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Yet another novel I will no longer write

So, some years ago I blogged a whole bunch of times about books I wasn't going to write for one reason or another.

Now, thanks to COVID-19, I can add another to the list.

Some of you have been waiting years (is it really a decade? Gosh!) for a third book in the would-be trilogy that began with Halting State and Rule 34. The third Scottish near-future police procedural kept getting put back and back because reality wouldn't sit still and behave itself: it's really hard to write something set 10 years in the future (or even 5) if you don't even know what the country it's set in is going to be called. I named the period starting in 2012 "the Scottish political singularity", because it made all near-future fiction set in Scotland problematic: first we had the referendum on independence from the UK, then a general election, then the Brexit referendum. Back in 2012 I thought things would have settled down by 2016 or so: alas, I was sadly disillusioned.

So around 2016 I hatched a Plan B.

(Had, past tense.)

Plan B was to make my near-future Scottish thriller so hyper-specific that the big political questions wouldn't impinge on the plot at all. And I had a good plot, and even wrote the first thousand or so words of the untitled novel as a story seed. I just needed to clear my desk, finish Invisible Sun (FX: sound of author weeping helplessly) and finish the new space opera ...

Well, you know what happened: delays due to people dying, an apocalyptic drum-beat of bad news in the background, and so on and so forth. But I thought I might finally get time to start writing the Scottish Novel in earnest, starting in mid- to late-2022 ...

Then COVID-19 came along.

You see, the third Scottish crime novel was to be a zombie pandemic novel.

I have several bees in my metaphorical bonnet—in fact, an entire angry swarm of them—when it comes to the standard zombie narrative in post-apocalypse fiction. The zombie myth has roots in Haitian slave plantations: they're fairly transparently about the slaves' fear of being forced to toil endlessly even after their death. Then this narrative got appropriated and transplanted to America, in film, TV, and fiction. Where it hybridized with white settler fear of a slave uprising. The survivors/protagonists of the zombie plague are the viewpoint the audience is intended to empathize with, but their response to the shambling horde is as brutal and violent as any plantation owner's reaction to their slaves rising, and it speaks to a peculiarly American cognitive disorder, elite panic.

Elite panic is the phenomenon by which rich and/or privileged people imagine that in times of chaos all social constraints break down and everyone around them will try to rob, rape, and murder them. To some extent this reflects their own implicit belief that humanity is by nature grasping, avaricious, amoral, and cruel, and that their status depends on power and violence. It's a world-view you'd expect of unreconstructed pre-Enlightenment aristocrats, or maybe a society dominated by a violent slave-owning elite. It's also fundamentally wrong. Usually whenever there's a major disaster, people look after their families ... and then their friends and neighbours, pulling together and trying to help.

It's noteworthy that Zombie Apocalypse fic and Pandemic Dystopia fic overlap considerably, and people get both aspects right and wrong to different degrees. (I'd like to give a shout-out at this point to Seanan McGuire who, as Mira Grant, gave us the Newsflesh trilogy. Her zombies are, well, conventional media zombies (they shamble and they eat brains), but she put a lot of work into making the epidemiology plausible.)

I was planning a pandemic zombie disaster novel in which people behaved like human beings, rather than psychotic, heavily armed doomsday preppers. My zombie plague differs from most: it's a viral encephalitis, possibly an odd strain of influenza, which leaves a percentage of its victims with Cotard's Delusion, also known as walking corpse syndrome. The affected person holds a delusional belief that they're dead, or putrefying, or don't exist, or they're in hell. (It's associated with parietal lobe lesions and can also be induced by some drug metabolites: as a consequence of viral encephalitis it would be weird, but possibly no weirder than Encephalitis lethargica.) How does a society deal with a pandemic that leaves 1% of the population permanently convinced that they're dead? Well ...

I had a plot all worked out. TLDR: deep brain stimulation via implant. Rapidly leading to rental plans—because in our grim meathook privatised-medicine future the medical devices company who are first-to-market realize that charging people a monthly plan to feel like they're alive is a good revenue stream—but this is followed by hackers cracking the DRM on the cryptocoin-funded brain implants. The device manufacturer goes bankrupt, and their intellectual property rights are bought out by a Mafia-like operation who employ stringers to go around uploading malware to the implants of zombies who've stopped paying the rent, permanently bricking them. Our protagonist is a zombie detective: the actual story opens when a murder victim walks into a police station to complain that they've been killed.

And the whole theme of this untitled novel was going to be: this is elite panic, and this is disaster capitalism, and this is what really happens during a zombie epidemic, and these things are not the same—

And then COVID-19 came along and basically rendered the whole thing unneccessary because we are all getting a real world crash-course in how we deal with people suffering from a viral pandemic, and we do not generally deal with them using shotguns and baseball bats even if they're so contagious that contact might kill us.

Because—fuck my life—writing plausible near-future SF in the 21st century wasn't hard enough already.

Anyway, let me leave you with the WARNING very rough, first draft, unpolished only existing fragment of what was intended to be The Lambda Functionary before COVID-19 buried it at the crossroads with a mouthful of garlic and a stake through its heart.




CHAPTER 1: U R DED

You are an ex-zombie.

Most days, most of the time, you can ignore this. As existential states go, being an ex-zombie is a bit like being an ex-skier or an ex-patriate: it's bland, and anodyne, an absence of dread, the mental cavity left behind by a passing toothsome nightmare. The pulse of blood in your veins and the thoughts in your head and the warmth in your loins provide a constant reassurance that you are, in fact, alive and mammalian. Except every once in a while it leaps out from behind a lamp-post and screams death in your face like you're an alcoholic noticing the gaping door to a pub by your shoulder: and suddenly you are dead once more.

You're perambulating along the grey cobbled canyon of Hill Street that evening—it's early summer, the nights are drawing short and the tourists are flocking—when you pass a jumble of bony knees and elbows, the bowed bald dome of a skull leaning forward as if about to boak in the gutter. At first you think it's a regular jakey boy, or maybe a beggar: but there's no cup and no weatherbeaten cardboard sign, and that stomach's not held enough food to throw up for weeks now. It takes a few seconds for your stride to clatter to a reluctant stop, by which time you're about five metres past the silent, barely-breathing figure. Coldness wraps its dreicht, despair-stained phalanges around your heart and gives it a squeeze. You shudder and take a breath, remembering Ina and the boys in the happy time before the demic, and for a moment you see yourself there on the edge of the gutter, vomiting vacuum on the stony indifference of the capital's streets as the waste trucks whine past, canned voices braying bring out your dead. You don't want to look round. But you've been here before, and the guilt is suffocating, so you turn and you look.

The lad in the gutter is indeed far gone in the post-viral zombie haze of starvation. He could be anything from seventeen to forty-seven, with the gaunt concentration-camp inmate's cheekbones and sunken eye sockets. His hair's fallen out, of course, his nails are cracked and ragged—clothes a mess, a holed hoodie and jeans that are little better than rags, muddy and shredded cerements fit to be buried in. He's still breathing, and nodding slowly every few seconds—a slow davvening, the prayerful rocking of the undead. Gums drawing back from yellowing teeth, he drools slightly. Behold, the living dead. You want to run away: he makes you cringe, feeling unclean. But instead, you crouch down beside him and, steeling yourself, you lay your right arm across his shoulders. "Hey," you say. The zombie doesn't reply, of course. They never do. But you can feel the jerky rise and fall of his ribs: he's hungry. He broadcasts raw starvation like an old-time radio station with kilowatts of fossil energy to waste, pumping angst out into the ionosphere. Behind him, a boutique's robot window display repeatedly enrobes an anorexic headless mannequin in an hourglass sheath of expensive fabric, then strips it off again to reveal the skeletal ribs of the dressform fabber beneath: but you know voluntarily embraced hunger lacks the killing quality of the starving undead. "When did you last eat?" You murmur in his ear, not expecting any response.

"Nuuuuh ..."

Shock almost makes you let go. He vocalized: that means he's not let go. Lights on, somebody's still home—even if the light's a fading flashlight. You tap your glasses and peel your eyes. "Matt here. Got a responsive shambler in Hill Street Backup, please." Then you hook one hand under his armpit and push yourself up off the floor. "Hey, kid. Let's get some food in you."

"Nuuuurr." He might be trying to say no, but you're not having it. You manage to get yourself up, and he's so light—skin and bones, really—that he comes with, doesn't try to put up a fight. Opposite the posh frock fab you see the frosted window and kitsch logo of a once-trendy pub. It's not your usual dive, but it's still mid-evening and the kitchen will be open, so you shoulder-barge your way through the swing-door with Dead Guy lurching drunkenly athwart behind, and bring him to the nearest empty table. " Ye cannae be bringing the likes of that in here—" The bartender is brassy and indignant, but you smile at her and she blinks and subsides as she kens that you're peeling tonight. "Aye, wheel, if it pukes on the carpet you're paying!"

Luckily there are no other customers cluttering up this end of the hostelry and liable to be discommoded by your Samaritan emergency: just a handful of sour-faced old regulars supping their IPAs by the brightwork at the bar. "I'd like a portion of cheese'n'chips and a bowl of chicken nuggets," I tell her. She looks askance: "soon as I get some protein in him the sooner I can get him out of here and into rehab," I add. "Peeling, ken?"

She nods tightly, face like a furled umbrella, and scoots for the til. The chicken nuggets aren't nuggets and have never been near a bird, but they're easily swallowed: ditto the chips'n'cheese. It's all soft, high carb/high fat sludge that used to get hammered by the sin tax during the war on obesity: now it's back on the menu as pub grub, and it's especially good for shoveling into a zombie who, after all, is dead and therefore utterly uninterested in matters gustatory.

Boney Jim—you've got to call him something, and he's not going to give you a name—sits quietly where you parked him on the bench seat. He's still davvening. The food comes (along with the drink you ordered to still your unquiet nerves) and you pick up a greasy hot chip and push it at his lips. "Eat," you tell him. For a miracle, he opens his mouth. You shove the chip in and get your fingers out of the way just in time. He chews and swallows, and you repeat the process with a nugget of deep-fried freshly printed avian myocites. Then some more chips. He is eating and swallowing what you place in front of his lips, even though his hands don't move and his eyes are a million kilometers away, staring into infinity, pupils fixed and dilated. Boney Jim, Zombie Jim. If you'd left him out there he'd probably have lasted a couple more days before starvation, thirst, or exposure got him. It's going to be necessary to track down whoever dumped him in the street like that: you add it to the to-do spike in your glasses. Eyes Peeled, as they say. You went through this yourself, in an earlier life. There's light at the other end of the tunnel, and it isn't necessarily the white light of eternity if somebody cares enough to get you to a clinic and rehab.

Ina cared enough to do it for you: but you weren't there to do it for her when the time came, and sometimes the shame and the guilt is worse than the disease.

You have been feeding your zombie for about a quarter of an hour when you realize that you're not alone any more. The Principles have sent you aid and comfort in the shape of a couple of Kindness Volunteers who—like yourself—are peeling tonight. She's a rosy-cheeked middle-aged woman in a tweed twin-set and cultured pearls, sensible shoes her only concession: he looks like a painfully earnest Baptist Sunday school teacher from the 1960s, stranded most of a century in his own future—a determinedly retro hipster look. Maybe they're twentieth century cosplayers who've escaped from the convention center for an evening of determined volunteerism. Or maybe they're the real thing. Either way you're grateful. "I found him outside," you explain, pushing another not-chicken not-nugget at Boney Jim's mandible. "Just sitting on the pavement. I think he's stage IVa, maybe IVb, but there's still some reactivity. Might be something they can work with at Greyfriars." They set up a receiving unit for zombies in the former graveyard, at the height of the demic. White dome tents mushrooming among the lichen-encrusted headstones.




1440 Comments

1:

WE may *yet* get and American version of the Zombie movie :

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/16/us-sales-guns-ammunition-soar-amid-coronavirus-panic-buying

The level of stupid is strong in these people.

2:

Fantastic premise, condolences about the timing.

"Eyes peeled" == recording/streaming video?

(By the way, some of the Javascript for this page is being loaded over http rather than https, not sure if that matters to you...)

3:

I suspect it's a reference to Robert Peel, source of both the "bobby" and "peeler" nickname for UK lawmen.

4:

You've done it again! If you started to write a novel about how the human race came to its senses, started tackling the problems we have created, and things generally improved, do you think it would come to be? :-)

5:

Clearly, COVID-19 is God's way of telling you not to write second-person fiction. :-P

6:

"Peelers" -- reference to Sir Robert Peel: running crowdsourced policing, mediated by augmented reality and smartphones. Many low-level public order police duties have been outsourced to the public ("the police are the public and the public are the police") in return for social credit.

7:

I'm reminded of the Great Politics Mess Up, AKA the end of the Cold war. Due to the long publication pipeline, for some 2 years after it happened there were thrillers being published in which the Iron Curtain, East Germany and the Soviet Union were a significant part of the setting.

8:

Heeeeey, you will be pleased to know that East Germany features significantly in Invisible Sun, which is set in an alternate 2020 (in which the USSR nevertheless collapsed on schedule).

9:

Fascinating stuff about the Haitian zombie origins, and tight relationship to elite panic. Opened my eyes. I'm pretty sure I heard George Romero himself saying that the zombieism in "Night of the Living Dead" was a thinly-veiled reference to conservatism. If we take that premise, then the disease itself could be a symptom of "elite pre-emptive panic" or the complete mental shutdown of the zombies is infection-control from ideas that would dissuade them from their singular pursuit of wealth ...uh, sorry, "brains."

Thank you for all your writing.

10:

Before I really wanted to read Invisible Sun, and while I understand the reasons it was delayed, I nevertheless found it frustrating.

Now I really really want to read it, if only to find out how the East German regime survived. Does it still call itself Communist? Is it like China: SocialismCapitalism with German Characteristics? (Actually, that last sounds really sinister).

11:

That's a hell of a first chapter - scary as hell. It's a shame we're not going to see any more of it.

12:

Damn I'm sorry I won't get to read the rest of that.

13:

I really want to read this book regardless of where reality takes us.

14:

Condolences for the loss of another novel to our malfunctioning simulation, Charlie.

Harry Bingham's Fiona Griffiths series of crime novels feature a detective constable protagonist recovering from Cotard's syndrome. They're a lot of fun, especially the sense of place in the Cardiff setting.

15:

WARNING very rough, first draft, unpolished only existing fragment

Damn. Slings and arrows notwithstanding, you've certainly not forgotten how it's done. I was drawn in even though I knew this was orphaned prose.

And yes, overall, near-future work -- in our primary timeline anyway -- is increasingly a matter of tilting at windmills in a stiff breeze. Even envisioned stories set decades hence are vulnerable to being cut off at the knees by the chaotic events overtaking us now.

Thanks for this. I hope you can get to your further projects soon.

16:

Shame, shame, shame. Would have loved to read that story.

"Coldness wraps its dreicht, despair-stained phalanges around your heart and gives it a squeeze." - how do you come up with those pictures?

In the sixth para you switch to first person (I know, it's only a draft).

17:

An old idiom, but fairly common, especially in noir mysteries:

https://knowyourphrase.com/keep-your-eyes-peeled

Has nothing to do with "peelers" or Sir Robert.

18:

Yes: it was a pun/wordplay.

19:

Sigh. Here's another bit of happiness that 2020 stole from us.

Someone seriously needs to rest the universe from dystopian back to topyian, or at least semi-topyian.

20:

While arguably a mild spoiler, it's worth mentioning that Newsflesh deals with the "is this human nature?" bit to some extent too.

The entire mammalian population is effectively infected with the cycle of abuse from the cellular level on upwards, and zombies are what happens when a threshold is crossed within the host and the consequences can't be contained. Which is more than a little thematically relevant to other events in the setting.

Which means there's definitely stuff to chew on in the material past the first trilogy+prequel. Not that it's exactly compliant with the demands of, uh, puppies who claim to have infection-induced rage.

21:

Tim McCormack @ 2: Fantastic premise, condolences about the timing.

"Eyes peeled" == recording/streaming video?

vatine @ 3: I suspect it's a reference to Robert Peel, source of both the "bobby" and "peeler" nickname for UK lawmen.

It works pretty well as a double meaning, accounting for both the electronic spectacles and for the police reference. That's one of the hallmarks of good Sci-Fi writing, you can pack more than one meaning into a phrase, and give old clichés new meanings.

That happens to language in real life too.

22:

and we do not generally deal with them using shotguns and baseball bats even if they're so contagious that contact might kill us.

Unless you’re named Duterte, not that he needs an excuse.

23:

Damn you are good. Love the language, layered and particular, and how it worldbuilds, evocatively. 'Davvening'. Grin. (oy). Dreich.


(The grounded weirdness of your Scottish/Yiddish mashup, Trainspotting meets Augie March, but with way better gender politics...)

And if your past work is any guide, this would have been a comfort read, no matter how well or badly things go at the moment...

24:

I'm absolutely not an expert on Philippine politics, but what I know about Duterte suggests that he exists in a permanent highly elevated state of elite panic. (The same goes for most authoritarian leaders: Trump for sure, also Bolsonaro, Scotty from Marketing, V. Putin, etc ...)

25:

Good thing you define Davvening, otherwise I’m wondering if it would have gotten changed in edits. Though it’s certainly sounds better than Shuckling.

26:

You're not familiar with Jewish prayer ritual, I take it.

27:

It's really a shame this book isn't going to be written. Just that first taste makes me want to read the whole thing.

In Arma III, the zombie plague is a Cordyceps fungus that takes over the victim's central nervous system. The zombies don't just shamble, some are runners and some are "bolters" - shamblers who suddenly become runners.

The zombies are cannibalistic, but don't specifically eat brains, any human flesh will do. The fungus spreads itself by flesh to flesh contact. If they can rip a chunk off of you, you become infected. There are "antibiotics" that can protect you if you're infected, but after someone progresses to the zombie stage there is no cure.

It also only zombifies men, killing women outright. Civilization collapsed because 91% of the world's female population died.

The zombies appear to "want" you to kill them, to put them out of their misery. "They" are apparently still in there somewhere, prisoners inside of bodies they can no longer control.

28:

Considering how many times I’ve mentioned here being a Jew, yes I am.

My point (which I thought was obvious) was whether or not your average reader would be.

29:

My point (which I thought was obvious) was whether or not your average reader would be.

It shouldn't matter: I aim to make things obvious from context. (There's just not quite enough context in a 1400 word snapshot.)

30:

Right, I understand.
Apologies for being a little touchy; it’s still early here, and I haven’t gotten enough coffee in me. Ran out of the good stuff and am making do with some old, flavored (ick) stuff from the back of the cabinet. Will be attempting grocery shopping tomorrow—was supposed to be today, but we got 4 inches of slush overnight.
And apologies for rambling on.

31:

"and we do not generally deal with them using shotguns and baseball bats even if they're so contagious that contact might kill us."

With the possible exception over here in the USA of Bubba and Zeek, who are terrified that asians might be carrying the Covid19, and this might make them sick, so rather than staying at home and washing their hands like the guvurmint tells them, their solution is to go find people that look asian (if they can't find those, blacks, Hispanics, or people with a good sun tan will probably do) and beat them until they spray bodily fluids everywhere.

32:

But, Charlie, leave out the rape, and I WANT to rob and kill the ultrawealthy...

Oh, hey, that would be good - the ultrawealthy eat some sort of Special Food, that lets them keep living, and zombies want that after it's been digested, because they haven't had the treatment to let them digest it...

33:

Or spend too much time reading QAnon and so drive a freight locomotive off its tracks in order to try and ram a floating hospital a quarter of a mile away because something something black helicopters something FEMA something New World Order something WAKE UP SHEEPLE!!!?!!1!!ELEVENTY!!!

As just happened in California.

And then there's this: Venezuelan Navy boat rams German cruise ship and sinks. (Just what the everlasting fuck did the captain of the ANBV Naiguata think he was doing? NB: some boat -- displaces around 1600 tons, has (had) trans-Atlantic range, could carry medium-large helicopters.)

Clearly we are living through the crazycakes times.

34:

Far be it from little ol' me to presume but I think you've got it backwards. This is a very good time to sit back and watch how the world deals with a pandemic while plotting the sort of novel you've outlined. We're at the very beginning of this thing: we have no idea how the world will react because it hasn't gotten real to most of us yet and even when the casualties begin to grow at rates even the slaveholders can't ignore, for most of the Western world it will mostly stay antiseptic and cheerful as bodies are carted off for disposal behind the scenes. Most of us will never see one and all those guns USAians are buying aren't going to be used, even on raging preppers.

Don't give up, Charlie: your story sounds delightful and at the very least we can read it and nod sagely with a heartfelt "those crazy scifi writers! What will they think of next?" as we set it down and scrambled out to the party.

35:

Just remembered another take on this: The Giving Plague by David Brin (link to full short story).

TL;DR: Virus evolves to use blood transfusion as a vector by making humans irrationally generous.

36:

Charlie @ 24
Bolsanaro most definitely, also Trump
Tsar Putin looks ok at the moment, but he's making the classic mistake of many authoritarians - he is actually secure, but he is still uncertain, so tightens the screws a little bit ... & then a bit more etc.
See also Tar Alexander II & Nicholas II, later - except Alex II was a reformer ( ish )

37:

But its a little different over here. While "non essential business" are closed in many places here, there is an argument over whether gun stores are "essential" in these times of crisis, owning a handgun for self defense having been ruled by the supreme court to be a personal right guaranteed by the constitution. Presumably the people that stocked up on bottled water in case somehow, hospitals being overloaded and ventilators being in short supply caused the water to turn off, will have a hefty stack of firearms and ammunition beside their jugs of Arrowhead Spring Water.

The funny thing is, I can now make the simile, "Guns are like toilet paper". I personally think that hoarding toilet paper is just plain stupid. However, everyone else around me is hoarding toilet paper. So as a pragmatist, I have to have a hoard of toilet paper myself, not because the pandemic will make a shortage, but because the hoarders themselves are taking it all and if need to use the bathroom in the next month, I better have my own hoard. Similarly, I know that all the wingnuts are out there stocking up on ammunition and guns. Unlike toilet paper, I dont forsee a certain need for a gun. But I certainly dont want to be the only guy without one, especially if someone runs out of toilet paper or spam before I do. Now the reality is, if my neighbor came over and said the kids were starving and they had no toilet paper, Id problably give them a can of spam and a roll of toilet paper and and even a bag of rice. (I actually dont hoard stuff like that, I just like spam and rice and buy a month or two or mores worth when I find a good price) But I worry that the guy who feels the need to have a giant stack of ammo next to his giant stack of bottled water wont realize that. His solution may involve that giant pile of ammo. So I have ONE box of ammo and an old shotgun. I dont see the need to have a giant stack of ammo,or any ammo for its own sake, and I know that MOST people come together. But still we are having an actual discussion over whether gun stores are essential. It comes down to pragmatism vs lunacy.

Yesterday I thought about shooting a guy who was looking at my toilet paper funny. But I decided to calm down and drink some bottled water.

38:

Dunno. If you wanted a relatively happy, 'predictable future' novel - and a 'reasonably' similar culture. Maybe pick from Canada, Australia, an English speaking island (weird associations), New Zealand, the US? Nova Scotia might actually fit.

Or maybe I'm rationalizing because I'd like to read the book...

That may be true.

39:

Hey, folks, at least in the US, there's some Good News: Americans are lining up, literally, to buy guns (presumably to protect their garages filled with toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and gallon jugs of milk).

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/01/us-gun-purchases-coronavirus-record

The good news, of course, is that we'll soon be rid of them. Look at the pic in the article.... Hint: "social distancing".

40:

@36: Putin knows he's lost the longer game; Russian demographics are terrible - they're way under a replacement birth rate. He's trying to maximize his short term advantage, leaning on oil revenues, rebuilding the military, and bullying his neighbors. OK, he's also a raving megalomaniac, but he's on the rational end of the spectrum. Smart enough to not be crazy, but crazy enough to be dangerous.

41:

I also would gladly read this book, event if it's not set in our timeline. That's some damned fine wordcrafting there, Mr. Stross.

42:

Btw, Charlie - you do realize that the charge for writing and/or uploading malware into those people is not computer crimes, but murder in the first degree- premeditated.

43:

@42: If it's state-sanctioned, it's "therapy" (it's fun when you get to write the dictionary).

44:

It's not murder if they're still breathing, right?

What it is, is they are thereafter certain they're dead: the implant that substitutes for the damaged self-cognition/self-recognition bits of the brain is burned-out. But they're still breathing and responsive.

You might be able to construct a murder case if they starve to death within a year and a day of their implant being deliberately disabled, but it's kind of tenuous.

45:

Speaking as someone who isn't, and has read a fair amount of fiction by people using language backgrounds with which I am not familiar, I am both happy with that approach and (over the years) have learnt a great deal from it. The day I stop learning things of no immediate relevance is the day I need to be put down. It's also a DAMN sight easier to look up dialect words and even customs than it used to be before the Webbly thingy.

What I dislike is the sort of fiction that makes it deliberately inaccessible if you are not one of the author's tribe (*). Yes, I know I have done that myself, but generally only when I am pissed off with the readers.

(*) There were some writers who did that badly with New York Jewish/Yiddish background and language. I once asked a mildly observant American Jewish friend how well he got on with those, and he said that he found them incomprehensible! So I gave up on them.

46:

I find this interesting, as a sociological phenomenon. Fantastic alternative histories are all the rage, dystopian near future novels are not far behind, but a dystopian alternative near past novel is unacceptable?

Note that I am NOT denying the reality of that, nor excluding the possibility that it might simply not interest you. My guess is that a rewrite of the COVID-19 chaos as a zombie pandemic would sink like a lead balloon. But what do I know about how the majority of the human race reacts?

Like others here, I would be a customer for such a novel.

47:

'Just as a heads up since L'Orange is making noises about sending "counter narc" troops to the border and they're attempting to pivot their coup attempts that way[1]...

The original story has been re-imagined and you're unfortunately likely spreading FUD / War Drum Media Beat:

For reasons that are still being investigated, the RCGS Resolute approached the Venezuelan patrol ship and rammed it, causing serious damage to the vessel and sinking it. The cruise ship, which is designed to be able to navigate between ice and has a reinforced hull, sustained minimal damage.

https://www.portandterminal.com/hit-run-cruise-ship-rams-sinks-venezuelan-navy-ship-flees-story-gets-crazier/

https://twitter.com/ConflictsW/status/1245076319924338700

Looks like they definitely slowed down and looked around for a bit before carrying on.

https://twitter.com/Simon85205764/status/1245083568013008896

The cruise ship is designed for Arctic cruises (https://www.oneoceanexpeditions.com/vessels/vessel-rcgs-resolute), but wait:

On the night of March 5th the RCGS Resolute quietly slipped out of Buenos Aires, Argentina according to reports.
The ship was arrested last October by various companies that were owed money by a Canadian company called One Ocean Expeditions. PortandTerminal.com contacted their offices today but were unable to reach anyone to speak to for a statement.
The ship’s owners settled US$3.6 million in claims in order to retain the ship, and avoid it being sold in a court-ordered sale. Two European fuel suppliers, three South American ships agents, and 22 crew were paid as a result of the action.

This checks out[2], *points to stock market cruise lines*.


So the real story may be a lot, lot, lot more crazy - along the lines of 'Bay of Pigs' stuff.


*nose wiggle*

[0] https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trump-announces-advances-counternarcotics-operation-deploys-destroyers-and-air-force-assets

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/26/nicolas-maduro-us-indictment-venezuela-drug-trafficking-leaders

[2] https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/one-ocean-expeditions-ship-detained-1.5370649#

https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/business/local-business/shipping-news-one-ocean-expeditions-sails-into-troubled-waters-370614/

48:

Yea, as a whole, we are screwed. Dr Fauci said yesterday that every state should be shut down. Yet virus deniers have made it a political issue. While the arguments that its leftist hoax to make the current administration look bad have faded, its still a left vs right issue with right leaning governors refusing to close their states down and in many cases suggesting that the virus should just be ignored because car accidents and suicides will supposedly kill more than the virus. "Sorry your grandmother died , but Im sure she would have been hit by a car or killed herself or something."

The whole argument ignores the fact that whether or not more people die of other causes, at the end of this there will be somewhere between 100,000 to 2,000,000 American deaths that could have been avoided. It also ignores the fact that its not a choice between shutting down now and saving those lives, or staying open and saving the economy. Its a choice between shutting down and saving those lives now, or trying to stay open, having all those deaths, eventually shutting down when it becomes so bad that there is simply no choice, having even more damage to the economy, and all those deaths. The reality is, there is no choice. Its a matter of good policy that saves lives and minimizes the economic damage or bad policy that causes a massive loss of life and a massive loss to the economy.

There are a few bright spots. California was one of the first to hit the big red "Emergency Power Off" button. They are basing their decision on science and a sophisticated pandemic model that state health officials have been developing for years for use in a flu pandemic and were able to tweak for this outbreak. They are leasing hotels to put homeless people in, as when one is told to "shelter in place" there needs to be a place for one to shelter in. Food banks have been hard hit due to their (often older) employees following the shelter in place orders. National Guard troops are being used to prepare food boxes and distribute them. (They are younger, in good health and trained to deal with these kind of things. And they work FAST. Like trained soldiers or something) The state has found local companies to repair a stockpile of obsolete non functioning ventilators immediately when the manufacturer told them it would be months. When they received 270 broken ventilators from the federal government, no one even bothered complaining, they just sent them to be repaired. Two mothballed hospitals were bought by the state and are being opened and other temporary makeshift hospitals are being created in re-purposed facilities around the state. Most importantly, state officials are monitoring the data, and comparing it to their models to determine whether sufficient medical resources will be available, and fine tuning their response as they go,so that hopefully, what is needed and what is available will converge as the peak arrives and there will be few surprises. Hopefully it will work, and maybe it will be obvious enough that some of the holdouts will follow the example before they end up like new york.

49:

@47: Re - conspiracy theory

Correlation is not causality.

Never ascribe to conspiracy what can be explained by stupidity.

50:

Note: this story is not about Ballardian Cruise lines stuck without ports[0], although it's interesting the x-over where the major story will bury this one in terms of SEO.

SHIPPING NEWS: One Ocean Expeditions creeps towards bankruptcy

the letter prompted a statement from Rune Thomas Ege, vice president of Global Communications for Hurtigruten, denying it had entered into a Partnership with One Ocean, and stating it has not purchased any assets or is in any way involved in the restructuring.

One Ocean Expeditions' office is in Squamish B.C. but the company looks to be registered in Alberta and payments moved through an address in Richmond Hill, Ont. This past weekend, a group of passengers picketed the Richmond Hill offices of WM Trotter and Associates, believed to be One Oceans accountants. Deposits for trips and final payments were done via companies that list Trotter's accountants as directors, or list the same Richmond Hill address as its office. The One Ocean Foundation also lists three Trotter accountants as their sole directors and it shares an address with the accounting firm.

https://www.thetelegram.com/business/regional-business/shipping-news-one-ocean-expeditions-creeps-towards-bankruptcy-401098/

Soo... looks like someone stole a ship (or bought it on the massive downturn at a huge price reduction without informing angry ex-customers or the authorities or Argentina[1]) and 100% didn't want to let any investigation of the people running it[2].

Arctic cruise liner: just the thing any billionaire worried about pandemic might require, at a pinch.

~

This one is wild. April 1st, 2020: someone took a cruise ship for a joy-ride.

[0] That CAN story is FLR + nationals stuck. Coronavirus: Trump says Canadians aboard Florida cruise ships will be repatriated https://globalnews.ca/news/6765796/coronavirus-trump-canadians-zaandam/

[1] Still registered to original owners: https://www.cruisemapper.com/ships/RCGS-Resolute-765

[2] Who knows, might be the Raybans + duffel bag Private types

51:

Look a bit deeper into it. Also, stop using "Conspiracy Theory", it's modally outdated in 2020.

The company can barely cover fuel costs ($3.6 mil), they ain't got backers running into the cruise line business knocking on their door[1], they ain't got any scheduled cruises (dec 2020 allegedly is the next one) and no-one bought the ship.

Hmmmm. Gotta be pretty stupid to steal something that easy to spot on radar, eh?

[1] Why Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line Stocks Plunged on Wednesday https://www.fool.com/investing/2020/04/01/why-carnival-royal-caribbean-and-norwegian-cruise.aspx

52:

@51: I'm referring to you concatenating a story about shady characters doing a runner with a (stolen? back-alley deal?) cruise ship with the USSOUTHCOM naval deployment, probably chosen by El Cheeto Grande's unique brand of "ooh shiny" deep geopolitical expertise.

53:

That was just us being funny, that's all SEO cover.

But 100% serious about the rest. Weird that all the major pro-NATO + allied press are running it as a "bad / stupid Venezuela navy being aggressive sinks" - so someone near enough to USSOUTHCOM is certainly looking into it. Remind us who co-ordinates that type of story these days.

54:

I'd add that San Diego, at least, is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to figure out where to site two mobile military hospitals.

Also, from the gossip grapevine, hotels that have unrented blocks of rooms near hospitals are offering rooms up for hospital workers who have to care for Covid19 cases and don't want to spread the disease home to their families. I don't know if that's free, reduced rate, or what, but if the place is going to sit empty or get filled with recovering covid19 patients turfed out of care units to recover in isolation, this isn't the worst thing they could do.

Anyway, I spent an hour last night ironing a stack of kerchiefs to make no-sew face masks. I also dug out a bag of unused basket coffee filters, on the (probably mistaken) assumption that coffee filters doubled over add a bit more filtration to a four-ply handkerchief mask. The advantage is that at least the cloth can be reused, even if the paper liner has to be tossed.

55:

Getting back to the original topic of near-future novels:

One word: Solarpunk. Heck,we've got a bunch of societal conflicts going on right now:

--Renewables versus petroleum versus, hey, plastics!
--Some really disaffected youth hitting their 20s
--A replay of the 1900s communist scare, this time starring the ultra-rich and their authoritarian-follower lackeys versus everyone else.
--Oh, and the burgeoning remnants of all those trends that caused people to get starry-eyed about The Singularity about 20 years ago.
--And climate change.
--And pandemics
--And hybrid warfare.

If you can't make a decent Dinosaurs of Cyberpunk 2.0 story out of that, you ain't trying. Just replace implants with addictive electronics, and you're there.

56:

What happened to the second person? It was so immersive. The brain would just substitute the "you" in the text with "yes, it's about me" after 10 pages of so of the text feeling slightly weird.

57:

The company is literally run by "three little pigs". also lists three Trotter accountants

Where's the Wolf in this story?

*NOSE WIGGLE*

58:

O_o

Okay, that's crazy-dirty stuff. Makes a lot more sense, mind you.

