Sunday, March 29, 2020

Let them go bust

NN Taleb is right about letting the airlines fail:
"Planes will fly with new owners."

Famed author and statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb has trained his sights on billionaire Richard Branson, urging the UK government to let the airline owned by the “tax refugee” to go bankrupt. Branson has had a torrid fortnight, drawing the ire of politicians of all stripes for putting all Virgin Atlantic staff on unpaid leave because the carrier has been walloped by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The tycoon has led the calls for a state-sponsored bailout of the aviation sector, but plans to use the funds to cover fixed costs, rather than pay its staff.
That goes for the banks too.


The definition of unnecessary

Some are worrying unneccessarily about the inevitably inefficient state of the Indian lockdown:
My God! Delhi-UP border live. What have we done?
Given what I've observed about the average Indian immune system, Corona-chan is going to take one look at her competitors and flee for the hills. Every single Westerner I've known who has visited there has fallen ill, in many cases, violently so. There aren't many benefits to living in overpopulated disease-ridden filth, but an immune system that laughs at bacteria and viruses alike is one of them.

It tends to remind me of the Chuck Norris joke: Chuck Norris came in contact with the corona virus. Corona-chan is now in quarantine for 14 days.


Gamma, guaranteed

Then again, it was a moment that was beautiful in its own way:
Italy has been through hell and that moment was magical and raw and so very human.

However, the reason it was all of those beautiful things is that it happened organically, it came from the heart at a moment of desperation and maybe even some hopelessness. Those moments that come from such raw emotions are hard to recreate, even when the circumstances are similar.

A quarantined man in New York City discovered that the hard way when he tried to recreate that very magical moment by singing out his window.

However, instead of inspiring others to sing along, he was told to “shut the f*ck up!”
That New Yorker is like the little kid at the wedding who goes up to the microphone and repeats the same thing that someone else just said that got a laugh. Neither the kid nor the New Yorker has any understanding of why his predecessors inspired a response, he just sees the opportunity to try to make himself the center of attention.

It may sound strange to higher-ranking individuals, but gammas are constantly thinking about how they can somehow impress everyone, when they're not plotting revenge on those who inadvertently humiliated them in junior high, or stole the heart of their soul mate du jour, or called them out on YouTube, or.... you get the picture.


Saturday, March 28, 2020

Quarantine Hollywood

But New York is a good start:
President Trump is considering quarantining New York, Connecticut and New Jersey in desperate efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The move will restrict travel to and from the three states, which are some of the hardest-hit by the outbreak.

'Some people would like to see New York quarantined because it's a hotspot — New York, New Jersey maybe one or two other places, certain parts of Connecticut quarantined. I'm thinking about that right now,' he said Saturday.

'We might not have to do it but there's a possibility that sometime today we'll do a quarantine - short term - two weeks for New York, probably New Jersey, certain parts of Connecticut.'
However, it appears that the rumors about Tom Hanks being arrested are false.

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Despair will not be tolerated

It’s been instructive to see how banning the blackpillers and pessimists not only improves the tone of the discourse, but boosts everyone’s morale. So, it is time to speak forthrightly on the subject. I will no longer tolerate those commenters given to negativity and despair. They will be banned without hesitation.

Hope, whether it is based on a sound foundation of truth and reason or not, is to be vastly preferred to the incessant pessimism of those who are afraid to hope because they fear being disappointed more than they fear being defeated. Those who always ask of every possible positive interpretation "but could it be a trap?" are narcissistic cravens driven primarily by fear and self-absorption.

Things may not always turn out as well as we hope. They almost certainly will not do so. The world is fallen, after all, it is ruled by an immortal and malignant narcissist, and our vision of the future is very far from perfect. But the one and only way to absolutely ensure defeat is to refuse to enter the ring. It is better, by far, to enter the ring full of false confidence and go down fighting than to refuse to enter it at all for fear of being beaten.

So, this is fair warning being given to those who are inclined towards pessimism, defeatism, and despair: this is not a place for you. You may be right, in the end, but I don't care in the slightest. If we ride to doom, in any case, we will ride. You are welcome to cringe and hide and attempt to be the last one devoured by the flames of Surtyr. But if that is your goal, then this is not the place for you and you will never be one of us.


Corona-chan may kill women's sports

A reader writes about the beneficial impact of the health crisis on the world of sports:
I have been watching the economic impact that this virus could potentially have on the sports landscape. I read this article where the University of Florida AD discusses the economic impact of missing football season. 85 percent of the athletic department's budget comes from football. One season without football and we can bid adieu to women's sports. I can already hear the shrieks.

Also, I found it very interesting that the NBA has had to increase their line of credit from $650M to $1.2B to cover operational costs. They already lost $200M before the season started with their Chinese debacle so this can't be good for the most "woke" league in all of sports. The NBA is not nearly as popular as the media makes you think. ESPN breathlessly covers it because they spent $24B on a contract to air games until 2025. With the financial perils ESPN faces, I find it hard to see them making it through that contract. Now I'm sure that league will do everything they can do to keep an already bottomless money pit in the WNBA afloat, but for how long?

Personally I love college football and enjoy the NFL. But if going one year without it means we rid ourselves of a lot of nonsense I can gladly find other things to fill my Saturdays in the fall.
Is there anything she can't do? 

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Friday, March 27, 2020

This may work out better than we'd imagined

The God-Emperor may - I stress MAY - have already nationalized the Federal Reserve, if these complaints from Bloomberg are on point:
The economic debate of the day centers on whether the cure of an economic shutdown is worse than the disease of the virus.  Similarly, we need to ask if the cure of the Federal Reserve getting so deeply into corporate bonds, asset-backed securities, commercial paper, and exchange-traded funds is worse than the disease seizing financial markets. It may be....

