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  • “Follow the Science” on the Corona Virus Pandemic

    Posted by Kevin Villani on August 30th, 2020 (All posts by )

    The Lincoln – Douglas Debate Rematch

    As House speaker Nancy Pelosi publically alleged, the Republicans are “domestic enemies of the (deep) state.”

    The central campaign issue of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election has been the response to the Corona Virus pandemic, which roughly follows along party lines. Based on the administrative state’s scientific “consensus” Democratic politicians generally argued for a nationwide lockdown of most “non-critical” economic activity as a civic responsibility of all citizens, enforced by state police powers. Republican politicians generally question the “consensus,” reject a one size fits all statist solution, and (mildly) complain about the violation of constitutionally protected individual rights.

    In the 1858 Lincoln Douglas debates, Douglas, the incumbent Democratic Senator and Committee Chairman who had extended slavery into Kansas and Nebraska based on majoritarian democracy, i.e., the majority of white male voters, believed in the scientific theory that slaves were inferior and hence property. Lincoln argued that slaves had the same inalienable individual rights as all Americans that “government of, by and for the people” could not take away.

    Douglas maintained his incumbency, but a few years later Lincoln became POTUS and in defense of his principles engaged in a Civil War that sacrificed a tenth of his population and devastated the country. The 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments protecting former slaves were passed before Southern Democrats rejoined the Union, further enhanced by the Civil Rights Acts of the early 1960s proposed by a Democratic President but passed only with large Republican support. While the demographics have since shifted dramatically – the Democratic Party is now 40% people of color – the philosophical divide remains unchanged. Contemporary Democrats still argue the state is sovereign, subject to a majority coalition, but governed by an administrative state.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in COVID-19, Current Events, History, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics | 6 Comments »

    Random Pic

    Posted by Jonathan on August 30th, 2020 (All posts by )

    ruby slippers?

     

    Posted in Photos | 2 Comments »

    Political Legitimacy

    Posted by David Foster on August 30th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Nancy Pelosi, asserting that there should be no presidential debates, said “I wouldn’t legitimize a conversation with (Trump) nor a debate in terms of the presidency of the United States.”  (emphasis added) She also called President Trump and his Congressional supporters “enemies of the state,” a phrase that has a rather sinister history.  See also her November 2019 comments, made in the context of the impeachment hearings, about the integrity and legitimacy of the 2020 elections.

    What this is really all about, as I see it, is an assertion that no elected President is legitimate unless he is approved by the Proper People.

    In the Holy Roman Empire (‘neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire,’ said Bismarck), the Emperor was chosen by election, but the election was limited to a small elite group known as the Prince-Electors.  In America today, we have a group of people–national journalists, elite academics, senior government officials–who see themselves as the Prince-Electors and who believe no one should become President without their endorsement.

    There can be popular elections, in this model, but the candidates are required to be pre-vetted by the Prince-Electors. So maybe a better historical analogy would be Guided Democracy, “a formally democratic government that functions as a de facto autocracy,”  practiced most notably in Indonesia under Sukarno.

    Increasingly, Democrats are attacking the foundations of true democracy and maneuvering for establishment of an autocratic oligarchy overlaid with a Potemkin “people’s” government.  The 2020 elections will measure how successful–or not–they’ve been.

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 41 Comments »

    Covid-19 Transmission Data

    Posted by David Foster on August 26th, 2020 (All posts by )

    …an interesting study from China.  There is a discussion thread at Grim’s Hall.

    The study indicates that the transmission rate to household members where there is an infected member was 10.3%, while the transmission rate to healthcare workers was 1.0%..and the transmission rate on public transportation was only 0.1%.  However, I think there is some ambiguity in how these numbers should be interpreted.

    If you’re so inclined, read the paper, dig into the numbers and their meaning, and comment with your thoughts.

     

    Posted in China, COVID-19, Statistics | 15 Comments »

    Excess Deaths

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on August 26th, 2020 (All posts by )

    I will let others speak for me on this. First, the official, but not final, numbers on excess deaths over time. The final numbers will of course be even larger.

    Next, Lyman Stone, who should have some credibility here because he is 1)from AEI, and 2)thinks lockdowns don’t work, discussing excess deaths.

    Unless you have other, better numbers, I’d rather not keep going through this.