(Another alternative to invoking Bay-of-Pigs stuff: repo men sneak aboard impounded ship and take possession, try and make away in the night: navy try to take it back, get rammed and sunk for their pains.)

59:

Yep, Carnival, P&O, et al's business model is dead in the water for the foreseeable duration of COVID-19, and until there's an economic upturn after the pandemic has run its course, and until they work out how to prevent such ships turning into huge floating plague-pits (lots of elderlies with compromised immune systems rubbing shoulders with each other and with locals in a new port every day).

Also, those ships are pretty terrible polluters -- they burn cheap sulferous bunker oil outside territorial waters and are registered to flags of convenience, so they aren't under legal pressures to cut their emissions.

60:

The ships doctor will see you now....

https://images.app.goo.gl/RzcimFCZno2fEZ8T9

I do see this potentially shifting the calculous in selecting where to register a ship. You have ships owned companies in larger powerful western nations who don't want to let ships filled with their own citizens dock. The places they are registered in don't want them either because they are not their citizens and not their ships. And honestly, they kinda had it coming. If you a British owned and registered ship, of course your government will help you, but when you decide to register in some other country to exploit a legal loophole, when would you expect any help.

61:

There's very little if any toilet paper hoarding going on.

There's a scattering of greed-heads trying to buy lots and profiteer. These seem to mostly be discovering that there are laws about that, and various institutions are controlled by people grumpy enough to enforce them.

But mostly there's a fundamental supply chain problem; domestic TP and institutional TP are not the same thing, are not shipped in the same ways, and are not (generally) made by the same companies. Because "sanitary paper" is high-volume and low-margin, everybody has excruciatingly detailed demand models and builds just enough capacity to meet demand if they run the plant 24/7.

So when you send everybody home to shelter in place, you produce a big uptick in domestic demand -- thereabouts of 40% seems to be the accepted figure -- while you reduce institutional demand sharply. But you haven't, and in the short term you cannot, increase the supply of domestic TP; there's a carefully optimized capacity that already runs flat-out and delivers just-in-time (so no stockpiles!) to retailers. Instant real shortage.

Same thing is happening with bread flour and baker's yeast; I expect there's a bunch of other stuff that's lower volume and more difficult to notice.

62:

Anyway, I spent an hour last night ironing a stack of kerchiefs to make no-sew face masks.
Do you have an instructions link? This (short video at link) with a bandanna square looked workable if one has rubber bands the right length (though string with slip knots might/would work too.)

#coronavirus Make your own masks in 20 seconds: 1.5 feet (50cm) x 1.5 feet (50cm) material and two rubber bands @LarsG_LEV "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" 👍

See cochrane meta-study: Simple (non-N95) masks work well enough https://t.co/sLqiQGa2AG#ncov2019 https://t.co/if78MiAxSY

— Daniel Bilar (@daniel_bilar) March 31, 2020


Graydon: this medium piece (which you may have seen) lays out the domestic/commercial toilet paper supply chain issues:
What Everyone’s Getting Wrong About the Toilet Paper Shortage - It isn’t really about hoarding. And there isn’t an easy fix. (Will Oremus, Apr 2, 2020)
I'm assuming it's accurate; it's at least plausible.

SBH (& Charlie): That cruise ship story is very amusing.

63:

Oh, it gets better. Sooo much better. [Here's the 'real' story, but it's so bizarre]

First off, some real conspiracy theory: Long twitter Thread in Spanish - random blogger with an interesting theory. TL;DR Navy ship had it's own outstanding debt issues so there's an entire anti-Maduro angle going on about unpaid debts on ships etc.

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1246103568320512001.html

So, in Jan they may or may not have had a limited bailout: https://www.cruiseindustrynews.com/cruise-news/22223-one-ocean-expeditions-inks-deal-with-new-partner.html

But then they don't: https://www.travelweekly.co.uk/articles/354659/one-ocean-expeditions-cruise-line-set-to-go-into-administration

And they cease running cruises:

One Ocean Expeditions; latest cancellation is its January 17 Ultimate Antarctica departure.
https://karryon.com.au/industry-news/hurtigruten-sets-record-straight-about-one-ocean-expeditions-partnership/

Then it gets a bit weird - there's a media blank where follow up stories should reside. No more rescue news, no more hints that they're not stuck and so on.

IAATO lists them as "no longer in good standing" years ago and it's still in place - but are currently up to date with their COVID19 stuff: From the first emergence of COVID-19 in China, IAATO Members have been clear in their priorities; the wellbeing of visitors to and returning from Antarctica and the protection of the region's wildlife. All vessels scheduled to depart for the peninsula and/or the sub-Antarctic islands have ceased, or been postponed due to new regulations imposed at Antarctic Gateways.
https://iaato.org/en_GB/home

So, the industry in the area is at the very least saying: HELL, NO, NO CRUISES NOAW, as you'd expect. Chile isn't Antarctic, sure, but: on the 17th Mar, we have this:

Coronavirus ban: more than 100 Australian doctors and dentists stuck on cruise ship off Chile
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/17/coronavirus-covid-19-australian-doctors-dentists-stuck-cruise-ship-coast-chile

... But this non-standing member suddenly chirps up that they have listed a program from 28th Mar - 10th April in the middle of COVID19, running to the 'Chilean Fjords' who will be quite happy to have them [spoiler: NOPE] - so by their reckoning, they should have at least been past the Panama by now. (Wrong terminal but worth checking http://www.waypointports.com/panama-canal-bookingauctionsystem/ for the RGSC Resolute slot)

March 28 - April 10, 2020
https://www.oneoceanexpeditions.com/south-central-america/chilean-fjords

On the 30th, they're just off Venezuela (which, logically, they should have already passed, surely?), lose an engine and they file a report with Columbia about it: https://www.columbia-cs.com/statement-on-rcgs-resolute-incident/

Venezuelan military aren't happy and fire back a response: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Foteandodesdelacofa.wordpress.com%2F2020%2F04%2F02%2Fla-confesion-del-capitan-del-rcgs-resolute%2F

But... none of this makes any sense at all. At all. The narrative is 100% bonkers.

~

*Nose wiggle*

64:

The funny thing is, I don't think many people are hoarding toilet paper; it's just that household consumption jumped ~40% with everyone staying home, and the TP industry is split into commercial/residential, and is low-margin and can't increase production on a dime. This medium piece was a really interesting read:

https://marker.medium.com/what-everyones-getting-wrong-about-the-toilet-paper-shortage-c812e1358fe0

65:

"But mostly there's a fundamental supply chain problem" - with toilet paper.

There was a figure going round about 3 weeks ago that Britons had, apparently in a bit of a panic, bought £1 billion more stuff in supermarkets in short order compared with the previous year, and this was a Bad Thing. But that only equates to £15 per head of the UK population. With suggestions that schools might close and, initially, that you should avoid restaurants, clubs and pubs, plus cinemas and theatres after which you might have a takeaway, you'd think people would on average have spent more per head than £15 on home supplies like food, drink and loo rolls.

Early in March, before the formal lockdown, I went Bristol to London and back on a 9-carriage GWR train that seemed pretty empty. I am pretty sure we could all have fitted into one carriage, as even then there were a lot of people working from home (admittedly I was not going at rush hour in either direction).

Back to loo rolls - https://thepooptool.com/ tells you that with a pack of 24 rolls a 4-person household has 72 days' supply. Of course, an accurate figure depends on your personal pattern of usage.

66:

I'd buy it :)

67:

Charlie Stross @ 29:

My point (which I thought was obvious) was whether or not your average reader would be.

It shouldn't matter: I aim to make things obvious from context. (There's just not quite enough context in a 1400 word snapshot.)

Well, FWIW, I didn't know "Davvening" was Yiddish/Jewish slang, but I did twig (from the context "the prayerful rocking") that the young man was rocking back & forth, and now that I know that it is Yiddish/Jewish slang, I can see how it might come from the way we see people praying at the "Western Wall" in Jerusalem.

68:

whitroth @ 32: But, Charlie, leave out the rape, and I WANT to rob and kill the ultrawealthy...

"Elite panic" is self-fulling prophecy. Trying to keep the hoi polloi under their thumb the ultra wealthy create the very conditions that make people want to kill them.

I don't look forward to the time when they finally push the masses over the edge, but will have no sympathy for their plight if I should live to see it.

69:

That's probably the one I'm using, since I got it off FacePlant. I'm using one that's more origami fold (fold edges to center line, then fold folded edges in again to center line), because that way I can insert the coffee filter. The other modification is that I'm using an elastic cord loop tied together with two fisherman's knots, because I have a big head and rubber bands (let alone hair ties) were too short to fit).

Note that I haven't tried wearing this for an extended period. The advantage is that if it fails, I'll just go bandito (hankerchief over lower face) because I have worn those for hours.

70:

Sugar seems to have disappeared along with the flour and yeast. Everybody's baking cookies, it seems.

The humorous part for me was that seltzer water had disappeared. We like making our own fruit sparklers. But all that was left was sweetened tonic water. This was rather odd, as you'd think people freaking out would want the stuff with the quinine, rather than the stuff that's just carbonated. Assuming they're thinking, which is, of course, dubious.

71:

Aaagh! I’m so so sorry about reality outpacing your book, and I’m sorry for myself as now I won’t be able to read it, and I really want to after that first chapter! Man. It was so good. 2020 sucks.

72:

Bill Arnold @ 62: Graydon: this medium piece (which you may have seen) lays out the domestic/commercial toilet paper supply chain issues:
What Everyone’s Getting Wrong About the Toilet Paper Shortage - It isn’t really about hoarding. And there isn’t an easy fix. (Will Oremus, Apr 2, 2020)
I'm assuming it's accurate; it's at least plausible.

That's interesting. I thought it was just that Covid-19 scared the shit out of people, hence an increase in demand.

73:

With cruise ships doomed and airlines also in deep trouble, is it time for Zeppelins to make their comeback?
A hybrid fuel cell/ hydrogen envelope combined with solar panels to top it up, and its a climate fighting alternative again.

74:

Narmitaj @ 65: Back to loo rolls - https://thepooptool.com/ tells you that with a pack of 24 rolls a 4-person household has 72 days' supply. Of course, an accurate figure depends on your personal pattern of usage.

I buy in bulk because it's cheaper. I usually get the Costco 30 pack; 5 sub-packs of 6 rolls. I bought a 330-roll pack back in October 2019. Call it October 1st.

I opened & loaded the first roll of the last 6 pack around March 9, 2020. March 10 was my normal shopping day, so I was looking for another 30-roll pack.

I figure that's 24 rolls used in 161 days; about one roll every 6.7 days. They might last a little longer, because I'm sure I wasn't completely out when I bought TP in October, so I probably didn't start in on that 30-roll pack until November 1.

So, call it just about one roll per week. I still have 3 rolls left in that last 6 pack, so I should be good until Thanksgiving (although I'll probably be looking for another 30-roll pack around November 1).

75:

I had seen that Medium piece, plus I had a summer job between second and third year that involved learning about how institutional bathroom restocking worked. (Back in the days of the gods-be-feathered individual sheet.)

(We got tours of the sawmills in high school, but the relative value of pulp came up in of all things geography classes. If you want to know why there's a power dam in northern Ontario, it's an effective question to ask if there was a pulp mill around the time of the dam's construction.)

And, well, being twitchy about things. Your modern Japanese-tooth-pattern wood saw with induction hardened teeth is a marvel; I don't think all the money in the world could have got you one in 1980. People don't seem to have an emotional grasp of where all these cost reductions and quality increases come from and what it does to minimum quantities and minimum capital investment and suchlike. (And how much a lot of modern materials science resembles outright witchcraft; the shift in what "powder metallurgy" means, for example.)

Back when chaos was the kind of fashionable that got it into Jurassic Park, various persons would get shouty about "sensitive dependence on initial conditions" and emergent order and self-organization and variously dive off into bunches of math people really don't actually understand. That staggeringly capable, interconnected, global economy of stuff -- "the roofless seas a hostel, and the earth a market-place" -- runs on predictable delivery times as a substitute for a control mechanism. It's not that it's going to crash; it's going to get into a sequence of unknowable states with state changes for unknowable reasons at unknowable times. (If you can solve that, you've solved the general-case economic control problem, Marx's ghost wants to talk to you, and a bunch of mathematicians have Doubts.) The feedbacks are going to get connected to the thing that is not the thing. No one will know the price, because of a paucity of exchange. (Yeah, you still need to buy toothpaste. Your ability to buy toothpaste rests on the toothpaste manufacturer's ability to order packaging at the right time; iterate fifty times until you hit an refinery and the makers of big drill bits. Then do ingredients and the wear parts and consumables for the test and control equipment on the heavily automated production line. There is squeakly-fuck-all engineered resilience in any of this.) The mammonites are about to find out that money is a store of value because it is exchanged, it's not the crystallized love of god.

Autarky isn't much of an option; shutting things down so you can restart in some careful dependency order requires knowing that the dependency order is and having everybody stocked up so people don't just plain old die in the intervening time. (This was considered nigh-impossible as a post-nuclear-exchange reboot problem in the 1960s, even in supposedly linear cases like "restart water pump production".)

So when Charlie talks about near-future unpredictability, I wouldn't take that as a problem of detail.

76:

Just thought of a question, is chapter title U R DED inspired by the German title of “Halting State”, or by computer games in general?

77:

FWIW Davening is the Yiddish term for praying, which has also come to refer to the bowing motions often done during standing prayers, particularly the Amidah. The other word I used, Shuckling is the Yiddish word for shaking, also refers to the motion but is less common now.

78:

@various WRT toilet paper hoarding.

Maybe people aren’t actually hoarding, but for those of us who only buy large packs of it every 2-3 months, it’s come at a really inconvenient time.

79:

Seems like the logical thing to do would be to sell the commercial paper in retail shops. After all, if demand for household TP is up 40% then institutional TP should be down 40%.

OK, one-ply rolls or single small sheets aren't ideal, but they're flushable and don't leave ink on your bottom.

80:

I don't know if you remember it, but there was a mildly surreal black comedy back in 1986 called "A Very Peculiar Practice." It starred Peter Davidson as a new GP at the fictional "Lowlands University."
One of the mildly surreal elements was an English professor, who was going mad because he was trying to write a novel set in a university, and everytime he wrote a plot point, it would happen in real life.

That's you, that is.

81:

Completely different supply chain. No existing relationships or contracts. No real expectation anyone with any other option will buy the stuff. (Most of the institutional stuff these days is great big rolls you can't readily deploy in the home.) Plus angering your existing suppliers (so you get the increased domestic-supply-chain-production stuff last) and getting permanently branded as that place with terrible TP have to weigh on the executive mindset. Retooling takes time and is expensive, and the length of time social distancing will last is not known.

I expect a fair bit of dithering about this one.

82:

I entirely get that the timing is bad.

I think of TP as having an appropriate minimum quantity on hand of one full quarter, not counting emergency supplies. It's been a surprise and a revelation how many people don't.

83:

Terrifyingly clever. As a devoted reader and neurologist I’m sad I’ll never get to read this book. (As a physician I’m even more upset about the reason why.) FWIW, even a bricked (or in our era, infected) DBS can often be replaced, if that would provide a useful plot out.

84:

>Sugar seems to have disappeared along with the flour and yeast. Everybody's baking cookies, it seems

As far as NZ goes at least, the problem isn't flour, yeast or sugar. The problem is actually packaging. We are no longer a nation of bakers - we've outsourced the majority of that to supermarkets and commercial bakeries. So there's very little demand from the home market who are the ones who need the 1-10kg bags.
So the flour and sugar mills have plenty of stock and plenty of 20KG bags, but no little bags to pack in for the supermarkets.
And the bulk goods intermediaries like Bin Inn who could meet the demand are closed as being non-essential businesses.

85:

It's not murder if they're still breathing, right?

What it is, is they are thereafter certain they're dead: the implant that substitutes for the damaged self-cognition/self-recognition bits of the brain is burned-out. But they're still breathing and responsive.

Now I have the delightful idea of some CEO hauled in on a murder charge by one of the victims. Offhand I don't remember the Scottish equivalent of a District Attorney but I'm confident there are government employees whose jobs include saying, "This guy committed a murder. Bring him in!"

The CEO's lawyer would of course try the still breathing argument. Eloquent witnesses and prosecutors (change to appropriate Scottish title) could entertain the jury for a long time about being dead and who's responsible.

I am also made aware of how little I recall of Scottish major crime trial protocols.

86:

Well I'm only some random on the internet, but I've been reading your books for some time, and I just want to say noooooooo! The Rule 34/Halting State universe is one of my favourites among yours; just such a Scottish voice and such interesting characters. So I'd love to see another one!

I think I'm cursed... all of my favourite Strossian universes seem to be doomed! Singularity Sky, Freyaverse, now this!! Evidently I like the wrong sort of books.

87:

I note that said "cruise liner" is in financial trouble, but the Venzuelan guvmint - run by nutcase Maduro?
I suspect a monumental fuck-up, myself, coupled with even more greed & stupidity
AGREE that the narrative is "100% bonkers"
See previous line about greed & stupidity & re-cycle.

Hoarding ( @ 61 )
Decent flour ( for making bread ) & dried yeast can't be had for love or money ....
I've got about a week's supply left, maybe 2 weeks.
Um.
Sugar is starting to re-appear.

SS
That would be the Procurator Fiscal I think

88:

That would be the Procurator Fiscal I think

Thank you. I would not have guessed that; from the titled I'd have guessed the person dealt with financial matters. Per Wikipedia the job has expanded and mutated over the centuries.

89:

Graydon @ 65
Yes
The amount of money available is irrelevant.
It's 1970 - youhave the full resouces of the US space programme at your disposal.
Make ONE CD ...
Um, err ....
People simply do not comprehend this sort of thing.
It's 1938
Make ONE transistor ....
etc

90:

"The Lambda Functionary"

I say, that title's really rather good.

91:

As with all absolute rules, that is at best unreliable, and at worst very harmful. In my time, I have made more mistakes by deducing stupidity (when it was conspiracy) than in deducing conspiracy (when it wasn't).

Regrettably, at least in the UK and USA, our governments and similar organisations run on interlocking conspiracies. Autocracies like China and Russia have a different mode of operation. And so on.

92:

"The amount of money available is irrelevant.
It's 1970 - ..."

It's 1836, you're Nathan Rothschild and so wealthy you loaned the Bank of England money to avert a liquidity crisis.

Make the antibiotics to cure ONE abscess.
Or die.

93:

RCGS Resolute
VERY interesting
BBC News item here
"Fleet Monitor" comment here Looks like Maduro's goons were ordered to do something really stupid - at first galnce, at any rate.

As we have all noted of late, stupidty is the one thing there is plenty of to go around, unfortunately.

94:

"pro-NATO "

Really? Is NATO still a thing?

In a world in which the US is stealing German healthcare equipment during a pandemic?

95:

Regrettably, yes. I could also remind you of the time the Germans discovered that one of GCHQ's major tasks was to spy on German commercial communications, and pass them on to the USA.

96:

That worked for me, although I didn't know where it came from. Managed to figure "peeling" as something not too far off your subsequent explanation, too. As is often the case, the more peripheral aspects of your story, being unpleasantly plausible, are more disturbing than the obviously fictional thing that takes centre stage.

Words in established dialect usage usually don't stop me at all; either I know them already or I get them straight away and add them to my list of neat expressions for my own use. Neologisms on the other hand often really piss me off, but in this case "peeling" has the right logic to it, and its derivation from existing slang is straightforward.

The sense of place thing works a treat. Which is slightly weird because I've never been to Edinburgh, but it still feels familiar. I get the same thing from Irvine Welsh.

Second person grates, as it always does whoever does it.

Overall, I was definitely wanting to read more even after that short piece, and I add myself to the list of people who have said what a shame it is that we're never going to.

97:

I have a few packets of yeast which are currently no good to me as I have lost the paddle out of my bread machine and can't identify a replacement other than by trial and error. I will be going to the post office in about a week and a half so I could send them to you then if you still need it.

Hadn't noticed about sugar. Bread is the only thing I ever use it for, so 1kg lasts for ages.

98:

is chapter title U R DED inspired by the German title of “Halting State”, or by computer games in general?

Neither: it's a statement of narrative viewpoint. (The rescuer who is intent on the zombie is himself a zombie, albeit with functioning implant.)

99:

FWIW, even a bricked (or in our era, infected) DBS can often be replaced, if that would provide a useful plot out.

I was planning for this to be difficult, expensive, and dangerous -- widespread antibiotic resistance and a crapsack neoliberal dog-eat-dog world meaning no new antibiotics in the pipeline make brain surgery a dicey prospect.

Also, who's going to pay for a replacement implant for someone who hacked the DRM on their last one to get out of paying for it?

100:

That the / writer at "Fleet Monitor" (allegedly a specialist publication) cannot do the 5 min trawl it took us and produces this and also happens to be Russian makes us know this is FUD:

Much more so if the ship had tourists on board. Venezuela is notorious for seizing absolutely innocent merchant ships and crews, and treating them like criminals. What should Venezuela do in this case, is anyone guess, but fair and impartial investigation seems highly unlikely outcome. One more issue – cruise ship was steaming towards port of destination, no dire straits [note: both initial accounts list engine trouble / drifting for 1 day] or restricted fairways, and how did Navy ship manage to be hit by passenger ship, is anyone’s guess, too. It tells a lot about Venezuela Navy seamanship.
All in all, this story may be considered as a story with happy end. Nobody died, cruise ship with dozens of crew and probably, passengers, avoided very unpleasant arrest with unpredictable results, the only loss being Navy ship. No big deal, I’d say.

The new official line is that the ship was "on the way to its new port"... which happens to be on Curaçao (which contains no shipyard able to refit this type of ship?) - so this ship has presumably headed along the coast of Brazil rather than Panama canal (cheaper / no fees / inspection ?). The Shell LLC that has been helping out is named (fuzzing applied): Happy Bunny Fun Times Cruises based in Germany / Cyprus and is mentioned in the Panama Papers (or similar DB of hidden asset networks). They also do not appear to own other Tourist Tour Boats (*cough* private fun trips?). There is still also no official change of ownership of company nor ship as required by maritime law - it is merely on "long term rental".

Happy Bunny Easter Ride @ Easter, during a pandemic, not properly listing manifest, owned by the three little pigs, running to strange destination given COVID19, leading to international incident that is being shouted about in times of heightened tension in the region at the same time the US Navy is having boats towed to Guam and running at less than top efficiency?

Greg: even your nose hairs must be wiggling at this.


But we'll leave it there. $$$ =/= Wisdom, after all.

101:

Offhand I don't remember the Scottish equivalent of a District Attorney but I'm confident there are government employees whose jobs include saying, "This guy committed a murder. Bring him in!"

District attorneys don't exist in any version of UK law.

Instead you've got the Police, and in England the Crown Prosecution Service (in Scotland it's the grandly-named Procurator Fiscal, or the Fisc). They're prosecutors, like a DA, but they're also unelected civil servants working for the Crown and they make go/no-go decisions on whether or not to prosecute on the basis of the evidence the Police provide them with.

As a matter of policy they don't generally proceed with a case unless they think there's a better than 50/50 chance of securing a conviction. Nor do they bother with plea bargaining as a rule, or with spurious lesser offenses -- they may go to trial with two options for the jury (e.g. "causing death by reckless driving" and "causing death by dangerous driving" was an example my now-dead father was on the jury for in the 1950s: "reckless" had a much harsher sentence, but was far harder to prove in court), but the general policy is to bring one charge which is clear as glass, and then offer a guilty plea for a lighter sentence.

But the big thing is, prosecutors in the UK are civil servants: so they're not trying to look "tough on crime" to the electorate to secure re-election, or using the prosecutor's office as a springboard to launch a career in politics.

(Nor do we have grand juries; they were abolished centuries ago.)

Most likely they wouldn't try for murder. They'd have a slam-dunk case for assault causing aggravated bodily harm (it effectively caused brain damage!), not to mention computer misuse (a minor offense in comparison). Possibly even attempted murder. But for a murder charge to stick, the victim has to no longer be alive by any reasonable definition.

102:

To add to your happy fun misconceptions, Scottish juries have fifteen members, can come to a verdict on the basis of only 12 of them (so some jurors can be discharged mid-trial without causing a mistrial), and there are three possible verdicts.

And a Sheriff is a junior judge, not a law enforcement official.

103:

All of these problems can be solved depending not on money available but on time.

In 1970, the CD (in prototype form) was only a decade away; the video LaserDisc hit the market in 1978.

The reason CDs didn't arrive until 1982-83 was that they had to wait for cheap solid-state lasers. Lasers were first developed in the 1960s and by the beginning of the 1970s continuous-wave gas lasers suitable for laser discs were available, but at a ridiculous (by modern standards) price. So the tech started out as an alternative to video cassettes, back when a VCR retailed for £700 (and a typical annual salary was around £2000-4000).

I'm pretty sure you could have manufactured a CD player and a disk before 1975 ... if you (a) knew it was possible, and (b) weren't constrained by trying to manufacture the disks and players to a price point suitable for mass commercialization. Going back much before 1968 would be difficult because of the need for fast switching speeds in the electronics and for a reliable continuous-wave laser. And your 1970 prototype CD would indeed be Moonshot levels of technology, albeit with a bright commercial future.

Similarly, antibiotics for a dental abscess ... they began to show up from 1910 onwards (for syphilis, initially: Salvarsan): the compound was first synthesized in 1907 but what made it into an antimicrobial was early mass-screening of potential drugs, which Ehrlich began around 1900. The screening protocol could in principle have been invented a lot earlier, and the antibiotic properties of moulds were subject of research from the mid-19th century onwards; Fleming discovered Penicillin pretty much by accident in 1928, but it could have been spotted decades earlier.

So: your point ...?

104:

Second person grates, as it always does whoever does it.

The reasons for second person in this case:

1. It's a trilogy. In the second person. Because I'm stunt-writing. Deal with it.

2. The narrator, who in normal circumstances would be a tight first-person viewpoint, thinks he's dead. He's a zombie. Only a glitching brain implant gives him any sense of identity, and it's thoroughly alienated from his body. So the narrative reflects the narrator's sense of identity.

There are some very weird variants on Cotard's Delusion; one close relative is Capgras delusion, in which the afflicted thinks that a pet, spouse, child, or other person close to them has been replaced by an imposter -- in extreme cases everyone is believed to be an imposter or an alien -- but there are oddities such as "I'm fine, except my left arm died three weeks ago and is putrefying, can you amputate it please, doctor?"

105:

I am very much not the person to write a legal procedural, even in the US.

"Assault causing aggravated bodily harm" sounds like a straightforward charge with a good chance of conviction.

The surreal implications of a zombie victim insisting he'd been murdered seem to promise complications - but Cotard's Delusion seems to be incompatible with personal indignation over being murdered. It sounds more likely to be a problem for the Ankh-Morpork Watch than for any of your characters.

106:

There are some very weird variants on Cotard's Delusion; one close relative is Capgras delusion...

Very weird is putting it mildly. The human mind has some bizarre failure modes.

Speaking of Capgras Delusion, delusional misidentification syndromes also include the inverse Fregoli Delusion, the conviction that various other people are actually the same person in disguise. The pathologies can be different, though the expressed symptoms are conceptually similar.

I read there are cases of both appearing in the same patient, which I imagine was an adventure for their doctors.

107:

Don't bet on computer misuse being the lesser. If they can claim it was done for intimidation or a political purpose, it immediately falls under the Terrorism Act (courtesy: That Bliar).

(1) In this Act "terrorism" means the use or threat of action where -
(a) the action falls within subsection (2),
(b) the use or threat is designed to influence the government or an international governmental organisation or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, and
(c) the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause.

(2) Action falls within this subsection if it -
. . .
(e) is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.

108:

Very weird is putting it mildly. The human mind has some bizarre failure modes.

Given Host's piece, current world events and issues with DSMV[0], here's an analogy[1] that goes along with the recent oil stuff[2]: in a crisis, it's the systemic issues that get you.

BMO Says Senior-Living Occupancy Risks 50% Drop If Move-Ins Halt

Full turnover in senior living usually occurs about every two years. But now during the outbreak, the bank expects occupancy to fall below 70% as tours are canceled and fears of infection scare away potential new residents and their families, BMO analyst John Kim said in an interview.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-03/senior-living-occupancy-could-fall-50-within-a-year-bmo-says (Bloomberg April 3rd 2020 - note, it's paywalled but coded badly. If so inclined, you can easily halt the load to see the full article)

So... if all your care facilities are owned by Corporates who used the steady-state revenue (after all, population is aging, intake can only go up, fastest growth market in the west etc) to leverage themselves into either expansion, Mcmansions or yachts (while still paying the peons the worst wages you can, leading to some nasty off-sets in the bottom end of the market[3]) when a pandemic comes along (also nixing other major locations where quasi-rich people retire: cruises and hotels) you've got a supply issue.

Oh, and all those mortgages which are designed as predatory as possible so fleece the medium-wealth ones to pay for said care home so you get the real estate at the end? Whelp, turns out they're also reits and leveraged into the stratosphere, since stinky capital plays ultra-dirty. Whelp, turns out your intake would rather like to cocoon in place rather than get shipped to Pandemic Central[4] and since the Tee-Vee (which you've been using for ages to hawk said products) is now panic central[5], well...

Turns out your Zombie problem isn't really based on the individual, but the system. So, let's say: what if Boney Jim isn't a victim of the demic, but the brain's way of dealing with a catastrophic failure in the system which reveals itself along the lines of massive cognitive dissonance (or, in more esoteric terms, a Paradox weapon). Boney Jim is lucky - young enough with enough neuro plasticity to not totally break, but it's bad.

Oh, it only hits the ones least invested in the system at first[6] and the mythology of the old system has slowly been dissolving for years but now even the top Brands are crumbling[7] but what next?

And what if, during all this time, instead of looking for something new / fresh / positive, you've been fighting the demic by actively destroying all the people with slight resistance to your demic?


That'd be bad. Really bad.

[0] Barbaric stuff in there & the years of mumsnet radicalism is just starting to bear fruits. :(

[1] grep is "crisis point" "reits" etc - ahead of the curve (!)

[2] Input and Output shock at the same time.

[3] ‘Alarming rise’ in reports of care home abuse in England https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/abuse-care-home-cqc-autism-learning-disability-whorlton-hall-police-a8969026.html

[4] Carnival Finds That Even 2021 Cruises Are Hard to Sell Right Now https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-03/carnival-finds-that-even-2021-cruises-are-hard-to-sell-right-now

[5] Apart from the worse types, where the 'Running Man' dream is still be sold, no reality here allowed!

[6] Unemployment in US and UK 'may be worse than in Great Depression' https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/03/coronavirus-uk-business-activity-plunges-to-lowest-ebb-since-records-began

[7] Coronavirus: Debenhams set to appoint administrators https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52156457

109:

(Aka - we think we know why Host's book got over-taken by Reality[tm], :( )

Anyhow, furthering the point. Wales resistance strikes once more:

First the Llandudno goats, and now this 😳 what is going on in North Wales right now? #clapforkeyworkers #clapforcarers #clapforNHS #clapforthisguy

https://twitter.com/TropicalGeology/status/1245792183199858691

And, er: embedded video is slightly NSFW, but worth looking at if you think your ZDemic isn't just getting started. Yes, it did happen. And it's only just April.

110:

Your reason 2 doesn't work for me. I deal with second person by setting my input filters to edit it out, so any implied subtlety never makes it far enough to actually be processed.

It wasn't intended as a personal criticism - as I said, "whoever does it"; it's a style I simply do not get on with no matter who the author is. It was basically an error message equivalent to "Warning: unsupported protocol: using protocol translation plugin, some features may not work". That's why I left it as a single bald sentence in my otherwise positive assessment.

I would almost certainly have picked up on what you were trying to convey after I'd had a bit more time to get to know the character. Which by the time I got to the end of it I was pretty keen to do...

111:

we do not generally deal with them using shotguns and baseball bats even if they're so contagious that contact might kill us.

We note that Sir. K Star, meritorious Knight of the Realm, member of the Trilateral Commission has been successfully yoinked into power with all the attendant cheering of the middle classes and obvious blue check-marks. Fix is in, well done boys, you managed to win the last war. Wait, sorry: you lost that one too, really, with all that Libdem / CUCKUP stuff. So the UK is effectively a one party state now.

So: it's in the bag, barring all those unemployed people and the next generation noticing things.

Do they even read the papers[1] or are they all 100% sure that the phone notification telling them that they were on the right lists weren't lying? Or that their little stashes will pull them through because they have degrees[2]? In the history books[2.1], this could possibly the moment when everyone points and goes: "What the FUCK did they think would happen?"

Brexit ahoy!

~

Anyhow: all we wanted to do was meet the elves. Locked away[2], we promised not to interfere with your physical realm, so we're inline to be in the pile of Zdemic waste.

Scottish juries have fifteen members

Bit of a problem when 95% of those eligible are actually functionally insane & can't even spot systemic issues, isn't it? Even the professional ones are locked in by primitive stuff like DMSV and economics that hasn't dealt with non-linear systems functionally for decades.

Marat/Sade - full version.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJc4I6pivqg

p.s.

[redacted] exist. Or did. Complicated.

[1] Investors are pulling an unprecedented amount of money from the market as coronavirus rages. Here are 7 records they've set this week alone. https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/coronavirus-economic-impact-record-stock-market-bond-fund-outflows-recession-2020-3-1029017359

[2] UK university workers face a political struggle against Johnson government The strike by up to 50,000 lecturers, technicians, library and other university staff has entered its third week. It was called after the University and College Union (UCU) failed to reach an agreement following months of talks with the employers’ organisations. https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/03/03/univ-m03.html

[2.1] Look: Suicides rates in UK increase to highest level since 2002 https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/sep/03/suicides-rates-in-uk-increase-to-highest-level-since-2002 and that's *before* the effects of this kick in.

[3] -.- For real, just not how you think it works.

112:

Re: toilet paper shortages.
I don't worry about it, having learned while living in rural Morocco in the 70's that TP is an unnecessary luxury and a bane on the environment. In many places in the world, the plumbing doesn't allow TP use and knowing how to do without saves money. You just have to remember the *strict* rules about left hand/right hand.
https://www.fastcompany.com/90363370/theres-an-overlooked-product-that-you-definitely-use-thats-destroying-the-worlds-forests

113:

Actually, an alternate DDR could use the term "real existierender Sozialismus to desccribe itself; wiki article in German, but it links to an Englisch version.

the idea was to indicate the DDR came somewhat short compared to the Communist ideal, but it was what could be achieved under the circumstances.

