The Insightful Troll

Rants and ruminations.

Social Distancing - a Political Divide?

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McKay Coppins writes in the Atlantic:

At the driving range, while Frost and his like-minded friends slathered on hand sanitizer and kept six feet apart, the white-haired Republicans seemed to delight in breaking the new rules. They made a show of shaking hands, and complained loudly about the “stupid hoax” being propagated by virus alarmists. When their tee times were up, they piled defiantly into golf carts, shoulder to shoulder, and sped off toward the first hole.

Frost felt conflicted. He wanted to encourage the men, some of whom he’d known for years, to be more careful. “I care about their well-being,” he told me. “But it’s a tough call, just personally, because it’s become a political thing.”

These people should be arrested. Confirmed cases are at almost 788,000 worldwide and 37,000+ dead as of the time of this writing according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The US has now surpassed Italy as the epicenter with 164,610 cases and 3,170 deaths.

It is really scary how a lot of people are taking pride in their ignorance and putting the health of everyone in the country at risk. This is not a hoax. It does not discriminate based on sex, religion, ethnic origin, color of your skin or country of origin. It certainly doesn’t care what your political affiliations are.

Minimal Photography

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I came across Marcus Cederberg and his minimalist photography. Amazing work - so calming in this time of uncertainty. What is minimalist photography you ask?

To be able to tell as much as possible, with as little as possible, is the challenge with minimalism photography. I try not only to make the viewer somewhat curious but I also often try to tell a small story with the picture. And doing that with as much negative space as possible, is real challenge sometimes !

Here are some of his photographs - please visit his site and you can follow his work on instagram pages.



China's Air Pollution Has Dropped During the Coronavirus Outbreak

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A sliver lining from the Covid-19 pandemic? I’ll take any good news at the moment. Here is the satellite imagery of Wuhan from NASA:

NASA stated on Saturday that it had seen "significant decreases" in noxious nitrogen dioxide over China through February. Nitrogen dioxide is emitted by burning fuel, cars, power plants, and construction machinery, and it can aggravate respiratory symptoms and asthma, among other negative effects.

China's cities rank among the most polluted in the world, with Hotan and Kashgar in the top 20 according to an IQAir report.

NASA published satellite imagery on Saturday, which you can see above, showing nitrogen dioxide levels in China before and after the country began imposing lockdowns on 23 January.

The Fed's Response to COVID-19

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Covid-19 is turning out to be one of those events in history that will have a repercussions far into the future. Maybe this will finally expose the gross inequalities in our society. Eric Levitz writes in the Intelligencer

The coronavirus crisis is changing our world in many sorrowful respects. It has rendered our already atomized and aching society poorer, sicker, and lonelier than it was a few months ago. If this week’s bailout legislation plays out as some progressive analysts predict, the pandemic’s economic side effects will accelerate corporate concentration and income inequality.

But this disaster also offers a vital opportunity for beneficent forms of change. By accentuating the perversity of our nation’s employment-based health insurance model — which is now causing millions of workers to lose coverage in the midst of a pandemic — the crisis creates an opening for progressives to remake the politics of health reform. By spotlighting the indispensable labor that grocery store clerks and delivery drivers contribute, it could help unionists illustrate the market’s unjust undervaluation of such “low-skill” work. And by politicizing just about every aspect of our economy — which is to say, by forcing Congress to demonstrate the private sector’s dependence on the state, and to allocate scarce subsidies and credit between corporations, small businesses, and individuals — the crisis gives us a fighting chance to secure a more democratic and egalitarian form of economic governance.

Unless, ya know, we just throw up our hands, curse those clowns in Congress, and wait for Jerome Powell & Co. to restore some facsimile of the world we just lost.

The British on US Healthcare Costs

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With the US becoming ground zero for the Corona virus epidemic, our health care systems' flaws are being brutally exposed. Here is PoliticsJOE asking the British, who have the NHA, what they think it costs in the us to have basic health care services.

Their comment on our ridiculous system is:

Is there a price for that?

and

So if you are poor you are dead

Exactly.

California Once Had a Plan

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As reported in the Los Angeles Times:

They were ready to roll whenever disaster struck California: three 200-bed mobile hospitals that could be deployed to the scene of a crisis on flatbed trucks and provide advanced medical care to the injured and sick within 72 hours.

Each hospital would be the size of a football field, with a surgery ward, intensive care unit and X-ray equipment. Medical response teams would also have access to a massive stockpile of emergency supplies: 50 million N95 respirators, 2,400 portable ventilators and kits to set up 21,000 additional patient beds wherever they were needed.