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 12 Comments »

    Random Pic

    Posted by Jonathan on August 25th, 2020 (All posts by )

    sunset clouds

     

    Posted in Photos | 3 Comments »

    Apples to Apples II

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on August 24th, 2020 (All posts by )

    More than one person has suggested that this entire endeavor is quixotic at best, distracting from real solutions at worst. Yes, I hear you, but am ignoring you. One of my usual lines when people make pronouncements is “Compared to what? Or whom?” When the accusation goes out about the evils of American interaction with oh, South America, I like to say “Compared to who? Portugal? The USSR? More recently, China? What do you mean, exactly?” So when we are looking at whether America as a whole is doing the right things about C19, it is quite natural to me to ask “Compared to who?” Especially in an election year we tend to fall into Sweden yea vs Sweden nay, or “Look how stupid Trump/Biden/Cuomo/Abbot/lockdown/opening is.” I am first trying to get out of that and see if there are large tendencies related to population density, international contact, and primary strategies.

    You are free to find that a ridiculous approach. I still like it.

    *******

    Iceland and Switzerland are outliers, both with a lot of cases but few deaths. Switzerland’s cases are largely along its border with Italy and they have just had a resurgence, so the conclusions people were drawing two months ago are now looking premature. Iceland’s story is that they have done a level of aggressive contact tracing that likely only Scandinavians would put up with. ( Maybe Benelux as well.) While most people in all countries are happy to help with contact tracing, when it comes to doing so against their will, some will very much dislike that on principle. When Black Lives Matter or QAnon or drug dealers or pedophiles or CNN reporters refuse to give up their phones, it wouldn’t just be American libertarians who say “You can’t make them. It’s a terrible precedent. Once that seal is broken who knows what it will be used for?” There are lots of Canadians and Scots and Dutchmen who would say the same.

    Still, the tradeoff on that was that Iceland did not lock down and believes they’ve got everything normal and under control at present, so maybe I’m wrong about what folks will put up with. Privacy vs having a job? Tough call. Also, it’s an island, so even if we thought their approach was the bee’s knees we might not be able to do it. Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 11 Comments »

    Book Review: Overload, by Arthur Hailey

    Posted by David Foster on August 24th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Overload by Arthur Hailey

    —-

    Heat! Heat in stifling blanket layers. Heat that enveloped all of California from the arid Mexican border in the south to majestic Klamath Forest, elbowing northward into Oregon. Heat, oppressive and enervating…Throughout cities and suburbs, in factories, offices, stores and homes, six million electric air-conditioners hummed.  On thousands of farms in the fertile Central Valley–the richest agricultural complex in the world–armies of electric pumps gulped water from deep wells, directing it to thirsty cattle and parched crops…California had known other heat waves and survived their consequences.  But in none had the demands for electrical power been so great.

    “That’s it, then,” the chief electric dispatcher said unnecessarily.  “There goes the last of our spinning reserve.”

    I was reminded of this book by the current electrical crisis in California.  It is quite likely the only novel ever written in which an electrical power utility and its executives and employees are the good guys of the story.

    The protagonist, Nim Goldman, is VP of Planning for Golden State Power & Light, which in the book is the predominant electrical supplier in California.  The company is wrestling with the problems of accommodating growing electrical demand while facing more and more restrictions from regulators.  To which difficulties are added the impact of an unprecedented heat wave and the threat of terrorist attacks.

    GSP&L’s opponents fall into three overlapping circles.  First, there is a mainstream and rather staid environmental organization called the Sequoia club.  Then, there is an activist organization called Power and Light for People. run by an Australian named Davy Birdsong, which wants to replace for-profit utilities with some sort of government entity or collective.  Finally, there is a small but deadly terrorist group which seeks maximum social disruption and sees an attack of GSP&L as the best way to achieve that goal.

    The book, published in 1979, is kind of a period piece…the fuels in use are coal and oil, no mention of solar or wind; while there is concern about pollution–especially from coal–no one is talking about climate change; and while there are complaints about high electricity bills and corporate greed, no one is suggesting that Americans be weaned from most of their electricity use and forced to shut down their air conditioners. The story is well-told, although it is kind of a pot-boiler..for one thing, Nim has so much sex, and some of it under such unusual circumstances, that the actual effect is (unintentionally, I’m sure) comic. The technologies of power generation and distribution are portrayed reasonably accurately within the limitations of a popular novel. The fundamental issue of matching supply and demand continuously, in real time, comes across clearly.  One character, Karen Sloan, is a quadriplegic whose very life depends upon electricity–the battery both for her assisted-breathing device and for her powered wheelchair must be periodically recharged, or else…a neat way of illustrating what a serious matter the continuity of electrical service actually is.