(I'm not that deep into Marxist-Leninist jargon, but apparantly in it, socialism is a state where the proletariat becomes the ruling class, captures the state and the means of production; communism would be the abolition of classes and thus the state; I might be wrong, of course)

114:

I guess it has become something of a positive feedback loop; some people hoarded toilet paper, so the stacks are empty; which means other people see there is no toilet paper and buy it themselves in bulk; which means the stacks are empty, which means...

When pressed by my parents to look for toilet paper, I tried to be the voice of reason, indicating we already have about 5 big packages; sadly, my family dynamics are, err, entertaining...

On a somewhat lighter note, next time I might go into the shop mumbling "I am Cornholio! I need T.P. for my bunghole!".

115:

Charlie @ 44:

It's not murder if they're still breathing, right?

No, but it might well be Reckless Injury, and if done on a sufficiently wide scale it might even be Reckless endangerment of the lieges. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culpable_and_reckless_conduct#Reckless_endangerment_of_the_lieges


116:

Pigeon
The Boss managed to get a small mini-brick of actual fresh Yeast ( not the freeze-dried stuff I usually use ) ... I will be experimenting .....

TO: Seagull's paranoia
How Resolute got its name & other useful details

CHarlie @ 102
FOR "SS" - Those three verdicts being:
!. Guilty
2. NOT Guilty
3. NOT PROVEN - & you can be re-tried for a not-proven verdict if new incriminating evidence shows up....

117:

[real note of seriousness here since 99% of anyone still reading won't be filtering through the UK / US politics at this time, but it is tangentially aligned with Host's piece.]

Pointed reminder of what UK politics reached, very, very recently, while Labour was running on a fairly social democratic platform:

Labour MP STUNS John Humphrys – 'to be anti capitalist you have to be antisemitic'

https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1095298/bbc-news-today-labour-party-antisemitism-jeremy-corbyn-john-humphrys-siobhain-mcdonagh - Express, Mar 4th 2019

Without putting too fine a point upon it, you're about (allegedly) to experience the worst depression since the 1930's. Always a good reference point.

Perhaps as "political allies" you might consider the rhetorical flourishes and panic used to link the two separate categories (including said mural) as perhaps not quite as good an idea as you thought it was. You also might want to think a little about what the CIA terms 'blow-back' when you're gaslighting vast swathes of fairly poor people that none of it happened and 'now the sensible people will be in power'.

When they all just got made unemployed and are about to get Austerity 2.0 on steroids, by the look of it. And Farange and co are grinning like Hounds.

Now, if you're unaware of stuff like this:

The Unbelievable Story Of The Plot Against George Soros

Finkelstein isn’t as famous as his contemporary Roger Ailes, but he is a hidden link that runs through the contemporary Republican Party, leading from the libertarian icon Ayn Rand to the cynicism of Richard Nixon and finally on to Trump. Finkelstein was a New York City kid. The son of a cab driver, he met Rand while he was a student at Columbia University in the early 1960s. He went on to work briefly as a computer programmer on Wall Street before becoming an early exponent of the art of polling toward the end of the decade.

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/hnsgrassegger/george-soros-conspiracy-finkelstein-birnbaum-orban-netanyahu

It might be a good time to know the term "lol buzzfeed" and notice that your "political mastery" is extremely transparent and The Young[tm] have read it. We know that most people don't watch the macro-spread of entire industries[0]

We're no Twitter Influencer, but hoo-boy, there are lot of people showing their absolute lack of self-awareness when it comes to the macro socio-political-economic arena.

So - who are the real Zdemic here?

Probably not the person squawking like a canary.

~

Apologies to Host: now gets closed back in box (we're actually very polite / gentle / sparkling, or where, once).


[0] Lot of unemployment about to hit The Media as well - no advert revenue if the advertisers all go bust.

118:

We note that Sir. K Star, meritorious Knight of the Realm, member of the Trilateral Commission has been successfully yoinked into power with all the attendant cheering of the middle classes and obvious blue check-marks. Fix is in, well done boys

I'm withholding judgement until I see how he performs in his new role: Starmer is good at looking posh, and like Tony Blair he's a former barrister, but unlike Blair he's a working class lad who made good and was on the picket lines in the 1980s. So there's no telling which direction he's going to break in.

What I will note is that it'd be a terrible portent if he takes Boris Johnson up on his offer of joining a national unity government. Righ tnow the Tories own this crisis (and Brexit). And, as Napoleon noted, you should never interrupt your enemy when he's making a mistake.

In case it's not obvious, my take is that Corbyn fucked up completely over Brexit, by not recognizing it as redefined class struggle of the first half of the 21st century. Like the Social Democrat/Socialist split in European politics in 1914 (Socialists remained internationalist and saw WW1 as a conflict within nationalist conservativism; SocDems were co-opted into their respective national struggles), he got suckered into playing by the other side's rulebook. If he’d looked back to Rosa Luxemburg/Karl Liebknecht as models Labour would have turned strongly anti-Brexit and avoided looking indecisive and allowing Tory wedge strategies a way in.

He might not have won if he'd done that, mind you, but it would have avoided the clear collapse Labour experienced last year. If he'd offered a pro-EU message combined with strong support for workers—a new deal on the NHS, universal basic income, and so on—he'd have had a fighting chance of redefining the battleground. And this is stuff we seem ironically likely to get from the Tories (now they’ve been confronted with a wartime situation).

119:

now they've been confronted with a wartime situation

This frame worries me a lot. (Not specifically from Charlie; that it's getting out there as the only way to have social unity of purpose about a pandemic disease.)

Hitler's War politics were informed by people who had been young during the Great War; they insisted on a simple objective, after which the war would be over. Churchill's insistence on unconditional surrender of the Axis combatants as the objective was not free from controversy, but the idea that there had to be a pre-defined condition for "it's over" wasn't controversial at all. Everybody who was making political decisions had lived through the Great War and was pellucid on the need.

That's not true of contemporary politics, even slightly. Perma-war is the norm for most of those now making political decisions. (Which perma-war varies, and I think that'll be important next election cycle, but I've been thinking that the geriatric grip on US (and UK) politics would shift for twenty years, so what do I know?)

Thing is, we can't beat a disease; it's not a thinking enemy that can strike its colours and surrender. It's pandemic and it's going to stay pandemic baring the nigh-miracle of a really effective vaccine universally applied. This isn't going to be over and there will be a next one. Approaching that as a war -- a period of supreme effort after which things revert to normal -- just empowers the klept. (Look at what's going on in the US with PPE; it looks like the admin is using federal powers to prevent "disloyal" states from importing any.)

The present need looks a lot more like structural change, which is a tough sell.
And it's not even clear what to do; there's a lot we don't know about the current pathogen.

120:

Flour could be an issue. Try a local bakery. Many,at least around here will sell you done flour and yeast. Yeast however is no necessary. Google up "sour dough starter". Essentially, you make some flour paste and leave it in a vented container on the counter. Like a bottle with seran wrap over it. The first day it will start to bubble up as all the microbes in it grow. Don't use it yet. Start small because it gets big fast. Say, 1/4 cup water 1/4 cup flour. After the first day add 1/4 cub water and flour and stir it up. The next day add a 1/2 up and so on. When it gets too big discard half. Now after a few days, it will stop bubbling up and look like it died. Keep adding water and flour every day. After a few more days it will start bubbling up again and take on a sour smell. At this point, the yeast has taken over the culture. The idea is for the yeast to out compete the other microbes. It does this by creating acetic acid, thus the vinegar smell. Now you have a real sour dough starter. You can store if in the fridge. You only have to feed it once a week now. To make sour dough starter,add flour and make a lump of dough. You let this "sponge" sit in a warm place for a few hours and grow even more yeast. Then you mix this in with your bread and that's the yeast. A good slur dough recipe will give you a more detailed description.

121:

So am I. Bliar was obviously an unscrupulous demagogue from the very start, though I did not expect him to be as harmful as he was; what I have heard from Starmer has been much better, but we have plenty of examples of 'working class' politicians who go bad when they get near power. Time will tell.

However, I disagree that we are likely to get what we hope for from the Tories, because they are going to back off much of what they have done (not least because it's not sustainable) and because much of what they have done is either giving money to those that already have it or is using the opportunity to push quite a lot of of their previous agenda through.

122:

"Presumably the people that stocked up on bottled water in case somehow, hospitals being overloaded and ventilators being in short supply caused the water to turn off, "

Eh, stocking up on bottled water is not unreasonable. Especially in a US urban area. Our infrastructure is very fragile.

The issue isn't hospitals, it's any kind of spiraling infrastructure failure, which is unlikely but non zero. But it generally wouldn't take a lot to shut down power and water for a couple of days, and widespread panic alone could do it.

I live in a very rural area and I have a well, so I'm somewhat insulated, but I keep food and water on hand as a matter of course. We've been without power for as long as a week, rarely, and there's usually at least once a year where it's out. In which case I can't really access the well water.

But generally, there's usually at least a few stretches when I can't get out every year. Having bottled water and non perishable food is generally prudent in any case.

123:

The local supermarkets figured out a very effective way to prevent runs. They stacked up a ridiculously large pile of toilet paper first thing when you enter. Turns out, walking past several cubic meters of the stuff is very effective at persuading people there is no need to panic buy it.

124:

"He might not have won if he'd done that, mind you, but it would have avoided the clear collapse Labour experienced last year. If he'd offered a pro-EU message combined with strong support for workers—a new deal on the NHS, universal basic income, and so on—he'd have had a fighting chance of redefining the battleground. And this is stuff we seem ironically likely to get from the Tories (now they’ve been confronted with a wartime situation)."

I'm seconding Graydon, here. This is Shock Doctrine, pure and simple.

In the USA the right is IMHO heavily informed by the 2008 Great Financial Collapse. They bailed out the rich, told everybody else that they could Go F* Youself, funded an astroturf Tea Party, and made off quite well.

Right now, in a scenario which could be a devastating blow to the GOP, they are going a *little* bit less so, but with the relief effort quite deliberately stolen by Trump and Co.

125:

Charlie
"Your take" but it's also a statement of fact: Corbyn fucked up completely over Brexit
Wrong about the "class struggle" of course, because even Chartered Accountants on £250k a year are "Working Class" from the p.o.v. of the tiny oligarchic minority trying & failing to run things.
They are still crapped on by the fuckwits of "momentum" of course, but that's not the point.
The current SD's are, of course strongly pro-Remain, it's the far left that are brexshiteers.
A modern Nazi-Soviet pact, in fact.
However: If he'd offered a pro-EU message combined with strong support for workers—a new deal on the NHS, universal basic income, and so on is spot on - but he didn't did he?
A far-left "socialist" who supported a fascist military regime that was murdering thousands of its own population, simply because it went to war with us, so we have to be in the wrong.
That amazingly stupid & self-harming action should have told anyone at all with any sense that Corbyn is a total fuckwit - shouldn't it?

Graydon
Thing is, we can't beat a disease; it's not a thinking enemy that can strike its colours and surrender.
But we can EXTERMINATE it, or render it so powerless as to be ineffective - we have done this to many diseases - why not this one?
Even an effective treatment, never mind a vaccine would make a huge difference.
Agree re, "Structural Change", though.
To what?
Ah, now that's a difficult question.

126:

But we can EXTERMINATE it, or render it so powerless as to be ineffective - we have done this to many diseases - why not this one?

If you want to exterminate a disease that circulates in humans, you have to have a vaccine; the vaccine has to be lastingly effective; the vaccine has to be cheap enough that you can give it to everybody (inside about half the time period of its effectiveness, every living human has been vaccinated); and you have to have a global consensus about the necessary political will to apply the vaccine no matter who objects or why.

Smallpox was a nigh-perfect candidate for all the vaccine parts and was still a hell of a job. Trying to get global acceptance today, after the bin Laden cover story and the rise of anti-vaxxers, would involve much more work.

COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus; no one has yet produced an effective coronavirus vaccine. Plus coronaviruses do not generally produce lasting immune responses even when you have a full-blown infection; the entire vaccine model (of priming your antibodies so you don't get infected) may not apply because lasting immune responses may not be available as responses.

(The efforts to produce SARS vaccines had some alarming failure modes; in one case, they got as far as the mouse model. The vaccine produced a strong immune response, hurrah! the result of the strong immune response was that on re-exposure to the pathogen, the immune system went berserk, causing death. (this is the mouse model, remember.) Oops. DO NOT skimp testing for any possible COVID-19 vaccines.)

If there's no vaccine and no extremely effective antiviral any time soon -- ten years is not an unreasonable expectation for producing either -- this stuff becomes the Uncommon Cold; you would expect to get it every year, and it might kill you.

So the only response at that point is a whole lot of mandatory testing. Which is going to be implemented by authoritarians who don't care about who lives or dies but who really care about making opposition to whatever they say impossible.

127:

Since the discussion has moved to socialism, perhaps I can point to this post I made on Reddit: Change My View where I claimed that socialists have no actual plan for how things should work. My view was confirmed; the nearest thing to a plan was a laughable idea involving two kinds of currency which would immediately create a class division between those who had access to real money and those who had to use "vouchers" redeemable only at their local cooperative store.

128:

well that was really smart: just at the moment that capitalism is at the brink of total collapse, & the entire world will be debating what's to come next, the UK has decided to no longer have an anti-capitalist opposition party. Good move. You're now officially irrelevant.

https://twitter.com/davidgraeber/status/1246430729074094082

We hadn't seen this (since he's not part of the shape we were looking at: his stance is expected & he's savvy enough to know how to peer a bit into the future), but it fits the sentiments.

Sir Starmer seems a decent chap & we're sure he is actually a good family man (rather than, say, the PM) - the issue is simply: he'd be a good Conservative politician in a political setup that wasn't as skewed as it is (and yes, we know about his 4th International Past, but that's kinda a given if you're politically aware and have eyes enough to see injustice in the world: if you're not an anarchist / flavor of Red at that age, then you should stick to the Markets)

~

Anyhow, personal message: if you're a member of a faith that loves its dragon slaying myths, don't use this as a taunt, esp. if you're running a media campaign to bait the living fuck out of a target list of Lefties in the UK and are too stupid to have noted that the universal -30% dip is fairly consistent amongst most Financially / Market dominated countries and everyone is on that timer (RIP Nigeria). Spoilers: the stupid hard-right also get ganked, just a bit later:

https://i.pinimg.com/236x/02/4d/94/024d9413082b79d7542d0b65b79b3a83--tarot-card-art-tarot-cards.jpg

Just sayin, some of us actually are in that game (Cat Goddesses, not Tarot: we prefer our luck a little more pure / undistilled), and might consider it... sacrilege.

129:

Agree re, "Structural Change", though.
To what?
Ah, now that's a difficult question.

Well, yeah; it's deliberately designed to be nigh-impossible to answer. You have to have solved everything before you can start!

Thing is, the folks who write specifications for stuff that has to work figured out ages ago that you don't need to do it like that. You write a functional spec, you say what should happen, and you don't try to define how. (This is the constraints part of a system model. The mammonite position is that there are no legitimate constraints, which is interestingly defective when it comes to trying to produce a stable society.) When you implement it, you get something inside your constraints; it is (presuming you picked reasonable constraints) definitionally OK. How you got it doesn't have to be named, comprehensible (necessary!) or inside any one person's head (even more necessary! it's a big old world and the taxonomy problem[0] gets mean at scale.) It doesn't have to use the same value of how everywhere; as long as you don't fudge the what and don't mix what and how, you should still be OK.

So, elements of what --

Income and asset caps. (Otherwise you don't have a roughly even distribution of agency and create a feedback toward controlling everything so your individual agency is retained (Bezos, say) which is bad for everyone else. Terrible system design. Do not want.)

Market mechanisms are fine if and only if the market is composed of peer entities capable of meaningful refusal. (So you can go down to the farmer's market just fine, and a bunch of business-to-business markets in whatever are fine, but the idea that you can have a market relationship with the phone company is NOT fine, because it's obvious nonsense.) (This is a "there should be feedback" rule.)

The limited liability corporation dies the death. Partnerships, co-operatives, and collectively-owned business models already exist; use those, with full liability. (Limited liability is "no feedbacks for me! no feedbacks for me!" and can't be tolerated if you want a functioning system.)

Collective organizations for housing, child care, etc. (Charlie points out that corporations are AIs and predatory on individuals fairly frequently; well, consider this "let's try multicellular life" by that same analogy. Today, this is effectively forbidden.)

Recognize that the profit motive -- "bring hither the money" -- and the profit measure -- "do other people agree this was a good use of resources?" -- are not the same thing. The former collapses into greed still being a sin. The later is only useful if the prices are accurate, which means you need strong public policy to make everybody keep all their costs on the books. (E.g., climate change should be on the fossil carbon extractor's balance sheets. Otherwise all their prices are false.)

[0] the only arbitrarily accurate description of the thing is the thing; all taxonomies are lossy

130:

Re: 'Happy Bunny Easter Ride'

First name that popped into my head reading this post was: so that's where Kim Jong-un went! Read somewhere that he's not been seen for about a month and that his sister is currently subbing for him.


131:

Re: 'Limited liability is "no feedbacks for me!'

Or liability for the safe disposal of returns.

Agree with most everything you wrote. Curious about how you got there because it's not standard economics.

132:

Hey, you got Hacker Newed, expect a steady stream of anti SJW people in your spam filter.

133:

Panama papers + DE / CY + Shell LLC + off the books usually denotes, well.

Many of them are extremely cosmopolitan[0], witty, love a good pun and think insane schemes like this are fucking hilarious.

They've also the clout to prod a few people 'on the books'[1] to spin it as a narrative that the .mil of said countries are happy to splash as fighting the good fight and no-one's the wiser.

We're sure in about a week there will be a lovely tale of some spy-game super-secret mission to rescue nationals from and everyone will forget about not using the shorter route or the oddities, while collecting tickets for and the good ship from the .

That's how this works, usually.


Doubt us? Just changed its nation[2] to Portugal with the new owner[3]. Want to see a magic trick / signature tune?

Wayback is pruned, apart from a single date: July 29th which is now... blank. It's 100% a signature.

But the flag nation was Bahamas when OneOceanAdventures ran it[4]. Work out why you'd bother to switch from the Bahamas flag when you just bought it using a Bahamas shell LLC to an EU flag.

*cough*


[0] Not in that ((())) way, but some are actually also IL nationals having also been RU nationals.

[1] Senators, Newspaper editors, Media who love the product

[2] https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/details/ships/shipid:370230/mmsi:255806208/imo:9000168/vessel:RCGS_RESOLUTE

[3] https://www.cruisemapper.com/ships/RCGS-Resolute-765

[4] https://web.archive.org/web/20180825211123/http://www.cruisemapper.com/ships/RCGS-Resolute-765

134:

This frame worries me a lot.

On the plus side, Bill Gates has apparently stepped up: he's funding seven vaccine approaches in parallel, Manhattan Project management style: develop them all, scrap the ones that don't work, no need to ramp up because if one of them does work it'll be ready for volume production immediately. "We may waste a few billion dollars", was the operative comment.

If the USA had a working federal government instead of a Mafia bust-out in progress, the CDC would have announced something like this a couple of months ago. But no, we're reliant of the benevolence of billionaires.

135:

If your answer about flags is "well, they are registered in Madeira", well:

https://www.scheepvaartwest.be/CMS/index.php/passengers-cruise/5719-hanseatic-imo-9000168

They sail under the Bahamas flag, same company.


(Note: we might be playing a joke here).

136:

Wrong about the "class struggle" of course, because even Chartered Accountants on £250k a year are "Working Class" from the p.o.v. of the tiny oligarchic minority trying & failing to run things.

Working class needs redefining, frankly.

If you do not own a house (own outright, no mortgage or loans), and do not have sufficient investments to return an average middle-management salary (say, £60,000 a year) and maintain its value), you are working class because your assets are shrinking relative to the value of capital.

(How big is the investment portfolio you need to provide that income? If you're creaming 1% off it, and it's growing at 2% per annum, then it needs to be around £6M. I'm guessing absolutely not less than £2.5M, quite possibly over £10M. As for the house, that's going to account for at least £0.5M -- you can get away with less outside the M25, but in London you're looking at £2M or more. Note I said "house", not rabbit hutch.)

Upshot: once you've squared those numbers, you're looking at about 0.1% of the population who qualify as "wealthy". The rest of us? Retail shelf stackers, neurosurgeons, army generals? All working class insofar as we aren't on the same side of the barricades as Capital.

137:

post I made on Reddit: Change My View where I claimed that socialists have no actual plan for how things should work. My view was confirmed;

You view being that smart political operators and scientists don't venture onto reddit?

Or are you, per the reddit stereotype, a basement warrior convinced that if the population would bow before you, you would make an excellent god-emperor?

138:

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/americas/2020-03-30/us-economy-uniquely-vulnerable-coronavirus

As the French prof who pointed us to this piece says, "As crazy as it is, this article does help explain a bit both Trump and BoJo's choices in the crisis."

Quote:

["In contrast, countries with growth models of the Anglo-American variety, especially the United States, tend to have weaker states, lower taxes, and large financial sectors. They have highly flexible labor markets rather than large welfare states, which means they ultimately depend on wages to drive growth. Since those wages have been buying less and less over time, credit cards, student loans, and medical debts have become a standard part of U.S. household budgeting. When those household budgets shrink sharply, their debts are not compensated by the shock absorbers that countries such as the United Kingdom and Germany have in place. When systems such as the American one are hit by shocks, they tend to bail out their financial systems to keep credit flowing and let the real economy absorb the blow through unemployment and austerity policies. The assumption is that with no shock absorbers in place, prices and wages will adjust quickly, capital will be redeployed, and growth will return without the need for state intervention.

[...]

Because the model is designed to adjust through reduced wages and employment rather than increased welfare outlays, political leaders can contemplate temporary unemployment benefits for a banking-induced shock, but not semipermanent cash transfers—which is what the British are doing—and a near-total collapse in asset values. The British solution is too politically toxic to be anything other than a short-term expedient in the American context. So, once it became clear that—at least according to the Imperial College London model—the epidemiologically correct response was to put the economy in hibernation for several months, U.S. leaders started looking for other solutions.

One alternative solution, put forth by U.S. President Donald Trump but with proponents in many states, is to simply “restart the economy.” The direct cost of doing so, according to the Imperial College London model, could be the deaths of as many as 2.2 million Americans—or, as Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick bluntly suggested in a recent interview, old people need to die to save the economy." ]

French prof goes on to say:

"Now, as a eurocommie, I'll reiterate my position that this entire crisis just highlights the ultimate failure, both moral and technical, of unregulated capitalism. I'm even starting to think it might lead to actual revolutions in thinking in the next couple of years.

However, this article also suggests that this crisis is actually destroying the US economy. As in, for good. If just half of this article is correct, then the US has definitely lost the n°1 spot to China.

Which might also raise several very tricky questions for the future of the world economy as a whole... As I understand it, China's ownership of US debt (about 1 trillion $) is supposed to protect us all from a full-blown trade war... But what if the US economy is beyond saving? Wouldn't dealing it the death blow become attractive to Xi Jinping? At the very least, Chinas has a lot of good cards in its hands right hand, and the US a lot of bad ones... This might explain why Trump (and Republicans) seem genuinely willing to let 1M to 2M elderly Americans die to save the economy... Maybe.

Not that any of this is good news for anyone. The US still is #1 militarily, and I've always thought that the US will nto be afraid to flex its military muscles to compensate for a shrinking economy.

TL;DR: buckle up, this might just be the beginning."

139:

Absolutely. Also effective testing and six other things. The list of pandemic preparedness this administration has been shutting off looks deliberate, it's so comprehensive. (I figure it is deliberate; whether cheap-deliberate or evil-deliberate hardly matters.)

Gates runs smarter than the usual billionaire, and presumably is hoping to go Full Carnegie in the history books somehow. (I doubt this will work. The unquestioned business brilliance produced a lasting malignancy which won't be overshadowed by anything good he could possibly do.)

I hope some vaccine works. I am generally pessimistic about an effective vaccine for a coronavirus at all, but would be delighted to be wrong.

140:

Re HN, the comparison in that HN thread with "Holocaust denial" was telling. (That was the thread, yes?)

Spent a few hours trying to arrange for online shopping/at-store pickup (because mask wearing still hasn't broken 50% in my area; too many DJT voters probably. Seeing a family of 10 going into the grocery store was surprising.). Was mainly curious about the online services (had not tried them previously); tried 4 of them. The online food shopping services are absolutely overwhelmed - this is almost certainly a seriously expanding job category and there are similar ones (e.g. delivery, though in the US the tipping-as-part-of-wage aspect needs serious fixing), and the capitalists involved will be doing their bit to maximize profits at the expense of the desperate unemployed. Something (including related services) to watch for sure.

141:

Dammit.

God has obviously learned from the famous lawsuit by the estate of Philip K. Dick:* this time, she's plagiarising before the work is published.

* Some years ago there was an April Fool's news item announcing that the executors of Dick's estate were suing God for plagiarism. (And rightly so, IMHO.)

142:

Agree with most everything you wrote. Curious about how you got there because it's not standard economics.

I might know two things about economics; I certainly don't know three.

Got there by thinking about "what does works look like?", informed by some systems theory and some control theory from operations research.

143:

All working class insofar as we aren't on the same side of the barricades as Capital.

Observation suggests that an awful lot of people will willingly join the Capital side in exchange for little more than doggy treats and a pat on the head.

144:

Head's up for host.

He has the Official Post-2016 Badge of Irony[tm] that's handed out like candy these days, proving he is no has-been. Aka: when gentiles accuse Jewish people of "famous trope X" (usually the more easy to understand ones) without an ounce of irony.

From HN, no link, about essay above:

This statement is so profoundly ignorant and offensive that it's hard to reply to it. It's almost literally equivalent to Holocaust denial - the Holocaust was very much about the poor German masses rising up to murder the wealthy Jewish elites.

File under: life post-Trump for a majority of even vaguely lefty Jewish people. Here's a great example (and is very funny - you have to read the entire saga vrs an extremely pretentious Oxford PHD student who is attempting to make a name, a la Screwton, for himself in the RW mediasphere):

Sigh, i've been vanquished. my judaism is simply a yu-gi-oh card, and I've blood libeled an Italian gentile somehow. And that Italian's name? Margarita McCain https://twitter.com/leonardocarella/status/1246108016493068289

https://twitter.com/inthesedeserts/status/1246112312437739520 3rd April 2020. Note: it starts off snippy, then gets brutal.

~

Note: it is, in itself, an entire genre of cringe. (If you need references to some of the jokes, well...)

145:

https://thespinoff.co.nz/books/05-04-2020/lockdown-letters-10-fiona-farrell-being-strong-being-kind/

The Lockdown Letters are worth reading for a different take on the inevitable collapse of society and the need for a strong, heavily armed aristocracy to rule the lawless peasants with an iron fist.

146:

ADMINISTRATIVE NOTE

I plan to go to bed shortly, and I don't want to wade through sewage when I check back here tomorrow morning. (Per comment 144, yes, Hacker News and the horde of dudebro tech startup wannabes is on the job.) So I'm going to close the comments on this blog entry soon, and will re-open them when I'm awake.

Normal service will be resumed in about 12 hours ...

... Aaaand Open again.

147:

Written just as Charlie was locking the blog down …

Paul
Which was, effectively, what the SovUnion had
Special stores & perks for the Nomenklatura & everybody else was living in the "socialist paradise" - yes.

Graydon
If you do away with "Limited Liability" a lot of real progress stops dead, because of the penalties.
There has to be Limited-Limited Liability route, of some sort - I think ( maybe )
...
@ 139
Yes - it's quite deliberate.
I hope it smashes them in the face in November - but they are openly trying to restrict the franchise & steal the election.
To requote Foxessa
TL;DR: buckle up, this might just be the beginning."
I never thought to see major Bank-Crashes, I never thought to see a major Pandemic, I hope never to see a major war, but ....

[ Update onn that: What are the prospects of a US civil war-ette/internal conflict if DT loses, big-time & refuses to accept it & nor do his "base" ... ?? ]

Charlie @ 136
SPOT ON
But ... "momentum" & the Corbynistas & the other ultra-left-loonies would put me straight into the "owner/exploiter class" - even though my annual income is about £12k - because they are idiots.
And probably even less than 0.1% - i.e. One in a thousand - which would translate to 60 000 people in the UK
I would suggest another order of magnitude down, to - 6000 = 0.01%

148:

Working class needs redefining, frankly.

Yes, exactly!

I've been trying to explain to people that if they have to work for a living, that makes them working class. Even if they feel like temporarily inconvenienced millionaires and own some stock or even an apartment they can rent out, they are working class.

If I would have gotten an Euro each time I've tried to explain to people that do not consider themselves working class although they are that obviously to me, well... I probably could by a pint or two.

This also probably explains at least partly why people vote the way they do - they don't want to be 'workers' so they vote for the parties whose actions benefit mostly rich people (though our Gini coefficient is relatively low. It's been gettin higher).

149:

I've been trying to explain to people that if they have to work for a living, that makes them working class. Even if they feel like temporarily inconvenienced millionaires and own some stock or even an apartment they can rent out, they are working class.

It has been forgotten since 1939-45, but during the Victorian period in England there were roughly ten sub-levels within "working class", ranging from homeless-and-destitute at the bottom, to prosperous property-owning professionals at the top -- publicans, shop owners, engineers.

The middle class was tiny, largely defined in terms of regulated occupations defined by statute law: doctors, surgeons, lawyers. Wealth overlapped with the upper 2-3 tiers of "working" class, and downward mobility was far easier than upward mobility.

Upper class, at the beginning of the Victorian period, was mostly inherited land ownership, which usually went hand-in-glove with hereditary lordship (because if you owned enough land you'd marry your kids to a down-at-heel nob with an inherited title and thereby your descendants would become upper class and you would be upper class by proxy). (Later on, the upper class increasingly overlapped with capital ownership as an alternative to land tenure as the industrial revolution gained momentum. But initially, land was the way in.)

The "thousand families" out of a population of 20-40M was ... yup, about 0.1%.

150:

"Working class needs redefining, frankly."

That is true, not least because it HAS been - from a meaningful classification of society to nothing more than tribalist polemic. I agree with your description of people, but not your classification.

Until about 1950, it was (usually) used to refer to the large class of manual workers who were essential to the running of society. It was also closely linked to educational achievement - i.e. how much FORMAL education they had. While the mandarins described them as "unskilled", they were in often as skilled as what the mandarins called "skilled manual workers" (*). And what's more, they were a CLASS - or two, actually, the rural and urban. By then the former had almost vanished and the latter were shrinking, and it was quite rightly said "we are all middle class now" - and, no, it was NOT Prescott who first said it, because it dates back to the 1950s or 1960s.

What Thatcher did was, arguably, to create an UNDERclass (Jones is a prat among prats), though it lacks the cohesion of the old working classes, a great many of whom are un- or under-employed. And the majority is largely unskilled, or has only skills that most of the population has. Things are not the same as in 1926, let alone the 19th century. Furthermore, there is often very little coherent distinction between levels of the non-plutocracy, again unlike earlier times.

Given that mess, I don't see that reinventing a set of class definitions will help - and DEFINITELY reusing the old ones as polemic doesn't, as we have seen over the past 70 years. I remember the vicious tribalism of Labour in the 1950s to 1970s, often targetted against the poorest in society, using it in exactly that way. To give Thatcher her due, some of her early actions were to cancel that - unfortunately, we have now rebounded to an even more extreme position, the other way :-(

(*) Consider farm, especially pastoral, workers and structural welders.

151:

That doesn't correspond with any of the definitions of "working class" that I have seen in (at least partly academic) writings. Prosperous property-owning professionals (including yeoman farmers) were classified as "middle class". But, even then, people were using such terms as much for polemic as analysis.

152:

Attempts to divide the population by "class" will always fail for exactly the same reasons that trying to divide them by "race" will; you are dealing with a multi-dimensional continuum rather than distinct categories.

According to the "works for a living" criterion Willie Walsh is working class, which renders the term so inclusive as to be almost meaningless. It's been observed that multimillionaires carry on working even though they could just stay in bed all day, so distinguishing between someone who needs to work to put food on the table, someone who could stop working if they accepted a huge reduction in living standards, and someone who "works" merely because they enjoy it is a non-trivial exercise.

This is not a new problem. The Soviet Union had a problem with the kulaks, "rich peasants" who had managed to accumulate some land and livestock of their own. Stalin solved the problem by simply killing all the kulaks.

153:

The middle class was tiny, largely defined in terms of regulated occupations defined by statute law: doctors, surgeons, lawyers.

My mother, born in the 1930s in England, says that her family was middle class because her father owned his own business. He was a photographer.

154:

Until about 1950

Nope, for the big picture I'm talking about the mid-18th to mid-20th centuries, and specifically the urban working classes (rural was in slow, steady decline throughout this period).

Things changed post-1950, which I'm assuming is within your lifetime: in particular we saw the emergence of educational credentialism as a way of gatekeeping access to employment, and the decline of working apprenticeships. (Hint: these trends slowly but inexorably undermined the unions by granting the credentialed some of the privileges formerly reserved for the professions, while steadily diluting their value.)

155:

In what sense does Willie Walsh work for a living?


156:

The cruise line business relies on several preconditions.

You first of all need a lot of middle-aged to older people with lots of disposable income and not much to spend it on. Then you need a world that doesn't mind what amount to floating mega-hotels turning up all over the place. You also need a world that will turn a blind eye to people using unrefined bunker oil as fuel (this is what is left after the more useful, lighter fractions have been distilled off crude oil); this is a dirty fuel and the diesel exhaust is particulate-heavy and contains lots of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.

Finally, you need a world where hyper-infectious viruses are rare. Cruise liners can just about get away with the occasional deep clean to get rid of norovirus epidemics, but coronavirus is just too easily spread on a cruise liner for these things to be viable now.

Personally, being autistic at the more intelligent end of the scale, I would absolutely detest being unable to escape from the overwhelming presence of people. Give me time on my own and limited interaction and I do just fine; enforced sociability is tiring and painful for the likes of me.

157:

This redefinition of class in the U.K. seems to fit fairly well.


Huge survey reveals seven social classes in UK http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22007058

158:

That's the post-WW1 definition. Remember WW1 was a huge social rupture point? Servants enlisted or went to work in munitions factories and never went back, and that's just for starters. My father's father and his brothers were Jewish wool merchants. Pre-1914, they were prosperous working class, more or less. By 1920 they were clearly middle class in the modern (much broader, post-WW1) sense of the term.

159:

Re: Limited liability

Depending on how you are personally defining 'limited liability', I at least 'slightly disagree'. I'm not a lawyer, so my pov is based on very limited personal experience/awareness of corporate law.

