No shock to me

What is a shock is how clueless professional opinionizing are about how regular people react to riots and looting.

Good on Malawi

A determined populace, an honorable military, and a constitutional system peacefully overturn a crooked election in a poor African nation that usually flies under the radar.

How Embarrassing

Thief crashes stolen car into another stolen car.

COVID Rx news

I'm not sure what happened to all those promised chloroquine double-blind trials.  Lately I mostly read arguments from doctors on the front lines that they're liking the results of using chloroquine rather early in a case, though they're unsure whether it's helpful when delayed until symptoms are severe.  Unfortunately, this may not mean much except that a patient sample consisting of people who aren't yet very sick are going to do pretty well for the most part no matter what treatment they get, because only a small minority of patients draw the black bean and get horrifically sick.  You really need careful studies to tease out slight gains in the rate of patients who avoid getting much more ill depending on whether they receive a particular early treatment.  This is how we get widespread stories that melatonin, vitamin C, zinc, etc., are working great, because lots of people took them and didn't die.  Nevertheless, I'd still ask my doctor for immediate chloroquine and a Z-pack if I tested positive or showed symptoms, and would cheerfully take the treatment if he prescribed it, because it shows promise of helping and seems to have an awfully small downside.

Meanwhile, there's perhaps a little good news for the much smaller subset of patients who did draw the black bean and are now seriously ill:  Remdesivir appears to help quite a bit, though it's definitely no magic cure.  Unfortunately the recent good-news study was conducted by Remdesivir's manufacturer, so we have to take it with a grain of salt.

Ymar’s Post


Flynn Update

As expected, Sullivan is asking for an en banc ruling to allow him to continue the trial.

"Experts Say...."

This genre of expert opinion is less impressive than one might hope.
The spike defies easy explanation, experts say, pointing to the toxic mix of issues facing America in 2020: an unemployment rate not seen in a generation, a pandemic that has killed more than 130,000 people, stay-at-home orders, rising anger over police brutality, intense stress, even the weather.... Jerry Ratcliffe, a Temple University criminal justice professor and host of the “Reducing Crime” podcast, put it more bluntly: “Anybody who thinks they can disentangle all of this probably doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”
So actually your experts know exactly what is going on, but for some reason want to describe it as a mysterious tangle rather than a problem with a fairly clear set of solutions. Why might that be? The very next line in the story explains:
President Donald Trump has seized on the violence for political gain, accusing Democrats of being weak and suggesting the crime wave is being driven by recent protests calling for racial justice, police reform and drastic cuts in law enforcement funding.

Look, you can't do anything about the weather. We are already doing everything we know to do about the pandemic, though we can make adjustments as better information becomes available. So really, expressed in terms of what we can change, the issue is just police and their relationship to the community. The spike in violence is merely about the police withdrawing from their duties in fear that pursuing those duties may lead to their aggressive prosecution (as in Atlanta) or physical attack (as in many places).

New York City dissolved its plainclothes gun crime unit; gun crime is suddenly way up. Correlation doesn't establish causation, but since the whole argument for having a gun crime unit was that it would cut down on gun crime, there's a pretty good case to be made that there might be some causation going on here. Atlanta police withdrew from policing after one of them was charged with capital murder for killing someone who was actively resisting arrest. Crime is suddenly way up as police are withdrawn from the city. Correlation; causation? Well, that was the whole argument for the police existing in the first place. Either we were always wrong about what police accomplish, or the obvious problem is that policing is not going on.

So, the issue is just this: can we arrive at a solution at which police perform their duties in a way the community can accept as fair and equitable, in return for lower violent crime rates; or can we not, such that we must accept either more brutality from police or else more crime? Cities will survive and prosper if the first is true; they will wither if either of the secondary set is true. People will leave, taking their tax base with them.

Oddly enough, Blue America's fate is in its own hands here. All they have to do is make an accord with the police that both sides will respect. It's not an issue out my way.

A Policeman’s Lot

AVI thought you’d enjoy this mid century take on the classic.

One small step

There are still people here and there trying to maintain their allegiance to honesty and clarity.

The enemy gets a vote

That's "enemy" as in Kurt Schlichter, and myself.
Diversity is the value du jour, but is there any diversity of opinion in your life? Poll your pals (you can phrase it as a solicitation for confirmation so no one mistakes you for one of the wrongthinking others) about some of the issues of the day. Isn’t abortion cool? Regular people should not have scary rifles, right? White Fragility was really eye-opening, huh? Anyone in your life likely to answer “No?” Well, lots of people in your country would. If you were shocked and stunned that Tom Cotton suggested letting the 101st Airborne go to town on the rioters, you need to get out more.
But the rigorous intellectual solidarity of your caste might not strike you as a bad thing. After all, your views are manifestly right, and to disagree with them is a moral failing deserving of consignment to the lowest circle of cancellation hell. In fact, some of your kind consider it a moral obligation to cut such reprobates out of your life – begone Mom, and take your “All lives matter” anti-intersectionality cisgendered patriarchal colonialism with you!
I wish I could enjoy Schlichter's wish-fulfillment novels more. They're a comeuppance-fest, but he needs a co-writer or something. Compared to him, John Ringo has a feather-light satirical touch.