    Overload would make a great movie, but probably could not be made in the current environment without some switching-around of good guys and villains.

     

     

     

    Posted in Book Notes, Business, Energy & Power Generation, Environment | 14 Comments »

    Additional CoVid Factors

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on August 23rd, 2020 (All posts by )

    I am still not seeing as much as I would like about ventilation.  One of main things we have learned about the virus is that indoor air exchange is the A-1 vector for transmission.  I think of this at work when I go down to the cafeteria and a young woman with gloves has to pick up a sugar packet, a coffee stirrer, and a coffee cover and hand it to me.  Then I go back to an isolated office for phone and online meetings while all the air in the building is pumped directly onto me.

    This is significant for nursing homes.  No everyone is there for the comorbidities we are so attentive to these days.  For some, it is dementia, or mobility and balance issues, or Parkinson’s symptoms that prevent independent living. But there they are, now stuck in close quarters with a lot of people with C-Pap machines aerosolising everything. I have an ugly suspicion that it goes less-noticed because it is not easily weaponised by either camp in the national debate. If a governor had said early on that businesses like restaurants could stay open with a few restrictions, so long as they had ventilation systems that met a certain standard – particularly in areas outside of the Northeast cities that were so heavily affected – it would be hard to gin up anger either way.  Dan from Madison raised the caution flag that a lot of these systems are now so far back-ordered that no one is getting delivery in months.  I’m betting that stuff is harder to switch production to than individual ventilators.  So who can capitalise on that one at the Conventions?

    I have also not heard much about viral load, which I suggested early on would be important.  Next-most-affected after older people are those taking care of them. It can’t be a non-factor, but whether it large or merely worth noting as a possibility would seem of some interest. If I were to guess, the importance of superspreader events would suggest that crowds indoors are an enormous risk.

    Bsking just mentioned in the Apples to Apples comments (at Assistant Village Idiot) that America’s high obesity rate as a factor is also neglected. That matters at a couple of levels. Median age has also been mentioned WRT Laos in specific and SE Asia in general.  It likely matters. 

    The advance notice for the Apples to Apples II post is that the regional approach within countries does look like the best way to look at this, and whatever lessons we might extract across countries are often going to come from this.

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 51 Comments »

    Apples to Apples

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on August 22nd, 2020 (All posts by )

    Yes, there will be a followup. I’m just trying to get a grip on what comparisons are valid – and getting you thinking about the same thing.

    In trying to find proper comps for America WRT C19, I have to conclude that there are none which are excellent, perhaps not even very good. It is fair to have industrialised nations as our starting point, and places so small that a single one-off event (or lack of them) can change the picture too quickly.  Andorra, San Marino, and Liechtenstein are not comps, whether for good or for ill.  There are Latin American countries – our own hemisphere – which have recently seen many cases, but I can’t see Peru as a serious comp.  We share a border with Mexico, and parts of that country have similarity to parts of this country in more than one way, but “industrialised” seems out of reach.  Ditto Brazil. We are narrowing to Europe and the Anglosphere pretty quickly, I think. Japan clearly qualifies as a first-world nation, though it is very much an island, and was culturally willing to isolate long before any of this. They remain solidly racist and homogeneous, resenting the Chinese and looking down on Koreans and especially Filipinos, so their degree of international contact has never been at European or American levels. Russia, China, and India are powerful economies and have industries but can’t really be regarded as industrialised.

    Which leads to the next criterion, degree of international contact. Europeans have both contact with each other, often at places of great population density, and contact with the rest of the world.  America has two long borders, mixed between population dense and sparse population areas.  We have a great deal of international contact, much of it coming in by air. Canada less so, but still considerable. Australia has a great deal of regional contact, New Zealand and South Africa not so much. Even a lot of Europe isn’t in the same league, here. Because many come in by air, the international contact is in many places, well into the heartland.  Somewhat true of Canada as well, though Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver are the main contact points. Not nearly so many as America or in Europe.  By population it’s a comp, but by area – that is, how much international contact per square kilometer, even if only measuring the southernmost parts – not quite so much.  As both population and area seem to be mattering with CoVid, that’s worth noting.