To put it bluntly, the Fed isn’t allowed to do any of this. The central bank is only allowed to purchase or lend against securities that have government guarantee. This includes Treasury securities, agency mortgage-backed securities and the debt issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. An argument can be made that can also include municipal securities, but nothing in the laundry list above.

So how can they do this? The Fed will finance a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for each acronym to conduct these operations. The Treasury, using the Exchange Stabilization Fund, will make an equity investment in each SPV and be in a “first loss” position. What does this mean? In essence, the Treasury, not the Fed, is buying all these securities and backstopping of loans; the Fed is acting as banker and providing financing. The Fed hired BlackRock Inc. to purchase these securities and handle the administration of the SPVs on behalf of the owner, the Treasury.

In other words, the federal government is nationalizing large swaths of the financial markets. The Fed is providing the money to do it. BlackRock will be doing the trades.

This scheme essentially merges the Fed and Treasury into one organization. So, meet your new Fed chairman, Donald J. Trump. [emphasis added - VD]

In 2008 when something similar was done, it was on a smaller scale. Since few understood it, the Bush and Obama administrations ceded total control of those acronym programs to then-Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. He unwound them at the first available opportunity. But now, 12 years later, we have a much better understanding of how they work. And we have a president who has made it very clear how displeased he is that central bankers haven’t used their considerable power to force the Dow Jones Industrial Average at least 10,000 points higher, something he has complained about many times before the pandemic hit.

When the Fed was rightly alarmed by the current dysfunction in the fixed-income markets, they felt they needed to act. This was the correct thought. But, to get the authority to stabilize these “private” markets, central bankers needed the Treasury to agree to nationalize (own) them so they could provide the funds to do it.

In effect, the Fed is giving the Treasury access to its printing press. This means that, in the extreme, the administration would be free to use its control, not the Fed’s control, of these SPVs to instruct the Fed to print more money so it could buy securities and hand out loans in an effort to ramp financial markets higher going into the election. Why stop there?
The concerns about inflation - which as a deflationista I don't take very seriously anyhow - are obviously far less important than the potential prospect of the USA taking control of its own money supply again.

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The failed art of civilization

As I have previously mentioned, civilization is the art of permitting large numbers of people to live in close proximity without dying like flies. It is now evident that civilization, not merely Western or French civilization, but the very art of civilization itself, is failing in France:
While French Covid-19 lockdown rules declare fines of nearly €4,000 for citizens repeatedly flouting quarantine, a secretary of state has reportedly admitted poor, gang-riddled suburbs will be left to their own devices.

As President Macron declared France at war with the coronavirus, public health officials and those on the frontline applauded what looked like decisive leadership… but the reality is a hotchpotch of Gallic double standards that undermine any attempts to put a lid on the spread of Covid-19.

Because French police understand that they don’t have much chance of enforcing the draconian measures on freedom of movement with which everyone in France is expected to comply on those citizens living in the poverty-stricken banlieues that outly the larger French cities.

As the emergency services union Synergie-Officiers pointed out on Twitter: “It is illusory to think that certain individuals in ‘sensitive neighborhoods’ comply with good citizenship in the state of the current legislation.”

The accompanying video shows two police vainly trying to disperse a growing gang of youths as the threat level creeps higher.
To paraphrase Ivan Drago, if they die, they die. Why shed any tears, or even lift a finger, to try saving barbarians from themselves. They, too, have free will. And they have the right to live how they prefer to live.

If the French are dumb enough to permit barbarians to live among them, then they have chosen the obvious and inevitable consequences and should be permitted to suffer them accordingly.

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Projections of infinity

Tom Wolfe anticipated the failure of modern neuroscientists to discover the soul in his 1996 essay "Sorry, But Your Soul Just Died".
If I were a college student today, I don't think I could resist going into neuroscience. Here we have the two most fascinating riddles of the twenty–first century: the riddle of the human mind and the riddle of what happens to the human mind when it comes to know itself absolutely. In any case, we live in an age in which it is impossible and pointless to avert your eyes from the truth.

Ironically, said Nietzsche, this unflinching eye for truth, this zest for skepticism, is the legacy of Christianity (for complicated reasons that needn't detain us here). Then he added one final and perhaps ultimate piece of irony in a fragmentary passage in a notebook shortly before he lost his mind (to the late–nineteenth–century's great venereal scourge, syphilis). He predicted that eventually modern science would turn its juggernaut of skepticism upon itself, question the validity of its own foundations, tear them apart, and self–destruct. I thought about that in the summer of 1994 when a group of mathematicians and computer scientists held a conference at the Santa Fe Institute on "Limits to Scientific Knowledge." The consensus was that since the human mind is, after all, an entirely physical apparatus, a form of computer, the product of a particular genetic history, it is finite in its capabilities. Being finite, hardwired, it will probably never have the power to comprehend human existence in any complete way. It would be as if a group of dogs were to call a conference to try to understand The Dog. They could try as hard as they wanted, but they wouldn't get very far. Dogs can communicate only about forty notions, all of them primitive, and they can't record anything. The project would be doomed from the start. The human brain is far superior to the dog's, but it is limited nonetheless. So any hope of human beings arriving at some final, complete, self–enclosed theory of human existence is doomed, too.

