The Insightful Troll

Rants and ruminations.

US Is Diving Into a Dark Covid Hole

#infecton #covid19 #pandemic

| Comments

Any other president, with 130,000+ deaths and likely hitting 200,000 by September, would have put the power of the federal government behind quarantining measures, contract tracing and enforcing strict mask requirements.

It is scary how dysfunctional and delusional our administration is in dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak. As reported by Stephen Collinson, this is administration is practicing willful, if not criminal, mismanagement of the pandemic.

As the US plunges into an ever deeper coronavirus morass, setting record new infection rates and the death curve begins to rise again, there's no prospect of the nightmare ending for months.
Delusion dominates an administration that perversely claims the United States is the world leader in beating this modern day plague. There are only contradictions, obfuscations and confusion from the federal officials who ought to be charting a national course.

The massive integrated testing and tracing effort that could highlight and isolate infection epicenters doesn't exist. Attempts to reopen schools in a few weeks are already descending into farce amid conflicting messages from Washington.

Amid all of this, the coronavirus task force does not hold daily briefings, and when it does, they are an exercise in dodging difficult questions and self-congratulation.

Largest Test Yet of Universal Basic Income

#basicincome #econonmics #spain

| Comments

Spain's government has started what might just be remembered as the world’s biggest economics experiment. On 15 June, spurred by the coronavirus crisis and its economic fallout, it launched a website offering monthly payments of up to €1,015 (US$1,145) to the nation’s poorest families.

The programme, which will support 850,000 households, is the largest test yet of an idea called universal basic income (UBI) — where people are given a cash payment each month to spend however they choose. Oft-discussed but never satisfactorily tested, economists around the world are watching closely to see what the impact of the scheme on livelihoods will be.

Bill Nye on Wearing a Mask

#BillNye #COVID19 #MaskUpUSA

| Comments

Bill Nye on why you should wear a mask - brilliant as always.

The reason we want you to wear a mask is to protect you, sure, but the main reason we want you to wear a mask to protect ME from YOU! And the particles from your respiratory system into my respiratory system. Everybody - this is literally a matter of life or death."


What Police Believe

#PoliceViolence #PoliceBrutality #Police

| Comments

Vox’s Zack Beauchamp in What the police really believe

Police officers across America have adopted a set of beliefs about their work and its role in our society. The tenets of police ideology are not codified or written down, but are nonetheless widely shared in departments around the country.

The ideology holds that the world is a profoundly dangerous place: Officers are conditioned to see themselves as constantly in danger and that the only way to guarantee survival is to dominate the citizens they’re supposed to protect. The police believe they’re alone in this fight; police ideology holds that officers are under siege by criminals and are not understood or respected by the broader citizenry. These beliefs, combined with widely held racial stereotypes, push officers toward violent and racist behavior during intense and stressful street interactions.

This ideology in stark contrast to the stated mission statements of most Police departments. For example the New Jersey State Police mission statement:

The New Jersey State Police is committed to protect, preserve, and safeguard the constitutional and civil rights of all citizens through impartial and courteous law enforcement with integrity and professionalism. We shall ensure public safety and provide quality service in partnership with our communities.

Chart of Penguin Love

#penguins #Japan #tokyo

| Comments

Kyoto Aquarium and the Sumida Aquarium in Tokyo keep high-resolution maps that track the Penguins serious crushes and heartbreaks but also adultery and egg-stealing. Now this would make for an interesting reality show!

Penguins, the way they waddle around and protect their eggs, are often thought of as cute, cuddly and romantic. But those who observe them for extended periods know they have a dark side. Two aquariums in Japan, Kyoto Aquarium and Sumida Aquarium, keep obsessive tabs on their penguins and maintain an updated flowchart that visualizes all their penguin drama.

As Kyoto-based researcher Oliver Jia points out, penguin drama can include serious crushes and heartbreaks but also adultery and egg-stealing. And these Japanese aquariums have it all charted in a flowchart that can be studied for hours.

Confirmed Cases of Covid-19 in US

#Covid_19 #pandemic #UnitedStates

| Comments

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, told a Senate committee today that the US could be heading towards 100,000 new reported cases of Covid-19 per day.

We’ve known for months (and epidemiologists and infectious disease experts have known for their entire careers) what works and yet the federal government and many state governments have not listened and, in some cases, have actively suppressed use of such measures. So the pandemic will continue to escalate in the United States until proper measures are put in place by governments and people follow them. The virus will not change, the mathematics will not change, so we must.

Betting against math is stupid.

National Humilation

#Covid_19 #pandemic #UnitedStates

| Comments

Chris Hayes on the US handling of Covid-19:

The crisis we now find ourselves in is a human tragedy and an economic calamity. But it is also a singular national humiliation. We’re living through a moment where the U.S. is a laughing stock and a subject of pity around the world.


American Exceptionalism in a Pandemic

| Comments

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown the United States of America is exceptional.