    Because the NYC metro area has so dominated the American statistics, over a third of the deaths, and other major metros have had similar problems, I think the presence or absence of such areas is an important comp. A lot of people have criticised what New York has done, but what would they have done differently?  Not sending infected persons to nursing homes is a biggie, and worth mentioning, but what else?  Close the subways?  Then Ubers upon Ubers. What about elevators?  How do NYC apartments function without elevators?  This is going to weaken a lot of possible comparisons.  France has Paris.  The UK has London, and bonus points for the Midlands cities.  Argentina may work it’s way onto the list simply because of Buenos Aires.  Japan might work it’s way back on as well.  Mexico City is huge, but I think it is usually described as “sprawling.” Amsterdam, Brussels, Stockholm, Berlin, Rome, etc – not so much high-rise, not so much density. Canada has Toronto, not quite a megacity, but plenty of skyline. Montreal a little less. Vancouver probably not.  We are into places that are populous, have skyscrapers and some density, but just not Manhattan or downtown Chicago. Half-credit? Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 15 Comments »

    Industrial Distribution Six Months Into Covid

    Posted by Dan from Madison on August 22nd, 2020 (All posts by )

    Back when the pandemic shutdowns started (let’s say late March, early April) I had to seriously think about what I was going to do with and for my small business. For those not familiar, I own an HVAC distributor, and that industry is a subset of industrial distribution. The media circus had driven everyone to the point of exhaustion with all of the dire reports and things were bleak. The local governments in my areas took draconian measures and this wasn’t helping. So, as I usually do when facing a big problem, into a quiet room I went to just sit and think for a bit. Below the fold are some results.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Business, COVID-19 | 14 Comments »

    What About Laos?

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on August 19th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Laos has had 22 cases of C19, 3 currently active, 0 deaths. Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Nepal, Myanmar, are not quite so low, but very low. These are not South Korea or Taiwan, where we can point to cultural support for masks and distancing and good medical care and awareness. It is fair to note that there is little testing and there might be deaths out in the boonies that are just “Eh.  Death.  Who knows why?” that leave actual CoVid unreported, but these national numbers are ridiculously low. If there were a CoVid holocaust in these areas word would be leaking out.  Even though no one, left or right, pays much attention to what is happening in these places, if there were some serious bump in the data, someone would be twisting it around to make some political hay out of it on NPR, The Nation, or some fringe right-wing sites.  It is, of course, very cool to be walking around knowing stuff about some country that everyone has heard of but no one has been paying attention to, so some news would get out.

    If you go to Worldometers.info and look at the lower reaches of the list you see patterns.  You see islands, whether in Oceania, Indian Ocean, or the Caribbean, or essential islands like Gibraltar, Vatican City, Liechtenstein. Yes, they can keep others out, and are in fact used to keeping others out. There are also a lot of African countries, with similar poor medical care, low social cohesion for masks and distancing, but likely also poor reporting.  Yet I will note again, not that poor reporting. When there are lots of deaths, word leaks out.  The outside world may not believe those reports of death because they are uncomfortable, as the Gulag deaths, 6M Jews, or 25M Great Leap Forward deaths in China leaked out in the 20th C were ignored, but the reports were there.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 26 Comments »

    The Rolling Kristallnacht

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

    The rolling Kristallnacht of “mostly peaceful” protests organized and sponsored by the unholy union of Antifa and BLM continues unabated in those mostly progressive Democrat party municipalities such as Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland, and New York. Give the protesters, rioters and looters credit for stamina; they’ve kept it up for nearly two months now, and look to be going strong, still. They haven’t much dared venture out and away from those progressive sanctuaries, although half a dozen did make a trip to Sturgis to provoke the bikers rallying there, which futile bit of resistance theater they did from behind a screen of local police. Which brings to mind Insty the Blogfaddah’s oft-repeated observation that the police – which the Antifaites and BLM protesters wish to abolish – are there to protect accused criminals from the rest of us. Frankly, it would have been laugh-out-loud comic if the bikers in Sturgis had been allowed to pants the Antifaites and run them out of town naked, but there you are. Obviously the Antifaites and BLMmers are hoping to provoke an over-the-top violent reaction and a blooming new crop of martyr Horst Wessels; they must be quite annoyed that so far, the rest of us have kept our temper. Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Capitalism, Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Deep Thoughts, Urban Issues | 58 Comments »

    Random Pic

    Posted by Jonathan on August 18th, 2020 (All posts by )

    rain

     

    Posted in Photos | 1 Comment »

    Reopening — II (Theory)

    Posted by Jay Manifold on August 17th, 2020 (All posts by )

    That’s all very well in practice, but how does it work in theory?