Okay - while corporate law may be a slightly different animal in the UK, according to this Harvard Law scholar's paper which also talks about the history of this concept, the current common USian held/advertised notion of limited liability is not what was originally intended nor is its associated self-promotion of being the winning-est strategy based on any evidence actually showing it to be evolutionarily best.

Nor IMO is currently advertised 'limited liability' particularly good for a healthy and resilient economy, tech development or societal progress. Wonder what this author thinks of Piketty because I see some commonality like maybe (gasp!) looking at raw/real data.

https://corpgov.law.harvard.edu/2019/08/29/a-new-understanding-of-the-history-of-limited-liability-an-invitation-for-theoretical-reframing/

Excerpt:

'I urge scholars not to assume that the convergence to full limited liability was an evolutionary drive to efficiency. The outcome of the convergence—full limited liability in all sectors including the financial sector—is not necessarily “first best”. The burden is on the dominant theory of limited liability to check and reconcile its predictions, not only with the 19th century economic growth and stock market expansion but also with the consequences of the 2007 crisis. The relatively new full liability regime of investment banks and their leverage ratios may have contributed to that crisis.'


160:

So was I, actually. Yes, the educational credentialism was new in my time, but the same association was there - just with the reverse causality!

Your definition of middle class is the subset that was received by the upper classes - what was in my time called upper-middle class. Your definition would include people who owned mines, factories, ships, trading companies etc., could afford to retire, and inheriting generations often didn't need to do a stroke of work in their lives. It makes a nonsense of definitions to call someone like that "working class".

The economic definition of British working class that I remember was essentially those people who owned nothing except the essentials of their life (possibly including basic housing), and had to work until the day they died (unless they had enough descendents to care for them). That's why pensions were such a political issue.

Now, in France and other places in Europe, things were very different, with a peasantry that survived FAR longer than it did in the UK, and some of those were very wealthy.

161:

I can assure you that many of my older relatives (i.e. adult before WW I) would have taken deep offence at being classified as working-class - some belonged to 'the professions', but more did not - and few (if any) were wealthy enough to live comfortably without working.

162:

Reminder that I'm discussing economics and using Marx as an analytical reference point. (Marx is outdated insofar as he was working in the mid-19th century, but his work was groundbreaking.)

The core distinction in Marx's class terms was "is your income derived from labour or from capital?" If you live by labour -- that is, if your income goes away if you stop working, even if your work is as a CEO -- then you're a worker. If you live off rental income, then you're capital (and presumptively of the owner class).

Marx's classes weren't an attempt at diagnosing social categories (they totally miss out gender and race), but about income.

163:

Mike Collins
Well, I do not fit into any of those categories, so that's an instant FAIL, then .....

Charlie
In which I am in agreement with Karl (!)

164:

JamesPadraicR @ 77: FWIW Davening is the Yiddish term for praying, which has also come to refer to the bowing motions often done during standing prayers, particularly the Amidah. The other word I used, Shuckling is the Yiddish word for shaking, also refers to the motion but is less common now.

Good to know. Another question. Is the 'A' in "Davening" pronounced like the 'a' in "Dave", or the 'a' in "davenport" ... or the 'a' in "sofa"?

165:

Robert Prior @ 79: Seems like the logical thing to do would be to sell the commercial paper in retail shops. After all, if demand for household TP is up 40% then institutional TP should be down 40%.

OK, one-ply rolls or single small sheets aren't ideal, but they're flushable and don't leave ink on your bottom.

A lot of commercial toilet paper is designed to be hard to get out of the holder so users won't use so much. You not only have to have the TP, but you have to have the special holder the roll fits in.

And it's often in 3 inch wide rolls. Household TP is always at least 4 in wide. On my most recent package it says each sheet is 4.2 in x 4.0 in (10.6 cm x 10.1 cm).

There was a period of years when I never bought TP at all. We were at Annual Training one year when the supply tent blew down in a storm. A whole pallet load of TP got rained on & they were going to dump it all in the trash. Most of it was still in unopened cartons & only a few rolls actually got soaked (and even those dried out after I put them on a table on my back porch & let the breezes do their thing). Most of it wasn't even damp.

A 40+ cubic foot pallet load of TP will last one person a long, LONG time. Waste not, want not.

166:

Yes, I had deduced that. The thing to note about Marx is that he was writing about a very different social structure from that which existed in Britain, and much of his classification and observation simply made no sense when applied to here, even when applied to income. Excessive application of Marx (*) to Britain has sent serious economic historians up the wall for a century! The pro- and anti-Marxist camps in Britain are NOT purely about 'left versus right' but as much about revisionism versus academic respectability.

Realistically, his classification makes a lot more sense in the Britain of today than it did in the 19th century! A possible division would be:

The bloated plutocrat class (tiny)
The parasitic class (still small)
The economically important class (most people)
The underclass (regrettably too large)

That's four divisions to your two, but is otherwise compatible.

(*) A lot of what Groucho said makes more sense than Karl.

167:

Elderly Cynic @ 95: Regrettably, yes. I could also remind you of the time the Germans discovered that one of GCHQ's major tasks was to spy on German commercial communications, and pass them on to the USA.

... who shared them with the German intelligence service. Ditto Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States spying on each other & sharing the information because most countries have laws against their intelligence agencies spying on their own citizens, but not against using information acquired by "allies".

168:

If you do away with "Limited Liability" a lot of real progress stops dead, because of the penalties.
There has to be Limited-Limited Liability route, of some sort - I think ( maybe )

There absolutely must not be, because it's a leak in the feedback, and it's a leak in the feedback used to get around the constraints by shifting things from the domain of constraints ("don't kill people") into the domain of contracts ("we agreed to this; sorry it didn't work out for you (you smoking corpse)".)

It's tough to define progress; I will note that the easy definition (lifespan, productive years, health, etc.) is nigh-all public spending. The greedheads insist that no one does anything but for profit, and asymmetric profit under keep-the-loot-forever terms, at that. Only it's entirely screamingly obvious that this is both false (bind! tcp/ip stacks! Salk polio vaccine! the entire social gift economy!) and harmful (all the necessary stuff that gets destroyed by profit-extraction being applied to it).

169:

Charlie Stross @ 102: To add to your happy fun misconceptions, Scottish juries have fifteen members, can come to a verdict on the basis of only 12 of them (so some jurors can be discharged mid-trial without causing a mistrial), and there are three possible verdicts.

We kind of have that in the U.S. Most major trials have "alternate jurors" who sit in the box & hear the evidence along with the regular 12. When the trial goes to the jury, the judge thanks the alternates for their service and dismisses them. Although in some jurisdictions the alternates are kept on until a verdict is reached in case one of the jurors is disqualified (or drops dead of a heart attack), in which case an alternate is selected to join the jury in their deliberations, which start again.

Just had an "Agatha Christie" moment ... suppose 11 jurors gang up on the 12th and drive him/her into heart attack (and #12 dies) à la Murder on the Orient Express.

And a Sheriff is a junior judge, not a law enforcement official.

But didn't the Sheriff start out as both? I mean many years ago when feudalism existed and the U.K. hadn't even come into existence yet, wasn't the Sheriff both judge & law enforcement officer (plus revenue collector and local administrator and ...)?

The scope of the Sheriff's duties has narrowed since then, and that narrowing followed different paths in the U.K. and the U.S.

170:

There absolutely must not be, because it's a leak in the feedback, and it's a leak in the feedback used to get around the constraints by shifting things from the domain of constraints ("don't kill people") into the domain of contracts

I think you can have limited liability, as long as it's not an excuse for diffusion of responsibility. That is: if a company by negligence or intent causes damage to people or property (including other companies) someone must be held responsible, and in serious cases face criminal penalties such as imprisonment.

Our current mechanisms for enforcing this are broken.

The classic example (in the UK) is the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster of 1987.

What the wikipedia article barely mentions: there was an attempt to prosecute (for homicide) after the accident, and while it failed, it established corporate manslaughter as a crime in English law. Unfortunately the burden of proof for this offense is high -- it's too easy to diffuse responsibility throughout an organization -- and the penalties hold the organization responsible, not the individuals. And the penalties, even under the 2008 Act, are inadequate to deter corporations effectively.

171:

But didn't the Sheriff start out as both?

Yes ... and note that it's not an office in English/Welsh law at all, it's specifically Scottish. (Remember Scotland was a completely separate nation until 1606 -- often at war with England -- and from 1606-1706 it was autonomous but shared a common monarch, sort of like Canada/Australia today.)

I suspect the term got imported with Scottish settlers in the wake of the Jacobite rebellions.

172:

There was an extra problem with the Herald of free Enterprise. P&O had JUST taken over Townsend Thoreson, so was responsible, but had a (reasonable) defence that they had not had time to sort out the mismanagement. There was an attempt to scapegoat one of the bosuns, but I can't remember which.

173:

The original (18th century) purpose of limited liability was useful.

Several people (investors) get together to do a thing, and risk only what they put in. Thus the incentive to do the thing (return on investment) is coupled with the risk (not lose everything for the possibility of a return). This can free up a lot of investment that otherwise would (and had) remain locked up in long term quiet things like land ownership.

Originally they were specifically limited in time as well. Do the thing for x years, then dissolve. Over the last 200 years there have been various steps transforming this limited useful thing into an unlimited size, immortal, profit maximization at all costs machine that is capable of transcending or subverting even the largest political entities. Obviously not optimal and actively destructive to our chances.

I'd love to see a rollbsck of a lot of those legal changes (corporate personhood, immortality, profit maximization mandate to name but 3, ability to nest endless shells). I'd hate to see the utility of an LLC disappear entirely.

Disclaimer - I have owned and do own an LLC, given than I am working within the constraints of our current system. I bought a failing business, it might have fully failed. At no point was I willing to risk any more of the well-being of my family than the amount I put into the business to save it. Now that I own it (and saved it) I keep it as an LLC because I could at any time be subject to some kind of lawsuit or predatory attack on the business that, if it were not LLC, could again come through and take our home etc.

That said, I am not a massive megacorp, nor am I predatory. I don't need it to be immortal, I don't need it to be a corporate person. I do need it to be limited to itself so that if it fails I don't bring down the whole family with it.

174:

Justin Jordan @ 122:

"Presumably the people that stocked up on bottled water in case somehow, hospitals being overloaded and ventilators being in short supply caused the water to turn off, "

Eh, stocking up on bottled water is not unreasonable. Especially in a US urban area. Our infrastructure is very fragile.

The issue isn't hospitals, it's any kind of spiraling infrastructure failure, which is unlikely but non zero. But it generally wouldn't take a lot to shut down power and water for a couple of days, and widespread panic alone could do it.

I live in a very rural area and I have a well, so I'm somewhat insulated, but I keep food and water on hand as a matter of course. We've been without power for as long as a week, rarely, and there's usually at least once a year where it's out. In which case I can't really access the well water.

But generally, there's usually at least a few stretches when I can't get out every year. Having bottled water and non perishable food is generally prudent in any case.

I keep a case of bottled water in my car. I have it to drink if I'm out somewhere without access to water and I keep it to fill the dog's water bowl when we're traveling.

People who live in the country often don't have "city water" piped in. They rely on wells. If the power is out, the pump don't work. If you don't have water stocked, you're going to have problems.

Some places the water that comes out of a well is not safe to drink. My two sisters solved that problem by buying water in gallon jugs. When the jugs got empty they'd put them in the car and take them to work to fill up with city water. But you have to have the jugs in the first place, and the only way I know to get them is to buy gallons of water at the grocery store. You just don't use those jugs once and throw them away.

In the past 45 years, since I moved in here, there have been at least two "boil water" advisories (hurricane damage to the water treatment plants). They came while the power was out & my electric stove wasn't working. If I hadn't had a stockpile of water, I'd have been in trouble.

I think I've mentioned before that I buy distilled water by the gallon to use in my iron (somebody's got to iron those shirts, and it looks like that somebody is going to have to be me). A gallon of distilled water will last me a long time. The empty gallon jugs refilled with tap water last even longer.

I do need to remember to write the fill date on the jugs & dump/refill them periodically.

175:

The German government was NOT happy, because the real issue was passing on that sort of information to USA competitors (including the commercial parts of the USA government). I have several cases of personal experience of how the UK bureaucracy does that sort of thing, as well as other cases I know about, including when it harms UK businesses. Yes, I do mean things like UK patent applications would somehow leak to the USA and someone there with no relevant research background would file a patent, thus preempting the inventor.

176:

EC
Thanks for that - I hadn't realised the Marx MIGHT have been correct - outside the UK.
The number of times I've told "lefties" - "Forget it - Marx was utterly wrong" & watched the resulting incoherent explosion of ranting nonsesnse.
Of course, I was usually referring to his predictions ....
Agree re Groucho, of course, especially: "There anin't no Sanity-Claus(e)"

No Limited LIability
No Railways, no steanships, probably no electric telegraph, etc ...
NOW THEN - try again, huh?
Because I agree about that there should be some means of pursuinbg the guilty, without removing the ability of useful developments, that are allowed to go bust.
"LL" was never designed to deal with atrocities like Bhopal etc etc etc .....
There has to be a way of squaring this circle.

Ah, Charlie seems to have nailed it: I think you can have limited liability, as long as it's not an excuse for diffusion of responsibility.
P.S. England still has High Sheriffs - largely a ceremonial office these days

177:

Update
Rocketjps
Precisely - that is exactly the sort of thing that Graydon has missed.
It's a very useful tool, but like all useful tools it can be & has been grossly mis-used as well.

178:

And the penalties, even under the 2008 Act, are inadequate to deter corporations effectively.

I am pretty sure you can't deter corporates at all. It's immortal, and it feels no pain.

Chapter 7 liquidation isn't a deterrent because it imposes general social costs (so there will be extensive diffuse political pushback) and because to a first approximation nobody running the thing - the brain cells, or at least the spinal neurons doing reflexes -- believes they'll ever be held responsible for anything. Even comprehensively impoverishing them wouldn't work because they really aren't capable of believing it will happen, or last.

My take on responsibility is that, well, you did it, you're responsible. Otherwise is to mock entropy. It's pretty easy to argue that the modern market economy is set up to mock entropy; the risk is distributed away from the agency. (The "can make choices" kind of agency.)

(You are certainly responsible; you might not be culpable. That's a different question.)

So there's these three interlocking issues; mammonite motives (by the philosophical necessities, death cults make decisions from which people who want to live don't derive net benefit), distribution of risk (aka assigning suffering to the helpless; austerity as a policy exists to make absolutely sure that the consequences land everywhere but on the people who took the risk, but it's not exceptional; it's of a piece with the whole profits-over-people approach to society), and the failure of political means, most obvious in the rise of a class from which it is impossible for the state to collect taxes.

Pretty much all of that avoidance-of-the-duties-of-citizenship works by leveraging the concept of limited liability; the infinity of disposable culpability sumps -- which is what limited liability does, it's a culpability sump -- is how the whole thing works. (Also note that the two things the doesn't-pay-taxes class rely on, lawyers and accountants, aren't generally permitted to organize on a limited liability basis; those are partnerships. You can see the change in the status of doctors from professionals to technicians (in the views of this class) in the change in medical organization, too.)

That would come with a crisis no matter how it happened or when it happened; that's, of its nature, a collapsing system. Someone has managed to connect the feedbacks to the stuff that can't change anything; by analogy, like connecting the steering wheel of a car to the turn signals and only the turn signals. Combine that with the atmospheric carbon dumping effects on the natural systems we need for life support and it's a large crisis.

And I'm pretty sure it starts with the whole idea of limited liability, because not only does that mock entropy, it asserts that the prices are wrong and you can't make them accurate. (That's pretty much the economic summary of colonialism; we're not going to use accurate prices, and you can't stop us.) Limited liability is what lets you extract profit from the water system that's poisoning its customers; it's what lets you sell fossil carbon for some approximation of your extraction price, rather than an accurate price.

179:

A lot of commercial toilet paper is designed to be hard to get out of the holder so users won't use so much. You not only have to have the TP, but you have to have the special holder the roll fits in.

No you don't. A roll sitting in the open (or an open box with those individual sheets) is better than nothing. Not elegant, but adequate.

180:

Graydon @ 139: Absolutely. Also effective testing and six other things. The list of pandemic preparedness this administration has been shutting off looks deliberate, it's so comprehensive. (I figure it is deliberate; whether cheap-deliberate or evil-deliberate hardly matters.)

With Cheatolini iL Douchebag, it's all "evil-deliberate". Especially the things he did BEFORE the pandemic that have hampered the response. Anything that looked like an accomplishment by the Obama administration, Trumpolini (that fat, fascist bastard) broke out of racist spite.

But mainly, it's all driven by the need to swindle; the desire to line his own pockets at the taxpayer's expense. He has to cheat. If he can't cheat it's not "winning".

It's extortion & embezzlement all the way down.

181:

I am pretty sure you can't deter corporates at all.

You can't deter a corporation. You can, however, hang the CEO, CFO, COO, and the entire executive hierarchy down to the most junior vice-president for janitorial services.

I think if that was an option it'd be pretty effective at reinforcing respect for corporate compliance, yes?

This isn't a death penalty argument: but I think punishments for corporate crimes should exceed the penalties for individual humans committing the same offense -- to reflect the greater resources corporations have for not committing crimes in the first place, not to mention for paying defense lawyers.

At a minimum corporate manslaughter convictions should result in most or all of the executive hierarchy being barred from corporate office for life, and personally bankrupted (if not jailed).

182:

I do need it to be limited to itself so that if it fails I don't bring down the whole family with it.

Sure, but you don't need "limited liability" as a legal concept to do that. (Even now! there are other legal mechanisms.)

A society interested in meeting that commercial need could pretty easily write a law that said, well, let's see:
- we've got some stakeholders (can't say shareholders, that means something else)
- they've made an investment in this entity
- the entity has all the civil liability; civil liability arising from the conduct of the entity does not extend to the stakeholders
- the entity, not being a natural person, has not and cannot have criminal liability
- criminal liability remains with the stakeholders (NOT just controlling stakeholders; if I fill a freon tank with fluorine and ship it, that'd be on me AND the boss)
- the entity, not being a natural person, may not divide its interest; it cannot own other entities, nor portions of other entities
- the entity, not being a natural person, cannot think; some specific natural persons are responsible for its conduct, and there is no time when at least one such person does not exist, or the entity itself ceases. (oh, look, the printed form of the succession planning regulations; don't try to lift it.)

The idea of dividing a business from persons is important and useful. That's not what the extant concept of limited liability corporation functions to do, even approximately.

183:

I totally agree with you emotionally!

Forcibly liquidate the board and the directors of the corporation; surely they're afraid of being poor!

Well, yeah, but! Not only can we (collective civil "we") not tax effectively, the belief that the purpose of society is to guarantee the persistence of wealth is extremely widespread. This puts a lot of weight on the existing tendency to believe that bad things won't happen to me. And the first time you actually did it, you'd be looking at what happened in Australia with the elected government treated as the coal industry's hired managers.

So as a systemic fix, no. Not going to work. You could -- and I really do believe this is why so many oligarchs were so frightened of the idea of President Warren -- shut down the tax havens en masse. You could institute general income and asset caps (if you had a big legislative majority). But I don't think it's possible to specific-feedback executives back into habits of responsible conduct.

184:

Another question. Is the 'A' in "Davening" pronounced like the 'a' in "Dave", or the 'a' in "davenport" ... or the 'a' in "sofa"?

As in sofa, like Daw-ven.

185:

I actually agree with most of what you say.

However, let's talk a bit more about my 'personal' LLC. I took out a big loan to buy and upgrade a commercial building. A small part of that building includes a 'caretaker suite', essentially a small apartment. The tenant of that suite is a smoker.

I am the owner of the company and by extent the building. I am responsible for the maintenance and fire safety of the building (said items were what the previous LLC owner was ignoring and thus was the cause of its near condemning). I spent two working years and great expense (mostly in the form of debt) painstakingly bringing the entire building up beyond the latest fire safety codes.

The tenant is a decent guy, single dad, works two jobs. He sends most of his money back to the Philippines as remittances, and is good enough to work outside.

That being said, I've been told in no uncertain terms that if one of his ciggies were to light the building on fire and someone were to be harmed, I could/would be held criminally liable. In this case the LLC, though as the sole director I could end up on the hook. I've created and designated clear smoking areas (outside) with CSA approved $350 butt cans.

I can't make him comply, and he is not particularly interested in putting his butts into the damn cans.

I suppose I could evict him, the fire marshal seemed to think I should - but I am not a sociopath. Not being a sociopath means that the liability sits with me. It is not an easy situation to resolve. Eliminating the LLC would not help, me or him.

186:

Not pronounced that way in the UK (try "daven" as in "davenport"). Remember, it's from Yiddish, which itself is a creole of German, Polish, and Hebrew, and how it's pronounced by Americans probably differs from how it's pronounced by Brits or Israelis.

187:

Re masks:
Coronavirus: World Health Organisation reverses course, now supports wearing face masks in public (Stuart Lau, 4 Apr, 2020)
Read for context; title is a little strong; WHO has only started to backpedal.

I was extremely irritated that DTJ halfheartedly said that the general public could wear homemade masks, then said he would probably not be wearing one himself. (So breathtakingly selfish of him; even if he is being tested daily so he knows he is not infected to a reasonably high level of confidence, he is sending a dangerous message to his gullible followers.)

Anyway, managed to place online a pick-up-outside-store grocery order. The slots filled up quickly; half of them were gone by 12:10 AM (reservations opened up for the next available day at midnight).

I am also hearing occasional stories about life under relaxed lockdown in parts of China; something to look forward to/aspire to in the future for those of us not in China or another country that is well past the peak.

188:

There are several fundamental changes needed:

An absolute responsibility to take reasonable care and to protect against reasonably forseeable failures.

The responsibility for that not being cancelled by leaving the company.

(As you and others say) Adequate personal responsibility, financial and being excluded from similar posts, and criminal in extreme cases.

Draconian penalties for setting up fall guys, including controlling shareholders and owners also being held responsible.

189:

Eliminating the LLC would not help, me or him.

Well, no, but that's because the problem is not one of commercial organization.

Dude smokes; this greatly increases your liability. You don't see that as a reason to evict him. That's your morals. That's not something that could or should be legislated.

(The increase in liability is significantly out of a back-shot policy of making smoking expensive in a mistaken belief that this will get people to stop.)

190:

In the UK we also have limited liability partnerships - after extensive lobbying by lawyers and accountancy companies. To nobody's suprise LLPs have since become the vehicle of choice for money laundering, tax evasion, and most other financial shenanigans.

191:

arrbee & all the others ...
SLIGHT PROBLEM
Somethng well above 95% of all Limited Liabilities, Companies or Partnerships are perfectly respectable, stright-up-&-down legitimate businesses, trading as anyone would or should.
How does one distinguish, at law, in the courts, between them & the "others", the cheats & shysters & thieves &, let's face it, murderers.
Abolishing "LL" will simply royally screw over those 95%, won't it?
Now comes the difficult bit.
Devise a remedy for this impasse

192:

Not even a problem.

At the end of the current tax year, an LLC which exists in conformance to the rules for the new commercial entity does some paperwork and POOF, they're the new kind of entity.

The ministry is going to have to issue some guidance, but that happens every year. It might not even be a strenuous year.

Existing LLC and similar entities that are NOT in conformance with the rules for the new entity get hit with reorg fees for a certain amount of variance -- say X, 3X, and 15X for variances 1, 2, and 3 -- to bring themselves into conformance, do their paperwork, and keep existing.

Entities too far out of conformance cease to exist; REITs, for example, or various mere-number liability sumps.

It needs to come with a reconstruction of profit -- it permits you nothing and it excuses you nothing -- and some new accounting rules and a "generate increased value" rule for obligations to stakeholders. (can't say shareholders, that's the old world. :)

193:

This is where the intersection of a recent Cory Doctorow article about "if it's complicated, it's a scam" and the Dan Drezner line about "good ideas can be sold without lying about them" comes in.

Complexity costs more; someone trying to make a financial instrument more complex without being absolutely compelled to do so is engaged in a scam. And the limited liability is, well, helpful in staying out of prison.

194:

It's interesting, in the US, that capitalism and socialism have mutated as terms. There do exist actual socialists, but the vast majority of the time when people talk about socialism, they're not talking about socialism as defined in basically any text.

I blame the GOP generally deriding anything that might actually help people or make rich people profit slightly less as socialism for this.

But capitalism almost always refers to the most cancerous kind of it, and socialism is almost always talking about restrained capitalism with a social safety net.

This makes it frustratingly hard to discuss.

195:

All other things said, I'm actually sorry you are not going to write this novel. The intro looks quite good.

196:

managed to place online a pick-up-outside-store grocery order. The slots filled up quickly; half of them were gone by 12:10 AM (reservations opened up for the next available day at midnight).

Where I am slots are booked for two weeks (the maximum advance time the shop allows).

I have some groceries ordered for Friday, and this morning managed to get a slot for the week after (by getting up before dawn). Kinda tricky planning groceries two weeks ahead, but better than starving!

197:

BOJO in hosp for tests

Not that I like him, but as a fellow human, hope he comes out of this okay.

The news item I read was very terse merely saying that he remains in charge ... what is the succession if he's admitted for intensive care?

198:

Dominic Raab (Foreign Secretary) is the designated successor.

This is the gentleman who was surprised when he was told that Dover might be important for Britain's foreign trade.

199:

Sugar seems to have disappeared along with the flour and yeast. Everybody's baking cookies, it seems.

It has gotten hard to make bread around here as you have to go out multiple times to get the ingredients as one or the other will almost always be "out" no matter what store you might shop.

So a friend is looking to work with a closed restaurant to start putting together "bread kits" for people who want to make their own bread. This restaurant's staff is all people with prison records and it's point is to help them start a new life. So this will bring back people who really need a real job and provide a useful service.

200:

If you a British owned and registered ship, of course your government will help you, but when you decide to register in some other country to exploit a legal loophole, when would you expect any help.

Back in the 80s when tankers were asking for US escorts in the middle east they were told (bluntly in private I'm sure) but you're not a US ship. So step one, install $50K (1980s pricing) of radio gear to meet US Coast Guard standards. Step two ....

Eventually they got the escorts.

201:

I thought it was just that Covid-19 scared the shit out of people, hence an increase in demand.

Rim-shot

202:

f you want to know why there's a power dam in northern Ontario, it's an effective question to ask if there was a pulp mill around the time of the dam's construction.

If you want to find a drywall/gyp board plant look for a large coal plant with a scrubber polution system. The drywall plant will used the scrubber left overs as feed stock. As coal usage for power goes down the cost of drywall goes up.

203:

If anyone still remembers that cruise ship, well... pretty much does look like it rammed them. (Of course: that video is edited, go find the original).

Breaking News! The video of the collision between Venezuelan OPV Naiguata and Passenger Ship Resolute is released.

https://twitter.com/navalnewsnet/status/1246796469438472195

Contains video of, well: said cruise ship spanking into a .mil tub and using its pointy end to make a large dent in it.

TO: Seagull's paranoia

(from link):

With an unsurpassed ice classification in the industry, a proven track record for stability and safety, superb design layout with 180 degree indoor and outdoor viewing platforms, and exceptional maneuverability, RCGS Resolute is ideally equipped to guide guests through the world’s most pristine and often inaccessible regions. ... and make pointy holes in little dinky .mil patrol boats


^^

204:

shutting things down so you can restart in some careful dependency order requires knowing that the dependency order is and having everybody stocked up so people don't just plain old die in the intervening time.

This is a variation on why I think any talk of colonizing Mars is just nuts. It needs high tech to get started and keep going but once you get there your supply chain is either $$$$$ and 10 to 18 months for a screw do without.

205:

but for those of us who only buy large packs of it every 2-3 months, it’s come at a really inconvenient time.

Yep. I would start watching for a sale on the mega sized packs when my home supply got down to 1/2 of one of those. Now I just buy when I see it on a shelf. And pay twice what I used to pay.

206:

Anyhow, most interesting thing about the video is that it appears the Venezuelan Navy has/d a woman officer who is issuing the commands, at least on deck: Captain on the foghorn is a man.

Cory Doctorow article about "if it's complicated, it's a scam

Article: Private equity looting public health in a pandemic (permalink) https://pluralistic.net/2020/04/04/a-mind-forever-voyaging/#prop-bets


Not exactly true: if you want to see some real panic / financial wizardry happening at this very moment in time look @ Bonds, Fallen Angels and a huge hoover-like PE void sweeping across them. It's so brutal that entire industries are in feed-back shock.

grep reference "Casino: Everyone got whacked"

Casino (1995) Best Scene "Look... why take a chance?"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ka7hSZhgplk

207:

Crossposting & repeating from the other thread:
Update:
MEANWHILE
Only by passing across a bridge over the road could you enter this secret enclave, and within I found a hidden garden spiralling down to a large closed door, just as implacable as the blank walls upon the exterior.
Only recently I discovered the use of this vast construction is as a mausoleum to store (the) fourteen thousand human remains.

How's that for a zombie-novel description ( or similar?
Yet it is a factual description of an actual place, in Central London ...

AND
It's the Musuem of London's Rotunda
And the orignal article, well worth the read is: HERE enjoy!

208:

ANother meanwhile:
I see plod are monstering people in "Public Places - even if they are more than 2 metres apart
AND
The Wee Fiswife has forced the resignation of a higly competent professional medical officer for reasons of political spite.
The Presbyterian curtain-twitchers claim another victory.
Waht, me, cynical?

OTOH, we might be getting a new PM, given that BoZo has gorn into 'orspital

210:

And on a tangential note.

I have the movie 2010 on in the background (I need some noise to concentrate but that's another discussion.)

Interesting how the early 80s viewed how tech would be 10 years ago.

211:

Just as a record, noticed this:

initially the two officers understood, and while i wouldn’t say they were pleased, could see why i was doing it. one asked me to give my opinion on the situation. after less than 60seconds(of what i witnessed) this woman was escorted forcefully 20meters to 2TSG vans + cars 3/

https://twitter.com/MikeSegalov/status/1246848405193871360

The paranoid Mind might think that this is the perfect excuse to V8 undesirables (oh, and FB went down in London for a while tonight). UK police with .gov support are running mental games atm (Go outside! Exercise! - Don't ALL go outside! -- Exercise: if you stop moving we arrest you! etc.)

Got our 1st Palm Sunday "three weeks" death threat today, quite proud of that one.

But You Gotta 100% love all these hypocrites pronouncing "they are the light" (not the above account, tangentially related) when what they've done is written in the Stars. G U I L T. We're good at smelling that, for sure. 101 Memory Hole all this shit? N O P E.

Anyhow: word is out, things are gonna spang:

https://twitter.com/TruthRaiderHQ/status/1246752599753101312

212:

Anyhow, special for Host.

You: OMG 5G CONSPIRACY THEORIES. WTF!?! [As a professional note, that stuff was seeded over four years ago: Look - if you play STUPID Monsanto type games where you PR hack to death anyone who remotely analyses your product seriously, ruin their careers and employ nasty tricks to hobble serious scientific responses, you get the "THE FROGS ARE GAY" version. Which you like, as it allows people to point and laugh and not question your product. Until we get bored and make it a little more spicy: people are going to burn your fucking infrastructure down because of PR hacks / Lobbyists at this rate. REGULATE]

Us: Oh, boy. You've not heard about the 'underground fires' stuff yet, have you?

UK version: https://twitter.com/ColeDines/status/1246593121271582722

US version: https://twitter.com/KarluskaP/status/1246912974893338624

~

grep: Frogs are Gay, 2016 Election cycle.

You learnt nothing.

213:

Just read the post.

Sorry to hear that we won't see the book.

I don't understand why you let events here on our copy Earth prevent you from writing about events on another copy Earth, but I digress.

At times like this, I find solace in Jorge Luis Borges, especially in his story, The Garden Of Forking Paths(1941).

Ts'ui Pe must have said once: I am withdrawing to write a book. And another time: I am withdrawing to construct a labyrinth. Every one imagined two works; to no one did it occur that the book and the maze were one and the same thing.

~ Jorge Luis Borges

I thought of a labyrinth of labyrinths, of one sinuous spreading labyrinth that would encompass the past and the future and in some way involve the stars.

~ Jorge Luis Borges

The Garden of Forking Paths is an incomplete, but not false, image of the universe as Ts'ui Pên conceived it. In contrast to Newton and Schopenhauer, your ancestor did not believe in a uniform, absolute time. He believed in an infinite series of times, in a growing, dizzying net of divergent, convergent and parallel times. This network of times which approached one another, forked, broke off, or were unaware of one another for centuries, embraces all possibilities of time. We do not exist in the majority of these times; in some you exist, and not I; in others I, and not you; in others, both of us.

~ Jorge Luis Borges

The history of the universe... is the handwriting produced by a minor god in order to communicate with a demon.

~ Jorge Luis Borges

It is clear that there is no classification of the Universe that is not arbitrary and full of conjectures. The reason for this is very simple: we do not know what kind of thing the universe is.

-- Jorge Luis Borges

BTW, I started reading comments in the thread, and abandoned it when I saw so much pandemic porn.

- Years from now, when everything is back to normal, they will find that more people died homeless in the street -- because they were laid off during this time -- than would have actually died from catching the coronavirus.

- People will have PTSD from events and be unable to attend support groups.

- People will try to have a ceremony to commemorate the five year anniversary of surviving the coronavirus, and no one will show up.

See, that's how you do pandemic porn.

214:

You do need corporate personhood. There are some misunderstandings about what this entails. At its heart, corporate personhood means that the law recognizes the entity (in your case an LLC) as having the ability and right to own property, the ability to enter into contracts and the ability to go to court to vindicate its rights.

In the United States, these concepts are generally subsumed under the Constitutional right to due process of law.

I am a lawyer by training and practiced corporate law for a number of years.

215:

The highly competent medical officer you talk about had just stepped away from the national podium in Edinburgh after ordering everyone in Scotland to shelter in place or DIE! She then went off on a jolly to the other side of the Firth to her other home. She got an official warning from the police for doing so. She really couldn't do anything other than resign because of the shower of shit that would descend on her every time she went back to that podium and told people "Do as I say not as I do."

Maybe we'll get a new chief medical officer that doesn't fuck up like that. I hope so. The new one will at least have the knowledge of what happened to their predecessor as an example.

216:

Servants enlisted or went to work in munitions factories and never went back, and that's just for starters.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_Ya_Gonna_Keep_%27em_Down_on_the_Farm_(After_They%27ve_Seen_Paree)%3F

217:

taken deep offence at being classified as working-class

In the US at one point in time and maybe some now working class meant you got dirty doing your job.

There's a phrase: Do you shower before or after work?