So what happened to it all? As usual, the government got rid of it all in order to save money. At one point, the California government even considered selling the equipment on eBay. The infuriating part is all of this cost no more than $5.8 million per year - today, California will pay a lot more then that to help Corona virus patients:

In televised remarks Monday, Newsom said the state will lease beds in struggling hospitals around the state and is eyeing convention centers, motels and state university dormitories for use as hospital wards. One such lease, in Daly City, may cost the state as much as $3.2 million a month for 177 beds.

You read that right – $3.2 million a month for just 177 beds !!!. When this is all over, we need to reassess how we prepare for future emergencies. Because in an ever connected world, the risk of outbreaks like the Covid-19 virus are higher than ever before.

Trumps Evolution on COVID-19

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Trumps handling of Coronavirus pandemic. This is what happens when you put the most self centered man in the most powerful office in the world.

US Is Now the Epicenter

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From the New York Times:

There are now at least 82,174 cases of the new coronavirus disease, COVID-19, in the United States, according to worldometer, a website that tracks coronavirus cases. That’s higher than the case count in either Italy (which has 80,589 cases) or China (which has 81,285 cases).

And it is a sprawling, cacophonous democracy, where states set their own policies and President Trump has sent mixed messages about the scale of the danger and how to fight it, ensuring there was no coherent, unified response to a grave public health threat.

Safe Grocery Shopping in a Pandemic

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Dr. Jeffrey VanWingen MD has made a excellent video on how to take the proper precautions when dealing with groceries and take out food. If a lot of this seems like overkill - it isn’t. This is known as the paradox of preparation.


Hopefully we all look back on these videos and chuckle at our over reactions.

Coronavirus Test Results Within 45 Minutes

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Kanishka Singh at Reuters is reporting that a test for the Coronavirus with a test which can give results in 45 minutes:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first rapid coronavirus diagnostic test, with a detection time of about 45 minutes, as the United States struggles to meet the demand for coronavirus testing.

The test’s developer, California-based molecular diagnostics company Cepheid, said on Saturday it had received an emergency use authorization from the FDA for the test, which will be used primarily in hospitals and emergency rooms. The company plans to begin shipping it to hospitals next week, it said.

The FDA confirmed its approval in a separate statement. It said the company intends to roll out the availability of its testing by March 30.

This is great new and will surely become a key turning point in our fight against Coronavirus.

The Hammer and the Dance

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Tomas Pueyo has published Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance. A highly recommended read.

First comes the Hammer — we use aggressive measures for weeks, giving our healthcare system time to ramp up & scientists time to research the hell out of this thing and for the world’s testing capability to get up to speed.

Strong coronavirus measures today should only last a few weeks, there shouldn’t be a big peak of infections afterwards, and it can all be done for a reasonable cost to society, saving millions of lives along the way. If we don’t take these measures, tens of millions will be infected, many will die, along with anybody else that requires intensive care, because the healthcare system will have collapsed.

And then we Dance.

If you hammer the coronavirus, within a few weeks you’ve controlled it and you’re in much better shape to address it. Now comes the longer-term effort to keep this virus contained until there’s a vaccine.

This is probably the single biggest, most important mistake people make when thinking about this stage: they think it will keep them home for months. This is not the case at all. In fact, it is likely that our lives will go back to close to normal.

Airlines Are Asking for $50 Billion

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The Airlines for America on Monday claimed that all seven major U.S. passenger carriers would run out of money between July and December. Therefore they are asking $50 billion in assistance from the federal government. And the way they are asking for it is to divide it evenly between grants and low-interest loans.

But why do they even need this money? Airlines are coming off a historic 10 year boom. And the mergers have given Delta, United, American, and Southwest about 80 percent of the U.S. market. Delta’s profits for each of the past five years, back from 2019 to 2015, were $4.8 billion, $3.9 billion, $3.2 billion, $4.2 billion, and $4.5 billion. Thats $21.6 billion. And this when the oil prices are low with the economy was booming.

So where did all that money go? They spent all of that profit on themselves and their executives. According to Bloomberg the airlines spent 96 percent on cash buybacks and executive compensation.

Sure the Covid-19 threw everyone into a downward spiral. But it wasn’t as if this was not completely out of the blue. American Airlines actually reported in their December 31, 2018 Annual Report Form 10-K the following:

In particular, an outbreak of a contagious disease such as the Ebola virus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, H1N1 influenza virus, avian flu, Zika virus or any other similar illness, if it were to become associated with air travel or persist for an extended period, could materially affect the airline industry and us by reducing revenues and adversely impacting our operations and passengers' travel behavior.