    — old University of Chicago joke

    I expect this blog’s readership to demand the theoretical considerations, so here’s a (non-exhaustive) compilation, beginning with a setup anecdote:

    In December of 2007 I was briefly—very briefly, as the work was interrupted by a blizzard—involved in rebuilding in Greensburg, Kansas, which had been practically erased from the map seven months earlier by an immense tornado. I had driven through a couple of months after the event and stumbled into a photo-op for Sen. Pat Roberts, who was doing a ribbon-cutting of sorts in a brand new convenience store. The devastation was more impressive than his speech; indeed, people who worked both New Orleans after Katrina and Greensburg after the tornado typically remarked that, allowing for scale, Greensburg was worse.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Boyd/Osinga Roundtable, Civil Society, COVID-19, Human Behavior, Organizational Analysis, Personal Narrative, Systems Analysis, USA | 2 Comments »

    Reopening — I (Practice)

    Posted by Jay Manifold on August 17th, 2020 (All posts by )

    For most Americans, the great day of realization of the seriousness of the COVID-19 threat—or more precisely, the seriousness of the official reaction to it—was Thursday, March 12th, when they woke to the news that the previous evening, the National Basketball Association had postponed an OKC Thunder-Utah Jazz game after a player’s test result came back positive, and then quickly canceled the remainder of the season. I was less concerned with the NBA, but coincidentally, also on Thursday the 12th, was informed that a certain institution of higher education that we all know and love was moving to remote learning for undergraduate and graduate classes for its entire Spring Quarter of 2020. Simultaneously, nearly all students were ordered to plan to vacate their on-campus housing by 5 PM CDT on Sunday, March 22nd.

    I had also just returned home from a severely truncated trip to Italy which had gotten no farther than New York City. Had the Italy leg been undertaken, I would have been on one of the last flights out of that country before it was locked down entirely, and would have been a strong candidate for two weeks of quarantine upon arrival in the US. I was therefore necessarily concerned with pandemic response, and on the day after my return home, sent an e-mail to several leaders and volunteers in my church with a general offer of expertise and recommendations to pursue several of the items discussed below, especially a communications plan.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Christianity, Civil Society, COVID-19, Current Events, Health Care, Management, Personal Narrative, Religion, Society, USA | 8 Comments »

    Another Point About Vote-by-Mail

    Posted by David Foster on August 16th, 2020 (All posts by )

    There has been much discussion about the dangers of fraud, lost ballots, extreme delays, etc, which could be associated with a large-scale vote-by-mail policy.  There is another danger in vote-by-mail which I haven’t seen much discussed, and that’s the danger of voter intimidation.

    If someone is voting at home, then it’s not really always a secret ballot. Someone: an aggressive spouse, a ‘helpful’ minister or activist or neighbor…may exercise a subtle or not-so-subtle pressure. Particularly when one candidate (Trump) is considered socially unacceptable in many circles, I don’t think this is a trivial danger.

    In the election held in Germany after Hitler was already in power, closed voting booths were retained, but a large sign in front of them stated: “All patriotic Germans are proud to show how they vote.” There were people there to observe who went into the voting booth and who did not.  So almost everyone voted at a table in the open…and guess how almost all of them voted?

     

    Posted in Elections, Germany, Trump, USA | 39 Comments »

    So, we drive on the right and our homes are our castles – or not

    Posted by Ginny on August 16th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Freedom is greatest within restraints and boundaries. Sure, on some slippery slope with no constraining adverbs, this seems contradictory, but we recognize daily that minimal, enforceable and enforced, laws provide predictability, enable true freedom. Would my freedom be enlarged without the first limit society imposes as I leave my house: driving on the right? Seinfeld’s Kramer attempted to “free” the lanes but caused chaos. I cheerfully accept it because it simplifies more than limits; I go over my grocery list or laugh with Limbaugh; someone more productive might create a poem or solve a physics problem. Without limits, we would be on guard, slow to a crawl, choose a tank, hoping, as my brothers put it, to be the shearer and not the shearee in an inevitable collision. I remember a homesick Iranian engineer telling us still he didn’t want to return – here drivers stop at red lights, even alone at night; there, every intersection was a free for all. Too much order suffocates but with too little concentration is difficult.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Current Events, Human Behavior, Law Enforcement, Politics, Urban Issues | 31 Comments »

    Happy VJ-Day, Plus 75 Years.