218:

Then lets think about what happens in practice.

No one will become a stakeholder unless they have control, because otherwise they are accepting criminal liability. I assume under your view there must be at least one stakeholder; otherwise, the obvious answer is to have none.

What you've done then is ensured that roughly speaking the corporate form is replaced by what in the US is called an LLC where you have a Managing Member with actual control (and who can be liable for doing things) and passive members who cannot.

I'm assuming that in general, this criminal liability is limited by standards of knowledge and willfulness. (You might be able to impose criminal liability for reckless conduct, but be careful.)

This is probably doable.

Your other point about entities not being able to own other entities eliminates collective investment vehicles as well as pensions and endowments. I'm not sure you actually intended that, but I would think you can eliminate that provision from your proposal without harm.

219:

When said medical officer has at least twice ignored her own instructions to take her and her family to a second home in another area, they have lost the moral authority to instruct the public.

Thus no choice but for a resignation/firing.

220:

Are you from PopeHat's gang and do we get $5? Or are you like, a srs Corporate Lawyer?

That'd be wild.

What's it feel like to slip in clauses you *know* are gonna fuck your counter-parties and hope that their underpaid juniors can't spot it before the deadline?[1] Or are you *seriously* pretending that Corporate Law is actually about fundamentals these days and not vast swathes of citation[2] based on $ = Time = Win?

Seriously interested here.

~

Anyhow, let's up the weird: The history of the universe... is the handwriting produced by a minor god in order to communicate with a demon.

Want to know the hottest revolutionary account on Twitter right now?

https://twitter.com/DuneQuoteBot

Seriously: you're all still on https://twitter.com/archillect while people are huffing pure Herbert. Fucking wild linkages into that. Serious.


[0] Ah for Greg and crew, missed your generation with a song reference: Warren G - Regulate ft. Nate Dogg (Official Video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1plPyJdXKIY

[1] We too, may once have been in that type of Mind

[2] Go find the joke Law Paper "If you need a relevant citation, cite this paper" meta-meta-journal.

221:

The reason CDs didn't arrive until 1982-83 was that they had to wait for cheap solid-state lasers.

There was also that bit of circuit that would allow at least 8 bit DAC to be cheap enough to be used in consumer products. For the first 10 years or so a big part of consumer CD player specs was where they fit on the 8 up to 16 bit DAC component. For decades now it has all been 16 bit.

222:

This really, really, really is not what happened.

Go look up Lasers, ticket reading, Underground trains.

UK was once at the forefront of laser research.

Then a whole lot of data got sold/stolen, people died / were 'removed' from the picture[0] and Corporate Interests got serious.

*Adam Curtis Voice*

And X years later, SONY sold their PS units at $250 below cost to win the DVD wars when BluRay and HD-DVD. It cost them billions: in the end, they made trillions.

But it didn't matter, soon, Blockbuster almost the entire high street went bust[1] due to a small...

[0] David doesn't believe anything we type, but that's True. Very, very True.

[1] Oh, and it happened in BetaMax / VHS.

223:

people are huffing pure Herbert.
Thanks for that DuneQuoteBot link.
Finished the 6th book (Chapterhouse Dune) a week or two ago; odd story. The various backstories about mental styles (and cultural practices) were interesting. (I was disagreeing with some of it while reading. Always liked M. Teg though, and that second incarnation too.)


224:

Ok, quick three questions then:

1) Why do CatLadies react immediately with lethal force to X?

2) What is the True meaning of the Golden Path?

3) What is the True Nature of a Ghola?

~

And since you were kind enough to respond: the links huffing that Dune stuff - Libertarian / Stock Junkies who are getting shafted by the FED / PE atm.


And you think we do nothing to alter your realities. After a bit of Dune, Gun Violence / Rebellion is modified from the shitty FBI / AIPAC / STORMFRONT shite.

~

Anyhow. Another tooth rotted. We're not enjoying this.

225:

You do need corporate personhood.

The current model uses it. But, like interest, there's no actual requirement that a sufficiently capable model MUST use it; it's an accident of accumulated happenstance that our present model has it.

I'm taking the view that as a corporate is incapable of responsibility -- there's no way to apply feedback! we have a massive exercise in proving this going on right now -- it is necessary for there to be a responsible human for pretty much everything that happens in the scope of commercial activity.

226:

Your other point about entities not being able to own other entities eliminates collective investment vehicles as well as pensions and endowments. I'm not sure you actually intended that, but I would think you can eliminate that provision from your proposal without harm.

I absolutely did intend it. There is no fundamental structural need to fund capital investment with a casino. (The stock market.) Plus, stock markets are a tool for getting rich; a system with income and asset caps specifically needs to arrange itself so that tools for getting rich aren't what it's using.

Defined-contribution pensions are pretty close to worthless; even someone who had carefully invested and had "enough", by all the careful guidelines, just had what happen to their 401k? How many times has this happened since 2000? Private defined benefit pensions will be stolen under the incumbent rules. (Sears, GM, etc multi cetera at every scale.) So pensions have to be functionally public to be worth anything.

(Also, current investment mechanisms are actively bad at funding anything with a reliable return that is not the largest available such return, or the first of anything. (e.g., MM.LaFleur got funded because a VC told his wife the funny story of a would-be startup that thought professional women didn't like to shop for clothes!) We can clearly at least try to do better.)

I would like to see tried the notion of a really full service credit union, one that does (at least) housing, child care, and elder care in addition to banking and insurance. (possibly also food, dry goods, and pensions.)

I would also like to point out that you don't need ownership to invest, and you don't need ownership to invest generally. The "cash pile" research funding models where there's a (usually just public) contribution mechanism to create the cash pile, a gating mechanism ("you get funded, you do not"), and a presumption of general economic benefit (more local jobs, thus spending...) could as easily work through a general cash pile and return obligations on the part of the funded.

227:

Eliminating interest also doesn't seem to be possible. (You can call it something else and disguise it, as you do in much of Islamic finance but you aren't actually going to be able to eliminate it.)

The problem isn't that you can't apply feedback to corporations; the problem is that there is no willingness to apply such feedback. For example, Wells Fargo was running a widespread scam and was fined $3 billion. That probably isn't sufficient deterrent. But there was nothing preventing the government from fining Wells Fargo enough to bankrupt the company, splitting the reorganized company into three pieces and handing a large portion of the remaining value over to the victims of the scam. At that level of punishment the appetite for corporate wrongdoing would start to drop.

In addition, you could provide that the CEO of Wells Fargo bears personal responsibility (joint and several with the company) for all illegal acts committed by Wells Fargo of which he knew or was willfully blind to.

This isn't hard if the willpower is there and is impossible absent the willpower.

228:

Anyhow, remember when everyone was shocked that Mainland CN nationals were calling the HK rebels "cockroaches"?[1] and so on.

And remember how "the Children of the Light" are just above all that, and everything is awesome[2], well, here we gooooo...

What a vile comment. These are the cockroaches @jeremycorbyn allied himself to.

https://twitter.com/DanielBerke1/status/1246933757245960192

Wait, just a RNG Twitter, troll, right?

Lawyer. WJC Jewish Diplomat[3]. Boxing, travel, photography. Likes and RTs not necessarily endorsements.


So, hey: let's cross off "Cockroach" as antisemitic, shall we?

[1] Hong Kong police are now routinely insulting the city’s people as “cockroaches” https://qz.com/1706106/hong-kong-police-call-protesters-cockroaches/

‘Dogs’ vs. ‘cockroaches’: On Hong Kong streets, insults take a dangerous turn

https://www.washingtonpost.com/dogs-vs-cockroaches-on-hong-kong-streets-language-of-genocide-rears-its-head/2019/11/04/32498608-fea7-11e9-8341-cc3dce52e7de_story.html

Why Hong Kong police group’s use of word ‘cockroach’ to condemn protesters is both baffling and depressing https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/society/article/3026410/why-hong-kong-police-groups-use-word-cockroach-condemn

Note: yes, that last link is from SCMP: it's the CN PR arm trying to defuse shit.


[2] LEGO movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cQgQIMlwWw

[3] https://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/programs/jewish-diplomatic-corps

229:

the problem is that there is no willingness to apply such feedback

Plants use pre-made block lists.

There is willingness: the USA spends roughly ~$900 billion a year making sure that willingness gets a good hard kicking.

Srsly.

230:

And fuck yeah.

If you're on record as labeling naming your enemies cockroaches[0] and it's a listed offense under the UN The Genocide Convention[1] why the FUCK are members of the WJC using against THEIR OWN FUCKING PEOPLE.

IN THE UK.

IN 2020.


This is past BoD shitty politics, this is 100% an actionable illegal offense in the UK, no matter your political or religious persuasion. This is, by definition, 100% Terrorism Offense Land.


Prosecute this muppet or see how far the Magic Roundabout Goes.


[0] The radio station RTLM, allied with leaders of the government, had been inciting Hutus against the Tutsi minority, repeatedly describing the latter as inyenzi, or “cockroaches,” and as inzoka, or “snakes.” The station, unfortunately, had many listeners.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/04/rwanda-shows-how-hateful-speech-leads-violence/587041/

Rwanda jails man who preached genocide of Tutsi 'cockroaches'

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-36057575

[1] https://www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/genocide-convention.shtml

231:

Spoilers: they won't.

And then the entire HRSC faux Law falls apart and so on and so forth.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtbejMoJcp0

232:


You don't actually need the ability to freely transfer ownership in entities on a piecemeal and anonymous basis (i.e. a stock market). There are advantages to having it, but it isn't essential.

The name for the full service credit union you are suggesting is "government". (A much broader one than exists in most of the industrialized world, for some obvious reasons.)

General cash pile and return obligations on the part of the funded:
If those return obligations include sharing the profits, then you have simply renamed ownership. If not, then you are going to have basically private profit at public risk. This doesn't always work out so well.
(I don't know if you are proposing to entirely eliminate for profit entities; that also has well known failure modes.)

233:

Anyhow, kids.

It's 2020.

If you wanted a 100% legal proof (ignoring PJ above) that the People's Republic of China, the Rwandan Hutu Led Government and the WJC all have embraced genocidal language against their own people, then there you have it.

We thought the UK was supposed be above genocidal stuff by now?[0]

Or prosecute it?

Or at least pretend that it matters?

Or maybe not say it out loud?


Fuck it: just type it out.

[0] This. This. Is. Irony.

234:

Today I learned there’s a difference between British and American Yiddish pronunciation. Probably shouldn’t be surprised by that.
Could also also be the difference between Lithuanian and Polish dialects*, with different vowel pronunciation—calling Grandma Bubbie (P) rather than Bobeh (L). In the US Yiddish seems to be a mix, with best known words pronounced like the Polish, but nowadays taught according to the Lithuanian**.

*from Harkavy’s Yiddish-English Dictionary
** see also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yiddish_dialects


Sorry if this is teaching GrannyBubbie to suck eggs. Yiddish is one subject I’ve read a bit on, it’s a language I’ve always wanted to learn, but never had a real opportunity to. Obviously I’m no expert.

235:

The saddest fact about all of this: being ignored by Elders while the nasties form because they can't deal with it or have blocked it out or cannot go against the more powerful hierarchies in the Faith.

Check out some diaries from 1927-1933 sometime, similar feeling.

"Who reads this shit?"

"No-one, not even Host"

"But then why?"

"Logos, BITCH"


And you thought we were fucking around[0].

~

"Not Jewish" "Of course she's not" "But how then" "She lived with them" "She loved that poet one"

We're a little bit older than your Religion, dear, but we do still love you enough to have spent ridiculous amounts of TIME attempting to reposition your time-line and the thanks we get for it is basically torture.

Irony.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMzlgz3XSO0

[0] Yeah, the irony is: this TIME we can actually bend your shitty little world and collapse it. This is just the foreplay. She's gonna be pissed when we die.

236:

Eliminating interest also doesn't seem to be possible.

Sure it is. One way -- which mirrors a lot of what bank accounting looks like from the inside -- is to separately denominate money and debt. The authors gave it a cooler title, though: Statistical mechanics of a time-homogeneous system of money and antimoney

This isn't hard if the willpower is there and is impossible absent the willpower.

Moral frames make me skittish. I think the idea that if there's enough willpower all would be well is a particularly unhelpful version of a moral frame, because it implies that the problem is human frailty rather than the structural issues with the system.

The purpose of the system is what you observe it to do; if what you observe is that the money sticks to executives and nothing at all is a reason to take it away again, that's what the system is for.

(It's been for that for a goodly long time now; consider the fate of the House of Hohenzollern.)

237:

Oh, and you want a free-bee?

You should probably ask why this man:

What a vile comment. These are the cockroaches @jeremycorbyn allied himself to.

https://twitter.com/DanielBerke1/status/1246933757245960192

A member of the WJC, HAS THE CONSERVATIVE LOGO AS A BANNER. YEAH, THAT SHITTY ONE WITH THE REALLY BAD GRAPHIC DESIGN. YEAH. THAT BANNER. THAT SHIT. THAT SHITTY SHITTY GOVERNMENT? HE WANTS TO BE PART OF IT.

Sure, maybe it's an elaborate troll. 8Chan is good at that, right?

Yeah, it's not: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExyDUV6CnXU

These are the people running your government media campaigns: open genocide advocates who wouldn't know aesthetics or Law (he's a Lawyer, but doesn't know International Law, apparently: see the irony angle here of PJ above?) if it crept up on them and shoved a sausage roll up their arse.


~

Come sue us.

It's all True.

If you want to kill us: trust us, get on the fucking list.


p.s.

[redacted]

Alexa is a recording device. It parses languages. Chances are, you're not supposed to say that language out loud ever. Alexa cannot parse that language. There's a reason: not many of us speak it still. [hint: not a HUMAN language, but fuck me: tonight is all about busting the "ones who just say it out loud"]

238:

"ownership" is when you can say what happens to it on your say-so, not when you derive value from it. ("can I chuck this through a wood-chipper, and do no wrong?"; if yes, then you own it. Note that there are things that you can't own in this sense of the word.)

The profit measure is pretty much essential; the profit motive is a bad failure case and needs to be extirpated.

It's not that long ago that this was widely understood; $FIRM does the thing, and must make a profit to keep doing the thing. ("make a profit" = "submit our product to the public judgement".) The point of the firm is the thing, not the profit. Today, the thing is an annoyance, and the profit is all.

The essential government services -- not functions, services -- tend to be the wee municipal ones like water and sewage. I don't see any reason there shouldn't be a collaborative, village-scale, "is this government or a collective?" demi-level of government. (Rather like banking is pretty obviously something that should be regulated enough that it makes more sense to treat it as a public service than a commercial endeavour.)

It's obvious that a lack of collective solutions is one of the big problems with housing; maximizing the economic share of rent extraction runs until big chunks of the population can't afford housing. Once you've got a housing collective and have this joint real-estate asset, all the other stuff starts to look like obvious value-add.

239:

[[[and yeah: splap a GPS Loc down and harvest the local ALEXA data: took a bit of prodding, but there's a single sound there that's 100% not in YOUR databases, ever. Even the Sumerian ones]]]

Want to fuck?


240:

You still have interest in that system though it is harder to see as it is embedded in the price differential between the money and the anti-money.

I am not using willpower in a moral sense, but as a description of observed reality. Government could do this, but isn't.

I don't think the failure to do so lies in the structure of corporate law. It has to do in part with the fact that we have over time come to view criminal law in primarily economic terms and a combination of fear of collateral consequences, increasing institutional ossification and inability to deal with large numbers has lead to corporate deterrence being totally inadequate.

241:

Now I just buy when I see it on a shelf. And pay twice what I used to pay.

Haven’t gotten desperate yet, have at least a couple weeks worth still. I plan on going where I usually get it, at opening time. If I do get desperate, I’ve been looking after the condo of one of my mother’s friends while they’re stuck in California working on legacy banking code, and know there’s a pack there. Another option may be commercial grade from the office supply stores, if they’re open.
We got the monthly grocery shopping done yesterday at the local AFB commissary, shelves not quite as empty as the civilian stores, except for the paper goods.
This isn’t a conversation I ever expected to be having here.

242:

Agreed, I want to see OGH try his hand at utopian fiction. Either he gets to finish a novel undisturbed, or else our timeline gets straightened out. Win/win!

243:

Your definition of ownership doesn't work, even without regard to the fact that by its own terms it doesn't apply to most of what we are talking about. An easy example: (1) I own a house. (2) I lease it to you for five years. It's clear that (i) I still own it; and (ii) I can't destroy it. But for purposes of owning an interest in an entity, it is clear, as you note, that your definition doesn't work, so I'm not quite sure why you raise it? For those purposes, ownership has the traditional meaning which does include, and may be limited to, the right to receive value from it.

Absent a profit motive, the profit measure is likely to become highly inaccurate and not be used as a feedback mechanism.

Small scale collectives are mostly failure modes.

Collective housing is generally not a thing (co-ops in NYC sort of excepted) and where it is becomes very restrictive (co-ops in NYC). The more features you seek to add the more restrictive the entry criteria become.

244:

(ii) I can't destroy it.

Whooo boooy. Someone needs their big-boy pants and needs to talk about 2008 Mortgages.

Collective housing is generally not a thing

*Says US person who killed everyone who practiced said Law*

Small scale collectives are mostly failure modes.

*Eyeing those Tribes again*

People: this guy is 100% trolling.

Fuck me.

245:

Actually, I can provide a way to repurpose the zombie story as utopian fiction. What I would recommend (and unfortunately it's an American book) is Kristoffer Schipper's The Taoist Body. Unfortunately, it looks like the only one available in the UK is the French original.

Anyway, the premise: instead of a zombie virus, have the neurostructure of "enlightenment" (for lack of a better English word) be worked out and spread widely, self-hack style, in the Taoist fashion more than the Buddhist. The technique spreads like wildfire globally, and the equivalent of turn on, tune in, drop out becomes a plague to civilization across the planet.

There are two things to realize. One is that the PRC has a real problem with Taoism, for reasons I will reveal shortly, so there's an interesting political angle in unlocking Taoist enlightenment, which is currently practiced mostly on Taiwan, and very quietly by hermits in the mountains of China, and perhaps elsewhere. If there was an easy way to become a Taoist immortal (spoiler alert, I don't think there is, but...SFF), I could see it spread as a deliberate way to instigate revolution against state systems that have always been death cults in more ways than one.

The second thing is that the oldest book of Taoism (Zhuangzi, aka Chuang Tsu) makes a really big and important point out of the importance of being useless, rather than useful (e.g. https://taopracticed.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/usefulness-and-uselessness/). As Schipper explains it, one point of this is a purely countercultural analysis of (from the 6th Century BC, no less) of the critical importance of not defining oneself by how useful one is to society as part of the enlightenment process. Taoism is one of the oldest extant countercultures really: it quietly preaches being useless, being able to live without grains (generally for spiritual reasons, but during famines as a survival strategy), it has a really interesting take on the nature of gods (Taoist adepts are called masters of the gods in a way that many atheists would approve of), and so forth.*

In Taoism's long history, it's been everything from a cause for rebellion to an official state religion to banned and persecuted, so there's plenty of creative inspiration for a story that deals with state sanctions on a movement that tries to let people just be people and live long and happy lives.

The tl;dr is to substitute a plague of clued-in drop outs for zombies, and to see where the novel goes from there. As a critique of late-stage capitalism, it's almost as good as a zombie apocalypse.

*Per Schipper, the Tao is not a synonym for the Judeo-Christian God. Rather, a better translation is that the Tao is the Way the Universe works, and the universe (which was "born"/came from a Mysterious Female, also because of the Tao) gives rise to gods. And gods, like every other being within the universe, are ephemeral phenomena that are aggregates of other things, and eventually die or fall apart, the parts and energies going on to become something else. As one might expect, there's a tremendous amount of woo involved (or perhaps wu) but that's about what you'd expect from any system that's accreted ideas for over 2000 years.

246:

You can have a small scale collective if you avoid adverse selection; in modern society that requires restrictive entry criteria which makes them difficult to sustain and of limited applicability.

247:

The issue is that of agency. Humans simply don't work well together in groups larger than 30. With the best will in the world, ridiculous outcomes will occur regularly in any large corporation. (Large corporations seem more akin to warring, ill-informed tribes than anything else.) So, um, eg, I'm pretty sure that the CEO of a medical device company had no idea that a subcompany was shipping defective equipment. Mind you, neither did most of the engineers, beyond the usual level of inadequate, time constrained testing. And sure, you could argue about funding and schedules, but my observation was that it was much more garden variety incompetence and a poorly designed management structure (not so much grown as accreted) that no one had the appetite to fix. (Would have required firing about 50% of the organization and hiring another 20% and the CEOs were genuinely nice people.) That particular problem was more customer satisfaction than customer execution...but...meh. I'm not sure incompetence should result in criminal charges.

What I'd prefer is better whistleblower protection. Anyone reporting (with similar standards to USain policepeople killing) ongoing conduct reasonably likely to be illegal should be set for life - courtesy of the corporation in question. That'd pretty much eliminate corporate corruption. It wouldn't matter how slimy the people you hired were - they'd be incentivized correctly. (Mind you, only up the chain - you don't get paid for stuff you were responsible for.)

248:

I've read just enough to know that creating an intentional community is a lot more complex than that, in that there are a lot of possibilities. Some have restrictive entry rules. Others, notably the Rainbow Family, takes anyone with a belly button and has turned away only a few, like a murder suspect who was caught by the cops at a Family event. Of these, the Rainbow Family is the biggest and among the longest lasting of the modern crop*, so it is very hard to say whether more rules and selection procedures make for a better intentional community or not.

Anyway, the Celestial Master Taoist movement began as a messianic revolt to create small, intentional collectives modeled after the Tao Te Ching, in 142 CE. The Celestial Masters' villages lasted for awhile (60 years give or take--nice spiritual number there) then got subsumed into the Kingdom of Wei, but the masters dispersed and the spiritual tradition survived. Such is life.

*Not counting monasteries here, but they are also intentional communities.

249:

Haven’t gotten desperate yet, have at least a couple weeks worth still.

Not so much desperation as I don't want to be forced to go shopping as things get worse. I.E. more and more germs being spewed by my fellow shoppers. Since I've had to go out every day or 3 lately[1] I pick a grocery and stop in and buy fresh stuff and look at the paper aisle. I was lucky enough to have a 4 month or so supply of paper towels when this started. And so far have not gotten below 20 or so jumbo rolls of the important stuff.

[1] Setting up home offices for people doing things like tele-medicine and such. Plus dealing with a recalcitrant flush system.

250:

Speaking of Zombie Apocalypses, I present one Rep. Nonews interviewed on Faux News.

251:

Having worked in the "retail" division of a flour mill. We considered a semi trailer delivery almost too small to be bothered delivering to. 20 kg bag? They let me buy one bag because I was staff. I was in a constant battle with the wholesale division to get any stock at all. Their minimum order was a bulk carrier. Getting just a few hundred tonnes out of them was almost impossible unless I could somehow tack it on to a "real" order from a "real" customer. I was dispatching about 400 tonnes a day and I was less than dirt.

252:

Many years ago I went to a Chinese painting exhibition. There were lots of amazing scrolls and paintings of life in China hundreds of years ago. The workmanship was mind blowing. So intricate.

Then on one wall there was a huge painting. Huge.

On it were about four, very small, black ink brushstrokes. It took a second for them to resolve into the nose eyes and horns of water buffalo, nearly completely submerged in a pond.

I was instantly transported to Southern China. I could smell the humidity, the jungle. I could hear the mosquitos.

With 4 brushstrokes.

This story felt like that.

253:

SBH ( 211 )
Plod are certainly making themseleves unpopular & their actions are higly inconsistent - probably becaue the politicos are doing exactly the sem things ...
HOWEVER ... after that it degenerates into the usual content-free rambling & ranting, oh dear.
Actually Negative information content - if you are daft enough to try to read it, you know LESS when you've finished ...


^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Oh yes ...
LLP's
The Boss works for an LLP.
They have called, if not the cops, the Financial Services Authority on a client & they have dumped clients who won't comply with the financial regulations.
It's NOT the structure, it's the bloody people, as usual, I'm afraid.
PublicJay has it:
The problem isn't that you can't apply feedback to corporations; the problem is that there is no willingness to apply such feedback.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

254:

I very, very much want to read the rest of that novel.
I completely understand your reasoning for not-writing it, but I still very much want to read it.

255:
Collective housing is generally not a thing (co-ops in NYC sort of excepted) and where it is becomes very restrictive (co-ops in NYC). The more features you seek to add the more restrictive the entry criteria become.

I think that is one of those "it depends on where you look" things.

Looking at Sweden, the latest numbers I could find (2017, I believe) indicate that there's 1 017 000 flats in co-op buildings. That is out of roughly 4 800 000 domiciles in total, so approximately 20%. If we look at only "domiciles in multiple-occupancy buildings", that's 41% of the flats, with 59% of flats being "you cannot in a sensible way hold legal title to the flat" rental units.

Link here

256:

NZ is small, and thinly spread out. We have four flour companies and one sugar refinery. Stuff gets shipped in bulk trucks to the handful of giant national producers, 1000KG IBCs to the two dozen small regional producers, and 20-25KG sacks to everyone else. Most commercial bakeries get supplied in sacks on a pallet as it's easier to store and handle. Anyone wanting less than a pallet load goes through a wholesaler, and they still have stocks.
Each of the five companies has a retail production arm who handles the small packets - the consumer market tends to buy 250g-1.5kg, or occasionally 10KG. They're the ones who have run out of bags, which is why the supermarket shelves are empty.

257:

I *loved* a Very Peculiar Practice, and not *just* because it had the gorgeous Barbara Flynn in it. I found S1 DVD's on sale last year, and bought my dad a copy for Christmas (along with a series of I Didn't Know You Cared).

258:

It was, and she was, indeed a joy to watch. And now I need to check to see where those DVDs are available from.

259:

One thing regarding the link the spambot posted, earlier down the line. The cruise ship may well have run into the Venezuelan patrol boat, but if the patrol boat's captain put himself there then the fault rests entirely with him. Ships don't have brakes, and the bigger the ship is, the less easily it can manoevre. The rules of the road are like the joke about seating arrangements for a 600lb gorilla - he can sit where he likes, and you have to work around him. Even the old "steam gives way to sail" principle only holds for pleasure boats - there are plenty of urban legends in the yachting community of tankers putting into port and discovering a yachty's rig wrapped around their anchor, having wiped them out somewhere one night without even noticing, and those urban legends are well rooted in fact.

In this case we have a patrol boat, built for speed and manoevrability, deliberately putting itself under the bow of a much bigger, heavier ship travelling relatively fast. It's like a motorbike cutting in front of an artic. Technically it's the heavier craft which does the ramming, but it's not their fault if they can't get out of the way.

All this took place in international waters. There's a word for boarding a vessel by force in international waters, and that word is "piracy". So pirates (which they are, by the definition of "piracy") fired on the cruise liner and tried to board it, and got sunk for their pains. The Venezuelans are unhappy that the liner didn't stop to pick up the heavily-armed pirates from their ship? I think the Venezuelans should be pretty glad the liner took the trouble to inform their S&R people, and waited in the area until S&R were on their way.

I'm intrigued by how this might help the liner's owners too. If I was the owner of a cruise liner trying to get shot of it, I'd be *overjoyed* by it being captured by pirates (state-sponsored or otherwise). I'd be able to claim on my insurance, and job's a good'un. As it is, the most there seems to be on the owners is that they're a shell company trying to limit what they pay their creditors, possibly through bankruptcy of the shell company, and like all ship owners they're running a very thin ROI. Considering the President of the USA has done the bankruptcy thin 6 times in the course of his business career, this is just business as usual.

260:

creating an intentional community is a lot more complex than that, in that there are a lot of possibilities

yup. I've been on the fringes of everything from the Kiwi KAOS social group with Airdmhor as a small version of The Big House (now a Montessori school) which ran as nominal dictatorships, right through to cohousing which in english is an americanised version of one type of Swedish housing cooperative.

There's not even one specific legal structure that has to be used, let alone one single way to arrange the internal structure. Just limiting it to housing there's everything from partnerships to trusts to companies available, as well as "one paper owner, we trust them" and variations (Airdmhor ran on the "Seth's parents own it" model, for example). I've visited houses owned by anarchist communes, three friends as joint owners, several polyamorous families (who are not all anarchists), one "squat" owned secretly by one of the residents, oh and a small commercial property being illegally used as a residence and owned by one of the companies operating out of it. {throws up hands} ... there's no real limit to just the legal structures of housing.

And these things can last quite long periods. A friend of mine grew up in an anarchist commune. Common Ground is somewhere between a retired hippy commune and a group-of-families that's been running for 35 years, and their social structure is on at least the third major revision.

I mentioned recently that I have friends who are doing a reverse takeover of a small town, just by buying property and moving there. It's quite a large intentional community as such things go, but it's also diffuse and difficult to distinguish from people moving to somewhere they have friends. One of the Tilba's in NSW seems to have been populated that way, I think unintentionally. Jill Redwood has made a life at Goongerah in Victoria. The history of who has lived on her land there is a twisted skein.

261:

The British gummint should wake up and take notice. Given the way that they are keen on cutting costs, they should buy a few surplus cruise liners (going cheap, right now) and replace some of the navy's expensive warships by them.

262:

Re: 'But there was nothing preventing the government from fining Wells Fargo enough to bankrupt the company, splitting the reorganized company into three pieces and handing a large portion of the remaining value over to the victims of the scam. At that level of punishment the appetite for corporate wrongdoing would start to drop.'

And there you have the reason for BrExit - the EU is willing and able to slap huge fines on corps that step over the line. For now the slaps have been re: PII. The fear is that once their ability to fine large orgs becomes even more widely accepted as socially responsible/correct, this legal body might take a harder look at these corps' P&L statements incl. transfer payments, tax evasion, etc. (The EU has fined major corps but I'm not sure whether it's been able to collect those fines. Maybe someone could look at Google's P&L - they've been fined a few times now at over one billion Euros a pop.)

Then there's the fact that the UK's GDP owes most of its growth to financials and/or 'head-officing'. No idea how stock market transactions are regulated over there wrt to transaction taxes, or corp income tax rates vs. rest of the world. Actually I've no idea whether services are taxed over there, or if taxed, at what rate - same, higher or less than goods? Would be insane if services were not taxed when one considers that service industries have been outpacing the goods (mfg & retail) sector for decades.

One of the reasons it's hard to assess the impact of the financial sector within each country/economy and/or globally is that there's damned little consistency in the definitions and reporting. Given how important this sector keeps telling everyone (esp. Pols) they are, how is it that they are not required to abide by an agreed upon international (and consumer/user facing) standard. There are many professional bodies whose work relies on assiduously following international standards who could be used as models.*

https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/030515/what-percentage-global-economy-comprised-financial-services-sector.asp

I recall seeing a news clip of Thatcher saying that Britain was a 'nation of shop-keepers' and that she wanted to change that in order to improve the British economy. What did she mean by that? - Did she mean that she wanted mega-stores to displace the shop-keepers, diversify the economy at the grass roots level, encourage manufacturing, encourage new industry (apart from financials) or what? Don't recall her saying anything about food security and not sure whether her gov't helped bankroll the North Sea oil projects.

For an industry that relies on spreadsheets, it boggles the mind that they are not required to (or pretend that are unable to) keep track of and own up to the data they generate. (Ditto - financial AI's. Hell - I could rant on this for days ... seriously bothers me.)

264:

Your definition of ownership doesn't work, even without regard to the fact that by its own terms it doesn't apply to most of what we are talking about. An easy example: (1) I own a house. (2) I lease it to you for five years. It's clear that (i) I still own it; and (ii) I can't destroy it.

If you can't destroy it, you don't own it. That's kinda the point of that definition!

If things are defined around "who is responsible?" (with the implicit "for what?" not staying very implicit in contracts, or at least so one might hope), rather than "who gets the money?", the answers are different, which is the point. (Changing the meta-definition of ownership an assertion that the current system can't work, not that it is implemented wrong. Which is another huge bucket of squid, because "implemented wrong" might be a category error of its own.)

Anyway -- even under the current system, you can't just destroy your house. You can't substantially repair it or alter it, either, without going through a permitting system. So, no, you don't own it. You're participating in some sort of implicit system of heritable land tenure.

I'd strongly support a much more explicit "land's alive, you don't own it, you've got tenure under a system where here are your enumerated responsibilities to the hypothesized future human population and here are your responsibilities to the ecological scope of possibility in the indefinite future" legal approach. I might even go so far as to suppose that maybe individuals can't do that and there's necessarily an entity category for "responsible for land" and individuals participate in those entities. (And yeah, the HoA which is functionally just precisely that is also an excellent "not like that" design antipattern.)

265:

You still have interest in that system though it is harder to see as it is embedded in the price differential between the money and the anti-money.

Interest requires you to make guesses about the future; that system, implemented with dynamic individual exchange rates between money and anti-money, doesn't. It also doesn't require a general market rate from which the other rates are derived; the exchange between money and anti-money you use can be specific to you. They're not isomorphic systems. (There wouldn't be much point if they were!)

Particularly, not having to pick a general rate would likely be advantageous relative to the system we have now.

266:

Greg: The Wee Fiswife has forced the resignation of a higly competent professional medical officer for reasons of political spite.

You're wrong.

Catherine Calderwood resigned after she was spotted flagrantly violating the very same lockdown regs she's supposed to be the public face of enforcement of for a second time.

Now, if you want to blame the Scottish Sun for going after her, fine -- but it's hard to fault the FM for accepting her resignation after she repeatedly put herself in a position of "do what I say, not as I do".

The first trip was a family outing; the second was a visit to her second home -- these are specifically forbidden activities, because social distancing.

You might also want to read Sturgeon's statement about the resignation, thanking her for her long service and calling out the positive achievements she'd brought to the job. Not exactly what you'd expect in event of a sacking.

(I don't expect any better of dipshits like Matt Hancock -- who ordered a few million COVID-19 tests that, er, don't actually work -- or Dominic Raab, who didn't know that Dover was a major container port for freight from the mainland when he landed the post-brexit Trade portfolio -- but we're trying to do better up here.)

267:

I don't understand why you let events here on our copy Earth prevent you from writing about events on another copy Earth, but I digress.

Because I am a commercial artist with more ideas than time to write them in (ideas are cheap: execution is time-consuming and effortful) and therefore, given a choice between rivalrous absorbing projects to spend my time on, I pick the one with the greatest revenue potential.

The current situation isn't quite unprecedented, but in fiction terms I'd like to draw your attention to the disastrous impact the collapse of the USSR had for technothrillers about, say, US/USSR spy shenanigans or a third world war in Europe, between 1990 and 1992. (Greg Bear did a very elegant side-swerve the sequel to "Aeon", "Eternity", by retconning it into a parallel universe: many other authors weren't so fortunate as to be setting their cold-war-in-space in a universe with magic/super technology.)