  • With 4.25% of the world population, the United States has 30% of the world’s Covid-19 deaths.
  • We have to world most anti-science administration. Donald Trump repeatedly ignored scientific evidence and advice since January of 2020.
  • No other industrialized nation has suffered as much as the United states
  • We have the least amount of medical experts leading the response to the pandemic. Instead we have a political hacks and science deniers leading our nation.
  • 40 million people lost their jobs due to Covid-19
  • 30% of Americans are having difficulty affording food
  • By the end of the year we will have over 200,000 deaths related to Covid-19. The highest of any other country.
  • Highest percentage of black people are dying at a the highest rate then any other country.
  • Since 2000, American worker income has dropped (-5.3%) more than any other industrialized nation.
  • We have the largest gap between CEO pay and the average worker.

America is exceptional. Just not in the way we would like to believe.

Republicans Trying to Outlaw Encryption

| Comments

Looks like the Republicans are at it again.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) today introduced the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act, a bill to bolster national security interests and better protect communities across the country by ending the use of “warrant-proof” encrypted technology by terrorists and other bad actors to conceal illicit behavior.

You can’t just “add a backdoor” to a proper end-to-end encryption scheme. A good encryption system has no backdoors - and you can prove it mathematically. The only people that have access to the plain text data are those that have the keys. Which is why we can trust it.

By adding a mandatory “backdoor” to encryption, If there is such a “backdoor”, then anyone who has that key can access any data that is encrypted with that encryption algorightm. You are negating the very purpose of its existence.

Under the current laws, you can issue a warrant for the key holder to give you access to that key. So this law is really not at all required, and would destroy all of the security in secure transactional systems.

I am hoping this is just a political stunt by ignorant Senators.

Our Responsibility Is to Pay What We Owe

| Comments

John Dikerson interviews CEO Tim Cook for Sunday Morning and asks Cook how he balances his fiduciary responsibility to paying as low taxes as possible and still be a good social citizen. Cook’s answer:

Well, our responsibility is to pay what we owe, just plain and simple.

Cook then goes on to talk about all the good that Apple does - citing their work on Covid-19. But that is a very small minded, and frankly, dishonest way to look at the situation. Did Apple donate important and meaningful aid and technology in the fight against Covid-19? Yes. Does that give them a right to pay lower taxes? No.

Apple takes way more then it gives back - its not even close. Consider these facts:

  • The World Bank compiles GDP data for 263 countries, regions, or collections of countries with similar characteristics. Of these, 216, or 82.1%, generate less than $1.3 trillion market cap of Apple.
  • Only 14 have market caps greater than Apple. Those exchanges immediately behind Apple are the Taiwan Stock Exchange, Brasil Bolsa Balcao, Johannesburg Stock Exchange, BME Spanish Exchanges, Moscow Exchange, and Singapore Exchange
  • Apple’s market cap exceeds the inflation-adjusted costs to the U.S. of World War I, the Vietnam War, and the Iraq War, among others.
  • To equal Apple’s market cap, one has to add the top 18 billionaires on the Forbes list.

And what has allowed Apple to be so successful? The United States government. They provided the infrastructure, social and political stability, and the economic engine to make Apple a possibility in the first place. And Apple, being the largest company in the world, gets far greater benefit from this than any other company. To say giving a $100 million donation to the Covid-19 fight makes this a fair exchange is insulting. It is just tiny part of Apple’s marketing and PR budget.

Apple and other corporations should be made to pay more taxes than they are now - because corporations will not build what our country desperately needs. Corporations will not provide health care for all, fix our roads and infrastructure, invest in science and technology, provide education to our children and insure our country will continue to provide an environment where the next Apple can thrive.

I agree with Cook. Apple’s responsibility is to pay what they owe. It is our responsibility, as citizens, to realize that they owe more than what they are paying.

Why We March

| Comments

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

America - the Inspiration for Adolf Hitler?

| Comments

I know that title might come of as click bait (okay maybe it is), but Alex Ross makes an interesting observation in The New Yorker.

The Nazis were not wrong to cite American precedents. Enslavement of African-Americans was written into the U.S. Constitution. Thomas Jefferson spoke of the need to “eliminate” or “extirpate” Native Americans. In 1856, an Oregonian settler wrote, “Extermination, however unchristianlike it may appear, seems to be the only resort left for the protection of life and property.” General Philip Sheridan spoke of “annihilation, obliteration, and complete destruction.” To be sure, others promoted more peaceful-albeit still repressive-policies. The historian Edward B. Westermann, in “Hitler’s Ostkrieg and the Indian Wars” (Oklahoma), concludes that, because federal policy never officially mandated the “physical annihilation of the Native populations on racial grounds or characteristics,” this was not a genocide on the order of the Shoah. The fact remains that between 1500 and 1900 the Native population of U.S. territories dropped from many millions to around two hundred thousand.

America’s knack for maintaining an air of robust innocence in the wake of mass death struck Hitler as an example to be emulated. He made frequent mention of the American West in the early months of the Soviet invasion. The Volga would be “our Mississippi,” he said. “Europe — and not America — will be the land of unlimited possibilities.” Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine would be populated by pioneer farmer-soldier families. Autobahns would cut through fields of grain. The present occupants of those lands — tens of millions of them — would be starved to death. At the same time, and with no sense of contradiction, the Nazis partook of a long-standing German romanticization of Native Americans. One of Goebbels’s less propitious schemes was to confer honorary Aryan status on Native American tribes, in the hope that they would rise up against their oppressors.