Broken English

I'm beginning to wonder if Dr. Fauci has a command of what I assumed was our common language.  "It's a false narrative to take comfort in a falling COVID death rate."  I assume he's not nuts enough to believe that a falling death rate literally is a bad thing.  What he appears to be trying to say is that it would be a mistake to conclude that a falling death rate is the same as a zero death rate, and therefore that COVID poses no further risk, so everyone should hop into a giant communal hot tub and plant sloppy kisses on a million total strangers daily.

I'm pretty sure that's not what "false narrative" means, particularly since no one is even remotely pushing any such plan.  Also, a "narrative" is not a "plan."  What would the narrative be here, if not that premature death is, on the whole, undesirable? Does Fauci think a narrative is building that a falling death rate means the virus went "poof" overnight?  Granted, that would be false if anyone ever said such a thing.  I think the concept he's struggling for is "straw man."

The idea that examining risk trade-offs between two highly undesirable alternatives (widespread death from respiratory failure vs. economic suicide) shouldn't even consider a dramatic change in one of the risks seems so ridiculous that I hesitate to attribute it even to a hack bureaucrat, but it's hard to avoid the conclusion.  As has become distressingly common in group-think headquarters lately, Fauci is having trouble avoiding the mental trap of assigning every possible risk factor either a 0% or a 100% score.

The spectacle of cancel culture isn't confined to cancel culture.  We're losing the power of rational public discourse in a frantic search for purity.  A minuscule taint of risk rules whole fields of human activity out of bounds.  This gets us padded playgrounds.  It gets us gun bans that morph into knife bans and soon, I'm sure, bans on anything that can be ground into a shiv and stuck in a bar of soap.  It leads to banning substances in parts per bazillion, even classifying CO2 as a toxin.  It leads to a "gluten free" label on my shampoo, for Pete's sake.  It leads to insatiable human-resources departments with reams of policies and mandatory sensitivity training.  It leads, in fact, directly to thought crimes and mandatory re-education of the impure enemy among us.  It leads to a President who drives everyone crazy by habitually having to walk around saying, "Oh, BS, give me such a break, already."

An Irony

A BLM protester at a church that was having an AR-15 giveaway (as apparently it does occasionally) explains that “there are devils in there.”  The irony is in his fellow protester’s project.

Actually, some metaphysical commentary would legitimately be on topic for this post too. Just try not to derail the discussion, if any.

Ymar’s Post

For Wednesday. Please refer all metaphysical comments here.

Now, Children, Let’s Not Get Out of Hand

Cancel culture was all fine and good until left-wing academia began to feel the heat.

Sorry, Chomsky et al. Your little monsters were always going to eat you. You’d have known that if you hadn’t romanticized your view of Mao and the Cultural Revolution.

Virtue Signaling is Psychotic

Apparently in the technical sense.

Readers know that I am suspicious of psychology in general, and never more than when it tries to reduce political differences to psychological errors. So I advise a grain of salt here, though truly the virtue signaling is becoming insufferable.


As the COVID case count rises dramatically in Texas, and even in my little county, which sprang from 5 to near 40 cases in a few weeks, the controversy I'm following most closely is whether the case increase also portends an increase in deaths.  So far, thank goodness, there have been no deaths in my county.  The death rate in Texas has increased modestly, but nowhere near as quickly as the case rate.  I'm not inclined to celebrate just yet, because death is a lagging indicator, but the case increase has been going on for several weeks now.  If the death rate were going to spike, it probably ought to have spiked by now. I'm holding my breath and hoping for good news in the coming week or two.

This Reason article has some encouraging statistics in it.  The sad news is that one reason the death rate was so high early in the pandemic, besides the doctors' need for time to develop better treatments, was that we gave it carte blanche to rip through nursing home populations.  Now that the average age of patients is dropping, so is the death rate.

The mask/no-mask controversy continues to rage, distorted by a bizarre insistence that masks must be either 0% or 100% effective, and that all masks are alike.  My own view is that passing laws equating bandanas with effective N95 masks is basically an admission that what we're talking about now is a government-mandated symbolic expression, never a good idea in my book.  Still, I readily admit that I can't prove the widespread wearing of masks outside the home is useless, much as I suspect it is.