This, science's Ultimate Skepticism, has been spreading ever since then. Over the past two years even Darwinism, a sacred tenet among American scientists for the past seventy years, has been beset by...doubts. Scientists—not religiosi—notably the mathematician David Berlinski ("The Deniable Darwin," Commentary, June 1996) and the biochemist Michael Behe (Darwin's Black Box, 1996), have begun attacking Darwinism as a mere theory, not a scientific discovery, a theory woefully unsupported by fossil evidence and featuring, at the core of its logic, sheer mush. (Dennett and Dawkins, for whom Darwin is the Only Begotten, the Messiah, are already screaming. They're beside themselves, utterly apoplectic. Wilson, the giant, keeping his cool, has remained above the battle.) By 1990 the physicist Petr Beckmann of the University of Colorado had already begun going after Einstein. He greatly admired Einstein for his famous equation of matter and energy, E=mc2, but called his theory of relativity mostly absurd and grotesquely untestable. Beckmann died in 1993. His Fool Killer's cudgel has been taken up by Howard Hayden of the University of Connecticut, who has many admirers among the upcoming generation of Ultimately Skeptical young physicists. The scorn the new breed heaps upon quantum mechanics ("has no real–world applications"..."depends entirely on fairies sprinkling goofball equations in your eyes"), Unified Field Theory ("Nobel worm bait"), and the Big Bang Theory ("creationism for nerds") has become withering. If only Nietzsche were alive! He would have relished every minute of it!

Recently I happened to be talking to a prominent California geologist, and she told me: "When I first went into geology, we all thought that in science you create a solid layer of findings, through experiment and careful investigation, and then you add a second layer, like a second layer of bricks, all very carefully, and so on. Occasionally some adventurous scientist stacks the bricks up in towers, and these towers turn out to be insubstantial and they get torn down, and you proceed again with the careful layers. But we now realize that the very first layers aren't even resting on solid ground. They are balanced on bubbles, on concepts that are full of air, and those bubbles are being burst today, one after the other."

I suddenly had a picture of the entire astonishing edifice collapsing and modern man plunging headlong back into the primordial ooze. He's floundering, sloshing about, gulping for air, frantically treading ooze, when he feels something huge and smooth swim beneath him and boost him up, like some almighty dolphin. He can't see it, but he's much impressed. He names it God.
It's one of his better essays. Read the whole thing. What it eventually comes down to is the obvious and incontrovertible fact that science cannot explain that which falls outside its conceptual limits. As human souls, we are projections of the infinite into material reality, which is why both physics and neuroscience have been unable to quantify, or even meaningfully describe, the phenomena of life and consciousness. Scientists will only ever be able to wrestle with the materially observable effects of those phenomena, because they lack the ability to directly observe the infinite.

And one of the primary goals of the Deceiver is to convince those projections that they have no connection to the infinite, and by doing so, eliminate it.

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The ticket sale

Tanith Lee, the late, great dark fantasy writer, rather succinctly describes the putative appeal of the ticket to those who take it in Le Livre Safran:

“It is Lucifer, Lord Satan, who rules the world,” said the priest. “To survive here, we’re bound to worship him.”

He showed them a drawing on parchment, a rose transfixed by a dagger.

“Remember this sign. We meet here, under the old church. You will be obliged to render passwords. In time, who knows what riches and power we shall accumulate, through the favour of our Master. I myself,” he said, “survived the plague. That was his sign to me. God smote me, but Satan raised me to do his work and glorify him. You’re an artist of the City. Who spoke to you of this secret society?”

“Several,” said the young man. “But Motius the Artisan was once my tutor.”

“The magician? Yes. His house was burned up and flaming fiends carried him to Hell. You understand, there’s no escape at last. It ends in fire.”

“Hah. Yes.” The young man smiled.

“But meanwhile, a life of wishes fulfilled. His servants he never cheats. All the joys of the flesh, full dominion over others. The end is horror, but you may have three hundred years of pleasures before that payment comes due.”

Of course, even when the prince of this world purports to be telling the truth, he deceives. He ALWAYS cheats his servants; indeed, they are the only souls over whom he has total power to use and abuse as he sees fit. And when a servant ceases to be useful, he is, like Hawkins in The Dark is Rising or Harvey Weinstein in Hollywood, hurled from the Black Rider's high horse to break upon the ground.

This is the primary danger of atheism and nihilism. These false philosophies render one susceptible to the illusion that one trades nothing for something of value when one is offered the ticket. But the reverse is considerably more close to being true.

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Thursday, March 26, 2020

Unauthorized minds

Require appropriate cover. As seen on the Darkstream:

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An MD in New Orleans

One doctor's clinical perspective on fighting Corona-chan.
I am an ER MD in New Orleans. Class of 98. Every one of my colleagues have now seen several hundred Covid 19 patients and this is what I think I know.

Clinical course is predictable.
2-11 days after exposure (day 5 on average) flu-like symptoms start. Common are fever, headache, dry cough, myalgias(back pain), nausea without vomiting, abdominal discomfort with some diarrhea, loss of smell, anorexia, fatigue.

Day 5 of symptoms- increased SOB, and bilateral viral pneumonia from direct viral damage to lung parenchyma.

Day 10- Cytokine storm leading to acute ARDS and multiorgan failure. You can literally watch it happen in a matter of hours.

81% mild symptoms, 14% severe symptoms requiring hospitalization, 5% critical.

Patient presentation is varied. Patients are coming in hypoxic (even 75%) without dyspnea. I have seen Covid patients present with encephalopathy, renal failure from dehydration, DKA. I have seen the bilateral interstitial pneumonia on the xray of the asymptomatic shoulder dislocation or on the CT's of the (respiratory) asymptomatic polytrauma patient. Essentially if they are in my ER, they have it. Seen three positive flu swabs in 2 weeks and all three had Covid 19 as well. Somehow this ***** has told all other disease processes to get out of town.