    Posted by Trent Telenko on August 15th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Happy VJ-day!

    Seventy five years ago today the Imperial Japanese Government broadcast their unconditional acceptance of the terms Potsdam Proclamation.  It would take several weeks to arrange the surrender in Tokyo bay and more time to land an occupation force to begin disarmament.  Yet it is this day that is remembered.

    Color Photo of the Sept 2, 1945 Imperial Japanese Surrender ceremony marking the conclusion of WW2 on the Battleship USS Missouri.

    Color Photo of the Sept 2, 1945 surrender ceremony marking the conclusion of WW2 on the Battleship USS Missouri.

    Chicagoboyz has commemorated this day — more or less — since 2010.

    Below is a link list with thumb nail descriptions of the columns.

    2020 – Hiroshima and the Atomic Bomb…Plus 75 Years.

    This column speaks to how the US military use it’s secret SIGSALY digital radio-telephone system to communicate about the Atomic Bomb.

    2019 — The Collapse of Atomic Diplomacy…Again?

    This months delayed column was on a 2011 NHK documentary titled as follows:

    “Atomic bombing – top secret information that was never utilized

    原爆投下 活(い)かされなかった極秘情報”

    The NHK documentary answers questions that “Atomic Diplomacy” has never bothered to ask. Specifically “What did the Imperial Japanese Military & Government know about the American nuclear weapon program, when did it know it, and what did it do about it.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in History, International Affairs, Japan, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, Okinawa 65, USA, War and Peace | 5 Comments »

    Random Pic

    Posted by Jonathan on August 14th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Four wheels good, two wheels pretty good too

     

    Posted in Photos | 3 Comments »

    Covid-19, Remote Work, and Offshoring

    Posted by David Foster on August 13th, 2020 (All posts by )

    The general attitude toward working from home has certainly changed over the last several years.  In 2013, the then-CEO of Yahoo!, Marissa Mayer, banned work-from-home at her company.  And in 2017, IBM established a similar ban. Both of these actions were based on perceived needs to improve productivity and collaboration at those companies

    But in 2020, a lot of companies that moved to work-from home in the Covid-19 environment…because they had no choice if they wanted to continue operating at all…have apparently found it to be working to their satisfaction, and many though not all employees like it, too.  And there is starting to be significant impact on where people choose to live…see these comments from the governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu.  The term ‘zoomtowns’ has been applied to locations where people choose to live and work remotely, based on a locality’s attractive characteristics and good Internet connectivity.

    I do think that a comprehensive work-from-home environment can result in losing something in terms of unplanned interactions…I’ve personally observed several significant product and business initiatives that resulted from such interactions, and there are also interesting historical cases. But such things are difficult to measure, and financial benefits and convenience of work-from-home are likely to prevail, perhaps excessively so in some cases.  In any event, the Yahoo! and IBM approach of broad-scale top-down corporate edicts is unlikely to be a good one.

    Another kind of remote work involves the use of people at remote locations…though not necessarily at home…to perform machine-control tasks that would previously have had to be done on-site.  The robots being used by Federal Express at its Memphis facility sometimes encounter problems that they can’t solve…they can be ‘advised’ by humans located in San Antonio. There are projects underway to make municipal water treatment plants remotely operable, either for emergency backup (as in a pandemic) or for normal operations, and there are also initiatives focused on remote operation of other kinds of infrastructure, utility, and industrial facilities.

    If something can be done by people who are remotely located within the United States, then in most cases it will also be doable by people who are remotely located in other parts of the world.  In my 2019 post telemigration, I wrote about the increasing feasibility of offshoring services work, not only manufacturing.  A lot of this has been going on for software development as well as for customer service.

    It may turn out that, in many cases, remote work in the US turns out to be just a waystation on the road to remote work somewhere else.

     

    Posted in Business, COVID-19, Customer Service, Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Management, Tech | 42 Comments »

    Kids These Days

    Posted by David Foster on August 11th, 2020 (All posts by )

    ‘these days’ being 1896….here is a film taken by the Lumiere Brothers, enhanced for higher resolution and interpolated for a faster frame rate.

    There is also a colorized version, which is very cool, although the actual colors could of course only be guessed.