Basically, I don't want to get trapped in the same bind as Len Deighton, who was writing the capstone to his masterwork nine-volume cold war espionage series ... and timed it so badly it was due out in 1991. Which means I can't write a near-future pandemic novel of any kind until the dust has settled: it runs the risk of look quaint to the point of obsolete before it hits the editor's desk.

Years from now, when everything is back to normal, they will find that more people died homeless in the street -- because they were laid off during this time -- than would have actually died from catching the coronavirus.

You're not wrong, but we're still looking at 10-50 million deaths worldwide -- somewhere between the first and second world war death tolls -- assuming herd immunity emerges: if not, we're looking at Black Death 2.0 (with some novelty tweaks: see Graydon's comments about the "uncommon cold").

More to the point, COVID-19 has triggered a rapid and comprehensive global industrial and service sector collapse with a global financial crisis happening off-screen and invisible only because the quantitative easing started before the banks started tumbling because at least we've remembered something we learned 12 years ago.

The homeless deaths you're talking about are, in a very real way, going to be side-effects of the economic fallout from the pandemic.

268:

but in fiction terms I'd like to draw your attention to the disastrous impact the collapse of the USSR had for technothrillers

I had the movie "2010" playing in the background yesterday. One thing I realized is that so much of the secondary plot required the US/USSR to come to at odds and coming to blows that it would be boring or nonsense to my kids now who are in their late 20s.

269:

I don't expect any better of dipshits like Matt Hancock -- who ordered a few million COVID-19 tests that, er, don't actually work

The orders for antibody tests are contingent on the tests actually working. The sample tests provided by the various manufacturers, announced to whoops of "We're saved!" on Twitter and the like, have all failed to pass basic performance tests in terms of false negatives and, more worryingly false positives (i.e. antibodies detected when they don't exist). Because of that no-one's been paid for these tests and none have been delivered. Hancock was withering when he reported on the failures, stuff like three out four false positives for one particular test.

If there are suitable mass-population tests for seroconversion antibodies in blood that actually work then the UK government will buy them. If they don't work then the manufacturers can go whistle and we'll have to wait. This will disappoint the "tests will save us" crowd but tough.

270:

The tl;dr is to substitute a plague of clued-in drop outs for zombies, and to see where the novel goes from there. As a critique of late-stage capitalism, it's almost as good as a zombie apocalypse.

I have a (meta-) fiction reference for you: a short story, "Our Neural Chernobyl", by Bruce Sterling.

Not gonna spoiler it: let's just say, the second time you read it is better than the first. (It's structured as a mildly skeptical review of a non-fiction book describing the first bioengineered plague.)

271:

The homeless deaths you're talking about are, in a very real way, going to be side-effects of the economic fallout from the pandemic.

I had a minor debate with someone a day or so ago with someone who was mad that DT wanted the Saudi's and Russians to stop their oil war. Their point was with so many out of work it was a great thing that the oil industry was almost collapsing and gas prices where thus cheap for those out of work. Telling them the longer term effects of a sudden collapse would likely be worse than $40/barrel oil just now went nowhere with them.

272:

That's a more interesting case. A ship's legal jurisdiction is based on which country it's registered as being owned. Those were legal because they were Columbian boats, and the Columbian government had OK'd it. If they hadn't, then yes, it would have been an act of piracy, just like the Israeli commandos who commandeered aid ships in 2010 to keep humanitarian supplies out of Gaza.

It also puts that government in an interesting position. If they disavow the actions of their navy, they have to present it as a rogue element acting on their own and throw the book at them. If they back them up, as with the Israeli case, they have conducted an act of war against the country whose ship it is, and the faeces hits the fan on an epic international-diplomacy-disaster level. In the case of Israel, this is pretty much business as usual of course, and with the US backing them financially, they don't have to worry about the impact on their country when the UN cracks down on them yet again. A South American country trying to get its economy back on track, rather less so.

273:

Speaking of intentional communities/collectives, here's one I'm considering lightly fictionalizing in a future novel (see also, the Silver Sisterhood/Aristasia).

274:
You can, however, hang the CEO, CFO, COO, [...]

In theory we already have this; if anyone in a company causes that company to commit a crime then they are personally liable to arrest and criminal charges. Consider the fallout of Dieselgate, where a senior engineer *was* imprisoned.

In practice proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Joe Bloggs was the mastermind is not usually easy, for the very good reason that in most cases there *is* no mastermind. With the senior people you can't even say that they were bad at their job because there is no clear standard to which they can be held (if you think otherwise then I invite you to write one that you would be willing to be held to).

Beyond that, when dealing with big complicated systems the whole concept of finding *the* scapegoat is fundamentally broken. A big part of the reason that aviation is so safe is that we don't do that. Accident investigations look for systemic issues rather than individual mistakes. If you want to understand Dieselgate then don't focus on the engineer who was "bad", look at the control mechanisms that affect the industry; how are people incentivised and managed, because expecting people to act differently is mostly a losing game. (Yes, some people will, but building a system to depend on heroes is doomed to failure). And that includes the CEO, CFO, COO etc.

275:

The 2008 sub-prime mortgages can probably best be understood if you look at how drugs such as cocaine modify human behaviour. The biggest bit of "Let's all you idiots believe..." in the whole debacle was the way that mortgages were repackaged as financial investments.

At the simplest case, a mortgage is a loan secured on a thing like a property. The lender sets out a contract that ties how much the mortgagee pays to how much it costs the lender to borrow that money, plus a little bit of profit. This is simple, old-school banking economics: lend out money and charge people for you taking the risk, only there isn't much risk because you can sell the house if they default.

Now, some mortgages are low risk; the property is worth way more than the amount borrowed on it, and the mortgagee has a stable job.

Some mortgages are high-risk; the mortgagee has no job, sells illegal drugs and lives below sea level next to a big canal in an earthquake zone, and the property value depends on how much the local police can be bothered to stamp down crime.

The sub-prime mortgage swindle was a simple one, based around "let's believe" and a financial version of the three cups scam. The ploy is dead simple: let's make up a huge pie which contains the loans of good mortgages and bad mortgages and let's pretend that mixing them all up together magically makes the entire pie good and wholesome.

Put this way, this is patently absurd.

However, when you talk fast enough and sell slices of the pie to morons who think that they're going to make money off it, a very strange thing happens: people actually seem to believe the blatant lies and actually buy this tainted pie!

There's an old saying: "You cannot con an honest man". It is true, you can't. Offer a truly honest man a con to make money, and a quiet little voice tells him no, and he listens to the voice. Problem is, truly honest men are very rare indeed, and the overwhelming majority are slightly dishonest, or willing to suspend honesty in the name of making a quick buck.

2008 is what happens.

276:

With a fair chunk of "but of COURSE house prices are uncorrelated!" thrown in. I mean, it's not as if, with much more houses suddenly on the market (because recession, so sell your overpriced house and buy a cheaper one), there would be ANY change in price, right?

277:

While understanding why it will not be written, I am amongst those who are sorry we will not see a book.

It must be disconcerting for an author to see his flights of fancy echoed in real life - Christopher Brookmyre seems to have had particularly bad luck in this regard with Quite Ugly One Morning being followed (albeit by a few years) by Shipman and a Big Boy Did It And Ran Away being published in early September 2001. For those who have not read it (and I would thoroughly recommend it), the tag line was "Terrorism - It's The New Rock'n'Roll"

DanH - 275. Margaret Heffernan had a half chapter on sub prime in her book Wilful Blindness and the toxic effect of cultures which means that when people point out that there is fraud going on the pressure put on them to sit down and stop rocking the boat is huge.

278:

"here's one I'm considering lightly fictionalizing in a future novel"

To make it plausible enough to sell? I don't know how you find such things!

279:

Ok, that was a weird moment - we have (a) St Brides school two doors down from here.

280:

If you read a bit around the subject you run across the hysterically funny picture of a cult/commune (the Rhennish commmunity who later turned into the Silver Sisterhood/St Bride's) suing their landlord ... the Atlantis commune, aka the Screamers (who had decamped for Colombia).

See also Miss Martindale.

281:

The Taoist brainhack sounds quite a bit like a late John Brunner novel, I can't remember which, but I think it was The Shift Key.

I think I should go back and reread his The Sheep Look Up, when the context is a little less depressing.

282:

So circa 2005 I had a (very lucrative) gig rewriting applications for mostly non English as their first language MBA students applying for jobs at high finance places. Deloitte, Goldman Sachs, etc. It didn't require any specific finance knowledge on my part - I was just making them sound better.

The reason I had this gig was because the applications generally had essay components. So I was able to read hundreds of MBA types talking about finance. Including this.

And everyone knew.

It wasn't as if they actually believed, as far as I could tell, that the products they offered actually did what they said. It was all, essentially, musical chairs. They were looking to shove it off on to someone else.

The basic idea seemed to be that everyone believed everyone else was an idiot, so they were trying to profit. But since it was everyone, they became the idiot.

This is actually my frustration with The Big Short, which tells a good story but presupposes that only a few people knew the crash was coming. I can personally assure you that this wasn't true. The dudes in The Big Short are just the ones who lucked into calling WHEN.

283:

I'm operating under the assumption this is likely to go flu-like. I would guess it's probably hit enough hosts to have mutated into several strains - I read somewhere there are already two known. So you may get a yearly "COVID-vaccine" that provides temporary protection for the strains the Docs think are most likely to be doing the rounds this year. Maybe COVID-19 variants will become a "new normal"? The problem at the moment is that no-one has any developed immunity at all, so 100% of the world population is susceptible, and it's hitting everywhere pretty much at once, so the usual logistics for producing the needed things just can't go quick enough, because of capitalism. Mass production lines are great for churning out pre-planned widgets at record speed, but job-shops they are not. We can't just instantly retool them anymore like happened for WWI/WWII. Then there's the whole offshoring manufacturing capacity thing...

Actually, one of the things that I find interesting to think about, is that if something reasonably big kicked off - full-spectrum warfare short of nukes, where do you get your replacements from? You can't e.g. phone up Lockheed-Martin and request another 100 F35Bs within the next month please to cover combat losses. As an example, there's no longer a furniture industry based around High Wycombe able to repurpose into knocking out De-Haviland Mosquitoes.

284:

"There's an old saying: "You cannot con an honest man". It is true, you can't. Offer a truly honest man a con to make money, and a quiet little voice tells him no, and he listens to the voice. Problem is, truly honest men are very rare indeed, and the overwhelming majority are slightly dishonest, or willing to suspend honesty in the name of making a quick buck."

Honestly, you can con an honest man. Most of us don't really know what we are buying, especially in the financial and insurance industries. We don't understand the financial details, or the contracts, or the laws, or how arbitration might go.

285:

"We can't just instantly retool them anymore like happened for WWI/WWII. Then there's the whole offshoring manufacturing capacity thing..."

For the US 'instantly retool' meant a couple of years. The US government started planning in 1940 or so, and one of the effects of Lend-Lease was (IMHO) to clean out stockpiles of old equipment, requiring new orders.

Remember that the US Auto industry didn't stop making private cars until early 1942, and from what I heard much of that was due to government pressure to switch over 100% to military production.

286:

> The later is only useful if the prices are accurate, which means you need strong public policy to make
> everybody keep all their costs on the books. (E.g., climate change should be on the fossil carbon extractor's
> balance sheets. Otherwise all their prices are false.)

Ideally, you want the whole-life cost of every product to be factored into the decision-making process of "should I produce this product?" Sadly the mantra of capitalism is "privatise all your profit, socialise as much of your cost base as you can." When it all goes wrong bleat "whoda thunked it, where's me bailout?"

Maybe if raw-materials costs and manufactured goods costs become too high, we might have to get really World-class at recycling - that might be a possible Brexit silver-lining maybe? Kind of like Asimov's Foundation people having to get good at doing a lot with a little.

287:

"...they have conducted an act of war against the country whose ship it is, and the faeces hits the fan on an epic international-diplomacy-disaster level."

...or, alternatively, everyone just rolls over and goes back to sleep, n'est-ce pas?

288:

> As I understand it, China's ownership of US debt (about 1 trillion $) is supposed to protect us all from a
> full-blown trade war... But what if the US economy is beyond saving? Wouldn't dealing it the death blow
> become attractive to Xi Jinping?

Well, the thing about assets is that they are only really worth something at the point of exchange. So China could try and dump 1 trillion $s worth of US treasuries onto the open market but, in the situation you talk about, would anybody want to take them off China's hands? Maybe if that tanked the value of them so much, then they might be a really attractive method of quantitative easing and taking a large chunk off the US national debt?

It's not like the countries stuck in the Eurozone - the US federal reserve can magic up as many dollars as they need to meet their commitments.

289:

to Robert Prior @263:
So the US Coast Guard are pirates?
If they're not, they probably very much wish they could be.

to Graham @259:
All this took place in international waters.
I am not entirely sure about terminology, but I think these should be marked as EEZ, although there's also other definitions like territorial waters.
https://atlas-caraibe.certic.unicaen.fr/en/page-26.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Tortuga_Island
So there's several Turtle islands, and this one is different from the others, because it is very close to the actual country shore. The coastal defense could have reacted to the vessel because someone was suspected to have some spying equipment or whatever.

It then repeatedly rammed the larger vessel, before beginning to take on water, local media reported.
Considering what actually happened and what marks were left at the cruise ship, this sounds awfully like "killed himself by shooting his temple repeatedly". Which is not really surprising. Also looks awfully like the century-old situation with some U-boats that led to Lusitania sinking.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUaIC9VnFtE
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-52151951
Now that's what I like to see - people lying through their teeth. Obviously the aggressor aggressively attacked the peacefully parked neutral ship in neutral waters, specifically aiming to ram their bow with its portside. What a bunch of dorks.

https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2020/04/01/us/ap-us-venezuela-anti-narcotics-mission.html
I don't know if anti-narcotic ships are any different from other types of ships in the navy, but US very much looks to win ongoing price war in oil market, and would jump on such opportunity at any time.

290:

Which is exactly why I hate it when people argue that a starship is impossible; it's 2020, build one impulse drive...

291:

Eight bits?!?!!?? For a CD player?

By the time CD players came out, 8 bit D to As (and A to Ds, for that matter) easily capable of operating at 44.1kHz were common standard parts. But they weren't used in CD players because 8 bits just isn't good enough (it's basically more or less cassette tape standard).

The problem was making a D to A that could do 16 bits and 44.1kHz and be cheap enough to put two in each player. You could meet or even exceed any two of these requirements but not all three together. So at the beginning there were two main solutions. Philips used two D to As which were only 14 bits but could go at 176kHz and used oversampling techniques to get 16-bit effective resolution. Sony used one 16-bit D to A at 88.2kHz and multiplexed it between the two channels, which is kind of horrible and might well have been the reason for a lot of the people who said CDs weren't all they were cracked up to be at that time.

It was only a couple of years or so before they got better at it and moved on to using two 16-bit 44.1kHz D to As "like it always should have been". Philips stuck with their approach a bit longer than that because it wasn't so horrible in the first place.

The next stage was single-bit converters at massive oversampling rates. This eliminated the difficulty of getting all the steps in a multi-bit D to A exactly the same size, and also meant that the requirements for the subsequent analogue filtering stage were a lot more relaxed so you didn't have the problem of how to make a steep enough filter without ripple and phase shifts in the passband, etc.

Then it all started to go mental with seemingly all the possible combinations of bit depth and oversampling rate being tried so that whoever was trying it could give it a silly name and claim it was better than anyone else's, and you had to go back to the datasheets for the chips themselves to cut through all the fucking shite and find out what the thing was actually doing. Once this had got to the point where nobody had a fucking clue what anything really was, they eased off on the loads of different converter types part and just stuck to making up silly names. These days most of the chips that are respectable enough in the first place to bother with at all seem to be at the few-bits lots-of-oversampling end.

292:

Years from now, when everything is back to normal, they will find that more people died homeless in the street -- because they were laid off during this time -- than would have actually died from catching the coronavirus.

Can't be bothered to look, but that is only true if we go through our current efforts.

Most predictions of allowing Covid to run wild, with the attending either collapse of health care systems or simply not treating people suffering from Covid, seem to predict death numbers that easily dwarf the deaths from the economic fallout from our current actions.

293:

You view being that smart political operators and scientists don't venture onto reddit?

No, but I did think that if there *was* some kind of plan for how things would work under socialism then one of the redditeers might be able to post a link.

But I'd be quite happy for you to do the same; I've been looking for one for some years now. I've reluctantly come to the conclusion that mixed-market capitalism is the worst possible form of economic system, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

294:

In practice proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Joe Bloggs was the mastermind is not usually easy, for the very good reason that in most cases there *is* no mastermind. With the senior people you can't even say that they were bad at their job because there is no clear standard to which they can be held

Some interesting discussions on criminogenic environments in this book:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38605195-lying-for-money


According to the author, there are now laws that hold management responsible for creating conditions that they should have known would lead to bad behaviour. With the usual caveats about levels of proof and white-collar crimes thrown in, of course.

295:

"Go look up Lasers, ticket reading, Underground trains."

Sealed unit helium-neon laser tubes of a mW or so have been around since the late 60s ish (along with designs for home-made power supplies to drive them) at a remarkably stable 100-200 Anglophone Major Currency Units a pop. Pretty easy things for an industry used to making valves to turn out once they knew what to do. Used in barcode scanners since they first came out, and you can still find gas laser barcode scanners even in these laser diode days.

The big deal with Underground tickets and automatic readers was magnetic coding. You got a bright yellow ticket with brown magnetic paint slapped on the back which you put into a slot in the barrier to make it open its gates. These came out in the late 70s, although it may not be apparent because of all the fucked up shit that has happened to that time period and there's something of an eight-faces anomaly over their introduction, so telling someone to look them up may not be particularly useful.

296:

We could end up with something like the Flu vaccines; what kind of Coronavirus is going to manifest this year, get your annual shot and you probably won't get sick.

297:

True. Also worth noticing that if Chamberlain hadn't done the same post-Munich, Britain would have had many fewer modern armaments.

298:

Re: 'Wouldn't dealing it the death blow become attractive to Xi Jinping?'

Only if he's willing to lose a good customer before he can replace the lost exports/sales to other customers*.

Per 2018 data: the US accounts for approx. 18% of China's exports; China accounts for 15% of total US imports. Basically both countries would suffer equal hurt if they screwed up their trade relations.


* The New Silk Road Initiative was supposed to help this process but COVID-19 threw one hell of spanner into the works. Also depends on the upcoming Nov/20 election.

299:

I call this the "Argument from Communism." The argument generally goes something like this: "We can't revive Glass-Steagal* because Stalin and 80,000,000 deaths."**

This is an argument which is meant to stop thinking, and it must always be met with a very high level of contempt.


* U.S. Depression Era financial regulation which made sure that a saving/lending type bank could not participate in the stock market or similar markets.

** The overly-high number of deaths comes from the argument that Hitler was a communist because "National Socialism" must have been Marxist.

300:

Read it when it first came out. Thanks for the memories!

Obviously, what I proposed has been done before, just as zombie stories have been done before. It's simply a way to repurpose a good story if time permits.

Heck you could follow in the footsteps of Robert Anton Wilson and have an enlightened detective. In the second person, even. Imagine what might happen if the "interesting times" curse on that series followed that too...

301:

Just so you know, I'd buy the thing as it stands, but I also understand why you don't want to take the risk. Have you considered a possible non-pandemic cause for zombie-ism? Maybe all you need is a brain-computer interface with some kind of software issue? (I just had an idea, maybe I'll send you an email.)

302:

2010 doesn't bother me that much, but I tried to show Doctor Strangelove to a thirty-something recently and she just didn't get it. She thought some of the bits were funny, but she had no idea about why it resonated!

303:

EC
BUT
Said cruise Liner was specifically designed to cruise through Icy Waters - it's not a professional Icebreaker, but its rating for ice is pretty high.
It - quite deliberately - has an armoured, reinforced bow & its underwater bulbous "nose" ( for "slipperiness" in the water ) is itself armoured & reinforced, which makes it equivalent to a galley-era-RAM - oops.
The Venezuelan idiots got Salamis-ed, for want of a better word, oh dear, how sad.

Charlie @ 267
Correct - my bad - I was, at least partly misinformed & I jumped the gun, as well.
DON'T talk about fuckwit Raab - if BoZo goes down, then idiot Raab is "in charge" - I mean he's brighter than Trump, but that's not saying a lot, is it?
Further down - total death roll ( "Mortality Bills" in Defoe-speak ) - as usual, the least developed, most incompetent & corrupt countries will suffer the worst.
Which means almost all of sub-Saharan Africa, Venzueala, Burma & the USA ....

Windscale @ 286
Ah yes: "Whole Life Cost" tell that to areshole Kahn who wants to steal my Land Rover - deliberately bought, back in 2003, so that I would never, ever, have to buy another car, because I could do 90% + pf my own mantenance & it wouild simply carry on working.
That total cost includes overall pollution, of course.

304:

{ " And a Sheriff is a junior judge, not a law enforcement official.

But didn't the Sheriff start out as both? I mean many years ago when feudalism existed and the U.K. hadn't even come into existence yet, wasn't the Sheriff both judge & law enforcement officer (plus revenue collector and local administrator and ...)? " ]

I think that position was called "Justice of the Peace," created in the 14th C by Edward the III's reign, 1349 and 1351, to enforce the Ordinance of Laborers and the Statute of Laborers, which was to keep the labor force in the region where they were prior to the Bubonic Plague, to not get pinched by other lords for their fields and work, to keep the wages and other conditions at the pre-Plague levels.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordinance_of_Labourers_1349

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statute_of_Labourers_1351

A familiar name appointed as one of the Justices of the Peace was Geoffrey Chaucer.


305:

I think that position was called "Justice of the Peace," created in the 14th C

Reeves were originally Anglo-Saxon officials, they were largely replaced in their law enforcement capacity by Bailiffs after the Norman invasion though the Shire-Reeve carried on as a sort of combined magistrate and chief constable. See the comments two or three blogs ago.

306:

I think the Faceplant app comes pretty close, no interface required. As I noted above, you can easily do cyberpunk now by substituting "addictive programming" for "cyber-psychosis" and do away with the neural interface.

308:

Straight Black Hair @220

Thanks for the DuneQuoteBot link. Deeply satisfying.

I stumbled across a game a few days ago that is similar to the Borges, Garden Of Forking Paths. The trailer hit me with instant longing to buy it.

Gorogoa Trailer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbNj9No6XDQ

The game took me about half a day to play. I didn't hit the end until after my sell-by-date, well past 3am. Repeated play starts to reveal all the story aspects that I missed when I played it the first time. Since I've run through the game now, it takes about five hours to play each time I play it. The ending is profound.

It's a Labyrinth, not a maze. There are no dead ends. Each time I thought I'd reached a dead end, I simply had not changed my perspective enough.

309:

Interesting paper about smallpox in the Americas.

One explanation Amerindians were hit that bad was they

a) had never encountered smallpox
b) smallpox never became endemic, so the epidemics were somewhat spaced apart and hit populations with no acquired immunity; also, no transmitted antibodies from mother to nursed children.

It's interesting in the context of future pandemics, I guess.

310:

Why there will be a vaccine, ultimately -- c19 isn't a flu virus, and is very long and stable:

https://www.city-journal.org/coronavirus-vaccine

["The biopharmaceutical industry will be able to make a Covid-19 vaccine—probably a few of them—using various existing vaccine technologies. But many people worry that Covid-19 will mutate and evade our vaccines, as the flu virus does each season. Covid-19 is fundamentally different from flu viruses, though, in ways that will allow our first-generation vaccines to hold up well. To the extent that Covid does mutate, it’s likely to do so much more slowly than the flu virus does, buying us time to create new and improved vaccines. "

[...]

It seems that no US media will publish a piece that says, Trump must resign, right now. This piece by the St. Louis-based Sarah Kendzior was published not in the US, but in Canada's most-read newspaper . .
.
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-the-plague-of-donald-trump/

The plague of Donald Trump
Sarah Kendzior
Special to The Globe and Mail
Updated March 25, 2020
352 Comments

Sarah Kendzior is the co-host of the podcast Gaslit Nation and the author of coming book Hiding in Plain Sight.

[ ' “Life is what you do while you’re waiting to die,” Donald Trump, then a real estate tycoon bound for bankruptcy, told Playboy magazine in 1990. “You know, it is all a rather sad situation.”

“Life?” the interviewer asked. “Or death?”

“Both. We’re here and we live our 60, 70 or 80 years and we’re gone. You win, you win and in the end, it doesn’t mean a hell of a lot. But it is something to do – to keep you interested.”

For his entire life, Mr. Trump has been a self-described fatalist. He has called himself a fatalist in interviews spanning nearly 30 years. This admission is a rare expression of consistent honesty for a man infamous for lying about everything – his fortune, his criminal ties, objective reality. It’s the outlook he hints at when he does things such as retweeting a meme of himself fiddling like Nero, while the novel coronavirus spreads across the United States.

Nothing seems to matter to Mr. Trump – not only in the sense that the things that matter to other people, like love and loss, do not matter to him.

Nothingness itself matters: Destruction and annihilation are what he craves. “When bad times come, then I’ll get whatever I want,” he told Barbara Walters in an 1980s interview. His initial reaction to 9/11 was that the collapse of the World Trade Center made his own buildings look taller. His initial reaction to the 2008 economic collapse was joy at his potential to profit. Everything to Mr. Trump is transactional, and you – all of you – are the transaction.

[...] "]

311:

Boris Johnson has been transferred into Intensive Care.

312:

JUST IN:BORIS JOHNSON IN INTENSIVE CARE AFTER CONDITION TAKES A TURN FOR THE WORSE.
Dominick Raab is acting PM in his absence.

313:

ME/US/CHARLIE:Could this timemine get any weirder?

REALITY: Hold my pint.

314:

Eight bits?!?!!?? For a CD player?

There was a lot of low end crappy sound sold in the US in the early days of CD players. Maybe the low end was 10 bit.

I didn't buy one until 86 or so and that cost me $300 or $500 for a 5 disc changer that did 16 bit.

It took a while for consumer units to get to 16 bits and not cost near $1000.

315:

Bill Arnold @ 187: I was extremely irritated that DTJ halfheartedly said that the general public could wear homemade masks, then said he would probably not be wearing one himself. (So breathtakingly selfish of him; even if he is being tested daily so he knows he is not infected to a reasonably high level of confidence, he is sending a dangerous message to his gullible followers.)

Who in Cheatolini iL Douchebag's family is competent enough to sew a homemade mask? I think Ivanka has a "fashion line" but I doubt if she would recognize a sewing machine if it weren't located in some Asian sweatshop?

Maybe he should put Jared Where’s our Mideast peace deal, dude? Kushner in charge of procuring homemade masks. Seems like procurer might be a job he could handle.

316:

It seems that no US media will publish a piece that says, Trump must resign, right now.

Not true. But resign he will not. But unfit to be Pres many will say and do say so.

317:

I disagree, linguistically. It should have been "conspiracy hypothesis" all along, but that's too many syllables.

But then, most Americans, and 99.44% of all PR people conflate the word "theory" with "I had too much beer and pizza last night, and had this crazy dream".

318:

It's always entertaining when people with no background in legal studies quote international law, yes, this includes me, but I hope to be entertaining.

Thing is, "Piracy" is defined by Article 101 of the UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA as:

any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft

So a warship can't commit "piracy", except when the crew has mutinied, which is subject of another article, article 102.

Just as a soldier killing an enemy soldier in war is (usually) not murder in most jurisdictions.

You could argue a warship stopping a ship of another nation would be akin to commerce raiding, and the state the ship is registered with might see it as an act of war, but till now the Portuguese haven't declared one on Venezuela; it's not in Northern America or Europe, so NATO is likely not involved.

As for a warship stopping another ship, article 105 is a starting point,

On the high seas, or in any other place outside the jurisdiction of any State, every State may seize a pirate ship or aircraft, or a ship or aircraft taken by piracy and under the control of pirates, and arrest the persons and seize the property on board.

Which is the line the Venezuelans are using, they accuse the ship of piray. Another thing, even according to the owners, the ship was 13 miles off from the coastline of a Venezuelan island, which is quite close to territorial waters (12 miles).

Expect much entertainment to be had about where who was when and was doing what, especially if the Venezuelans become, err, inventive; reminds me of a pen-and-paper RPG group, except every player is BOTH munchkin and gamemaster.

As for states boarding ships, you can argue it's "piracy" according to "natural law", but you just don't want to open this can of worms for a diet, I think...

319:

By the way, geez, I spend a lot of the weekend writing, playing solitaire, and attending Heliosphere via Zoom, and look back here, and it's hundreds of comments already....

Btw, I just realized today that [Ll]ibertarians are great for propaganda, they have a disastrous failure mode as brownshirts, as opposed, for example to "sovereign citizens" - the latter can more-or-less form an armed band, if not an army, while libertarians, all of whom believe they're as good and as smart as any other libertarian, will refuse to form an army, thinking they should be the one in charge (and will happily rename themselves John Galt"... and then do a cost-benefit analysis of pulling their firearm and going against that battalion....

320:

where do you get your replacements from? You can't e.g. phone up Lockheed-Martin and request another 100 F35Bs within the next month please

Forget the airframes (and yes, the lead time on new production of military aircraft in peacetime is years-to-decades; in wartime it's guaranteed to be at least months-to-years).

Your real problem is pilots. A 4th generation fighter pilot takes about 7-10 years to train to front-line readiness: they're as specialized as brain surgeons. Nor can you go out to the boneyard and recommission a bunch of mothballed early-model F-16s or even F-104s and put a middle-aged airliner driver behind the stick. The reflexes, eyesight, and reaction time have faded, even if they drove fast-movers in their youth. The skill set for flying an airliner and flying a front-line fighter are about as similar as driving a tractor-trailer rig vs. Formula One racing.

Low-intensity wars (bluntly: civil wars and colonial wars) permit resupply/replenishment over time. High-intensity warfare is all over inside six weeks, tops (going by Arab/Israeli and similar experience): more likely, six days.

321:

Hey, you're already read my trilogy of shorts, so you've seen it done. And I have a sequel finished, 20 years later. Oh, and I'm working on another sequel, 15 years after that....

Trust me, being one of the 400 does NOT end well....

322:

Hey, SotMN, thanks. That one wasn't so convoluted that I did follow it, and yeah, the more I read the more bizarre it gets.

Unless, of course, the ship actually *DOES* have serious quantities of drugs on, which would explain a lot.

323:

Dang. I'd buy that one. Zombies or no, it's an interesting, engaging universe.

324:

SFReader @ 197: BOJO in hosp for tests

Not that I like him, but as a fellow human, hope he comes out of this okay.

The news item I read was very terse merely saying that he remains in charge ... what is the succession if he's admitted for intensive care?

I bear him no ill will, although I am not a fan. Basically I consider it that he's the U.K.'s problem. But I did wonder why couldn't it be Mike Pence and Donald J. Trumpolini. Them I do bear ill will.

325:

They are. I've seen photos.

326:

I think that the Orange Idiot and Brexit were their final push that they've been building up to since the late seventies, to actually take over. And just as it was coming to fruition... the economic repercussions are actually, seriously *hurting*. $24TRILLION lost in the market, when the entire US economy is about $70Trillion or so?

327:

Forget the airframes (and yes, the lead time on new production of military aircraft in peacetime is years-to-decades; in wartime it's guaranteed to be at least months-to-years).

Harking back to the original comment, in WWII, most aircraft were somewhat disposable. Now days, ah, nope.

10% to 30% losses per mission in the early days of allied bombing was "factored" in by the PTB. Not liked but dealt with. And I've seen it reported by some people who talked to the crews back then, "we weren't really asked what WE thought of those numbers".

Not too long ago I came across a stat that was a bit of a surprise (to me). 1/3 of all US aircraft losses in WWII were not due to combat.

328:

We could end up with something like the Flu vaccines; what kind of Coronavirus is going to manifest this year, get your annual shot and you probably won't get sick.

A vaccine effective against a coronavirus would be a new thing in the world.

The attempts to produce SARS vaccines were not sustained, but also were not even slightly successful.

The point to vaccines is to make "everyone", for some suitable statistical approximation of everyone, immune at once. Then if you can get rid of any animal reservoirs there may happen to be you can get rid of the disease.

That imposes some constraints; those constraints get tougher as soon as the disease is readily contagious, and they get tougher depending on how long the immune reaction from the vaccine lasts, and they get tougher the more readily the pathogen changes. (It's a notably fortunate thing indeed that measles vaccines are good for at least ten years.)

How long the immune reaction lasts is this "well, we can measure it...." trip into the land of poorly understood. In general, acquired immunity to coronaviruses is short, less than a year.

That's the natural, got-sick, got-better version of acquired immunity. It's not the probably-not-quite-as-good vaccine version. So producing a vaccine that produces useful immunity might not be possible just because catching the disease doesn't produce useful immunity. A vaccine can't do better than recovering from the actual disease would in terms of creating immunity.

Then there's the "whups" factor. SARS-CoV-2 doesn't mutate that fast, it seems to be fairly conservative in important respects, which could make a vaccine easier to produce -- it would keep working if you had it.

SARS-CoV-2 has a couple of lethality mechanisms which involve immune system failure (you die of your own immune system, more than the disease) on the one hand and (possibly) screwed up heart timing, on the other. If you set off enough immune response to produce a useful duration of immunity, can you do it without setting off the immune system overreaction? A vaccine that kills one in a thousand instead of one in a hundred is an actuarial win but pretty challenging to get people to use. If it's use annually, well. Might not be entirely useful.

And right now, none of these are answered questions. Most of them are difficult questions. I think it'd be unwise to plan on a vaccine.

329:

Hair elastics work, also - you'd want the larger size, sometimes labeled "thick hair". Or, if you get a little creative, shoe laces (at least 40-inch length). A knitter could do you a loop or a length of cord from stash, and a crocheter could certainly do cord for ties.

330:

Zepplins! Steam-powered - the solar energy powering the engines using mirrors and a Sterling cycle! Use bronze for the metalwork!

And goggles!

331:

We're past 300 (if anyone's still worrying about that?), so I'm going to post this interesting thing, not least because of its implications for the prevalence of life out there:

https://phys.org/news/2020-03-contested-year-old-novae-iceberg.html

It appears that novae are commoner than we thought.