China reported 15% cardiac involvement. I have seen covid 19 patients present with myocarditis, pericarditis, new onset CHF and new onset atrial fibrillation. I still order a troponin, but no cardiologist will treat no matter what the number in a suspected Covid 19 patient. Even our non covid 19 STEMIs at all of our facilities are getting TPA in the ED and rescue PCI at 60 minutes only if TPA fails.
It sounds like they need to implement the TrumpCure+ as soon as possible. And the early observers who observed the need to prevent the cytokine storm with massive doses of Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, and zinc appear to have been precisely on point.


Cuomo for Biden?

It is beginning to look rather like the DNC establishment set up Joe Biden to drive off all the other candidates, then take a fall prior to the convention so they could hand-select their preferred anti-Trump candidate. Creepy Joe is already getting MeToo’d. And no, it’s not going to be Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama, since either of those two non-starters would be as easily destroyed by President Trump as either of those two non-starters.

If you're paying attention, it's pretty clear who they have in mind.

Some Democrats are openly talking up New York governor Andrew Cuomo, whose profile has soared during the crisis, as a Biden stand-in. 


The prospective peaks

A former Corona-chan pessimist is revising his expectations for the better:
Government coronavirus advisors say crisis will be 'over by Easter' but warn the next two weeks will see a 'continuous tsunami of cases' – as they warn a THIRD of deaths are 'healthy people'

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Professor Ferguson said: 'London is going to be very difficult in the next two to three weeks.

'All I would say is, with the lockdown now in place, those numbers are going to start to plateau. The challenge we have is there's a lag. The people being admitted to hospital right now were infected a week, two weeks, even sometimes three weeks ago, so without doubt the next one [or] two weeks are going to be very difficult.'
I was wondering why Prof. Ferguson was changing his tune until I looked at the Italian statistics and realized what he also must have noticed. Now, I am no medical expert or epidemiologist, but if we simply apply basic math, logic and statistics, and we assume that the cases of infection will follow the statistical bell curve that many historical epidemics have exhibited, we can derive predictive estimates from the fact that Italy appears to have hit its new cases peak on March 21, with 6557 new cases and 793 new deaths. That was on Day 31 of the outbreak, so we can speculate that the Italian crisis will be largely over by April 22.

If the US situation follows a similar curve - which will probably not be the case due to the much larger geographic area - then the current urban hotspots should be hitting their peaks the week of April 5-11 and seeing the crises more or less come to an end around the first week of May.

On the theoretical downside, if the peak has not actually passed and this four-day statistical decline is just an Elliott Wave-style even countertrend, that would indicate that the Italian situation is at least an order of magnitude worse than it presently appears and the crisis will be extended. So, let's hope that the new case numbers continue to decline.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The TrumpCure worketh

And apparently, the TrumpCure works even better if a megadose of Vitamin C is added for a TrumpCure+:
A physician in New York state claims he has used the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and zinc to treat 350 patients for COVID-19 with 100 percent success.

In a video posted on YouTube, Dr. Vladimir Zelenko said he saw the symptom of shortness of breath resolved within four to six hours, the Gateway Pundit blog reported.

Zelenko, addressing his message to President Trump, said he's a board-certified family practioner in the community of Kiryas Joel in Orange County, New York, in the Hudson Valley, about 50 miles north of New York City.
The bad guys must know the TrumpCure knocks out Corona-chan, because they're trying very hard to shut it down and prevent the infected from being saved by it. These people are not only sick, they actively promote disease and death.

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Free speech was never more than bait

Two federal judges have ruled that hate speech trumps free speech:
Feeling that the university violated his rights, Meriwether brought a lawsuit against the university late in 2018, aided by Alliance Defending Freedom. He argued that the university violated his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments by punishing him for his speech in addressing students and his refusal to refer to Doe as a woman and thereby “lend credence to cultural ideas Dr. Meriwether does not share or wish to advance.”

On September 5, 2019, U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Litkovitz, to whom the case had been assigned, completely dismissed Meriwether’s complaint.  The crux of her ruling was that (citing a 1989 Sixth Circuit case), “Universities may sanction professors whose pedagogical attitudes and teaching methods do not conform to institutional standards.” Thus, First Amendment rights and academic freedom fall before the scythe of “institutional standards” shaped by the perceived need to satisfy the most aggressive “woke” students.

Then, on February 12, U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott upheld Judge Litkovitz’s dismissal of the case. Meriwether’s attorneys immediately appealed the dismissal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
There is no free speech. It's nothing more than an attempt to overturn Christian blasphemy laws, many of which are still on the books in various jurisdictions. All free speech has ever been is an attempt to convince Western civilization to put down its guard and allow the wicked to freely spread their propaganda and wizard spells.

In the mouths of the wicked, "freedom" is just the English translation of non serviam.

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Corona-chan comes for Prince Charles

Prince Charles has tested positive for coronavirus, suffering mild symptoms. He is self-isolating at his home in Scotland with the Duchess of Cornwall, who does not have the virus, Clarence House has confirmed. A statement released on Wednesday morning, said that it was “not possible to ascertain” from whom His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales had caught the virus, but that he had been continuing to work from home “throughout the last few days as usual.”

Well, that's not going to inspire calm and tranquility in the UK. But in related news, Corona-chan is good for nationalist trade policy:
Pharmacists are urging UK drug firms to manufacture paracetamol in Britain amid a nationwide shortage caused by panic buying and production lines drying up in Asia amid the coronavirus crisis.