     

    Posted in Film, France, Tech | 4 Comments »

    Reason #564 To Be Glad …

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on August 10th, 2020 (All posts by )

    …That I am my own independent publisher, with the Tiny Publishing Bidness, and only wasted a couple of months and a lot of postage, in 2007 or so, trying to get an agent interested in my first two novels. Because that was the way to break into traditional publishing; get an agent, who would present your work to the traditional publishing houses. Another book blogger at the time advised trying it for a year, and then going independent, as there were sufficient small companies doing publish-on-demand, some of them for rather reasonable fees. I did have an interested agent in New York, who was referred to me by another milblogger back then, and although the agent reluctantly declined to offer me his services, he was jolly complimentary and encouraging, and provided some good insights. One of the unspoken insights that I took away from this exchange, and drew from all the other letters saying “Thanks, but no thanks” from various literary agencies was that it was all a terribly insular world, the world of the established agencies and big publishers, all of whom seemed to be based in about half a square mile of real estate in New York. Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Diversions, Entrepreneurship, Leftism, Marketing, Personal Narrative | 32 Comments »

    Saving American Democracy for the Zombie Apocalypse

    Posted by Kevin Villani on August 8th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Within weeks of the 2016 presidential election, the New York Times launched the campaign against President Elect Donald Trump as a racist autocratic Threat to Democracy, followed by the main stream media. Democratic candidate Joe Biden presented a ho hum globalist foreign policy as redressing President Trump’s threat to foreign democracies, conflated with his anti-capitalist domestic policy.

    What does “Democracy” Mean to the Democratic Party?

    European populations attracted to communism after the devastation of WW II were encouraged, sometimes with the subtle help of America’s CIA, to choose “social democracy,” i.e., a democratically elected central government that provided a welfare state financed by a market economy, over Soviet communism. America adopted social democracy in the 1960’s not out of desperation but capitalist material abundance.

    Today after almost six decades of Great Society welfare over three quarters of all democrats are now “democratic socialists, i.e., they prefer socialism to market capitalism. The young party leaders demand “racial and social justice,” a political Jacobin revolution. Democratic officials have actively supported the demonstrators and rioters in the streets celebrating the Meltdown of Capitalism orchestrated by the Marxist Black Lives Matter and ANTIFA groups demanding a majoritarian “peoples’ democracy” like that of prior communist totalitarian regimes.

    How Progressive Democrats Became Zombies

    Since the takeover of Cornell University and others at gunpoint, most universities implemented black studied programs that indoctrinated the Charlottesville premise that America was born to slavery and American racist oppression never ended, causing the current income and wealth gap with whites. Thomas Sowell, one of the greatest economists of the past 60 years, who is black and was present at Cornell at the time, has a lifetime of scholarship exposing the fallacy of this premise.

    The “Cold War” against Soviet communism lasted from 1945 to 1990. The Communist Party was outlawed in the United States in 1954 with progressive political support out of fear that voters could be too easily seduced by the meretricious promises of socialism – where income equality is achieved by impoverishing all but its leaders – without understanding the inherent totalitarianism that led to communist atrocities under Stalin and Mao, murders and deaths measured in the tens and hundreds of millions. The claim by democratic socialists of western democratic countries with a socialist economy, e.g., Sweden, is a myth. 

    A century of progressive mis-education explains the zombies’ attack on capitalism. Primary education peddles soft socialism while universities are populated by “effete intellectual snobs,” the label given by VP Spiro Agnew to “national masochists” i.e., intellectuals who would bring national ruin, written a half century ago by the New York Times writer William Safire. American historians have generally been biased against market capitalism. The term “Robber Baron, first used by the New York Times in 1859 to describe Cornelius Vanderbilt, was popularized during the Depression by a disciple of socialist/progressive writer Charles Beard. America’s dark history has been made hopeless to many millenials through the lens of socialist sympathizer Howard Zinn and racist through the lens of the New York Times 2019 revisionist 1619 Project, with the Democratic Party re-writing its’ own racist past. Economists have been the most easily seduced by the attraction of state power, finding “market failures” at both the macro and micro level to justify their intervention. The Austrian economists Schumpeter and Hayek recognized socialism’s masochistic appeal to “intellectuals” who felt that they could run the world better than those chosen to do so.