Jim Crow laws in the American South served as a precedent in a stricter legal sense. Scholars have long been aware that Hitler’s regime expressed admiration for American race law, but they have tended to see this as a public-relations strategy — an “everybody does it” justification for Nazi policies. Whitman, however, points out that if these comparisons had been intended solely for a foreign audience they would not have been buried in hefty tomes in Fraktur type. “Race Law in the United States,” a 1936 study by the German lawyer Heinrich Krieger, attempts to sort out inconsistencies in the legal status of nonwhite Americans. Krieger concludes that the entire apparatus is hopelessly opaque, concealing racist aims behind contorted justifications. Why not simply say what one means? This was a major difference between American and German racism.

Which Country Has the World's Best Health Care?

| Comments

Ezekiel J Emanuel, oncologist & bioethicist, compares the outcomes of several countries’ health care systems in his book “Which Country Has the World’s Best Health Care”. While American politicians and ill informed US citizens pretend that the US is #1, we rank last in a tie with China. An our response to the Covid-19 pandemic is proof of our dysfunctional health care system.

The only thing the US is #1 in these days is military spending, gun violence, and number of Covid-19 patients of any country in the world.

The US spends more than any other nation, nearly $4 trillion, on healthcare. Yet, for all that expense, the US is not ranked #1 — not even close.

In Which Country Has the World’s Best Healthcare? Ezekiel Emanuel profiles 11 of the world’s healthcare systems in pursuit of the best or at least where excellence can be found. Using a unique comparative structure, the book allows healthcare professionals, patients, and policymakers alike to know which systems perform well, and why, and which face endemic problems. From Taiwan to Germany, Australia to Switzerland, the most inventive healthcare providers tackle a global set of challenges — in pursuit of the best healthcare in the world.

Just Wear a F'n Face Mask!

| Comments

Jason Kottke asking:

Why WHY WHY!!!! are we still talking about this? There’s no credible evidence that wearing a mask is harmful, so at worse it’s harmless. If there’s like a 1-in-10 chance that masks are somewhat helpful — and the growing amount of research suggests that both 1-in-10 and “somewhat helpful” are both understatements — isn’t it worth the tiny bit of effort to wear one and help keep our neighbors safe from potential fucking death? Just in case?

Japan is a great example. Japan is a country of megacities where most of the population uses public transport - but they have a total confirmed cases of Covid-19 of 17,382 with 924 deaths. The US has 2.12 million cases with 117 thousand deaths. You have to ask yourself what is Japan doing?

“Japan, I think a lot of people agree, kind of did everything wrong, with poor social distancing, karaoke bars still open and public transit packed near the zone where the worst outbreaks were happening,” Jeremy Howard, a researcher at the University of San Francisco who has studied the use of masks, said of the country’s early response. “But the one thing that Japan did right was masks.”

Is the Secret to Japan’s Virus Success Right in Front of Its Face? Motoko Rich

Lets not make wearing a mask yet another flash point in the culture wars. Wearing a mask is our cheapest, simplest and as of now most effective weapon against Covid-19. As our PINO once said - What have you got to loose?

So please, WEAR A F'N MASK!

The American Nightmare

| Comments

Ibram X. Kendi in The Atlantic:

To be black and conscious of anti-black racism is to stare into the mirror of your own extinction. Ask the souls of the 10,000 black victims of COVID-19 who might still be living if they had been white. Ask the souls of those who were told the pandemic was the “great equalizer.” Ask the souls of those forced to choose between their low-wage jobs and their treasured life. Ask the souls of those blamed for their own death. Ask the souls of those who disproportionately lost their jobs and then their life as others disproportionately raged about losing their freedom to infect us all. Ask the souls of those ignored by the governors reopening their states.

The American nightmare has everything and nothing to do with the pandemic. Ask the souls of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. Step into their souls.

A Performance of Fascism

| Comments

When you use your own military to attack the citizenry’s constitutional right to assemble and protest, it is not a show of strength. It is a show of fascism.

Masha Gessen:

What I am seeing is the performance of Fascism. Donald Trump has told us before, but never quite as clear or frightening, he is showing us what he thinks power looks and sounds like. Troops on the steps of the memorial or guarding the White House.

We are seeing military force and display to refuse to be accountable in any way. The fact that the troops are refusing to identify themselves. The fact that they are unmarked terrifies me. He thinks power sounds like Blackhawk helicopters used to clear protesters. He thinks it looks like tear gas used to clear protestors. He uses words like ‘Dominate’ over and over in his phone call with governors. It is a performance of power and fascism. Everything we know about fascism. It is power that is concentrated in the hands of one nation, one race, and its brutality suppresses dissent. we see that now. He has chosen his road, whether he realizes it or not.

[..]

I don’t make predictions, but I can tell you what we are observing. A power grab always begins as a performance. A claim is made and then an autocrat sees if it is accepted - if the performance is believed. That is what we are asking right right now.