Britain relies heavily on India - the world's biggest supplier of generic drugs - for the painkiller, but the South Asian nation has restricted exports of the painkiller after factories in China, where the ingredient is mainly made, ground to a halt.... UK manufacturers now need to step up and start making the painkiller in Britain to prevent the 'grim reality' of COVID-19 patients not being able to get pain relief, pharmacists say.
Free Trade Kills. That's the important takeaway here. Open Borders = Open Virus.

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Stilt-Man vs the SJWarriors

Science fiction grandmaster and classic comics aficionado John C. Wright contemplates the results of a minor Marvel villain, Stilt-Man, facing off against Marvel's new superhero team, the new New Warriors (2020 SJW edition). Read the whole thing there.

Let us say Stilt-Man has decided to rob a helicopter. Let us moreover say that Screentime uses his power of the netsurfing to come across a police bulletin, twitter post, or cellphone selfie showing the crime in progress.

Perhaps the crime takes place very nearby to the Old Folk’s Home where Fat Chance, the diversity hire orphan girl, is pulling cakes and pastries out of her god-given backpack (not the god you are thinking of, however) to share with the elderly and unloved senior citizens. They watch in awe as she consumes whole peach pies in one gulp.

Now, according to the official Marvel continuity, vigilante activity is illegal in the United States, and the government has passed ‘Kamala’s Law’ making teenagers doing vigilante activity even more illegal. So the teen heroes don their supersuits, and the bold yet chubby leader dons her double plus extra large sized supersuit. Not a single one of them wears masks or otherwise hides his identity. Except for Safespace, who does not wear a mask mask to hid ‘their’ identity.

So Fat Chance, the leader, waddles to the scene, puffing!

Meanwhile, Snowflake and Safespace are embracing each other with undue intimacy for a brother and sister (but it is perfectly fine, since the sister is neither male nor female, so technically she is his sibling, but not his sister). They see the Fat Signal, which Fat Chance pulls from her god-given backpack (not the god you are thinking of, however).

The amazing powers of Snowflake do not allow her to create a giant slide made of ice, like Iceman, nor to fly, like Snowbird, so she and her brother just run there. Fortunately, despite his girl hips and lack of muscle tone, he is a stereotypical jock, and get there while the crime is still in progress!

Screentime uses his power of internet connection to hire an Uber. In this case, the driver is Willy Lumpkin, the mailman for the Baxter Building, doing odd jobs to pick up some extra cash in his off hours

So the combat is joined!

Fat Chance rummages into her god-given backpack (but it is not the god you are thinking of) and pulls out a tuba, or perhaps a tortoise shell, or a taco, or a tape recorder, or a tea set, or a tricycle. But let us say, against all odds, she pulls out something useful, like a Tommy gun, and opens fire. Her flab wiggles and flaps in an alarming yet unsightly fashion from the jarring recoil of the hammering gunfire!

At the same time, Snowflake creates a dozen whirling, razor sharp crystal shuriken, and throws then with the full strength of her non-binary arm!

Screentime gets out of the Uber car and pays the driver, Willy Lumpkin, using Paypal, a convenient service that allows one to pay for goods and services over the internet! And, uh, he looks up information on Wikipedia about Stilt-Man or something, diagramming the battle suit.

Then B-Negative finds a convenient updraft, and launches himself skyward, closing with Stilt-Man, his bad attitude of which he has proud ownership displayed in his nonchalant yet abrasive teen demeanor!

Stilt-Man can detect the attack with his rear and downward view mirrors (not show in the diagram above) and can duck under the initial swoop by quickly retracting his legs!

The Stilt-Man armor was seen to be bulletproof in its first appearance back in Daredevil comics. The non-binary arm of the shuriken throwing sexual deviant cannot possibly top a thirty-story building, nor strike harder than a bullet. So both the snowflake-shaped crystal shuriken and the Tommy gun (or whatever) pulled out of the god-given backpack (not the god you are thinking of) simply bounce off.

And they do not bounce off Stilt-Man’s chest, by the way. A Tommy gun’s effective range is about 300 feet when fired level, less so when fired straight up, so the man himself is out of range. Shuriken and bullets alike are bouncing from the lower or upper segments of his stilts.

Then Stilt-Man steps on Fat Chance.

But let us say her life is saved by Safespace, who has enfolded her instinctively in a pink force field, which can protect others but not himself. So Stilt-Man steps on Safespace instead, with a hydraulic ram able to smash through a brick wall. Now, the information says Safespace can protect others, so if he casts his pink bubble of protection around the beached-whale bulk of the team leader, he can hide in her voluminous and extensive shadow, safe from attacks issue from that quarter to that half of the horizon. But, alas, Stilt-Man is the one villain able to step over the massive flesh blob of the leader, and approach the unprotected Safespace from above.

Our stereotypical jock with his girlish hips and Bambi eyelashes is not noted for having the super senses and reflexes of Daredevil, nor the spidersense of Spider-Man, and so he gets pounded into the pavement like a tentpeg and will spend the next fifteen issues in a full body cast, while every bone in his body except his left ulna are mending.

With Safespace out of the way, the force-field goes away, and Stilt-Man punts the fat girl and the non-binary ninja wannabe across Times Square with one sweep of his stilt-legs that can overturn a truck.

Ah, but the kid who is not Morbius joins the fray!

His superhuman strength is … wait for it … exactly the same as Stilt-Man’s in his armor. And his speed when he glides is … wait for it … exactly the same as Stilt-Man’s with his legs extended. But Stilt-Man is armored and B Negative is not. So Stilt-Man simply clocks him from fifty yards away with his telescoping fist which is strong enough to shatter brick walls.