    After the Zombie Apocalypse: the Pigs Rule

    Accusations of autocratic behavior by Trump are mostly in response to micro-aggressions of politically incorrect tweets and comments. Coups that overthrow representative democracy from the right generally start with the armed military taking over the media, the bureaucracy, the universities, the unions and all the other sources of political power. The idea that President Donald Trump could direct any of those sources of political power is ridiculous: the deep state has been trying to take him down since he took office. (If the accusations against his AG had any merit, the Democrats would have conducted a real hearing instead of a five hour show trial – a bit long by Stalin’s standards).

    Democrats on the other hand are the Party of the deep state. It has been cultivating those sources of political power for a century, and now controls them with the “carrot and stick” method that was so successful for Mexico’s one party PRI for almost a century, suppressing free speech. It’s only a small additional step from social democrat to one-party democratic socialism.

    Winning this election (fairly or not) provides the Democratic Party the opportunity for one party rule if their agenda faces any serious opposition. They have already discussed many tools at their disposal, e.g., eliminating the Electoral College, further lowering the voting age to 16, packing the Supreme Court (again), mail in ballots, etc. But Barack Obama’s demand at John Lewis’s recent funeral to end the filibuster and announce four new (almost assuredly democratic) senators from the new states of Puerto Rico and the District of “Columbia” (to be renamed of course) in the name of racial and social justice would likely be more than sufficient, maybe even just the threat.

    What Good is the U.S. Constitution?

    The founding fathers didn’t anticipate political parties, so it isn’t an obstacle to one-party rule. Franklin’s Republic of limited powers was replaced by an all-powerful administrative state rather like Hemingway’s character went bankrupt: “gradually, then suddenly.”

    The first necessary condition was to amend the constitution. The end of the Civil War enabled the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments extending voting rights to blacks. The 16th Amendments in 1909 enabling a federal income tax and the creation of the Federal Reserve System in 1912 provided the funding for President Woodrow Wilson’s entry into the European war and “make the world safe for democracy” the rationale. The direct election of Senators in the 17th Amendment of 1912 limited potential state opposition. All these changes shifted power to the federal government.

    Second, the specific enumerated powers of the Constitution have been mooted through Supreme Court political nominations, legal manipulation and intimidation producing “creative” decisions subsequently protected by a convenient legal doctrine of stare desisis, i.e., protection of past progressive Court victories that enable meretricious populist promises. Supreme Court resistance to the New Deal withered in the wake of FDR’s failed attempt to pack the Supreme Court. The subsequent Great Society of the 1960’s, also designed by socialists and implemented by FDR’s protégé President LBJ, substituted federal government funding and decision making not only for states and localities, but for most of civic society and eventually the family.

    Four quotes from H.L. Menken of about a century ago sum it up:

    1. Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.
    2. Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of jackals by jackasses.
    3. Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.
    4. Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

    Kevin Villani

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    Kevin Villani was chief economist at Freddie Mac from 1982 to 1985. He has held senior government positions, has been affiliated with nine universities, and served as CFO and director of several companies. He recently published Occupy Pennsylvania Avenue on how politicians and bureaucrats with no skin in the game caused the sub-prime lending bubble and systemic financial system failure.

     

    Posted in Elections, History, Political Philosophy, Politics | 25 Comments »

    Goedel’s Theorem Extended

    Posted by David Foster on August 8th, 2020 (All posts by )

    In 1931, the mathematician Kurt Goedel showed that for any consistent  formal system of logic of logic (of at least a certain degree of complexity), there will always be some true statements that cannot be proved, and some false statements that cannot be disproved within the system.  No matter how many axioms you add to the system, there will still be statements that cannot be proved or disproved within it.

    I was reminded of Goedel’s Theorem by some of the more far-out accusations of racism, sexism, etc that have been made against individuals lately, and was thinking that there should be an analogous theorem:  No matter how an individual chooses to act and speak in a way that will shield him from accusations of X-ism, there will always be a way that someone can build a case that he is in fact an X-ist.

    But before I could post about that extension to the theorem, along comes this post by a physician, talking about some of the ways his patients have managed to misinterpret the instructions for using birth control pills–leading to a need to specify more and more detail when giving such instructions.

    But adding more detail probably like adding more axioms to one of Goedel’s formal systems…so the additional analogous theorem is: No matter how detailed the instructions for doing something may be, there will always be a way for someone to interpret them incorrectly.

     

     

     

    Posted in Civil Society, Current Events, Deep Thoughts, Science | 20 Comments »