So instead of saving their pennies for such an event, the airline companies spent all of that cash to enrich themselves.

If any American family operated like that, we would say its financial mismanagement. When the American people ask for government assistance - we get told that we should have managed our money better.

But yea we get it. We need robust air infrastructure to grow and support our economy. But you have some gaul asking for free money (also known as grants) and a low interest loans. Needless to say, the airlines should not get to dictate terms.

This is how this bailout should be structured:

  • There will be no grant given. You and your executives do not get to take the gains and we, the taxpayers, take the loss for your lack of financial mismanagement.
  • You will be given a credit line to borrow against while you figure out how to stay afloat.
  • You will continue to pay your taxes.
  • You will have to pay back the taxpayers first over any other loans you have.
  • In return for this emergency credit line, you will accept oversight from the government for the next 10 years.
  • You will have to demonstrate that you have put forth sufficient safeguards so as not to repeat these events.

And the government should seriously consider breaking up the big four - but that is a post for another time.

Why Is Soap the Best Against Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

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While there has been a mad rush by people all over the country to buy hand sanitizers of all types, good old hand soap is known to work best against viruses such as the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Here is an excellent thread on why:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Facts Not Fiction

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Before the media sensationalizes this and the politicians amp this up even higher, lets stop for a minute and look at the facts so far. I am not saying we do not take immediate action to prevent further spread, but folks, its not the end of the wold.

On Tyranny

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In his book On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, Timothy Snyder looks at lessons from the collapse of various democracies across Europe over the course of the 20th century. A short read on the lessons to be learned and the what we can to protect our democracy.

The European history of the twentieth century shows us that societies can break, democracies can fall, ethics can collapse and ordinary men can find themselves standing over death pits with guns in their hands. We might be tempted to think that our democratic heritage automatically protects us from such threats. This is a misguided reflex. Americans today are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or Communism in the twentieth century. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so.

Bernie Sanders Takes Double Digit Lead

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New poll has Sanders support at 31% nationally, up 9 points since December, the last time the poll asked about Democratic voters' preferences. Next closest contender has 19%.

The Rule of Law Failing Under Trump

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Rachel Maddow on the resignation of the four prosecutors in the Roger Stone sentencing case.

There's no line that this President will not cross. Tell me if you can imagine one. Tell me the thing that would be bad for America but good for him - he wouldn't do it because it'd be bad for the country. What's beyond the pale for him?

Time Is Now!

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Michael Render (aka Killer Mike) gave a rousing speech in support of Senator Bernie Sanders. This is the most powerful ad I have seen this election season. The Sanders champaign should blanket the airwaves with this.


Look to your neighbor and say:
Neighbor, the time is now.
There are more of us.
We're stronger.
We will wait no longer.
The time is now.
When you go to the that booth next year,
I need you to carry in that booth the memory of this room
Black.
White.
Straight.
Gay.
Men.
Female.
We are together.
We are united.
Our time is right now.
We will not wait four more years.
We will not wait 20 more years.
We will not wait two more Presidents.
We will not wait three more Presidents.
The time is now.
The time is not in the future.
The time is not some abstract time.
The time is not something that might be.
The time ain't something that could be.
The time ain't nothing that should be.
That would be.
It ain't tomorrow.
It ain't the day after.
It ain't coming next week.
The time is
Now!
The time is
Now!
The time is
Now!
The time is
Now!

Revolution indeed. The time is now!

NASA Moonshot 2024

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No one has been to the moon since 1972, even though, back in 2004, then-President George W. Bush laid out several goals for NASA, including a "return to the moon by 2020 as the launching point for missions beyond."

Moonshot in 2024? Thas 4 years from now! No chance.

This isn’t the 1950s. We don’t just throw people atop rockets anymore. These are vehicles, aircraft. There is absolutely no way any of the current crop of space vehicles could be made ready for a trip to the moon anytime before 2024.

Going beyond low orbit, away from the sub-45min return time, is something we haven’t done in generations. The craft need to be tested, repeatedly. Each test flight then has to be analyzed before the next test flight. The turnaround for a single test will be many months, even a year. Getting all the bits and pieces together would then take many more years of integration work.

Look at the F-35. Look at the 737-max. These are complicated systems with layers of dependencies. Our society today simply does not accept the cowboy approach to safety that was the original moon race. The next moon landing will only happen after a decade-long deliberative, iterative, campaign requiring the support of many subsequent governments.

It is good to have a goal. But lets not get ahead of ourselves.