If that does not work, Stilt-Man shoots him with knock out gas, and the teen bloodsucker with bad attitude plummets to the ground thirty stories, also crushed into jelly and with all his bones broken. But he can regenerate from wounds, so he will eventually get better.

He will rise again, and give chase. But, as was before said, since Stilt-Man travels at the same speed on his Stilts as the glider wings of Morbius (and presumably, Morbius lite here), Stilt-Man carrying the loot from the robbed helicopter stilts away on his long legs.

Meanwhile, Screentime is watching nonbinary incest porn on the internet. Stilt-Man does not bother to step on him, because how would he even know Screentime is on the superhero team?

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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The answer to the "responsibility" objection

It's quite common for stupid and self-righteous conservatives to object to student loan debt cancellation on the basis of "personal irresponsibility", moral hazard, and the fact that the student signed the loan contract. But as Zippy Catholic points out, Thomas Aquinas conclusively answered that objection a long time ago.
Accordingly we must also answer to the question in point that it is by no means lawful to induce a man to lend under a condition of usury: yet it is lawful to borrow for usury from a man who is ready to do so and is a usurer by profession; provided the borrower have a good end in view, such as the relief of his own or another’s need. Thus too it is lawful for a man who has fallen among thieves to point out his property to them (which they sin in taking) in order to save his life, after the example of the ten men who said to Ismahel (Jeremiah 41:8): “Kill us not: for we have stores in the field.”
- Thomas AST II-II, Q78, A4):

Since borrowing at usury is inherently scandalous, it probably depends on the extent of the need. But you’ve got pretty wide moral discretion to hand over your property to thieves, so you’ve probably got similar prudential latitude here.  As a matter of intrinsic morality, usury – insisting on interest when making a mutuum loan – is a sin on the part of the lender, not the borrower.
The lender is the wrongdoer, not the borrower. Therefore, there is no moral hazard created by cancelling student loan debt, unless the government then proceeds to bails out the lender. It is bailouts, not debt cancellations, that are both immoral and morally hazardous by nature.

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Of Boomers and Bergamo

In Bergamo, an elderly priest gave up the respirator his parishioners bought for him in order to save the lives of younger victims.
A 72-year-old priest who gave his respirator to a younger Covid-19 patient he did not know has died from coronavirus. Father Giuseppe Berardelli, the main priest in the town of Casnigo, refused a respirator which had been bought for him by his parishioners and instead gave it to a younger patient.

He died last week in Lovere, Bergamo - one of the worst-hit cities in Italy’s ongoing coronavirus crisis.

“He was a simple, straightforward person, with a great kindness and helpfulness towards everyone, believers and non-believers,” Giuseppe Imberti, the mayor of Casnigo, said in a statement, according to the Italian news website Araberara.

Although there was no funeral for the priest, residents of the town reportedly applauded from their balconies as his coffin was taken for burial.
Meanwhile, a reader writes from Florida:

Grocery stores in Florida have enacted a special early shopping time for "elderly" shoppers. Of course elderly is now considered 65 and up. Boomers line up in the hundreds, ignoring social distancing, and go through the store like a plague of locusts. Forget women and children, gotta give the Boomers first dibs.

Typical. All too typical. Because God hates the wicked, it is good to hate the Boomer. As with Father Giuseppe, there can be little doubt about what god they serve. The contrast demonstrates that being a Boomer is more than just a range of temporal mileage, it is, more importantly, a state of soul.

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These are NOT the end times

All End Times preaching is nothing more than narcisissm + false prophecy.  A reader writes:
A preacher that I know, who has preached the end of the world for 40 years, and has been wrong for 40 years, when asked about this current situation, said assuredly that this was not the end! He has always been wrong, so either it is the end, or, and this is my prediction, he will change his mind and start declaring it the end, or the beginning of the end. He, to a certain extent, and I dare say all end times preachers, are false prophets. That may be harsh, but if what they say does not come true are they not false? Would not my Dad, Uncles, Aunts, Grandparents, and Cousins been better served by a different message before they died. Were they living in the end times?
Every single person who states a firm opinion about any time being the end times is a false prophet and a liar. Every single one. I've been hearing Boomers pontificate about this since the end of the 1970s. I still remember the idiotic pamphlet "88 Reasons for 1988". Even at the time, I knew it was complete idiocy, given specious illogic like "1988 is the 100th U.S. Congress. Water boils at 100 degrees. Therefore, the world will end in 1988!"

In fact, Boomer eschatologists who breathlessly followed Hal Lindsay were one reason I rejected Christianity as a teenager. It was patently obvious even at the time that there was absolutely no truth in them, as events have subsequently confirmed. That being said, the one thing I will say for Mr. Lindsay is that he correctly predicted the rise of global Islam at a time when absolutely no one else did, and he did so on the basis of logic derived from the Bible.

Jesus made it very clear that even he didn't know the hour. So you don't either, and don't start appealing to how you're certain that it is "the season" either. Evil men that people were identifying as potential Antichrist candidates in 999 AD have been completely forgotten by history, and there isn't even a moderately plausible candidate today. So get over yourselves, forget the idiotic and entirely non-Biblical rapture nonsense, and deal with the fact that you're almost certainly going to have to deal with the fallen world as it is for the rest of your life.

Live, love, and leave off waiting for a deus ex machina.

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The need for a debt jubilee

It's not often that I agree with socialist economics, but in this case, my only disagreement with Michael Hudson's argument is that we are quite obviously already in a depression. It's too late to avoid it, but a debt jubilee - as commanded by the Bible - is both a way to end the depression and free the productive classes from the chains of a relentlessly rapacious and entirely anti-productive financial elite:
Even before the coronavirus appeared, many American families were falling behind on student loans, auto loans, credit card balances and other payments. America’s debt overhead was pricing its labor and industry out of world markets. A debt crisis was inevitable eventually, but covid-19 has made it immediate.