332:

The US government stole a shipment, already paid for, from *Barbados*.
A lot of us citizens are Not Happy that our government is resorting to piracy to handle stuff they've had two months to get factories making. (Also, they're stealing it from states and counties.) The question arises: where are they getting the information on what's been ordered, and when, how and whither it's being shipped?

333:

Which is why, a century ago, there were so many vertical industries - they not only owned, they *were* the supply chain, so no one could cut them off, or price fix, etc.

But MBAs know *so* much better, no profit sinks, spin off everything (with the biggest reason being you can kill the unions).

Oh, and JIT stocking.

334:

10% to 30% losses per mission in the early days of allied bombing was "factored" in by the PTB.

No: the losses were factored in at 1% to 3%, and a bomb group that sustained 3% losses on three consecutive missions in a week (a fairly typical week in 1942-44) was basically toast. 10% death toll, horrible morale, lots of bullet holes in surviving planes (and aircrew) to patch up, fresh meat to integrate.

A tour meant 30-50 missions, depending on air force: a 1% attrition rate meant a 50-70% probability of being shot down, and the survival rate for aircrew who had to bale out was not high: with modern ejector seats it's pushing 80%, but back then it was 20-50% survival depending on aircraft. (Some were notorious for having an emergency hatch right in front of a propeller. Others -- both the B-17 and the Lancaster had gun turrets so cramped the gunner (ball turret on the B-17, tail-gunner in the Lanc) had to leave their parachute back in the fuselage.)

335:

Y'know, Charlie, I'd heard people talking about Human Beings Being Replaced By Alien Robots when I was young, and I found that hard to believe, until....

One day, around 1971, I was biking into work, hitting a good speed. Was making a left, and this guy stepped off the sidewalk *right* in front of me. I slammed into him, and bounced backwards off my seat, so far that I was straddling the back wheel. He sort of shook himself, didn't even look at me, and began walking again.

That did give me a pause....

336:

Sourdough is actually a yeast/bacteria culture. You get the best flavor with flour and skimmed milk. (I have a 40-year-old culture.)
(Wikipedia's article is pretty good, and goes into the microbiology involved.)

337:

Graham @ 259: I'm intrigued by how this might help the liner's owners too. If I was the owner of a cruise liner trying to get shot of it, I'd be *overjoyed* by it being captured by pirates (state-sponsored or otherwise). I'd be able to claim on my insurance, and job's a good'un. As it is, the most there seems to be on the owners is that they're a shell company trying to limit what they pay their creditors, possibly through bankruptcy of the shell company, and like all ship owners they're running a very thin ROI. Considering the President of the USA has done the bankruptcy thin 6 times in the course of his business career, this is just business as usual.

My read on the situation is the other way around. First of all, it's a Canadian company that has nothing to do with Trumpolini. They're not trying to limit payment to their creditors through bankruptcy, it was being unable to pay those creditors that forced the company into bankruptcy. I'm not aware of any evidence they're trying to cheat the creditors, they just went broke.

338:

Sorry, I've *never* had to worry about water, and I've lived in US metro areas most of my life. A *few* times, I've read about major issues, where they actually issued "boil your water" orders, but other than Flint, it's all PROPAGANDA by the people who want to sell you massively overpriced water, in non-reusable plastic bottles.

Or did you miss the episode of Penn and Teller, I think it was, who found out that a) ALL PEPSICO water is NOT from a spring, but an approved city water supply, and b) tasters couldn't tell the difference between alleged spring bottled water, and a city water supply.

339:

Smoking increases the likelihood of fire, and it also increases cleaning costs and the cost of maintaining the HVAC systems (clogging filters). Some jurisdictions have fines for improper disposal of cigarette and cigar butts (they're a major ingredient in trash and a health hazard, because nicotine is a poison and some of the chemicals used in cigarettes to make tobacco burn faster are also nasty).

340:

No: the losses were factored in at 1% to 3%, and a bomb group that sustained 3% losses on three consecutive missions in a week (a fairly typical week in 1942-44) was basically toast. 10% death toll, horrible morale, lots of bullet holes in surviving planes (and aircrew) to patch up, fresh meat to integrate.

Maybe in the UK but in the US it wasn't liked but the PTB were going to deal.

And yes I understand your stats. In the early days of the US 8th in UK some of the smarter folks in the crews realized that at the attrition rates they were seeing very very few people would make it to the US limit of 25 missions. And yes it made for poor morale. Very much so.

both the B-17 and the Lancaster had gun turrets so cramped the gunner (ball turret on the B-17, tail-gunner in the Lanc) had to leave their parachute back in the fuselage.)

My father was trained as a ball turret gunner in a B24. Basically because he was smarter than average and only 5'6" tall. The height was the major factor.

He was lucky enough that when he got to England in the fall of 44 they were removing ball turrets and replacing them with an extra bomb rack. But the crews were still being shipped over assuming ball turrets. So waist gunners only had to fly 2 of 3. (Ball turret gunners were qualified as waist gunners before being trained for the ball turret.)

Back to the original point of this sub thread. Any current big force war will be a come as you are. No swapping out weapons systems on a plane that can fly at Mach numbers unless designed for such.

341:

From what I've read, COVID-19 does *not* mutate rapidly. I think I saw that they've found *one* mutation.

342:

1. Sorry, you're wrong.
2. Reddit - let's see, that's where immense numbers of annoying idiots used to hang out, before they moved to 4chan, then 8chan.

The only time I've wound up on a reddit site was while searching for answers to technical questions, and have never found anything useful.

And, nope, we don't have a clue. By the way, if you're interested in investment opportunities, I have this bridge in a northeaster US city....

343:

Charlie Stross @ 267: Basically, I don't want to get trapped in the same bind as Len Deighton, who was writing the capstone to his masterwork nine-volume cold war espionage series ... and timed it so badly it was due out in 1991. Which means I can't write a near-future pandemic novel of any kind until the dust has settled: it runs the risk of look quaint to the point of obsolete before it hits the editor's desk.

So, the bottom line is IF I manage to survive the Covid-19 and live long enough for the dust to settle there's a chance you might come back to the story & I could have a chance to find out what happened to the kid on the sidewalk & the "Good Samaritan" who found him there ... and whether or not the couple who were sent out as "backup" are cosplayers or not.

I hope so anyway.

344:

The first generation of structured mortgage backed securities (MBS) were pretty decent.

The MBS were divided into tiers only when the most senior tier had paid out in full would the next tier begin to pay out and so on. The top few tiers, most senior debt, were almost certain to pay in full, and was sold at face value. The bottom tier, most junior debt was basically worthless total junk, unlikely to pay anything and was kept by the loan originator. The second most junior debt was sold at a discount as it was likely to pay most, but not all, of face value.

And for the securities based directly on the mortgages this was fine. The senior debt was sold at 100% to people who wanted no risk. The junior debt was kept as it was toxic waste. And the second most junior was sold to people who had a bit of an appetite for risk.

Then someone had the bright idea of taking the second most junior MBS and repeating the process. Creating collateralised debt obligations (CDO). And then taking the second most junior tier of those and doing it again, and again, and again, and again.

Unfortunately the default risk on the underlying mortgages had been underestimated by a few percent so the second most junior debt was significantly riskier than they thought. So after a few iterations the senior CDOs were toxic junk. Realising that sparked the 2008 crisis.


Simple MBS, which simply pool a large number of mortgages distributing the risk evenly work fine. Structured MBS work OK. The problem was the structured CDO after a few iterations werte so far removed from the underlying mortgages that they were more or less impossible to value adequetly.

345:

If you ever feel like, get my email info from the mods. I've got this political book I'll get to writing one of these days (I have the table of contents...). Since I see that someone's put out a book called 21st Century Socialism, which was going to be my title, I suppose I could call it 21st Century Socialism in the US.

Income and asset caps - hell, yes. I'm still waiting for *anyone* to tell me why the Jamie Dimon, of BoA, or the head of Apple, deserves more money than the President of the US.

Limited liability - that is, stock corporations... they *might* still be doable, with the following caveats:
1. An "artificial person" needs to be defined strictly as an economic entity, and has NO REASONABLE EXPECTATION OF POLITICAL FREE SPEECH.[1]
2. If such an entity is charged with a criminal offense, the Chief execs are *personally* liable to going to jail, because they set the tone of the entire company, if they didn't micromanage and order the actions directly.[2]
3. No matter what kind of stock the stockholders own, THEY ARE PAID LAST IN A BANKRUPTCY, and the employees and suppliers to the company GET PAID FIRST.[3]
4. It is illegal to give bonuses to a money-losing company, or pay out dividends.

1. I call this the "Dick Notebart law", because in the mid-nineties, I started a job with Ameritech, one of the Baby Bells. a) Being a programmer, I wasn't union and so I was *required* to attend a hard-sell meeting, to try to get us to become members of the Ameritech PAC, and b) during the deregulation debate in '96, we were *REQUIRED* to write to our Congresscritter and Senators to support dereg... and when I kept putting it off, my director told me that he'd been leaned on by his boss, and they wanted copies of the letters.

2 A hell of a lot of them micromanage, and yes, it *is* their fault.

3. Bankruptcy is often led up to explicitly to break union contracts. Easter Airlines was literally destroyed by Frank Lorenze to break the unions. The coal companies have been doing this for a number of years now... and then they *also* don't have to pay into the health and welfare benefit fund (you got black lung? tough), and yes, I personally have an inside contact about that.

And let's *use* the antitrust laws, and break up the trusts.

346:

Reddit, much like the Internet itself, runs the gamut of idiocy to extremely useful.

For example, there are a bunch of Microsoft employees participating in the various Microsoft and/or programming language forums - and the C++ reddit forum is the place where the C++ ISO meeting unofficial summary is posted after every quarterly meeting.

347:

It mutates rapidly; it's a species-hopping virus. Look at the stuff UW Virology was doing to track dispersal from genetic difference between samples in the early phases of the outbreak.

It looks like the important bits don't mutate that rapidly, but that's really not the primary worry.

The primary worry is that people don't generally develop lasting immune responses to coronaviruses when they contract the disease and recover naturally. If that doesn't happen, you generally can't expect to be able to create a vaccine that is worth the bother.

Now, we don't know how much immunity people get from getting sick and recovering; there's all sorts of muttering about how the severity of the case may affect the degree of immunity, and figuring out what amount of antibodies corresponds to which degree of immunity is a big job that hasn't been done yet. (Couldn't be. Hasn't been time.)

The secondary worry is that IF you can produce an effective vaccine, it's could be walking a very fine line between "effective" and "people die, because it made their immune system panic", AND the location of that line is going to be variable across people and populations.

348:

Thanks for this post. I don't remember seeing you post before, but welcome.

Ah, but there's one or two things it *would* do if China were to dump, or demand payout, from the US: one is that it might force the US to devalue the dollar (been done, I know once, at least, during the Great Depression #1 (as opposed to 2008, Depression #2), or the one that's happening now (Depression #3). The other is... it could break the US military, also. They spend *huge* amounts of money with outsourced contractors (F-35, anyone?)... and the multinational contractors would go crash, also.

And how much do *they* buy from Chinese factories, that were shipped overseas to break US unions?

349:

Easter Airlines was literally destroyed by Frank Lorenze to break the unions.

Eastern Airlines is a bad example for most anything to do with corporate structures and such.

They were a mess of a company for a very long time. Their business model and policies just didn't work anymore. How much of that was tied to union contracts I have no idea.

Lorenzo was just the vulture who came in at the end to feast on the carcass. And, yes, feast he did.

350:

I've been wondering if one legacy of the DT presidency might be that people start deciding the USA is no longer a reliable ally, and start to make alternative arrangements.

351:

Any sensible peasant, in that case, stops up their toilets, doesn't deliver toilet paper, cuts their water supplies, and, oh, yes, hides all the food.

Soldiers standing in factories trying to make the workers work doesn't really work all that well. (See "slowdown")

352:

Civil war in the US - unlikely.

*Very* low level terrorism, possibly. I mean, the ultra-rights been doing that for decades. But I don't see them putting together a real army, and the US military, if these nuts are declared enemies, the National Guard *can* come down on them with everythiing... including drones.

353:

Um, no, Covid-19 does mutate a bit (link is to a phylogeny on Nextstrain, which is open source tracking it). But it's not influenza or HIV.

So far as I can tell, what we have to worry about with coronaviruses in general (and I see Graydon posted a bunch of these already):

--Humans seem to lose immunity to some (not all!) coronaviruses that cause colds over time. This isn't the virus mutating (as checked by sequencing old samples) but human immune systems being forgetful for reasons unknown. Does this apply to SARS-CoV2? Unknown. People who survived the SARS epidemic still show an immune response to SARS a decade later, and some response to Covid19. It's quite possible that a Covid19 vaccine might need fairly frequent boosting.

--There may be a dose response to immunity from COVID-19. It was reported awhile ago that people who survive a serious infection with it show a robust immune response to it, while people who had a mild infection show a mild response. Unclear if this is true, and it really unclear what this means for a vaccine.

--There are thousands of coronaviruses out in the world. The pandemic boffins were worried about over 100 known ones a couple of years back (reported last week, in the post mortem of how stupid it was for the US to disband its pandemic response crew). SARS-CoV2 is a novel recombination of existing viruses. The problem with coronaviruses may thus not be mutation, but recombination.

--Oh, and don't think Covid-19 will ever completely go away. It might get penned in by a combination of a large number of immune survivors and effectively vaccinated people, but it'll still be going around for a very long time.

--And also, be prepared for flareups as distancing and lockdowns are eased. It's going to be messy.

--Finally, I did a bit of looking, and I suggest NOT using prophylactic doses of hydroxychloroquine. The reason (per the Prescriber's Digital Reference) is that hydroxychloroquine has a very long list of drug interactions. The most common are heart arrhythmia which may be fatal (QT prolongation). Also common are hypoglycemia (with all versions of metformin). There are some jollies like lowering of seizure thresholds with anti-seizure meds, increasing blood concentrations of various and toxic drugs, and so forth. tl;dr: not a drug to get stupid with, because now is not the time you want to be in the hospital.

I'd even go so far as to speculate that some of the heart problems being ascribed to Covid-19 might be due to drug interactions caused by doctors giving patients large doses of hydroxychloroquine without having a great notion of the consequences.

No doubt all the hearty souls will step up and say how they took hydroxychloroquine for years in their 20s back in Africa, no problem, they can do it again as middle aged men on metformin. I've got some lottery tickets to the next Darwin Awards right here, ready for you to claim if you want them.

354:

trying to make the workers work doesn't really work

The "lockdown letter" that I linked describes Aotearoa implementing a completely different approach than the militant aristocracy. I was being sarcastic, or pointing out a contrast or something. NZ has a nice lady asking people to work together, which is somewhat unlike many other countries.

But it does amuse me that Boris may well be one of the weak and infirm that the UK will have to sacrifice in order to preserve their economy. Almost as appropriate as if it was that US governor or whatever who was all "I am willing to sacrifice myself rather than order a lockdown".

355:

Dan H. @ 275: The 2008 sub-prime mortgages can probably best be understood if you look at how drugs such as cocaine modify human behaviour. The biggest bit of "Let's all you idiots believe..." in the whole debacle was the way that mortgages were repackaged as financial investments.

The "2008 sub-prime mortgages" can best be understood as an instance of "Control Fraud". The banksters knew they were approving loans the borrowers weren't going to be able to repay. They concealed the fact that the low initial interest rates on sub-prime mortgages were going to go up steeply after a few years and that low payments were going to morph overnight into high payments; payments the borrowers simply wouldn't be able to keep up. The banksters knew this. They concealed it from the borrowers.

The people wanting to buy a home were instructed by the loan officers at the mortgage companies how to fill out the applications without realizing much of the information were putting down on the application would be considered fraudulent. The borrowers were unwitting victims who didn't know any better. The "loan officers" did.

But the borrowers were not really the target of the fraud. They were collateral damage. The real target of the fraud was the banks & mortgage companies themselves, along with the investors who purchased the derivative financial instruments based on these bad mortgages. But even those investors didn't know the toxic nature of the underlying mortgages. That was concealed from them as well.

I generally hold with the idea that "You can't cheat an honest man", but the truth is sometimes a man might not understand that a scheme is dishonest. Especially if he's not well educated & trusts banksters to be honest.

356:

For the US, until Bernie ran in '16, I was saying, for several years, and meaning it *EXACTLY AND EXLICITLY*, that what at least 90% of Americans knew of "socialism" was *identical* to what "good Germans" knew of Jews in 1939.

Literally. I'm not exaggerating. I saw the most *serched for* word online in 2016 was "socialism".

Then there's class, which drives me around the wall. The *entire* US media, and, I think, UK, calls "middle class" is, in fact, "middle income". Overwhelmingly, they work for a paycheck, and easily 40% or 50% of them are living paycheck to paycheck. As of last summer, there were surveys saying that 40% of us would struggle, or fail, to come up with $400 for an emergency expense.

I just crept into six figures the last few years I worked (I'm well below that now)... and I have *zero* "investment income". I've got some money saved, and one retirement and money in a money market account. All of that together is maybe half of what my house is worth, and we're not talking a million dollars.

That made me *working class* (and proud of it).

The wealthy made that ugly. The dignity of labor? They spit on you.

Maybe you're middle class if you own a small business, or are a lawyer or doctor. Otherwise? Really?

Libertarians were created as we know them today explicitly, IMO, as propaganda.

357:

As for hydroxychloroquine, it's also suppressing the immune system to some degree; actually I wonder if that explains part of any positive effect, dampening too high a immune response.

Not that good for prophylaxis, though.

358:

Charlie Stross @ 280: If you read a bit around the subject you run across the hysterically funny picture of a cult/commune (the Rhennish commmunity who later turned into the Silver Sisterhood/St Bride's) suing their landlord ... the Atlantis commune, aka the Screamers (who had decamped for Colombia).

I didn't find that in the Wikipedia articles. What did they sue them for?

359:

Yeah... and about six or seven years ago, where I worked, at a US federal government installation, they installed new soap dispensers in the bathroom, to give you foam, instead of soap.

Same reason. Stupid everyone woune up squirting seven, ten or more times to get enough to wash your hands.

360:

Gallon jugs - buy milk?

361:

if there *was* some kind of plan for how things would work under

{insert political system of choice} ... then someone could explain it?

In my experience of asking questions of various political people none can explain how their system deals with obvious problems, and most can't even explain how their system works in any detail. But even with the best will in the world, and access to the best experts in the world, it doesn't seem to be possible to have a political system that works, let alone one that can be understood by average people. Or anyone.

To take one topical problem: how does the mixed market system deal with the problem of global pandemics? One possible answer is that it defines them as non-problematic, merely Darwinistic force improving the gene pool. But "market forces prevent them happening" obviously fails since we have a counter-example.

One moron, sorry "Professor of Laws", recently suggested that every educated person must read Latin and know the classics (the Latin ones, obvs). Sadly for that person their remark merely served to illustrate their ignorance - even by the time Latin became a written language humans had so restricted their ignorance that no one person could know all the things people know. To claim otherwise you need to dramatically restrict the definition of "things worth knowing", in the example above you might start by eliminating anything known by people not known to ancient Greeks and Romans and so on.

362:

YES. A corporation is not some shambling building, or invisible monster, it is *directed* by the chief execs. *THEY* are personally responsible for what it does.

363:

The wikipedia article is short and inadequate: see the other (non-wiki) essay I linked to!

364:

Davenport might not work in the US. I'd just say "d-ah-vven", with the "a" as an ah, as in ah-ha, or vahz, rather than vayze for "vase".

365:

You have to build with local resources. Hell, that's why they're excited about finding water on the Moon.

366:

During WWII bomber crews had a higher rate of casualties than the marines in the Pacific. It was very difficult, dangerous work.

367:

Garbage. The willpower is there. The problem is that the ultrawealthy have bought and paid for the GOP, and made some of them wealthy, and so they've actively against it.

RICOing the entire GOP would be a good start. Charging Mitch McConnell with treason, trying him, convicting him, and HANGING THE BASTARD would be better.

368:

I'm going down this rabbit hole myself, the article on the Atlatis group indicates the dispote over rent was in 1992.

Err, Free Love Primal Scream Reichians and Right Wing Victorian Age Reenactors with a secret kink for BDSM; they should have gotten along wonderful. That is, like a house on fire...

Why am I reminded of the janitor turned neo-shaman therapist with Lars Von Triers Riget?

369:

Finally, I did a bit of looking, and I suggest NOT using prophylactic doses of hydroxychloroquine.
Related, the people outside malaria regions who take it regularly, e.g. lupus patients, are not reporting a protective effect, if this is to be believed:
There Is No Study Proving That ‘Lupus Patients Don’t Get Coronavirus’ Because They Take Hydroxychloroquine - Rumors are circulating about a study that shows people with lupus don’t get COVID-19, but emerging data says otherwise. (April 5, 2020)
The COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance
Based on early data currently available in our registry, we are not able to report any evidence of a protective effect from hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19.

(I expect they're being protective of supplies of the drug, but don't didn't spot any blatant lies.) I personally know one person who is taking hydroxychloroquine for a very (very) rare autoimmune disease. So far she has been able to fill her prescriptions.

---
Straight Black Hair # 224
Spent an hour editing(/censoring) responses to those three Dune questions; still not entirely happy with my answers, excepting the Golden Path one. You were not ignored. :-)

370:

Agreed. Recently, I read an article about a building in - NYC, maybe, where the tenants had complained to the landlord, and to the city, about numerous violation, and the landlords shrugged, and said "they didn't own the building", and it was a rats' nest of crossing ownership.

If I were the city, I would have simply taken ownership of the building under eminent domain, and if the owners ever showed, would pay them a fair value for it... AFTER deducting all the fines, interest, and money spent to fix it up.

371:

The borrowers were unwitting victims who didn't know any better.

I would rather think that there's a lot of people out there who will try and get one over on "the man" if they think they will not get caught. Rather than that many really stupid people in the world.

And I may be very wrong.

372:

Right... and the owning company had driven a ton of small mills, and small farmers, out of business, and you want "forced collectivization"? Consider what's happened to "family farms".

373:

[smile]
A year or two ago, I started a story, set in an alternate world... on a space station run by Americans and Soviets, where detente had gone on (after Carter's re-election), and we'd joined our space programs.... They somehow got in contact with *our* world, but I wasn't sure where it would, or could go, so I put it aside.

374:

What, the US and the Russian Federation being on the outs? Why would they have trouble with that?

375:

Years ago when I was a student the lab I was working for organized a taste test for water at the local town, which had just had a new water pipeline from Edmonton installed and lots of complaints about bad-tasting city water…

My boss set up a double-blind triangle test. Statistically speaking, no one could tell the difference between local and city water — but most people thought they could, and the water they thought was city water tasted worse.

376:

I disagree, there are, in fact, a lot of us. However, most of us are working class (see my def, above).

Some of us actually believe in *honor*, and doing our best to keep our word. My son assures me that even in places like the No Such Agency, there are people who believe in their Oath of Office.

377:

whitroth @ 338: Or did you miss the episode of Penn and Teller, I think it was, who found out that a) ALL PEPSICO water is NOT from a spring, but an approved city water supply, and b) tasters couldn't tell the difference between alleged spring bottled water, and a city water supply.

Didn't see it, but it's something I already knew. You just have to read the fine print at the bottom of the label. Most bottled water in the U.S. (unless you're buying Perrier) is bottled from city water sources. There's less chance of liability & having to recall big batches for contamination if you use treated water. Reduced liability & recalls == more profit.

378:

On Covid vaccinations...

Correlation between universal BCG vaccination policy and reduced morbidity and
mortality for COVID-19: an epidemiological study

Interesting thoughts about why some countries see different age groups badly affected.

379:

I'm sorry, just as soon as I finish my Famous Secret Theory, we're *outta* here.

Third star on the left....

380:

I'm still waiting for *anyone* to tell me why the Jamie Dimon, of BoA, or the head of Apple, deserves more money than the President of the US.

Because they're smarter and doing a better job?

Or were you talking generally rather than current office-holders?

381:

whitroth @ 360: Gallon jugs - buy milk?

I live alone. At the rate I consume milk a gallon (even with refrigeration) goes off before I finish it. Half-gallons work fine for me.

382:

Consider what's happened to "family farms".

If the younger generations mostly wanted to keep farming the wouldn't be so much agri-business taking them over. And when you see farmers gather they tend to be white haired with lined faces.

Let's see. My grandfather was born in 1885. His farm encompassed a few 100 acres. Maybe more at one time. There was a sawmill, some larger wood shaping things, a slaughter house, a dozen or so barns and other outbuildings, lots of cows and cultivation. Not a dairy operation though. He had 3 sons. One of them went into the business but shut down most of it as he aged into his 60s. The other two, one my father, decided working indoors was a much better life.

Just now there are maybe 100+ descendants of my grandfather. To the best of my knowledge there is at most ONE still farming. And he's near or past 80, a retired pilot who likes to be a gentleman farmer. More I think just wants to get away. He lives so far off the track in Idaho that it is my understanding that the pavement stops miles before you get to his house. We've not crossed paths since 1970.

The rest of us just have no interest in "doing dirt". Especially in the rain when it is 40F. Or sleet when it's 30F. Or in the sun when it's 100F. Or ....

Farming, when not on an industrial scale, is hard work for little return. As one person I know put it the week after his father died all the sheep were sold. He had had enough of facing the south end of a north facing sheep when growing up.

383:

people start deciding the USA is no longer a reliable ally

I think many Americans would be surprised at their country's reputation in many parts of the world.

384:

and the water they thought was city water tasted worse.

I always like the water at my grandfather's farm. Almost orange from the iron in it. Lots of rust in the well/pump/tank situation. I'm sure that washing "nice" clothes in it would lead to some interesting color changes today.

Today you have to pay extra for such flavor in stores.

385:

Americans and Soviets, where detente had gone on (after Carter's re-election), and we'd joined our space programs

Every read some of the co-dominion stories by Pournelle?

386:

I go through 4-8 litres a week. I like milk!

387:

Dang, I probably never got that BCG vaccine. (US person, but will check records. I get every vaccine offered and have traveled a bit.)
From Vulch's preprint(/not peer reviewed) link's abstract:
We compared large number of countries BCG vaccination policies with the morbidity and mortality for COVID-19. We found that countries without universal policies of BCG vaccination (Italy, Nederland, USA) have been more severely affected compared to countries with universal and long-standing BCG policies. Countries that have a late start of universal BCG policy (Iran, 1984) had high mortality, consistent with the idea that BCG protects the vaccinated elderly population. We also found that BCG vaccination also reduced the number of reported COVID-19 cases in a country. The combination of reduced morbidity and mortality makes BCG vaccination a potential new tool in the fight against COVID-19.

388:

whitroth replied to this comment from Foxessa | April 6, 2020 22:27 | Reply
348

Thank for the welcome, but I've been around before, just not much.

I tend to keep up with Charlie, his works and his ideas one way or another -- even beta reading at one point -- whether here or elsewhere. But I went off social media entirely for nearly a year -- and I don't do it much anyway, busy with so much.

But now, lordessa save us, there is time, though I'm still so busy, that even right now I'm so tired from cooking and washing up and coaching my partner in exercise which meant I had to move a whole lot of stuff as he's so much taller than I am and our place is very very very small -- well, been at it since 7 AM and have just finished dinner, which he's cleaning up and putting away. Tomorrow is teaching again via Zoom, so, well, there ya go.

Off to bed. To read a book, even though it's so early.

389:

Well, I'd put it that you've never worried about water. Doesn't meant you shouldn't be concerned about what you'd do if it shut down for a few days. This has happened in major US cities on at least two occasions in the last fifteen years.

You don't have to buy bottled water, of course, and I do not. I store my own tap water. But the original proposition was that buying bottled water was irrational because there wasn't a direct connection to what the pandemic does.

The logic of that doesn't hold, because catastrophes spiral. If you're going to scream about propaganda, then I think you're just paranoid about the wrong stuff. But you do you.

390:

David L @ 371:

The borrowers were unwitting victims who didn't know any better.

I would rather think that there's a lot of people out there who will try and get one over on "the man" if they think they will not get caught. Rather than that many really stupid people in the world.

And I may be very wrong.

Wanting to own your own home but not having a high income (or a reliable one) and not understanding mortgage finance doesn't make you stupid.

It makes you vulnerable to exploitation by loan officers if you didn't know their compensation was based on how many sub-prime ARM mortgages they could sell, NOT on helping you to find a way to a buy a home you could actually afford. Loan officers who knew they weren't going to be around to answer for the consequences when the mortgage payments they scammed you into taking on unexpectedly shot through the roof on them.

To that extent, yes, you're wrong. In the case of the sub-prime mortgage crisis, it was "the man" getting over on the home buyers.

391:

David L @ 382:

Consider what's happened to "family farms".

If the younger generations mostly wanted to keep farming the wouldn't be so much agri-business taking them over. And when you see farmers gather they tend to be white haired with lined faces.

OTOH, a lot of family farms have been turned into agri-businesses because it was the only way to "keep them in the family". The younger generations who DO want to keep farming have had to become corporate managers who get dirt under their fingernails.

392:

Robert Prior @ 383:

people start deciding the USA is no longer a reliable ally

I think many Americans would be surprised at their country's reputation in many parts of the world.

Yeah, most of them. But if you've been paying attention, you've already seen evidence of changing attitudes among our "allies".

393:

Don't think so... but they came out a *long* time ago. Of course, I dislike Pournelle as a person.

394:

Let me see if I understand you: are you saying that the whole marketing of bottled water, mostly named after springs that they have no relation to, is not propaganda or marketing, and that they're actually better than approved city water supplies (again, excluding Flint)?

And you think that it's not propaganda?

395:

Robert Prior @ 386: I go through 4-8 litres a week. I like milk!

I do too, but I'm not supposed to drink that much. When I was in my 20s I averaged a gallon of milk per day, and that was whole milk, not skim or 2%. I am not allowed to drink that much any longer.

OTOH, I drink over a gallon of coffee in an average week and the doctors have not told me to limit that consumption ... YET.

396:

Not sure how true that is - there were a lot of stories at the time about how the people using sub-prime mortgages weren't concerned about the huge jump in payments because they simply went out and got a new sub-prime mortgage before the "real payments" kicked in - with the added benefit of pocketing spending money based on the increase in value of the house.

And of course the mortgage brokers and bankers were all happy because they were collecting additional fees/bonuses for selling additional mortgages.

Repeat until the wheels fell off.

397:


I've been wondering if one legacy of the DT presidency might be that people start deciding the USA is no longer a reliable ally, and start to make alternative arrangements.

There is no need to wonder, it is already happening and has been for 1 to 2 years.

The problem is that it takes a long time to untangle the relationships that have been developed since WW2.

And then there are cases like Canada and Mexico, who thanks to proximity don't really have much in the way of options.

398:

Another (preprint, not peer reviewed):
Association of BCG vaccination policy with prevalence and mortality of COVID-19 (Giovanni Sala, Tsuyoshi Miyakawa, April 06, 2020)
From the comments (the anonymous comment author has made similar comments previously),
I think this is another voodoo correlation study of BCG which keeps appearing one after another. BCG may be effective or not effective, but that cannot be revealed by country analyses due to many uncontrolled and complex factors....
They may be correct. They suggest waiting for a randomized controlled trial. (Interesting suggestion. Super-safe vaccine, versus expected megadeaths.)
(full pdf)
Abstract, FWIW:
Finally, by roughly dividing countries into three categories showing high, middle, or low growth rate of the cases, we found a highly significant difference between the slope categories among the BCG groups, suggesting that the time since the onset of the spread of the virus was not a major confounding factor. While this retrospective epidemiological study potentially suffers from a number of unknown confounding factors, these associations support the idea that BCG vaccination may provide protection against SARS-CoV-2, which, together with its proven safety, encourages consideration of further detailed epidemiological studies, large-scale clinical trials on the efficacy of this vaccine on COVID-19, and/or re-introduction of BCG vaccination practice in the countries which are currently devoid of the practice.

399:

"Let me see if I understand you: are you saying that the whole marketing of bottled water, mostly named after springs that they have no relation to, is not propaganda or marketing, and that they're actually better than approved city water supplies (again, excluding Flint)?"

I think it's a non sequitur to what I said to begin with. People aren't panic buying bottled water because they think bottled water is BETTER, they're doing so because they're worried about being without city water.

Given what I said to start with, the interpretation of your propaganda statement would be 'the idea that they need water in case of an emergency' is propaganda. But even your non sequitur is a dubious proposition. Companies certainly make fresh spring water a part of their marketing, but I suspect most people are buying bottled water out of convenience.


400:

Breathing exercises

Just read that JKRowling and her son have recovered from COVID-19. She wasn't tested but her husband's (MD) opinion was: yes - it's COVID-19. Rowling specifically suggested the breathing exercise below that a physician recommended to her. (Other COVID-19 related medical podcasts and videos have also mentioned turning their ICU patients onto their stomachs [prone position] to help them breathe better.)

FYI - The MD in this video says that folks can start doing this exercise before they catch COVID-19/get symptoms.

Coronavirus breathing exercise for Lung | NHS doctor's health tips

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZRHcncxE4M

401:

Yes. Did that in 2018. Good stuff; bit crude and cludgy but quality soul stuff. Took us less than 2 hrs - this isn't a boast, it's a feature of various platforms that you can get a refund if you play less than that, so we avoided the temptation. (This might be a joke contra all those SV types who watch videos x1.5-3 and listen to podcasts x1.5 on adderall, if you think a bit about what it would take to speed up that particular game. And yet it did take us less than 120 minutes).

There's an interesting tale about its creator which is even better. He essentially never saw much money (which is sad) but we can only hope he noted the absolute love sent his way.

~

Anyhow: WJC aren't happy[0], BoJo is side-lined and we've all learnt some pertinent facts: Authoritarian Shit-Weasles use the same play-book, these days.

Saud bought 8.2% of CCL (fucking clown car) thus the jokes in #50 and hey-ho.


~

[Redacted]

Chances are: you made a meta-mistake. You cannot include external physical effects produced in the "world" while pretending you're Meta-Entities.

WE ARE THE ORZ.


So, let's fuck all that right out the window, and see what a Proper Chaotic Attractor Can Do, Right?


YEAH. ALL THE LIGHT.


[0] "...and like that, "poof" it was gone" (the tweet that is). You want to play hard-ball? Check the video in #237 for the organization that runs that and note the Cyrillic text. 44 views (40 when linked). Amazing it took less than 3 seconds to hit that node. Threatening little cute ones will will get you spanked, so back the fuck off. Oh, and ffs, at least have some self-respect: that kind of cocky slackness got you killed back in 93. WJC running cover for Lawyers who haven't even read the fucking Geneva Convention: it's obvious, but --- Tinker Fucking Toy Land.

