in. I am very glad I did it after a long week.

    During the drive back, I noticed that a lot of farmers were spreading. The cycle of life continues here behind the cheddar curtain.

    So, some random Covid thoughts. I have enjoyed Governor Cuomo bitching and griping for help over the past week. What a whiner. Hey Cuomo – who has run New York for the past, ever? Maybe you should look in the mirror before you start playing politics. Same goes for Lori Lightfoot. Hopeless.

    My Illinois facility will remain open during the “stay at home” order issued by Gov. Pritzker as HVAC is an “essential business”. While I typically loathe anything this man does, he did a nice job with the presser yesterday, I will admit. Contrast that with Lori Lightfoot, who bitched and whined about the lack of federal response. There is one bit of hilarity in Pritzker’s “stay at home” order (yes, I read the whole thing). Can you tell me which one of these things is different from the other?

    Section 12 (h)
    Definition of Critical Trades
    Building and Construction Tradesmen and Tradeswomen, and other trades including but not limited to plumbers, electricians, exterminators, cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and governmental properties, security staff, operating engineers, HVAC, painting, moving and relocation services, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activities, and Essential Businesses and Operations.

    Oh yea, he kept the pot shops open too.

    I am refreshed and pleasantly surprised by the State of Wisconsin coming forward with a united front and saying that there will be no “stay at home” order (otherwise known as government overreach). At least for now.

    I stopped at a convenience store on the way home and picked up a dozen eggs. They were $1.49 and there were plenty of them.

    Well, that’s about all I got. Hope everyone had half as good a day as I did. Let me know what you are seeing/feeling in your neck of the woods.

    Posted in COVID-19, Current Events, Personal Narrative | 33 Comments »

    Ruin and Recovery

    Posted by David Foster on 21st March 2020 (All posts by )

    A brokerage note I received recently included the following quote:

    What has so often excited wonder, is the great rapidity with which countries recover from a state of devastation, the disappearance in a short time, of all traces of mischief done by earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and the ravages of war. An enemy lays waste a country by fire and sword, and destroys or carries away nearly all the moveable wealth existing in it: all the inhabitants are ruined, and yet in a few years after, everything is much as it was before.

    John Stuart Mill, Principles of Political Economy, 1848

    Questions for discussion:

    –How well has Mill’s assertion held up over the 170 years since he wrote the above?

    –Will American recovery from the Coronavirus follow Mill’s pattern, or is there reason to think that it will be different this time, and not in a good way?

    Posted in COVID-19, Current Events, Economics & Finance, History, Human Behavior | 7 Comments »

    It is time to start the economy again.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 21st March 2020 (All posts by )

    I have previously described the COVID 19 virus, which is also referred to as Wuhan virus, to the annoyance of the China friendly US Media. The consequences for the US economy have been severe. The most affected states, New York, California, Illinois and Washington, have virtually shut down their population. Arizona is less affected with 78 positives cases as of today, and no deaths.

    Italy and China have had the most deaths. There are a number of factors that probably affect these cases. China is notorious for air pollution and smoking, especially men smoking. There has been a dearth, so far, of listing comorbidities but age has been a major one.

    One study lists mortality at age 80+ at 15%. The overall death rate in China was listed at 2.3%, which may reflect smoking and air pollution. South Korea, which has had a big spike as testing progressed much more rapidly than in the US, has a case mortality of less than 1%

    South Korea has the dubious distinction of suffering the second-highest number of Covid-19 infections after China – but can also boast the lowest death ratio among countries with significant numbers of cases.

    According to the WHO on March 6, the crude mortality ratio for Covid-19 – that is, the number of reported deaths divided by the number of reported cases – is between 3-4%. In Korea, as of March 9, that figure was a mere 0.7%.

    AS US testing finally gets going, after the FDA and CDC delayed matters for a month, we will see a big spike in number of cases but, I am convinced, a big drop in mortality rate.

    Telephone consulting services, drive-through test centers and thermal cameras – which, set up in buildings and public places to detect fever, swiftly came online. South Korea has undertaken approximately 190,000 tests thus far, according to KCDC Deputy Director General Kwon Jun-wook, and has the capacity to undertake 20,000 per day. Turnaround times are six-24 hours.

    Tests are highly affordable. “The test kit is about $130, and about half is covered by insurance the other half by individual,” Kwon said. Those who test positive get the test free, “So there is no reason for suspected cases to hide their symptoms,” he said.

    We should be doing the same.

    At the same time, we are risking severe economic damage to the country by shutting down business activity. I believe that much of the drastic steps taken by governors, especially in New York and California, is unnecessary. High density cities like New York City and Chicago may have more reason to fear spread of the virus. Most of the country, a source of annoyance to left wing politicians, is of low population density.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in COVID-19, Current Events, Medicine | 46 Comments »

    The Far Limit

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 19th March 2020 (All posts by )

    With an effort, I wrench my attention from contemplating local fall-out from the Wuhan coronavirus, or as an unknown wit called it the ‘Kung Flu’. The grocery stores we favor are pretty well picked over by mid-day, in spite of closing from 8 PM to 8AM to restock, the gym has closed, gatherings of more than ten are strongly advised against, and just about every local market or book festival that we had considered participating in has been cancelled or postponed until summer or even later – when, presumably, either the medical wizards will have a handle on the Kung Flu, or people will stop panicking over it. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Conservatism, COVID-19, Current Events, Media, Politics, The Press, USA | 20 Comments »

    The Media-Focus Problem

    Posted by David Foster on 18th March 2020 (All posts by )

    It’s well understood that media entities like to focus on the negative–‘if it bleeds, it leads.’  But there’s also another media behavior problem worth noticing…

    Cable TV networks, especially, tend to focus obsessively on whatever the hottest issue is at the moment, and absolutely beat it to death to the exclusion of any attention to *other* important things going on…until one of those other things get so important and so bad that it displaces the previous obsession and the cycle repeats.  To borrow a term from the field of computer operating systems, you could think of it is a single-thread way to approach the world. And in the field of combat aviation, there is a phrase, Target Fixation, to describe the situation where a pilot is so focused on his target that he flies into a mountain or does something equally disastrous.

    Posted in COVID-19, Current Events, Human Behavior, Media, Miscellaneous | 4 Comments »