Massive social distancing, with its accompanying job losses, stock dives, and huge bailouts to debt-strapped corporations, raises the threat of a depression. But it doesn’t have to be this way. History offers us another alternative in such situations: a debt jubilee. This slate-cleaning, balance-restoring step recognizes the fundamental truth that when debts grow too large to be paid without reducing debtors to poverty, the way to hold society together and restore balance is simply to cancel the bad debts.

The word Jubilee comes from the Hebrew word for trumpet — yobel. In Mosaic Law, it was blown every fifty years to signal the Year of the Lord, in which personal debts were to be cancelled. The alternative, the prophet Isaiah warned, was for smallholders to forfeit their lands to creditors: “Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land.” When Jesus delivered his first sermon, the Gospel of Luke describes him as unrolling the scroll of Isaiah and announcing that he had come to proclaim the Year of the Lord, the Jubilee Year.

Until recently, historians doubted that such a debt jubilee would have been possible in practice, or that such proclamations could have been enforced. But Assyriologists have found that from the beginning of recorded history in the Near East, it was normal for new rulers to proclaim a debt amnesty upon taking the throne. Instead of blowing a trumpet, the ruler “raised the sacred torch” to signal the amnesty.

It is now understood that these rulers were not being utopian or idealistic in forgiving debts. The alternative would have been for debtors to fall into bondage. Kingdoms would have lost their labor force, since so many would be working off debts to their creditors. Many debtors would have run away (much as Greeks emigrated en masse after their recent debt crisis) and communities would have been prone to attack from without.

The parallels to the current moment are notable. The U.S. economy has polarized sharply since the 2008 financial crisis. For far too many, the debts in place leave little income available for spending on goods and services or in the national interest. In a crashing economy, any demand that newly massive debts be paid to a financial class that has already absorbed most of the wealth gained since 2008 can only further split our society.

The way to restore normalcy today is a debt writedown. The debts in deepest arrears, and most likely to default, are student debts, medical debts, general consumer debts and purely speculative debts. They block spending on goods and services, shrinking the “real” economy. A debt writedown would be pragmatic, not merely a moral sympathy with the less affluent.
Financialization does not help the economy by making it more efficient. To the contrary, it makes the economy far more fragile while destroying the underlying society for the benefit of a few foreign invaders.


Monday, March 23, 2020

Mailvox: testing results

A lab technician emails and reminds of the important efforts that are taking place behind the scenes.

I work in a medical testing lab and have been involved in reporting out COVID lab results. From my experience, the negative result to positive result ratio is roughly between 5:1 to 10:1. Only the positives are being reported to public health agencies, and that's what eventually makes its way to the Hopkins page and other pages.

As an aside, there is probably a 2-to-3-day delay in what happens in the lab, and what shows up on the internet. The latest numbers of new cases reported in the US for today are about 8,000. So this probably represents 40,000 to 80,000 new test results reported in a day. If you understand the work involved to produce a single test result, that is an astounding amount of test results for a test that no clinical labs had just one month ago.

The point is that the private sector industry has done an amazing job responding to this demand in a short amount of time. They are doing much better than any government effort could muster.

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The anosmia omen

If you lost your sense of smell, you may be a corona-chan carrier:
In the areas of Italy most heavily affected by the virus, doctors say they have concluded that loss of taste and smell is an indication that a person who otherwise seems healthy is in fact carrying the virus and may be spreading it to others.

“Almost everybody who is hospitalized has this same story,” said Dr. Marco Metra, chief of the cardiology department at the main hospital in Brescia, where 700 of 1,200 inpatients have the coronavirus. “You ask about the patient’s wife or husband. And the patient says, ‘My wife has just lost her smell and taste but otherwise she is well.’ So she is likely infected, and she is spreading it with a very mild form.”
It might be useful to keep in mind, anyhow. On the plus side, the latest numbers out of Italy may indicate that the peak has been passed, as new cases are down 27 percent and new deaths are down 24 percent since March 21.


The lockdowns cometh

This paper appears to be the primary rationale behind the nationwide lockdowns that are being gradually imposed by governments around the world:
The optimal timing of interventions differs between suppression and mitigation strategies, as well as depending on the definition of optimal. However, for mitigation, the majority of the effect of such a strategy can be achieved by targeting interventions in a three-month window around the peak of the epidemic.  For suppression, early action is important, and interventions need to be in place well before healthcare capacity is overwhelmed. Given the most systematic surveillance occurs in the hospital context, the typical delay from infection to hospitalisation means there is a 2- to 3-week lag between interventions being introduced and the impact being seen in hospitalised case numbers, depending on whether all hospital admissions are tested or only those entering critical care units. In the GB context, this means acting before COVID-19 admissions to ICUs exceed 200 per week.

Perhaps our most significant conclusion is that mitigation is unlikely to be feasible without emergency surge capacity limits of the UK and US healthcare systems being exceeded many times over. In the most effective mitigation strategy examined, which leads to a single, relatively short epidemic (case isolation, household quarantine and social distancing of the elderly), the surge limits for both general ward and ICU beds would be exceeded by at least 8-fold under the more optimistic scenario for critical care requirements that we examined. In addition, even if all patients were able to be treated, we predict there would still be in the order of 250,000 deaths in GB, and 1.1-1.2 million in the US.

In the UK, this conclusion has only been reached in the last few days, with the refinement of estimates of likely ICU demand due to COVID-19 based on experience in Italy and the UK (previous planning estimates assumed half the demand now estimated) and with the NHS providing increasing certainty around the limits of hospital surge capacity.