Locally, we're also at each other's throats over whether closing the beaches is prudent and compassionate, or useless and fascist.  On the one hand, the beaches are an excellent place to be, far better than hanging out indoors for all but the most severely isolated and careful people.  On the other hand, in my county, keeping the beaches open inspires visions of a huge human wave of tourists from the dirty, dangerous cities--and tourists will pack bars and restaurants rather than staying on the nice, clean beach.  My approach is not to frequent bars and restaurants, but my neighbors legitimately fear that when others frequent bars and pick up the virus, they don't keep it to themselves.  Again, that's why I'm not going out much.  Barhoppers are not coming into my house.  But that approach is cold comfort to people who still have to encounter the public at work every day.

There's a lot of fear-fueled fury.  I continue to urge people to be more patient with each other about how we all interpret some unclear and contradictory data.  As usual, that's a losing battle with many.   Facebook is even more hysterical than usual.  I view my job there as pointing out as politely and dispassionately as I can that we're leaping to conclusions about some things, and that while caution is useful when the data are unclear and the maximum downside is severe (however rare it may be), we don't have to believe passionately in the most pessimistic possible interpretation of events.  Surely that message reaches a handful of people.

I'm particularly interested in one area of confusion.  We know that a large percentage of virus carriers are asymptomatic, maybe something like 40% overall, with huge differences in specific populations like jails or children.  We also hypothesize that asymptomatic carriers are X% as contagious as symptomatic carriers.  There are pretty good ways to get a handle on the first number, while the second remains elusive.  A surprising number of people conflate the two, and become convinced that 40% (if not 100%) of asymptomatic carriers are contagious, and not just a little bit contagious, but just as contagious as a severely ill coughing, sneezing patient with a high fever, and furthermore, that "science has proved it."  This conviction appears impervious to information or argument in most sufferers.  If I say we have no consensus yet on how contagious the asymptomatic carriers are, I get back, "But how can you deny that lots of carriers are asymptomatic!"  There's just no disentangling the two ideas in many people.

Rest In Peace, Ennio Morricone

He has been featured here so many times.  [UPDATE:  For some reason, Google has taken archive searches for Grim's Hall offline, at least here; yesterday it showed many posts over decades, but today I have allegedly never mentioned him before last week.]

What a glorious legacy he leaves behind.

Rest in Peace Charlie Daniels

A sad farewell to one of the few remaining greats of the old days.

He's remembered as a Red White and Blue Conservative, but like many people he aged into that. My favorite of his songs is this one, in which he is still a longhaired singer with an uncertain relationship to the rednecks he lives among.

Good (non-COVID) medical news

DNA tests aren't just for heredity and risk factors now.  A blood sample can yield a zillion fragments of damaged DNA bases with reliable signatures for many types of very early--treatable--cancer.  The WSJ is behind a paywall, but this Google link takes you to an article entitled "Cancer Screening Leaps Forward."

AT Pipeline Canceled

Duke and Dominion Energy claimed their 600 mile pipeline along or under the Appalachian Trail would protect the natural heritage of the area. Having observed the end results of their previous projects, I can agree that they can be coherent with natural beauty in some ways, but certainly not that they leave unchanged the sense of being in a wilderness. 

They won at SCOTUS, so this decision is a choice the companies are making themselves. I wonder why they would make such a huge decision following a long, vigorous, successful, and expensive defense. Perhaps partly they decided that the government would not be able to protect their investments from sabotage; or would not be willing to do. 

Ymar’s Post

For Monday.

Don't trust vaccine, vaccine is asshoe

I suppose Africa could develop its own, much safer vaccine.

Malice or incompetence?

As so often with journalists, it's hard to tell.
Does anyone have *any clue* what Trump was rambling about during his insane Mount Rushmore speech (as dark a speech as any American president has ever given)? If someone is trying to tear down statues of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, I haven't heard a d*** thing about it.
I'd almost be willing to bet my sister, for example, hasn't heard a d*** thing about it. The cloak of silence is powerful.  The Upton Sinclair quotation nails it:
It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.
I notice that Seth Abramson inserted the requisite descriptor "dark," but I hope someone warns him he left out "divisive."  That's no way to stay off the tumbrel.

Cancelling the wrong stuff

From Ed Driscoll:
When cancel culture comes for FDR, will the New Deal also be cancelled as well?
Related: Ross Douthat on The Ghost of Woodrow Wilson: Just as “Jefferson’s memorial wasn’t built to celebrate his slaveholding, [Princeton’s] Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs wasn’t named for Wilson to honor him for being a segregationist…the school will remain his school, whatever name gets slapped upon it, so long as it pursues the projects of enlightened progressive administration and global superpowerdom. Obviously there are people, right and left, who would prefer that one or both of those projects be abandoned. But they aren’t likely to be running the renamed school. Instead, it will continue to be run by 21st-century Wilsonians — who will now act as if their worldview sprang from nowhere, that its progenitor did not exist, effectively repudiating their benefactor while accepting his inheritance.”
My husband wants to know when we can expect the income tax to go away.