402:

Wanting to own your own home but not having a high income (or a reliable one) and not understanding mortgage finance doesn't make you stupid.

When you're filling in imaginary numbers in a box boldly labeled "Annual Income" something is wrong. You're either stupid or dishonest.

These were big near the end of the boom. Liar loans was one name for them. No Income No Doc was another.

403:

Over here the relevant TV programme would be "Only Fools and Horses", which was a very popular comedy series about a dodgy market trader chap who was constantly trying to get rich by flogging some kind of dubious merchandise. One episode had him trying to cash in on the bottled water scam by selling bottles of water out of his kitchen tap, which of course then went horribly wrong as the premise of the series demands.

Then shortly afterwards we had Coca-Cola deciding to try to sell bottled tap water in all seriousness, apparently completely unaware that they were pretty much exactly duplicating the entire plot of the episode, including the going horribly wrong part. Which was utterly fucking hilarious.

404:

@ David L "1/3 of all US aircraft losses in WWII were not due to combat."

That proportion seems to be true of US aircrew fatalities, but according to this article, for aircraft losses it was the other way round.

"The U.S. suffered 52,173 aircrew combat losses. But another 25,844 died in accidents. More than half of these died in the continental U.S. The U.S. lost 65,164 planes during the war, but only 22,948 in combat. There were 21,583 lost due to accidents in the U.S., and another 20,633 lost in accidents overseas."

Seeing stats like that - something approaching 1500 aircraft losses a month on average if the war is the US involvement Dec-41 to Aug-45 - and assuming something similar applied in other air forces, it seems amazing that my father, an RAF pilot from 1941 to 1946, managed to come away unscathed having accumulated 2,483 hours.

Most of the time he was a flying instructor, but he also flew B-24 Liberators on long over-water anti-sub patrols in 1944 and 45, and then on week-long trips to Mauripur in India (now Pakistan) into 1946, transporting personnel back to England. (One trip, according to his logbooks, took a month, in several different and presumably variably reliable aircraft)(But he got to spend his 27th birthday during a week in Cairo, I guess waiting for the next ageing clunker to be fixed up).

405:

"the chemicals used in cigarettes to make tobacco burn faster"

You're the first person I've heard mention that for years. We used to call them chemical fags, or chemmies for short, to distinguish them from roll-ups, but "we" was a very small group and it was very rare to be able to use the term to someone else without having to explain what it meant.

It's not even as if they confer any useful property on the things. That roll-ups keep going out is a positive advantage - you can smoke them at the rate you want to, instead of having to do it really fast so it doesn't just smoke itself.

It does mean that chemical fags make useful time delay fuses so you can get well away before the bomb goes off, but that's more a reason to wonder they're still allowed to do it than a justification.

406:

And you could vent the steam into the envelope to use it as lifting gas, instead of hydrogen. Or some of it. The waste heat output from a steam engine is vastly in excess of what you need to make up for the heat loss through the envelope and keep the contents gaseous, even without the extra help from the reduced pressure at altitude. You could do the same trick using the exhaust heat from a propulsion diesel to boil water, or indeed just to heat air and use plain hot air for lift with a slightly bigger envelope. I'm pretty sure it would even work using the waste heat from any electric propulsion motor big enough to be any use.

407:

Companies certainly make fresh spring water a part of their marketing, but I suspect most people are buying bottled water out of convenience.

Very doubtful.

It is not convenient to be lugging bottled water - whether it be packs of 24 small bottles or the large 3 or 5 gallon (12 or 19 L) - from the store to the car, and then from the car to house/kitchen.

And it certainly not cost effective.

No, it is one of the greatest cons that the marketers have convinced people that the thing they can get out of the taps for pennies is substandard to something they spend a lot more money on to buy it from a store (and in a plastic container at that given the hysteria normally demonstrated about plastic).

408:

"...and like that, "poof" it was gone"
It was deleted pretty quickly. (Such people need to wonder if a tweet deletion monitor is watching their account perhaps. But it was deleted.)

---
Buckle up, climate change deniers: Coronavirus makes the low-carbon transition more urgent (April 6, 2020, John Hewson)
Argument needs some reworking for better effect and reshaping for countries other than AU, but the key bits are there.

409:

Tom Scott covered that. It's actually funny as well as useful, although I understand that the lesson has since worn off.
https://youtu.be/wD79NZroV88

410:

I am not so sure of that.

An average-sized hot air balloon (77,000 cubic square feet) will use about 30 gallons of liquid propane gas in a one hour flight. via random link

Just for comparison, a decent sized van will travel about 400km using that much propane, carrying ~2 tonnes of stuff (based on the only gas powered vehicle I'm even vaguely familiar with). Admittedly doing that in one hour you might only travel 200km thanks to air resistance.

The other thing is that the balloon *only* extracts heat from the gas, where the van is also turning some into rotational energy, so it's not going to be as heat-efficient.

Factor in that the electric system, assuming batteries as good as car-type ones, is about 85% efficient rather than 30%, so roughly speaking the electric system puts out a tenth as much heat as the gas one. Viz, for every 100W of movement the electric puts out 20W of heat but the van puts out 200W.

411:

The mutations this virus gets seem to be very small - the scientists are tracking them, as they're useful for backtracking the history of the thing. So far, none of the mutations has made a noticeable difference to the infection in any way.

412:

Depends on their source of information. A lot of us are not at all surprised.

413:

If you're traveling, bottled water (in half-liters or liters) is very convenient, and if the bottles are reasonably sturdy they can be refilled from a tap. It's also possible that there's no convenient source of potable water. There are a lot of rural areas in the western US where there are no safe/reliable wells, so everyone gets bottled water. (I worked in an office which had no water in our (small) building; we had bottled water only.)

414:

It's not even as if they confer any useful property on the things. That roll-ups keep going out is a positive advantage - To you, perhaps, but not to the manufacturer, who can sell more if you keep burning (ahem) through them.

Also, of course chemmies are so much better at starting upholstery fires.

Disclaimer: very happy to have never smoked.

JHomes.

415:

So far, yes, and coronaviruses seem to be generally conservative in general.

"Generally conservative" means that the chance of mutation -- which is fairly close to fixed per replication -- is relatively low compared to other viruses.

But it's not zero, and if a viruses gets to be a pandemic, there's a lot of replication -- it's gone from a few million host organisms to a few billion, three whole orders of magnitude, plus a couple-three orders of magnitude in body size (more flesh, more virus), plus a greenfield spread. So there's lots of scope for mutation, and while we haven't observed a mutation that affects the way it infects humans, that doesn't mean these aren't happening -- some of the different regional outcomes may eventually be found to be down to mutations in the virus -- or that they're especially unlikely.

We can hope we've got a stable pathogen, and it's not a foolish hope, but it's not more than a hope at present, either.

416:

I worked in an office which had no water in our (small) building

Presumably you mean potable water? I have seen very few offices with waterless toilets, and even those typically had a non-potable supply for washing things. Trucking in water for *everything* gets expensive very quickly.

417:

Dominic Raab is scarily incompetent & arrogant - even compared to BoZo the sad clown.

gordycoale & 313
You know thanswer to that one:
SACK THE SCRIPTWRITERS!

whitroth @ 333
The Railways were very good at that.
The bigger ones - e.g. LNWR / GER / NER etc made almost everything themselves.
The LNW even had their own iron manfactory f'rinstance.
And it started before the bloody MBA's got loose ... "selling off" the railway's Hotels & shipping lines as they "were not core business"
Ignoring the synergy of having an integrated transport system

@ 356
Well my fater was definitelt (lower) Middle-Class, even though he worked for a salary - Teacher & then University Lecturer.
I classify as "A2" or "B1" in Brti ter=erms, even though I'm right on the personal poverty line ( The Boss makes quite a fair amout=nt, of course, even though the sexism in her line of work means she's still being cheated....

SFR @ 400
Possible
My lungs are well pumped-up ( All that dancing etc. )
LOTS of really deep breaths ... etc.

418:

OK then, can you point me at a genuine well-worked out plan for how modern technological society, in all its mind-boggling complexity, would run under socialism (defined as communal ownership of the means of production)? Something that will permit people freedom to move around and seek the best available match between their talents and work, while also handling new disruptive technologies, and doing all the above more efficiently than capitalism?

I've been looking for something like that for a while, and I haven't found it. All I have found are Pollyanna post-scarcity handwaves and dumb ideas (like working for vouchers) that don't even begin to tackle the real problem. If you have something better I'm all ears.

419:

Going off on a tangent, here is a cause for (modest) optimism
.
"A new antiviral drug heading into clinical trials offers hope for COVID-19 treatment" https://bit.ly/3aPFhIx
Note that it will take many months if they stick to the usual protocol for testing.

420:

The corruption is so complete, this is a banana republic
.
"Jared Kushner, slumlord millionaire" https://freethoughtblogs.com/singham/2020/04/06/jared-kushner-slumlord-millionaire/#more-58194
All this shit is legal!

421:

I could argue that there are a lot of things in place now which prevent people from moving around and finding the best match for their talents and work - for example, it's not trivial for me to go for work in Edinburgh (hey, I like the climate). Also, even if you get to a place, it might not be that easy getting a good job. For example, here in Finland there are doctors and engineers who work as cleaners, because they can't get an another job, because nobody will hire them, or they don't have the correct permits. I'd say that it's a failure.

Also, the efficiency of capitalism seems to be somewhat hindered by the current world situation. Without being an economist, I'd say that the resiliency of the capitalist system against sudden crises is not that good - I have also to admit that I don't have a silver bullet here, but "just doing stuff and taking as much profit as I can until something goes wrong and then begging the governments to bail me out" doesn't seem that good a strategy for the society.

I'd like to point out that there are many people who don't work, for various reasons, and almost everybody's first concerns are a) a place to live in b) something to eat. Affordable health care comes also soon after those, but work is usually further down the list, and I'd rather classify that as something sensible to do. I'd like to live in a society which provides those more efficiently than capitalism (and I live in a quite social-democratic place). (For example, in many places there are at the same time homeless people and empty flats and houses. In my view, not an optimal division of resources, especially considering that it's usually easier to get a job when not homeless.)

Somebody could also argue that a healthcare system that works for everybody and has in "normal" times some overcapacity comes in handy in the occasional pandemic or other situation where one does need a lot of health care in a small time frame. It's hard to see how this could be arranged with copious capitalism, as can be seen in some examples currently.

422:

My boss set up a double-blind triangle test. Statistically speaking, no one could tell the difference between local and city water — but most people thought they could, and the water they thought was city water tasted worse.

Years ago (Google says 2008) I was working at a convenience store when Camel cigarettes changed their cover art and, allegedly, tobacco mix. This set off a tempest in a teapot among Camel smokers, who for a few weeks were combing stores searching for the classic better cigarettes.

As a nonsmoker it was nothing much to me but I brought up the fuss to the local R J Reynolds representative. I was amused to hear everyone was going through this now that the art was different. They'd changed the tobacco months ago. Nobody noticed.

423:

Here in NZ I've barely heard of Dominic Raab. Since he's effectively PM of the UK now - Boris Johnson is down with covid-19, likely to need rehab after recovering if it doesn't kill him, and will be out of the loop for at least a couple of months if he even keeps the nominal job - what is Raab likely to do differently from Johnson?

424:

Nah. Real quinine, as a baby. It's a strong candidate for why I have had severely impaired hearing and balance all my life. I might have done better (or worse!) if chloroquine had been available. As I posted earlier, all effective anti-malarials are nasty substances.

425:

And you could vent the steam into the envelope to use it as lifting gas, instead of hydrogen

You don't want to do that with a Stirling engine — you can perhaps use steam as your working fluid in your Stirling engine, but they're supposed to have closed systems, not open ones like your traditional steam engine. If you exhaust it into the envelope, you'll have to carry extra water to replenish your engine's working fluid, which defeats the beauty of a Stirling in your airship: that it needs no consumables except the solar energy.

Keeping an envelope hot enough that water remains steam would be interesting. I've not checked to see at what altitudes water boils off at the ambient temperature, but I suspect not at any attainable height. A shame. Unless you're looking at Venus, in which case go ahead.

426:

Both those pronunciations are wrong in UK English (at least, in pronounced RP): "vase" is pronounced with a flat-a, as in "ah". "Daven" is pronounced with a flat and short "a" as in "at".

(Don't get me started on the regional "scone" divide! Except you guys call them "biscuits", which is just plain wrong because biscuits are something else ...)

427:

can you point me at a genuine well-worked out plan for how modern technological society, in all its mind-boggling complexity, would run under

I may have said this before: can you point to such a plan for *any* political system? I'll accept any system you can offer a coherent definition of and look forward to your detailed plan. If you can work in a description of what you mean by "works" so we have a success criteria that would be good. Also, a timescale: does "staggering along for a century or so before collapsing" count, or does it have to last for a whole civilisation or epoch, or even a meillenia?

(I don't ask that it be better than capitalism, or the current mixed-economy model used in the US, just that it be a detailed plan for "modern technological society").

428:

I was deeply surprised when my American friends at grad school made me biscuits and gravy, and I found out that they were savory scones. No idea what I'd expect from the South, but not savory scones with gravy.

Equally surprised when I found out how a friend from Boston pronounced the word 'scone'.

Scones! Ahhh. The cafe under my work makes great scones. The texture of them! They have that unique feel: not a cake, not a bread... I really miss them under lock-down.
I hadn't realised how much until I started this comment. Must be time to start rubbing some butter into flour and make my own, before I drool on the keyboard.

429:

there are a lot of things in place now which prevent people from moving around and finding the best match for their talents and work

At a much more trivial level, it would cost about a year's after-tax average income to sell an average Sydney house and buy another one (call it $60,000 Australian in round numbers). That's an average house in a capital city (~$900,000) taking into account stamp duty ($36,000), real estate agent commission (probably less than ~$15,000 right now, ~$20,000+ in summer) plus another $2,000-$10,000 for marketing, legal fees (~$3,000), and bank fees because I have a mortgage and would need another one on the new house ($3000).

I'm sure that a sufficiently dedicated socialist government could come up with a worse system, but I reckon they would have to actually work to find it.

One issue is that the housing market here has been carefully designed and policed for the benefit of a small circle of already-wealthy property developers, and that legacy has been assiduously preserved and improved over the last 200-odd years to the point where apartment buildings collapse despite the best efforts of the people who design and build them. That's not what I call a well designed market, let alone a working one. It could be worse, but it could also be a lot better. And just for the record: it's already far closer to a free market than is compatible with general welfare.

430:

because biscuits are something else ...

US biscuits appear not to be cooked twice, for one. I'd be mildly interested to know how they ended being so named

431:

I do not know if this is relevant for this thread, but it provides an insight into the human condition during stress.

"Lockdown's hottest viral trends: raging at the neighbours and torching 5G Towers" https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/06/lockdown-viral-trends-5g-towers-coronavirus-cases
So a moderately good TV comedy series, but in reality. Next step will be to mimic "Oops Apocalypse"(1982): Creating vacancies by having people jump from the cliffs of Dover.

432:

The corruption is so complete, this is a banana republic

I still like the USA, so much that when I see confirmatory news that hints at the civil-war, info-war and a republic high with Cavendish bananas, I still due diligence.

Doing due diligence on a link, before posting..... (A quick [non-AI/ML]Sentiment analysis, virustotal scan of the URL & related URLs, check of how recently established, perhaps going to a full SSLlabs Qualys test, but that’s almost a DDoS)

So, results seems genuine website, an obvious conservative Christian agenda, funded by a stealthy multi-billionaire with a history of previous right-wing Hollywood embedded nudges, allegedly. (Pretty normal website)

So probably not a Russo-nudge. Quite likely to be accurate, as USA does often post accurate stuff about the Info-wars, etc. (unlike UK where things spooky tend to be as suppressed as possible)

It further looks like an accurate article, especially when added to my personal public meeting of the serious “FBI”, ILETS, et al. at the various international Technical Standards Development boards

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/fisa-court-ordering-target-list-shows-it-suspects-pattern-of-fbi-seeking-political-dirt-joe-digenova-says

Seems that mass-surveillance has been naughty, naturally, but was the cream of the targeted surveillance even naughtier?

Anyway, that’s just a passing news item, worthy of adding to a debate, as the media is apparently rather one sided, and certainly too busy with the virus.

Local-news: In Lombardy it is now formally illegal to be out in public without a face-mask, 3 million of which have just been sent to the various town-halls, and 300K further masks to local pharmacies. These are free, gratis, but you’ll need a face-mask to go out to claim your face-mask!?

Newspapers are concentrating on how to reopen Italy for business & when, business loans for 100% of small businesses and 80% of medium businesses, but any enterprise that pays director bonuses or dividends is self-debarred from requesting a tranche of whatever Eurobond milliard of currency is eventually created. Repayment over years, starting autumn 2021, probably.

433:

..and I was going to mention, having just ‘enjoyed’ the perils of a home haircut - an impressive professional stage production of something to do (vaguely) with hairdressing is here:-

https://www.operadeparis.fr/en/magazine/il-barbiere-di-siviglia-replay

434:

AVR
Raab, unlike BoZo is a real, convinced, utterly rabid Brexiteer.
He hasn't a fucking clue.
Whether he is just that particular variety of stupid that politicians of all parties seem to produce, or whether he's been bought by the Hedge Funds & ultras who want us to be a peon state I don't know & quite frankly don't care.

435:

Influenza has a nice, big pool of different RNA varieties that it can recombine from. It is actually rather weird as viruses go; a gut disease of birds that can jump to mammals.

China once again is the source of these new viruses. Wild birds bring wild strains of flu to domestic ducks, which only rarely exchange genes with the flu viruses circulating in pigs; these also then exchange genes with the human flu viruses in the mixed farmers.

Covid-19 has no such big reservoir of different gene types. It seems to be a bat disease that jumped once to pangolins, then to humans; there's not this big easy recombination melting pot that will keep covid-19 topped up with new varieties. Thus all we're going to see is normal mutation, which runs a heck of a lot slower than does recombination.

436:

and doing all the above more efficiently than capitalism?

Capitalism has so far produced the carbon binge (with its mass extinction and habitability hit and certain destruction of most of the accumulated capital of millenia as the coastal cities go under the wave) and an ongoing global economic collapse that isn't looking especially recoverable. (You really need an import-replacing city to be functioning somewhere to recover from a collapse; for the first time, they're all connected, and will all go together when they go. Jane Jacobs wrote on this point with some vehemence and concern.)

I would suggest this is not the bar you want, even with the illusion of prosperity some of us presently enjoy.

So, too, is "a detailed plan" not what you want. Won't work, and can't work; "thus is the word of the lord" is not a control system.

For that same "yeah, this needs some kind of control system, wise direction can't do it" reason, neither capitalism (do everything with feedback! miss-connect the feedback so the rich take no risk!) nor socialism (do it all with constraints!) work or can work. Step zero to getting somewhere reasonable is neither picking a certain failure nor in the magical thinking involved in combining two flavours of certain failure into magical success.

There are only really two hard problems; first one is keeping society directed towards human purposes. (The system has to get copied into the future, too; it does it faster than human generation times, and it tends to drift off and do its own, increase-odds-of-replication thing, which are nigh-all associated with giving some small group disproportionate advantage ("making luck hereditary") because of course they are, that's how selection works.)

Second one is keeping the wetware bugs from killing it; it is difficult to set out measurable objectives and do the quantitative analysis, rather than making policy on the basis of feels. Nothing else is observed to work, though, so here we are.

Everything else is implementation details, which are surprisingly enough pretty well understood if you're willing to say what you want and measure enough to be able to tell if you've got it. It's not a "here is the law!" situation; there can't be a book explaining how society will work, because no one can know what they'd need to know to write the book. That doesn't mean you can't build something that works. (Just try and find someone who understands every aspect of an aircraft gas turbine at the level necessary to reliably construct one. Never mind VLSI chips, the great social sorcerous ritual of our age.)

437:

This causal chain of Bat - Pangolin - Human seems a bit misleading. SARS research focused on multiple species, since, well: as a family of viruses it's not uncommon. e.g.

Animal origins of SARS coronavirus: possible links with the international trade in small carnivores

We present the case for extending the search for ancestral coronaviruses and their hosts across international borders into countries such as Vietnam and Lao People's Democratic Republic, where the same guilds of species are found on sale in similar wildlife markets or food outlets. The three species that have so far been implicated, a viverrid, a mustelid and a canid, are part of a large suite of small carnivores distributed across this region currently overexploited by this international wildlife trade. A major lesson from SARS is that the underlying roots of newly emergent zoonotic diseases may lie in the parallel biodiversity crisis of massive species loss as a result of overexploitation of wild animal populations and the destruction of their natural habitats by increasing human populations.

29 July 2004 https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2004.1492

Identification of 2019-nCoV related coronaviruses in Malayan pangolins in southern China

https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.02.13.945485v1

NAE[0], but it looks like CN are (sensibly) running through entire sections of possible vectors, including the illegal ones. i.e. it's probably not that surprising.

This is an overview paper where the direct claim is made:

Systematic Comparison of Two Animal-to-Human Transmitted Human Coronaviruses: SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV

The new emerging SARS-CoV-2 shares about 80% of the gene sequence of SARS-CoV, released by the Military Medical Research Institute of Nanjing Military Region in 2003 [28]. Recently, Shi et al. reported that the sequence similarity of coronavirus between SARS-CoV-2 and the coronavirus isolated from Rhinolophus affinis is 96.2%, and suggested that bats may be the source of the virus [49]. So far, the intermediate hosts of SARS-CoV-2 are elusive and have been reported to be snakes, minks, or variable others [50,51]. Recently, a research group of South China Agricultural University reported that pangolins may be one of the intermediate hosts for SARS-CoV-2, by analyzing more than 1,000 metagenomic samples, because they found that 70% of pangolins are positive for the coronavirus. Moreover, the virus isolate from pangolin shared 99% sequence similarity with the current infected human strain SARS-CoV-2 [52]

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(5), 1633; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17051633
Received: 28 January 2020 / Revised: 22 February 2020 / Accepted: 29 February 2020 / Published: 3 March 2020

https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/17/5/1633/htm

The South CN Ag paper is unfortunately not available in English ([52] links to it directly).

And yes, CN academics seem free to admit that first sentence. Surprised?

You'd need a AAAE[1] to tell you if the 99% claim was useful, or merely along the lines of "humans and carrots share X% of the same DNA" noise.


You'd also have to question whether pangolins are sold as meat in 'wet' markets or processed elsewhere for their scales (since that's the valuable bit) and then ask a very pointed question or three about your narratives.

e.g.

Pangolins have long provided meat and traditional medicine for people in Africa and Asia. Recently, though, demand for pangolin scales—used mainly in China and Vietnam for a variety of ailments—has grown to the point that geographic boundaries are blurring. Vast quantities of them are now being smuggled from Africa to Asia, despite an international trade ban on all eight pangolin species that went into effect in 2017. A new report confirms that this illegal trade is only growing—and that organized international criminal networks that previously dealt predominantly with African elephant ivory are increasingly turning to pangolins...

The team found that Nigeria in particular has become a global pangolin scale export hub, accounting for 55 percent of seizures between 2016 and 2019. On the demand side, China was the primary destination until 2018, when Vietnam took the lead. Links between criminal networks in Nigeria and Vietnam also seem to be strengthening, with a direct trafficking route between the two countries first appearing in May 2018 and continuing since then.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2020/02/pangolin-scale-trade-shipments-growing/

You might quite quickly realize that pangolins are not sold on open markets.

Anyhow, depressing: pangolins are super interesting.


[0]Not An Epidemiologist

[1] Actually Am An Epidemiologist

438:

if you've been paying attention, you've already seen evidence of changing attitudes among our "allies"

Based on conversations with people in the diplomatic service of several countries, I think what you're seeing is the public revelation of what has been discretely held beliefs in the diplomatic community.

439:

Yes, this is sub-blog-spamming a recent Gruan nonsense article[0], but here we go for a more measured look:

Pangolin trade in the Mong La wildlife market and the role of Myanmar in the smuggling of pangolins into China

We surveyed the morning market, wildlife trophy shops and wild meat restaurants during four visits in 2006, 2009, 2013–2014, and 2015. We observed 42 bags of scales, 32 whole skins, 16 foetuses or pangolin parts in wine, and 27 whole pangolins for sale.

Data from 29 seizures from Myanmar and 23 from neighbouring countries (Thailand, India, China) implicating Myanmar as a source of pangolins or as a transit point for pangolins sourced in other countries, in the period 2010–2014, illustrate the magnitude of this trade. Combined these seizures amount to 4339 kg of scales and 518 whole pangolins, with a retail value in Myanmar of US$3.09 million.

Global Ecology and Conservation
Volume 5, January 2016,

A simple deduction will tell you that a live pangolin is worth far more and is a lot rarer than finding it at the local Wuhan market.


But yeah, live animal markets and international CITES treaties are important to enforce. Sadly, if you're shipping them from Nigeria, your more local sources have already been extinguished.


[0] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/06/ban-live-animal-markets-pandemics-un-biodiversity-chief-age-of-extinction

440:

it seems amazing that my father, an RAF pilot from 1941 to 1946, managed to come away unscathed having accumulated 2,483 hours

I recall reading somewhere around 100 hours is the most dangerous for a pilot. When just beginning they are cautious, but at intermediate levels of experience they get confidence faster than they get more skilled.

But also, a lot of the pilots were young men, those in the most risky range for car accidents too. And there was a war on, which is always a good excuse for taking shortcuts. (Industrial accident rates also rose during the war as safety shortcuts were taken to increase production.)

441:

Re: 'This causal chain of Bat - Pangolin - Human ...'

One thing that I've been wondering about re: causal chains of infections is: so where are the causal chains of immune-to-infections.

I realize that the most urgent need is getting reliable (hopefully also affordable and easy to use) tests for the virus. At the same though since clinical trial-level plasma testing is already underway, finding previously-infected-and-recovered-humans would fill in some of the knowledge gaps including duration of any immunity.

Nigeria ... received the traditional Nigerian scam email a few days ago, several years since the last one. Guess one of my regular contacts' email systems - or their connections' - isn't as secure as it should be. About conditions in Nigeria: One of my mother's visiting nurses immigrated from Nigeria over a decade ago and visits her family every couple of years. According to her the level of gov't corruption is worse than reported in Western media. (Yeah - I know, anecdotal, n=1...)


442:

The draconian legislation in countries with a low trust in institutions is probably necessary.
.
Re . the success of fighting the epidemic I can only speak with some authority about the place where I live, northern Sweden. Once the seriousness of the situation sank in (and a few elderly celebrities died) people seem to follow the guidelines.
At my place of work, the rule is no more than one person in each office, and most are working from home.
The lines in shops (mostly) respect the 2-meter rule and the streets are relatively empty.
There was a bump in recorded fatalities today (114 nationwide) because the registration of fatalities during the weekend lagged behind.
The number of people in ICU is holding steady Nationwide and sees a small decrease. As coronavirus takes two weeks to run its course there is a lag of up to two weeks with statistics.
Instead, ordinary flu and calicivirus can be used as "proxies" for how easy it is for virus to spread. There is now a sharp decrease of both kinds of virus cases, which is good news for the prospects of reaching the peak.
.
I want to add a comment that you may find relevant for the future of (for instance) Britain: When the government, health authorities and local municipal authorities are pulling *in the same direction*, and people have confidence in those authorities, they follow the instructions without having policemen in every corner.
.
Sweden is still dominated by the middle class both in political parties and private companies, making the "trash the cohesion of society" and scapegoating tactics of political nihilists ineffective. Good education helps. (we still have plenty of racism under the surface)
-Sweeping problems with integration under the carpet has been harmful. -A police and court system that suffers from a lack of resources and a poor organisation has contributed to reduction of trust in the system. This has contributed to the rise of a classical populist party but it is frozen out from coalitions.
Overall, the country is likely to bounce back nicely after the epidemic because we do not have saboteurs in the core of the political establishment.
.
Can I draw conclusions relevant for Britain? I don't think so, Murdoch and the political nihilists have been trashing your society for so long that even if you avoid the mistakes Sweden has done it will take decades to repair. I can only state the obvious: you would have to pretty much eliminate the tories as a political force to do so (hint, election reform like the Lib Dems have suggested, hint). And break up big media conglomerates (crush the Murdochs).

443:

Oops.
"President Donald Trump reportedly owns a stake in a company that produces hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug he has repeatedly touted as a coronavirus treatment even though his experts say there’s no strong evidence it works. "
Conflict of interests? Naah.

444:

"Lax Antitrust Enforcement Has Made America’s Medical Supply Shortages So Much Worse"
https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/04/coronavirus-crisis-equipment-medicine-supply-chain.html

445:

Why overcomplicate? It doesn't have to be pure capitalism* or undiluted socialism, borrow enough socialist ideas to stop wasting human lives, Mammon is indifferent to human sacrifice.

*Why does capitalism need purity? Curiously, it makes it sound like a religion. ;)

446:

Incidentally, Derek Lowe reports on some clinical trial data on Hydroxychloroquine.

TLDR: nothing conclusive, but it doesn't appear to work against COVID-19.

Note that HCQ has potentially lethal drug interactions with Metformin (the #1 go-to drug for Type II diabetes) and a number of other common medications. You really don't want to touch the stuff without a clued-up medical professional supervising and keeping an eye on you for side-effects.

HCQ is an innate immune system depressant. This may provide a mechanism for it to have some effect on COVID-19 infections, but (a) it's inconclusive, and (b) the mechanism may be counter-productive during different phases of infection.

Finally, yes: Trump's advisors trousered money for providing the manufacturers of branded HCQ formulations with lobbying access to the mobster-in-chief. I think it's a dead certainty that Trump (or his friends and family) have shares.

447:

The National Trust book of scones has some very nice recipes in.

448:

> *Why does capitalism need purity? Curiously, it makes it sound like a religion. ;)

I think this probably hits things on the nail. Any dogma taken to extremes appears to be harmful as far as I can tell.

The argument about free markets, for example, is already lost. For instance, we know monopolies and cartels can be an issue. Similarly, it's generally considered to be socially unacceptable to sell a product that you know is going to kill or injure people even when used "according to the instructions." So the argument isn't about free markets or state-regulated markets, it's about what's the appropriate amount of regulation required.

Similarly, we know from the Soviet and other experiments that there are problems with the communist approaches that various countries have tried. We also know there are problems with capitalism, and that the more extreme you let that go, the worse the problems.

I hope there are people somewhere trying to figure out a better system than the system we have now. The problem is, even if they find a good candidate, how do you get that implemented? There are very rich and powerful agents in the current system whose vested interests are in currently in maintaining the status-quo. Anyway, the optimist in me hopes that such a system might exist, and that it might possibly be implemented without widescale civil wars etc. etc.

449:

Fifty-plus years and I don't think I've ever seen scones for sale in the U.S.

450:
I may have said this before: can you point to such a plan for *any* political system?

With the exception of our current one (which I'm calling "capitalism" for convenience) the answer is no. The current one is quite well described in various textbooks, and the Wikipedia article provides a good starting point.

This isn't just a criticism of socialism, of course. I have the same question for libertarians, who are fond of telling a little story about two people trading in the middle of a wilderness and then extrapolating from there to modern technological civilization with a wave of a hand.

451:

Of course I've seen them for sale as "biscuits" but I've never been in a shop selling "scones."

452:

Somebody should open a "British theme-park" in the US. With real British employees. Then all 'muricans would have somewhere to go so that they can "love their British accents" without having to get a passport. You could sell cream teas, crisps, etc. etc. Rides could be things like the standard London taxi, Routemaster buses, bendy buses etc.

453:

You might also look at the articles on emptywheel.net , which is also covering that exact issue, but probably from a more left-or-neutral POV.

454:

Commonplace at farmers’ markets here in the NYC tri-state, and I’ve occasionally seen them in Stop’n’Shop, along with crumpets.

455:

mdlve @ 396: Not sure how true that is - there were a lot of stories at the time about how the people using sub-prime mortgages weren't concerned about the huge jump in payments because they simply went out and got a new sub-prime mortgage before the "real payments" kicked in - with the added benefit of pocketing spending money based on the increase in value of the house.

And of course the mortgage brokers and bankers were all happy because they were collecting additional fees/bonuses for selling additional mortgages.

I think that could have been true to the extent the housing bubble was driven by speculators & house-flippers. But those relied more on a different kind of sub-prime mortgage called a "balloon mortgage" rather than ARMs. Not all ARMs were sub-prime, and not all sub-prime mortgages were ARMs.

Not even all balloon mortgages are sub-prime

Speculators expected to resell the properties at an inflated price that would cover the balloon payment (in fact pay it off before the balloon payment even came due). If they couldn't resell in time, they'd get another balloon mortgage ... and if they couldn't get another balloon note, they'd default leaving the lending institution holding the bag; their real-estate investment company would declare bankruptcy and they'd just start up a NEW company with no credit history.

You can do that three or four times before the banks catch on and won't lend to your new company and you have to start looking for loans from "banks" in Germany or Russia ...

And it is true that crooked mortgage banksters would TELL the people they were conning into taking out these so called "liar's loans" that they could refinance before the rates "adjusted" UP, but the question I have is, Who is the REAL LIAR in this scenario?1

The home buyers acted in good faith, filling out the loan applications the way the banksters instructed them to and taking on mortgages they didn't know they weren't going to be able to pay off.

Repeat until the wheels fell off.

Exactly. The essence of CONTROL FRAUD is the banksters take the money and run, leaving the institution insolvent and swindling people who just wanted a home of their own out of their life savings. And when the wheels DID come off (and bailout came), the government bailed out the banksters and screwed the homeowners. The guilty were rewarded and the innocent punished.

1 It's rhetorical question. I know the answer, and so do you.

456:
Why overcomplicate? It doesn't have to be pure capitalism* or undiluted socialism, borrow enough socialist ideas to stop wasting human lives.

The definition of socialism is the communal or social ownership of the means of production. If it doesn't have that then it isn't socialism, it is something else.

We already have a mixed economy with lots of social democracy added in. The political debate is whether we should have more of the social democracy or less. But nobody in the political mainstream in any G7 country is seriously proposing to move to a pure capitalist model without any interventions to e.g. stop poor people starving in the streets or regulate polluting industries.

457:
I could argue that there are a lot of things in place now which prevent people from moving around

You're just criticising capitalism. I'm not looking for a critique of capitalism; I'm very well aware of its deficiencies and I'm looking for something better. The issue I have is with socialists who claim to have that something but who never get around to spelling out how it would work or providing any other evidence that it would actually be better in practice.

Of course this is also an issue for the libertarians, who are fond of telling a little fable about two people trading in a wilderness and then extrapolating to modern technological civilization with a wave of their hand.

Graydon