We therefore conclude that epidemic suppression is the only viable strategy at the current time. The social and economic effects of the measures which are needed to achieve this policy goal will be profound. Many countries have adopted such measures already, but even those countries at an earlier stage of their epidemic (such as the UK) will need to do so imminently.
Basically, the less strict the measures, the more likely it is that the number of people requiring treatment will overwhelm the available medical serves at the peak. Hence the term "flattening the curve" which refers to the peak of the bell curve. Different nations are at very different risk in this regard; Germany has 25,000 ICU beds with full respiratory support, or one for every 3,312 people, vs 4,000 for the UK, or one for every 16,610 people.

The USA has 32,000 ICU beds, which puts it right in between at one ICU bed for every 10,000 people. This means that if the mitigation calculations are correct, the medical resources would be overwhelmed by a factor of 8x, thereby leading to fatalities in excess of 2 million. The suppression measures are expected to reduce that by three orders of magnitude, which is why it is safe to expect that they will be imposed, sooner rather than later, in the US, the UK, and other countries that have not yet officially adopted them.

UPDATE: As expected, the UK announced a three-week nationwide lockdown.


Mailvox: notes from the frontlines

A nurse-practitioner from the Midwest:
The hotline for this medical system has been receiving 1500 to 2000 calls per day. It is the job of the various Providers to respond to these calls with a general medical prognosis and directions based on the symptoms the patient has described over the phone. Coronavirus has very specific symptoms and unless those symptoms are present it is unlikely the person has it. If they do have that list of specific symptoms, the patient is then told that they "likely have COVID19 and to continue to quarantine themselves for at least 14 days, and if symptoms get worse to go to the ER." These patients are NOT being actually tested, nor recorded officially.

This specific medical system is big enough that they have developed their own, internal test for the Coronavirus, however patients are not actually tested unless they have to symptoms sufficiently severe to place them in to Tier 1/ER/ICU levels of care. Such symptoms would be a either a very high fever or problems breathing. Medical Professionals who have been exposed to the Coronavirus are also being tested. The phone system is a fairly effective way of dealing with patients at the volumes that medical professionals are needing to wade through them.

The main takeaways from what I have overhead and know is that Coronavirus cases that aren't severe aren't being tested, so what effect this will have on the reported numbers, I'm not sure. Also, that larger hospital and medical systems have developed the tests internally, so whether or not the CDC/HHS or any other Federal agency acquires them in bulk isn't as urgent as it is being portrayed.
A medical security officer, also in the Midwest:
I went into the EOC and suggested that they push the idea up that since there are literally HUNDREDS of vacant restaurants all over, that they rent them for a song (using eminent domain or even Trump's emergency declaration) and institute drive-through testing like they have in Korea... Literally powerwash them, slap your signs over theirs and use the drive-through and mic hookups already in place...

The lady who I told, who is a senior nurse and emergency response director, paused, thought for a few seconds and said "Well, that could work, but there's so much more we have to do than just driving through, we have to take temperatures etc"

All I could think was, "bitch, that's what the WINDOW is for!  Have a tent by the lane, have them rub the stupid thing on their own forehead!  Jesus, use your goddamn imagination!"

We're fucking doomed... And it's due to the same stupidity I saw in the senior leadership in the Army that led me to leave...
A nurse in the Southwest:
I can confirm that ED nurses have been instructed to forgo masks. In our particular situation, I believe that it is mostly due to supply issues. People off the street have come in and stolen boxes of masks that we usually leave sitting around and non-clinical people have come onto the unit and taken them as well. Nevertheless, it is frustrating because, prior to now, we have all worn masks on a regular basis during flu season.

The real idiocy is that our N-95 masks, for which we were all fitted upon hire into the ED, have been slated for provider-use only. We nurses do not have any, yet we are the people that go face-to-face more often than any other. However, there are some options, less than ideal, being made available. I am not completely sympathetic to these decisions but the supply matter has hit us hard and I have some understanding of the motives behind them.
A doctor from the South:
I am a medical doctor and I believe both my wife and I have contracted corona. We were unable to test for it because it was unavailable given the strict guidelines in place at the time. One of the things I noticed on a pathology report I saw from a patient in China are these so-called thick mucous secretions in the lungs . This reminded me of what happens to an asthmatic's lungs when they are having an attack. For asthmatics, they die because they cannot oxygenate their bodies because there is so much mucous in their lungs.

I thought, why not treat these lung symptoms from corona  the way you would for an asthmatic .The reason for the mucous shouldn't matter.  One of those ways is to use a medication called albuterol which you nebulize and give yourself a breathing treatment several times a day if necessary.

I had been listening to my wife's lungs for several day,s and on one day I noticed a decrease in breath sounds in one of her lobes along with some wheezing. This is an indication that mucous was plugging up the bronchiole. A worrisome sign and a harbinger of pneumonia potentially coming. I started her on two treatments a day which immediately caused the mucous to break up. We knew this because she started coughing it up. One day later, her lungs were clear and there was no wheezing. I did it to myself just as a preventive measure one time a day. We continued this for about a week before stopping it. It appears we have recovered from the infection.
A retired nursing director from the South:
The corona virus has exasperated the shortage of nurses.  Many of them are mothers and now that schools and daycare are closed they must stay home to take care of their children.  The state medical system is now short hundreds of nurses. Observation – this is what happens when you have to have two parents working in order to be average middle class, no margin.  Not only have we leaned our supply system with no inventory buffer, but we have done the same to our labor pool. 

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